One look at the new six-member pop group U-Kiss and you might think they are on their way to an `80s-night party at a friend`s house. Their usual wardrobe consists of Technicolor primaries, pastels and neons, complete with oversized Marty McFly "Back to the Future" white high-top trainers -- all remnants from the 1980s.
Listen to the single, "I Like You," from their newly released second mini-album appropriately titled "Bring it Back 2 Old School" and you`ll be reminded of music from early American boy band pioneers like The New Kids on the Block or New Edition.
The group is comprised of multilingual singers and rappers who hail from the United States, Hong Kong and Korea. Eli, 18, and Kevin, 18, are Korean-Americans from Washington D.C. and San Francisco. The band`s sole non-Korean member, Alexander Eusebio Lee, whose mother is Korean and father is Chinese and Spanish, was born in Hong Kong but raised in Macau; Soo-hyun, 21, Ki-Bum, 19, and Dong-ho, 15, who are natives here, round out the group.
Although each member comes from different backgrounds there is one common thing they share. They all know how to speak Mandarin, making the group truly multilingual. The group debuted last March in Korea when they were overshadowed by more established artists in the K-Pop game. The name of the band, U-Kiss, which is short for Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Superstar, was cooked up by the management company`s head honcho.
"Our last album was a bit of a disappointment. But we also learned from many of the mistakes we made. We learned a lot from our more established predecessors like Rain, Big Bang, and SS501 on creating a powerful image and honing a strong stage presence," said the group.
After their stuttered start in the domestic market, the band`s management company subsequently redirected them to Japan and Singapore where they honed their craft. And now U-Kiss is back, ready to tackle the pop scene with as much intensity as the colors in their wardrobe.
"Our music concept is based on `70s and `80s pop. Even our fashion is based on popular `80s pop bands like the New Kids" said Alexander.
The new album features compositions and arrangements by famed producers The Courageous Brothers, who contributed hits to such high profile singers like Son Dam-bi, Big Bang and Afterschool. Fittingly, "I Like You" has all the hooks and beats of 80s pop with heavy use of synthesizers and keyboards.
Their roles are divided into two groups of three. Eli, Kevin, and Alexander are the rappers and Soo-hyun, Ki-bum, and Dong-ho sing. With their second effort, the band hopes for a better reception than they received on their debut.
"You can say we`ve pretty much lived in the studio during the recording of this album. We saw more of each other than members of our families."
Along with the release of the group`s second mini-album, U-Kiss have created a new dance routine as well. A routine in which they call, "the train dance," that harkens back to the kitschy "Macarena" dance routine of the 90s that swept the globe.
"We hope our dance routine will become a staple in a lot of dance clubs like tektonic did."
The group insists their goal is to become one of the top pop acts in Korea.
By Song Woong-ki