Debut album delivers what fans are looking for
While preparing for last week’s visit to Seoul, on the top of the list of “must buy” items was the album “1X1=1 (To Be One),” the debut release by Wanna One, the boyband created by reality show “Produce 101.”
The first season made stars out of the members of I.O.I, the girl group formed purely through audience vote in the first season. This latest round, which ended in June of this year, another 101 trainees competed before audiences, both in South Korea and around the world, resulting in the 11 guys now-known as Wanna One.
As with nearly every K-Pop album, the CD came in an oversized boxe, filled with goodies – there is nothing else like it. On this trip, also picked up the comeback album from Girls’ Generation, the latest release by Apink, Pristin’s sophomore release “SCHXXL OUT,” along with a couple other CDs. In the end, currently in possession of way too much K-Pop swag; in addition, three of the aforementioned albums came with free posters.
The Wanna One album comes in two varieties, one is brightly colored with the guys posing with big smiles on their faces; the other is a cool blue, with the group standing on a beach – went with the latter. Opening up the box, found a two-sided picture book; a flipbook; a bunch of picture cards; along with an autographed 5×7 of Hwang Minhyun – luckily, there was also a small card featuring personal favorite Ong Seongwu.
Having watched the show from the beginning, would assume most viewers also developed an attachment to all of the contestants. Came in late into the first season and quickly became a fan of Kim Sejeong, who eventually made it into I.O.I and has since debuted with girl group Gugudan and started in the recently-concluded KBS series “School 2017.” It was only after the first season of “Produce 101” ended and watching clips of old episodes, that the same affection for so many of the other candidates also grew.
Prior to the album’s August 7 release, a couple weeks before landing in Seoul, videos were produced featuring each individual member of the group asking fans to select their debut single; either “Burn It Up” with its heavy beats, or “Energetic,” which was sampled with a light piano interlude.
Once the video for “Energetic” hit the internet, the frenzy was on and the Wanna One faithful, dubbed “Wannables,” were feverishly awaiting the album to drop.
Since the album’s release, Wanna One hit number one on the Gaon Music Charts and peaked at number three on Billboard-US World Album charts. They also swept the weekly Korean music programs, winning 15 times since hitting the Show Champion stage, the weekly show on MBC Music, on August 16.
Wanna One went on to claim the top spot three weeks in a row on Show Champion, MNet’s M Countdown, and MBC’s Show! Music Core.
The album offers seven tracks, with every one of them a veritable hit.
Both “Energetic” and “Burn It Up” are massive dance hits and even though “Energetic” was released first, it was not long until the video for “Burn it Up” made its way to YouTube. Much like the album covers, the video for “Energetic” was filmed with an array of colors, while “Burn it Up” had a darker tone.
For fans of the show, the album features an acoustic rendition of “이 자리에 (Always),” which was performed during the finale of the show, when the last 20 contestants were still vying for a position in the Top 11. Beyond the song being meaningful for show fans, it is also a very mellow ballad and, in the end, the amazing vocals of Kim Jaehwan are beautifully put on display.
The track “Wanna Be (My Baby),” is a fast-paced song, one that brings a smile when listening. Its happy melody perfect for a stroll on a sunny day – it even includes a reference to Park Jihoon’s catchphrase, “내 마음속에 저장! (Saving you in my heart).”
Something only available on the physical album and not with the digital download are the tracks “나야 나 (Pick Me)” and “Never,” both popularized from the show.
“Pick Me,” or “Naya Na” (the Romanized version of the Korean title), served as the show’s theme song. The girl’s season also had “Pick Me” as its theme song, although theirs was more “cute-sy,” where this version is a bit more contemporary – a song that could be appreciated outside the realm of strictly K-Pop.
Was very excited to find out “Never” was included on the album, as it was a favorite during the concept round of the competition. Even though it came in second in the audience vote to “Open Up,” which featured the now-famous thigh grab move by Kang Daniel, who came in number one overall, earning him the center position of the group, all of the original performers of the song, with the exception of Kim Jonghyun (aka JR), all made it into Wanna One.
Even just walking the streets of Seoul, it was clear how much of an impact Wanna One was making on pop culture. Their CD was prominently featured at every music store, posters of individual members were on sale, and on any given day, at least one of their songs would be blasting out of one of the shops in the shopping area of Myeongdong.
As of the Gaon’s September 7 charts, Wanna One was still number one in album sales, third on the digital chart, and second on the download chart./WDJ