Over the last two-and-a-half years, it’s been astounding to see what ITZY can do. “ITZY no limit,” is the JYP Entertainment girl group’s motto, first introduced in their ‘Ma.Fi.A in the Morning’ b-side ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ earlier this year. It’s a slogan that refers to Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong and Yuna’s “endless abilities in different aspects”, Lia tells NME. The saying only reinforces ITZY’s name – a play on the Korean word “있지”, meaning “to have it all”.
Since their debut in 2019, ITZY have risen through and conquered the K-pop industry with the help of five-chart-topping lead singles (‘DALLA DALLA’, ‘ICY’, ‘WANNABE’, ‘Not Shy’ and ‘Ma.Fi.A in the Morning’) and a slew of record-breaking achievements. Those include a place on the Billboard 200 chart and a bevvy of Best New Rookie Artist awards at prestigious Korean year-end award shows like the Golden Disc Awards, Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) and more. After such a strong start, the group have now crossed releasing their first full-length album – ‘Crazy In Love’, which dropped September 24 – off their bucket list.
The 16-track album is led by lead single ‘LOCO’, a song that blends Latin and rock elements with the sounds of second generation K-pop – but all with wild and colourful Gen Z K-pop flair. Produced by GALACKTIKA, the mastermind behind their earlier hits ‘DALLA DALLA’ and ‘WANNABE’, it’s a total adrenaline rush.
Ahead of the album’s release, ITZY sat down to discuss what it was like creating ‘Crazy In Love’ for NME’s latest In Conversation video, diving into the specific challenges of making the album’s accompanying music videos and the genres they’d like to experiment with next. Here’s what we learned.
Every comeback is a challenge, but the visuals for ‘Crazy In Love’ may have been the biggest yet
ITZY are a group that outperform themselves with every new release, but getting to the final product isn’t without its challenges, and shooting the video for ‘LOCO’ presented some of their toughest ones yet. “The filming season was [in] summer [and] it rained a lot,” Ryujin explains. “So when we were shooting ‘LOCO’, it rained again, and again and again, so we had to change the date two times, so it was really tough.”
“When I was shooting this video, for my personal scene the cat tower was my set; I became a cat,” Yeji adds, referring to her solo scenes where she stands on a giant, human-sized cat scratch post. “It was really hard and acting was very awkward for me, but it came out really well, so I’m very satisfied.”
Let’s not forget the eye-catching moments in the concept trailer where Ryujin shouts through a megaphone on top of a bus and the closing shot of them on top of a billboard in the middle of Seoul. Both scenes were shot as you see them, rather than using CGI, the group confirmed.
The choreography’s “killing part” calls for the “breaking” of their wrists and fingers
There’s a reason why ITZY are known as one of the industry’s leading performance groups, with their sharp, hard-hitting choreography tending to highlight movements from a different body part in each single they’ve released. So far fans have claimed the group have broken their backs (‘DALLA DALLA’), necks (‘ICY’), shoulders (‘WANNABE’), legs (‘NOT SHY’) and knees (‘Ma.Fi.A in the Morning’); but what about this time?
“Fingers,” Yuna answers, adding that the dance routines are: “Very hip and trendy.”
“I would say we’re not okay, but it’s okay because it has come out as a good result,” Lia adds. “And it does look amazing. I can’t lie – it’s definitely tiring and it hurts, but at the end, it looks great.”
They want to explore new genres like EDM and rock
When asked if they’d consider having guest spots from other artists on the record, Ryujin says: “For me, not yet…It would be an honour [to have someone], but I haven’t thought about it yet.”
“The reason why I haven’t thought about it [having someone hop on our tracks] is because all of our songs, personally, it’s very ITZY,” Lia explains. “Even for me, sometimes, it’s really hard to catch that style. If I just listen to our songs with only my part, it doesn’t sound that ITZY; but when all of our five members add on to the song, it becomes ITZY’s style.”
Instead, the group did express how they wanted to explore and experiment with new genres such as EDM and rock.
“It would be a very new trial for us,” ITZY’s youngest Yuna says. “And also I think it’d give a powerful energy too.”
For some members, hiding their hair for the new album became a summer-long mission
“My hair hasn’t seen sunlight since June,” Ryujin jokes, recalling the last three months. “So when they see the sunlight, my hair gets surprised.” Rocking baseball caps, beanies and berets on and off-camera all summer long, the group have caused quite the stir among their fans (nicknamed MIDZY) on Twitter, sparking speculation over what their new hairstyles would look like for the comeback.
They had to learn TikTok techniques for the ‘SWIPE’ music video
They may know the terms and trends on the internet, and even encouraged online challenges around previous releases on TikTok and Reels, but ITZY aren’t really your stereotypical Gen Z-ers. However, things changed with recent single ‘SWIPE’.
“[‘SWIPE’] has lots of new and trendy techniques,” Lia says, before Ryujin adds that although they may be Gen Z, they’re not that familiar using TikTok fluently. “But we had to use it while we were filming the ‘Swipe’ music video,” she notes. “The techniques on TikTok, we had to do it.” These techniques include TikTok challenges like the Wipe It Down challenge and even the classic Mannequin Challenge, and throughout the music video (and in the behind the scenes footage), the vertical formatting is in the point of view of what you’d see on your TikTok “for you page”.
‘Crazy In Love’ by ITZY is out now