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K-pop girl group BABYMONSTER poses during a media interview at the headquarters of YG Entertainment in Mapo District, northern Seoul, Monday. Courtesy of YG Entertainment

By Dong Sun-hwa

The recent announcement that K-pop girl band BABYMONSTER will make an official debut on Monday left many fans puzzled, as they believed the YG Entertainment group had already commenced its career in November with the release of the digital single “Batter Up.”

However, its chief producer Yang Hyun-suk clarified in a recent YouTube video that April 1 would be the date of BABYMONSTER’s official debut by welcoming back member Ahyeon. The 16-year-old, who is known for her musical versatility, could not join the team last year due to health issues.

Now, with the return of Ahyeon, BABYMONSTER has heralded a new beginning, seeking to become a game changer in the cutthroat K-pop industry by dropping on Monday its first mini-album “BABYMONS7ER,” featuring the lead track “Sheesh.” 

“I had a hard time mentally,” Ahyeon, who looked quite nervous, said during a media interview at the headquarters of YG Entertainment in Mapo District, northern Seoul, Monday.

“I focused on my recovery, so I worked out at home and had some good meals. I wanted to get well soon and return to my team.”

She added that other BABYMONSTER members and her fans lifted her spirit during her break.

“I received a lot of energy from their words of support,” she said, expressing regret to the members for her absence.

“But six other members — Rami, Rora, Pharita, Chiquita, Ruka and Asa — did so well and they helped me calm my nerves when I just resumed my musical activity,” she recalled. “I want to take this opportunity to show my appreciation to them.”

Prior to Ahyeon’s return, BABYMONSTER rolled out two singles, “Batter Up” and “Stuck In The Middle.” However, its first mini-album will include the new renditions of those two tunes, now complete with Ahyeon’s vocals.

“I felt that the songs sung by only six of us lack something,” Asa said. “But with Ahyeon joining, we could fill the void. I hope our fans listen to the new versions a lot.”

Rami added, “I am so happy that Ahyeon has come back. Now that we are making an official debut, we will start a diverse range of activities and showcase various sides of us as a septet.”

BABYMONSTER marks YG Entertainment’s first girl group debut in seven years, following the creation of BLACKPINK in 2016. That’s why it is dubbed BLACKPINK’s “sister group” — a moniker that the rookie act deems as a huge honor.

“We gained a lot attention thanks to that nickname,” Rami said. “We are really thankful.”

Lora added that BLACKPINK members — Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rose — frequently gave them feedback on their performances while advising them to have an audience-centered attitude. Ahyeon, whose nickname is “Little Jennie,” said she often draws inspiration from the BLACKPINK member.

“We are working hard to follow in the footsteps of other senior artists under YG’s roof, who are celebrated for their stage presence and musical prowess,” Asa said. “We are also striving to display something of our own.”

Asked how they are distinctive from other YG singers, Rami explained that BABYMONSTER possess both “baby” and “monstrous” sides.

“We have two different traits,” she noted. “Since our members are young, we want to channel a more teenage feeling (into our music and performance) too.”

BABYMONSTER also stands out in the K-pop landscape, as it chose to debut with a powerful hip-hop song amid the prevailing popularity of easy-listening music. “Sheesh” is described as a hip-hop dance track featuring baroque-style piano melodies and grand synth sounds, according to YG.

Its unique approach seems to have won people’s hearts, with its music video garnering more than 16 million views on YouTube as of Monday afternoon.

“Our goal this year is to grow globally,” Rora said. “In the future, we want to perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — one of the largest music festivals in the U.S. — and showcase our music to fans from around the world.”

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