It makes sense that racing is the concept that’s stuck with CRAVITY in the 17 months since they debuted. The latest group to be unveiled by Starship Entertainment, home to MONSTA X and WJSN, the nine-piece boyband have wasted no time in zooming into pole position and earning themselves the title of super rookies along the way.
- READ MORE: CRAVITY – ‘The Awakening: Written In The Stars’ review: embracing adolescent ideals on the journey ahead
The theme first appeared in their third mini-album, ‘Hideout: Be Our Voice’, which was released in January 2021. But despite that record concluding that series, it flows onwards into their first full-length album ‘The Awakening: Written In The Stars’. Its title track, the cruising coolness of ‘Gas Pedal’, describes their race to the top, full of lyrics that make it clear this group – comprised of Serim, Allen, Jungmo, Woobin, Wonjin, Minhee, Hyeongjun, Taeyoung and Seongmin – aren’t “stepping on the brake” in pursuit of their dreams.
“I’d say we’re growing at a pretty fast rate,” main dancer and lead rapper Allen says on a Zoom call just before ‘The Awakening’’s release. His assessment of CRAVITY’s track record so far is based on comments and feedback they’ve seen online from both fans and non-fans alike. “[They say] ‘These guys are barely one-year-old rookies and they don’t seem like rookies at all, this is not rookie behaviour’. I’m just really grateful that we’re being acknowledged and recognised in this way.” With a casual shrug, he adjusts his earlier analysis: “I wouldn’t say we’re going fast or slow, we’re just going at our own pace.”
CRAVITY’s pace, though, has been impressively swift so far. It took them only until their first comeback to take their first music show win with ‘Flame’, while at last year’s awards ceremonies they collected five rookie awards despite being up against some tough competition. Outside of Korea, they’ve made quick work of gaining an international following too – at their virtual fan meeting in October 2020, members from their fanbase LUVITY tuned in from 126 countries.
Part of the appeal of CRAVITY lies in the messages they pour into their infectious, upbeat and inventive songs. You’ll be hard-pressed to go more than a few minutes on any of their records without being met by lines full of confidence and assurance. ‘The Awakening’ is no different – “They tell me sky’s the limit / But I’m up by satellites,” Allen and leader Serim boast coolly on the bubbling euphoria of ‘Celebrate’. On ‘Veni Vidi Vici’’s irresistible swagger, too, they vow to “do whatever [we] want to do”. “It clearly shows we are here to conquer this world,” Allen says with a grin.
While such lyrics will likely have had an impact on their fans, they’ve also benefited their makers too – not that they’ve needed much help boosting their self-belief so far. “We were always confident about ourselves from the beginning and I personally know that I can do anything if I’m with my members,” main vocalist Woobin says calmly. “But it’s also true that our lyrics have helped us not lose that confidence.”
On ‘The Awakening’, CRAVITY sound even more confident than before, displaying a band that are rapidly improving with every release and quickly becoming one of K-pop’s most reliable acts when it comes to big tunes. “It clearly shows that we are stepping forward and what we’ve achieved so far,” singer Taeyoung notes of their new album, while the double threat lead vocalist and lead dancer Wonjin thinks they’ve “become more mature artists” since their first releases.
That maturity manifests not just in their performances but in their songwriting and attitude towards that facet of the group. Wonjin, Serim and Allen have all taken part in the writing process on past releases, with the latter two also contributing on ‘The Awakening’’s ‘Gas Pedal’. Having a hand in their creative output is important to them not just because they feel like it will help them “show our best sides”, as Allen reasons, but help them grow their bond with LUVITY. “When we contribute to our music ourselves, I feel like we get closer to our fans and they’ll appreciate it more because it’s coming directly from the artist,” he explains.
Like the steadily rising number of K-pop groups that self-produce and create, CRAVITY hope to become even more involved in their records as they continue to grow. “We would like to be considered as K-pop idols who can be very creative and artistic when it comes to making music,” the group’s maknae Seongmin says. Wonjin, meanwhile, suggests another dream: “I’m pretty sure that one day we will be able to release an album with all our names on the credits.” It’s a comment that elicits smiles and nods from all of his bandmates.
Although they’ve made things look easy from day one, CRAVITY’s experience of idol life so far has come with an unexpected obstacle in the shape of the pandemic. Where in normal times they would have by now been travelling the world and connecting with fans new and old in person, instead they’ve been stuck at home and building that relationship online instead. “To be honest, it wasn’t easy to adapt to this environment [especially] as our emotions towards LUVITY grow more and more,” Allen nods. “But we learned how important our fans are and to not take for granted their love and support. It just drives us even more to work harder so that the day we actually meet LUVITYs they’ll be impressed.”
It’s not all been doom and gloom though – the silver lining has been a strengthening in the band’s own union. “Because of the situation, we as members have more time together,” singer Minhee explains. “So I feel like due to that, we’ve all got closer to each other.” It’s a perfect example of CRAVITY’s positivity and determination shining through in even the toughest, most unpredictable of situations.
As ‘The Awakening’ proves, this is one group who are clearly destined for greatness and, typically, they’re more than ready for what lies ahead. On their debut track ‘Break All The Rules’, Allen rapped: “I’ll be what I want to be / I paint my future as I see.” “For our performances, the gesture I did for that part was I drew a star,” he recalls now. “Because I imagine our future to be just really bright and full of energy, and I want to share that with our fans and let them know that we’re gonna have the same future as long as we stay together.” Better join CRAVITY’s team now before they leave us all in their dust.
CRAVITY’s ‘The Awakening: Written In The Stars’ is out now.