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Koyote returns with ’90s retro feel

The three members of Koyote, Kim Jong-min (left), Shin Ji (center) and Bbaek Ga, pose for photographers during a press conference on the release of their EP “1999” in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
The three members of Koyote, Kim Jong-min (left), Shin Ji (center) and Bbaek Ga, pose for photographers during a press conference on the release of their EP “1999” in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Veteran hip-hop and dance group Koyote returned to the music scene Tuesday with its new mini-album “1999,” bringing back ’90s style and celebrating the 17th anniversary of the group’s debut.

Filled with upbeat, discoesque rhythms, Koyote’s new album is expected to bring a fresh array of the group’s signature “old school” sounds to a K-pop music scene dominated by an avalanche of young boy and girl groups.

“We launched our new album with the hope of making listeners feel as if they have really gone back in time to the ’90s,” said member Shin Ji in a press conference held on the eve of the album’s release. “We hope that people can recognize the K-pop trio Koyote once again through this album.”

Koyote’s new EP, “1999.” (KYT Entertainment)
Koyote’s new EP, “1999.” (KYT Entertainment)

The title song, “1999,” written by renowned Korean producer duo Double Kick, was named in memory of Koyote’s heyday. The upbeat tune highlights the distinct voices of the three members ― Shin Ji, Kim Jong-min and Bbaek Ga ― and takes listeners on a journey back to the ’90s.

In line with the song’s theme, the music video recreates a time when different standards for “coolness” defined mainstream pop culture. Each member flaunts his or her own tacky and outdated style, which would have been bucking the trends in the late ’80s and ’90s.

“We styled our look by basing it on Korea’s veteran ’80s group, Sobangcha,” said Bbaek Ga during the press conference.

Shin Ji wears big retro sunglasses, a colorful puffy jacket with too many flowers, a multicolored fur coat that hurts your eyes, tacky pink stockings and the signature snow jean skirt that was enormously popular back in the day. Her overall look is topped off with a puffy hairdo that over-accentuates her bangs. Bbaek Ga boorishly parts his hair at the side while wearing a faded jean jacket with faux wool lining and a pair of large yellow transparent sunglasses.

The group’s leader, Kim Jong-min, wears a vivid jumper with gaudy colors, a perm held back with a headband, and an extremely round pair of sunglasses to finish off his look.

“1999” showcases not only retro outfits but also old dance moves by early K-pop acts such as Kim Kun-mo, Seo Taiji and Boys, Turbo, H.O.T., Clone, DJ D.O.C. and Hyun Jin-young, that characterized the Korean music scene in the ’90s.

“You will have basically mastered all of the K-pop dances of the ’90s after learning our song’s dance moves,” said leader Kim.

The rest of the album features old and new tracks that highlight the unique style and sound that has characterized Koyote for over a decade.

Koyote first entered the music scene in 1998 with the hit single “Soon Jung.” It became the No. 1 song, blasting away at nightclubs in Korea at the time. The group’s trademark “horse dance” was already an established and popular dance move long before Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”

Other hallmark songs by Koyote include “Man Nam,” “Sil Yun” and “Bi Mong,” which are all upbeat dance songs featuring the distinct vocals of its members. More recent songs include “Disco King,” “Bingo,” “I Love Rock & Roll,” “Good Good Time” and “Hollywood.”

Koyote has received a number of accolades since its debut, including two Golden Disk Awards, in 2001 and 2002; the “Artist of the Year” award at the Korea Music Award in 2003; and the “Artist of the Year” award at the KBS Music Awards in 2005.

In celebration of its 17th anniversary and its new album, Koyote also announced that it will be holding its first solo concert sometime this year.

“We have plans to hold our first solo concert this year, even if it is small in scale,” said the group’s leader Kim Jong-min. “We are confident that we will have lots to show so please expect a great concert in the near future,” he added.

By Sohn Ji-young (