Winner says no longer ‘ugly duckling of YG’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Aug 4, 2017 - 16:10
  • Updated : Aug 4, 2017 - 16:10
The past three years have been a roller-coaster ride for Winner, who made an unconventionally quick return Friday with the single album “Our Twenty For.”

“If we were to tell you everything that we went through in the last three years, you’d be here all day,” Lee Seung-hoon told reporters at a press conference at IFC Mall in Seoul on Friday. 

Winner poses for a photo prior to a press conference in Seoul on Friday. (YG Entertainment)

Members of the boy band said they have always felt that they do not fit the standard image of YG Entertainment, whose artists are known for their hip-hop sound and “rebellious” image.

“Back when we were trainees, we thought we had no characteristics that stood out. We were not like other YG groups. So at first, we would intentionally dress in hip-hop style and pick hip-hop songs for the monthly evaluation (by the company),” said Lee.

“But we eventually found our own style. In a way, we are still looking what ‘color’ suits us best. ... I’d say right now, we are in round four (of 12 rounds in boxing).”

“Our Twenty For” does not deviate much from the group‘s previous works.

First track “Love Me Love Me,” is a disco number that has a little bit of an old-school element to it. It was jointly written by members Kang Sueng-yoon, Song Min-ho and YG’s in-house songwriter Future Bounce.

As in the case of most Winner songs -- most K-pop songs for that matter -- it has a catchy hook and an easy-to-follow melody. It is a relatively simple piece with mostly drums and bass, and the band’s vocals leading the sound.

“Island” is closer to previous single “Really Really.”

The music is based on tropical house, with a mixture of dance hall. This is fitting considering the music video for it was shot in Hawaii.

The song was written by Kang, Future Bounce and Bekuh Boo.

The recent single was released just four months after Winner came out with “Fate Number For,” its first record since becoming a quartet last year.

“Biggest reason for such speedy comeback was our promise to the fans that we would return in summer. And it was possible because there are so many songs that we’ve worked on, even when we were taking a break,” said Kang, the band’s leader.

But the lengthy breaks -- which at one point extended to over a year -- were among the hardest things Winner had to overcome.

“I’m 27 -- Korean age -- which is not that young (for an idol singer), and such long breaks can be hard for me and my career,” said Kim Jin-woo, the oldest of the bunch.

“We can handle physically taxing moments, but the mental issues are really hard to handle. I work on my music like crazy but when I don’t get a chance to show them to the public, I can’t help but think ‘What the heck am I doing?’” said Song Min-ho.

“Thankfully, ‘Really Really’ was received well, and I believe that this moment can be a stepping stone for us to step up (as an artist),” said Kim.

Kang said at this point, the members take pride in what they are.

“We’re not second coming of anyone else. We are Winner. We hope to expand the spectrum of YG music further in the future,” he said.