Taeyang, “I’m better at singing sad songs”

Results of the survey here

Big Bang’s Taeyang, chosen as the best idol in Donga Daily News’ official survey.

We met Big Bang’s Taeyang, who had just gotten up from a power nap, in the lobby of Mnet Media in Seoul on the afternoon of the 2nd. He had been waiting for his live stage on cable channel Mnet’s ‘M Countdown’ after finishing the pre-recording. He released his first full-length albumSOLAR’ in July following his first solo mini-album (EP) that was released in 2008.

He said, “I’m going through some of the most hectic days since Big Bang’s debut (2006).” His ‘SOLAR International Release Album,’ which included the track ‘I’ll Be There’ along with several others from his first album, was released on the 25th of last month, after which it quickly climbed the R&B/Soul charts on Apple iTunes. It was #1 in Canada, and 4th and 5th place in Japan and the United States, respectively. He will hold solo concerts on the 25th and 26th [of September] in the Hall of Peace in Seoul.

In a survey that Donga Daily News conducted amongst 21 pop music experts, Taeyang came in at 1st place for potential for solo success, 1st place in dance, and 2nd place in singing ability out of all the idol group members in the nation who are currently active.

When asked how he felt about this, he started off by giving us his trademark eye-smile. “I’m embarrassed and thankful. It makes me feel that I didn’t do all this for my album or stage performances for nothing.”

With ‘I’ll Be There’ aimed at fans abroad and released in two versions, one in English and another in Korean, and videos of foreign fans singing their versions of Taeyang’s ‘Wedding Dress’ and ‘Where U At’ being posted on YouTube, it seemed as though Taeyang would be making an entrance in the American market. “Rather than making a sudden entrance, I’m sure that the opportunity will arise if I continue to expand my horizon a little at a time.”

Taeyang chose his solo genre to be R&B, which is rare for a member of an idol group. “When I was in elementary school, I shared a room with my brother, who’s five years older than me, and he always played black music. I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, Boyz II Men, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Brian McKnight, and even Jay Z.

Because of his shy personality, whenever his parents asked about his future, he would say that he wants to become a pianist, rather than saying he wanted to become a singer. “I was too shy, because I thought my parents would make me sing if I told them I wanted to become a singer.” He knocked on the doors of YG Entertainment at the age of 12, and after making it through 6 years as a trainee, debuted as a 5-member group Big Bang.

Taeyang had been the opening performance for many American artists in their concerts in Korea, including Alicia Keys and Brian McKnight. “Standing on the same stage as my heroes from when I was younger made me so nervous. And all the while, I was a singer representing Korea, so I really wanted to do well.

He spoke out against the criticisms saying that he was copying American singer Usher. It would be embarrassing if I was simply copying Usher’s performances, but I’m confident because I understand the genealogy of the black music that he pursued. Like Usher himself said, to become the best you have to study the best.

In order to digest a sweet R&B track like ‘I Need a Girl,’ Taeyang said that he “made an effort to always be nervous. As a musician, it’s an important emotion. Honestly, after spending so much time forgetting how it feels to be nervous, I can do sad songs, but sweet love songs are difficult.”

As the interview came to a close, Taeyang held back the reporter saying that there was something he really wanted to say. “I grew up feeling different emotions analogously through music and movies, but I think we’ve reached a time where feeling such emotions is becoming more and more difficult. Competition is getting fiercer, and music and movies are quickly fading like expendables… I believe that the reason that the crimes of young people have recently become social issues is because they have yet to feel such compelling emotions. My goal is to make music that will enrich their souls.

Source: DongA Journal

Translations: seungie@tumblr


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