ITZY on their “challenging” ‘Guess Who’ album: “We tried our best for our fans to show the new sides”

The stars of K-pop’s new generation discuss their musical growth, style role models and how Selena Gomez inspired one of their new songs

ITZY possess an audacious attitude that the world seldom affords to young women, and maybe that’s why their fans cannot get enough of them. The group, made up of five members – leader Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong and Yuna – are as equally as fun as they are fierce.

The combination of catchy songs and being incredible dancers has made them one of the most exciting groups to watch in this new generation of K-pop. Also, not forgetting their iconic shoulder shimmy move from 2020’s ‘Wannabe’ that has since spurred countless challenges on TikTok among teens.

The quintet have been dancing to the beat of their own drum since they exploded onto the music scene with their hit debut song ‘Dalla Dalla’ (which means “different” in Korean), which peaked at number two on the Gaon Digital Chart in 2019. But on their latest project, the group are switching up their sound: Their new mini-album ‘Guess Who’ experiments with trap, R&B, Latin pop and moree to demonstrate how they have grown sonically since.

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Though the ladies have traded in the bright colours of ‘Not Shy’ for a darker, more mysterious concept, their message of self-love and zeal to deliver powerful performances has not changed. The group spoke to NME about their new mini-album, their collaboration with Maybelline New York and what they would do if they weren’t famous.

ITZY
ITZY. Credit: JYP Entertainment

How have you guys grown musically from your previous album to ‘Guess Who’?

Ryujin: “Actually, in this album, we tried various [genres]. I think we have grown musically. I also think each member’s expressions, and the vocal skills got much better [in] the latest album.”

What goes through your mind on the day that the MV and the album is released? Do you have a feeling of relief, or are you nervous? Or is it like a “let’s get to work kind of attitude?”

Yeji: “We practiced a lot and did a lot for this album. I was looking [forward] to how people would react to this album but I was also kind of nervous and worried how people will accept this album because it was a very new attempt for ITZY.”

Do you have any favourite lyrics from the album?

Yeji: “My favourite song is ‘Sorry Not Sorry’. My favourite part is “ITZY no limit” because it shows ITZY’s energy and shows our power for breaking limits.”

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Ryujin: “‘Sorry Not Sorry’. It’s the title and also the lyrics itself. I like the mood of that word. We are sorry to not be sorry.”

As ITZY, you guys have always shared the message of self-love since your debut. How do you practice that self-love for yourselves?

Lia: “We mainly get that from our fans. I think a huge part of it is from our fans (who are called MIDZYs) and the other half would be our members. Although I have my family, my parents and other good people around me who do care about me the most, it’s kind of different because our members are the ones that actually know about the situation and we go through it together. So we can kind of relate to each other.”

Were there any songs that inspired you during the album making process?

Ryujin: “There is a B-side track titled ‘Tennis’ on ‘Guess Who’ that has a really cosy vibe that we haven’t tried before. So when I first heard that song I thought that I should study about this song’s vocal mood. So I searched for similar songs and I found it is a little bit similar to ‘Bad Liar’ by Selena Gomez. I think I was a little bit inspired by that song when I was recording ‘Tennis’.

Is there any particular performance that you have in mind where you know, you got off stage and you thought “we did an amazing job”?

Yuna: “‘Wannabe’ from the first comeback stage on [the Mnet music television programme] M Countdown. Yeah, that is my favourite. That is my most satisfying stage.”

By the way, congratulations on being Maybelline New York’s first musical ambassadors. How did that happen?

Lia: “We’re not sure how it happened (all the girls laughing) but from what we heard, after meeting Maybelline, they told us they thought that the colour of Maybelline would go really well along with the colour of ITZY. And we were really thankful. And we were really amazed because we felt and saw [that] they really knew a lot about us.

They had seen all the clips and all our stages. So I kind of understood what they meant about the colour thing and what they wanted to show by us being the ambassadors for Maybelline. I think it’s the message and the colour and special moves that ITZY members as a team kind of express.”

You guys have got a really unique, fun style and it’s gotten a lot edgier in this comeback, who inspires your style?

Yuna: “I get inspired by many magazines, style videos and I love Kendall Jenner. I’m inspired by her mood, attitude and fashion.”

What are ITZY’s musical goals for the future?

Ryujin: “We want to do this stage again with our fans face-to-face because we haven’t done a concert yet. So, I think that’s a short-term goal. And in the long-term, I think we want to give a good message, like we’re doing now, for as long as possible.”

If you guys could have anonymity for one day, what would you do?

Lia: “There were so many things that I wanted to do. But if it’s only a day, I don’t really know what to pick. I’ve always thought of this before that there’s water parks in Korea. I never really went to water parks a lot when I was young. And then after debut, I always thought, ‘will I ever get the chance to go play at the waterpark like with my friends or like my members, since there’s lots of people there, lots of students?’ Yeah. I would love to go to the water park”.

What do you want MIDZYs to take away from this album?

Chaeryeong: “We wanted to show a very new side of us through this album. We actually did many challenges like with choreography, the new song, everything was a challenge for ITZY. But we tried our best for our fans to show the new sides of ITZY. So we would like the fans to feel that ITZY has potential to show many things and we still have many things to show. So please look forward to it.”

ITZY’s new mini-album ‘Guess Who’ is out now.

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