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Never the same, HyunA returns with ‘I’m Not Cool’

HyunA says her new album is a personal diary she wants to gift to fans

HyunA takes photos at a press conference for her seventh mini album “I’m Not Cool” in Seoul on Thursday. (P Nation)
HyunA takes photos at a press conference for her seventh mini album “I’m Not Cool” in Seoul on Thursday. (P Nation)
Singer HyunA dropped her seventh mini album “I’m Not Cool” on Thursday, singing of the ups and downs of being the “cool girl” on stage.

“I had to be perfect on the stage, not just because I needed look good but because I’d been supported by so many people. I thought about how ‘uncool’ I was in struggling to be cool. The lyrics say exactly this,” HyunA said about the album’s title track during a livestreamed press conference held Thursday ahead of the album’s release.

After postponing a planned return to music last summer due to health issues, the 29-year-old put a lot of herself into the five-track album, on which she sings about her deepest and most honest thoughts. Taking part in writing the lead song and the second track “Good Girl,” HyunA seemed especially fond of the album.

“I felt like I was going to go crazy because I so wanted to get on stage. I’ve been working on this album all along and I think the overall is based on the memos inside my phone. There are memos going back even two or three years. I consider this album my personal diary that I want to gift to my fans, A-ings.”

The album’s title song “I’m Not Cool” sings about the nice things she tells herself.

“It’s really about my originality. I try to compliment myself before going onto the stage. I tell myself it’s not bad to be myself. I’ve long dreamed of this moment right now, and I feel like I’m a bird flying freely in the sky or a flower blooming in the field. I know I cannot be loved by everyone, but I become perfect with just one person’s love. The song is about these kind of every day thoughts.”

HyunA takes photos at a press conference for her seventh mini album “I’m Not Cool” in Seoul on Thursday. (P Nation)
HyunA takes photos at a press conference for her seventh mini album “I’m Not Cool” in Seoul on Thursday. (P Nation)

While “Good Girl” – the single HyunA was planning to release last August – had initially been selected as the title of the album, she replaced it with “I’m Not Cool” the instant she first heard it. The song’s moombahton sounds was a completely “new genre” for her.

“This song was just the most unique I could get,” she said. “My foremost goal with this album was to challenge myself in a new genre. I have no fear in experimenting in regard to music and I want to continue making novel attempts. I never do what I’ve done before and I want to continue overcoming my own limits.”

Donned in exotic outfits and flashy makeup, HyunA said she “became a snake” in the song that sings “No one’s as intense as I am, like salmosa.”

“I tried to show as much of myself as I could in the music video. I wanted to show how intense the ‘not cool’ HyunA could become when fully set,” she added.

The creativity behind the title track comes from the unique minds of herself, singer and the founder of her agency P Nation Psy, and her best colleague and boyfriend Dawn.

“We worked on the song while just chatting about it endlessly with each other,” HyunA said. “When Psy threw in a big catchy chunk, Dawn would creatively unfold this, adding fun elements to make it fit my style and state of mind. I personally like writing those rebellious lines. Mingling these three minds together, every day, was just so much fun.”

Dawn also featured in the album’s third track “Party, Feel, Love,” which HyunA explained is a song that she wrote three years ago.

“I felt like we were just casually talking with other, rather than singing. I felt so relaxed producing this one. My fans tend to like the ups and downs from me, and in this song they’ll be able to enjoy my unique lower tones.”

Thanking Dawn for all his support, HyunA said, “This album holds a particular meaning for us because Dawn was with me from the very start of its production.”

“Because we both do music, the joy we feel when we are connected is just cannot be expressed words. Although we have a distinctively different music tastes, we talk about this almost on a daily basis and I learn what I cannot see by myself from him.” 

HyunA (P Nation)
HyunA (P Nation)

The fourth track “Show Window” was gifted to her by a close songwriter, HyunA explained.

“She said that she felt bad watching me (in this industry) and thought that the only way she could help me was to do what she was best at. And she presented me with this song. This song reminded that I continue to work because of these kinds of things, and I know that my fans would understand my feeling of loneliness veiled behind the pretty performances on stage.”

A previously released single, and also the first single HyunA dropped as a member of P Nation, “Flower Shower” is also on the album. The song was given to her by Psy, she said.

Setting foot into the entertainment industry in 2007 as a member of girl group Wonder Girls, HyunA has been on and off the stage ever since as member of groups 4Minute and Triple A, and also as a soloist. Psy, who founded his own label in 2019, scouted HyunA and Dawn as the first artists for the company in January that year and HyunA dropped “Flower Shower” in November 2019. 

After fourteen years as an artist, HyunA stressed the value of gratitude throughout the press conference. She even seemed to fight back tears several times as she spoke about how grateful she was to everyone.

HyunA (P Nation)
HyunA (P Nation)

“I feel deep down how grateful I am every day. I jump out of bed every morning thinking about the people I need to work for. Since I was a kid, my dad has told me that people around me don’t exist because of me, but I exist because of them. And this kept on coming into my mind as I shot the music video and it almost made me cry several times.”

She added, “I’ve always felt that saying just ‘thank you’ or ‘I love you’ was not enough to express what I feel. But I couldn’t find any better words and I had this time when I just decided to express everything every moment. Time is passing, I’m already 30 (Korean age), and regardless of my sorry feelings for others, I felt that I just needed express my heart.”

While she felt angry at herself and sorry to others for breaking her promise with them by failing to make her return last summer, HyunA said she’s now fairly recovered and is trying earnestly to maintain her health with the help of others.

In closing the event, HyunA said, “I’m just trying to live my everyday life its fullest these days. The HyunA that the public doesn’t see is just ‘not cool.’ I’m very relaxed and I like for everything to be comfortable usually. It’s difficult to explain in words. There’s a ‘not cool’ HyunA behind the sheer perfectness.”

By Choi Ji-won (