K-pop group Pentagon talks about mango juice and being “makulit”

It’s Valentine’s Day on our side of the world, and while it’s already 10:30 p.m. in Seoul (and 9:30 p.m. in Manila), seven members of K-pop group Pentagon (stylized as “PENTAGON”) are still doing interviews. to wrap up promotions for their recent mini-album.

For a group that has earned a reputation for being upbeat on stage, it’s a bit of a new show, see Jinho, Hongseok, Shinwon, Yanan, Yuto, Wooseok, and Kino (Hui is still in the military while Yeo One is recovering from an injury) in a rather formal setting – they’re seated around a rectangular office conference table, with black floor-standing microphones that have a button you press to talk. As the translator interprets my first question, I mentally note that I feel like I’m dealing with United Nations representatives – or rather – officials of the (real) Pentagon.

But the ice is quickly broken when main dancer and acting leader Kino delivers his first line in English.

My question is about mangoes – specifically the “sweet as mango juice” line in “Call My Name”, the fourth track from their new mini album “INVITE:U”. Kino and Wooseok – the youngest of the group – co-wrote the track, so I ask them who came up with it.

Kino replies that it was him, laughing as he offers a short but sweet explanation: “I was looking for a very funny but sexy word. So it was mango juice. I felt [that] it’s sweet and sexy.

He doesn’t elaborate further, but I see the other members laughing in the background, especially as I mention that mango is the national fruit of the Philippines.

Kino adds, “Besides, I lived in the Philippines for three months. I love the Philippines! (he has already talked about his stay here at several videos). Then Hongseok chimes in to joke, “The original lyrics were ‘sweet like mango rice,’ but he chose to change them to mango juice.”

Photos from the Pentagon’s media showcase for “INVITE:U” show the different sides of the group. Photo courtesy of CUBE

As cute as Kino’s “behind” story is, a look at the official press release description for “Call My Name” (it’s a song meant to describe “lip rubbing while calling [a lover’s] Name, [and] this overwhelming tension at this precise moment”) reminds them of what this album means to them.

“INVITE:U” is the Pentagon’s way of injecting maturity and sexiness into their identity, a statement that they’re still not afraid to try new things despite six already illustrious years in the industry. .

For this mini-album, they push the bar even further, exploring temptation, seduction and the “powerful attraction that stimulates the five senses” in their visuals as well as their lyrics.

Since debuting in 2016, Pentagon has been named for being an all-around player, with strengths in the “five elements an idol must have: voice/rap, dance, teamwork, talent and spirit”.

Although it’s common for K-pop boy groups to start with a tame “innocent” concept at first (see: schoolboy uniforms or bubblegum-colored outfits) and eventually evolve into more “mature” visuals and risky (see: harness and all black outfits), the Pentagon has always oscillated between these contrasts.

The band’s reputation as “genre hoppers” has earned them much acclaim, though seen by some as a weakness. Members, however, argue that this has been and always has been the Pentagon’s strength. Hongseok says that during promotions for “IN: FAST,” they found they could still channel their playful side even through this more mature concept.

“There isn’t a particular concept that we really like to pursue or prefer to do on stage,” Hongseok says. “Before making this album, we used to have fun, playing on stage because that’s what we actually thought about our identity. Right now, after promoting ‘Feelin’ Like’ , I guess performing on stage doesn’t have to be literally performing on stage.

I tell them that before the call, I was trying to figure out how to describe their signature style, and the only word that came to mind was the Filipino word “makulit,” which could mean playful or naughty, depending on meaning. you intended.

“Oh, I like that word,” Hongseok says, and Shinwon repeats it, making sure to spell out every syllable.

Pentagon members Jinho, Shinwon, Yanan and Yeo One. Photo courtesy of CUBE

As a self-producing group, Pentagon is also known for its many musical experiences. Listen carefully to each of their releases, and you will discover new things each time.

From a production perspective, you can spot plenty of musical Easter eggs in “INVITE:U.” In “Call My Name” alone, there are audible snippets of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” during the chorus, and in “The Game”, their senior member Jinho does all the background vocals in the opera. as well as the intro.

“I used to pretend I was singing opera when we had fun and I don’t know if that’s why we did it, but I think that’s how they got the idea to include it in the song,” says Jinho. .

Shinwon explains that another nuance that international fans would be interested to know is that the song “One Shot,” co-written by himself and Wooseok, has a double meaning.

“The Korean title for this is ‘Han tang. It can be like the [literal] The English title ‘one shot’ (like literally taking a shot) or in Korean it can be something like ‘let’s give it a chance’ or ‘let’s give it a chance’,” he says in Korean.

“Or rather, ‘Let’s rock & roll!'” Hongseok clarified in English.

Pentagon members Kino, Wooseok, Yuto and Hongseok. Photos courtesy of CUBE

As for following the trends of the K-pop space in creating their music, Jinho adds that their music is usually the product of everything they listen to. “We’ve been producing ourselves for a while now and they’re not necessarily trying to do it the Pentagon way. It’s the result of making music in a way that we love. We don’t try to do that, but it happens naturally.

He adds, “First we think about the concept of the album, then we think about the composers and the producers who write the songs accordingly, and what kind of genre each of them writes.”

To end the interview, I asked each member what motivates them these days. Below are their responses.

Jinho: I think I make a living doing my best, giving it my all in every moment not to leave and regret and learn from it.

Hongseok: CNN Philippines gives me a reason to live. My reason for living is to have an interview with CNN Philippines. It doesn’t matter if I die tomorrow. Remember my name. Hongseok from the Pentagon.

Wooseok: Recently, while writing songs, I’ve seen fans find solace and confidence through [them], and I’ve also heard that a few have found jobs and achieved their goals. Before that moment I was an artist because I loved that work, but now I think there’s a new meaning to it. Remember my name. (Laughs).

Yann: Personally, I don’t try to look too much into the future, because you never know what will happen in the future, and I rather look to the present. The driving force, the thing that drives you is not [necessarily] constantly there. I understand when I meet fans and such, but I think what’s most important is the will to keep going.

Yuto: I think imagining my old self, my future self is what drives me. Even though it’s not something I want to do now, I think about how it will affect me in the future. This allows me to continue.

Movie theater : For me, creating something new makes me feel alive and makes me alive, maybe. It’s my driving force.

Shinwun: The endless challenges I try to set myself give me meaning. A life with endless challenges. I am a challenger.

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