Across the Border, ENHYPEN is Coming

Myungseok Kang:
To get to know ENHYPEN, you don’t have to watch “I-LAND,” the survival reality show that followed their debut, nor the videos that depict their universe, which can be interpreted as a vampire story. If you watch the performance of “Given-Taken,” the title song of their album BORDER : DAY ONE, you can cross the border and enter the world of ENHYPEN. The performance begins with the members standing in a huddle. But soon, they spread out across the stage like a blossoming flower. As the song progresses, the seven members act out the lyrics through their performances as if it were a screenplay. As HEESEUNG sings the first line, “Wake up in day one,” he opens one finger to gesture “Day One,” which leads to JAY’s line, “The light set me on fire,” where he falters as if he is about to die. When JAKE sings “when we waited for that sky,” running and pointing to the sky, the rest of the members make way for him. Each part turns the singing member into the protagonist while the others form the background forming a dance-drama in which the storyline and the mise-en-scène are portrayed with the bodies of the members. During “Calling me over the thin line”, the six members create a border-like background and brush past the one singing. And with the lyrics “Me calling you,” the members who were in the background gather around the main actor to raise him up. The moment the main actor and the ones in the background are connected as one, their perfectly synchronized dancing follows, adding a catharsis to the performance that blurs the lines between acting, the background, and dancing.

In the highlight of the chorus, the members form a cluster to prowl slowly like a wild beast. Yet, when the same melody is repeated, they perform slow disco moves that resemble the cheerful dances of musical actors and actresses. What connects the two distinct moves are the choreographies common in K-POP performances. The chorus is a combination of different genres, but within the heavy, slow atmosphere of the song, the moves that speed up and down to the music create a consistent feel.. Based on the classic riff that reminds us of the werewolf movie Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf from 40 years ago, rather than the more recent film series Twilight, the sound supported by the trap beat gives the dark and spacious feel of an empty field in the pitch-black night. ENHYPEN’s performance in the chorus depicts the slow and plaintive emergence of a being with “white fangs” that is met with the “fate’s rain of arrows”. Categorizing the song into any single genre is meaningless, and it is anyone’s guess when the song is set in with the addition of elements from different time periods, but it clearly paints a specific emotional picture. The life of a vampire is rendered into a K-POP performance that incorporates the ambience of classical tragedies. In “Black Swan,” BTS added contemporary dance to a hip hop beat within the conventional K-POP song running time. It was clear that K-POP is not just a genre but a collection of individual works, each with their own format and narrative. And now, on the “fourth generation” stage where boundaries no longer hold meaning, the tragic beginning of a being with pointed fangs unfolds.Even if ENHYPEN sounds completely unfamiliar, anyone will know what they are doing as soon as you watch their performance. The peculiar boys quietly draw closer, just like a pack of wolves.

You and I, and the Narrative of Love

Minji Oh:
ENHYPEN’s debut album, BORDER : DAY ONE, is about “us,” “you and I,” and “love.” In “Intro : Walk the Line,” “Given-Taken,” and “Outro : Cross the Line,” the main character of the album’s narrative and the subject of the narration is “us”—the boys who survived on the border. And in “Let Me In (20 CUBE),” “10 Months,” and “Flicker,” the words “I” and “you” are mentioned frequently in the lyrics talking about love. In “Intro : Walk the Line,” the members who once stood on the borderline “because the world carved us into it” start walking the line to “carve our stunning dawn onto it.” And in the title song “Given-Taken,” the lyrics remind us of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” alludes to the famous existential question “to be or not to be.” The concerns ENHYPEN have are similar, as can be seen in the lyrics “left on the crossroads of proof between given and taken.” Just like the new artist group ENHYPEN, whose story has just begun, the song’s protagonist becomes aware of what he has to do in life and contemplates his existence. What allows the protagonist and ENHYPEN to cross the border and adapt in reality is none other than love. Through love, the boy who has been trying to figure out who he is, gradually adapts to the world and becomes a brighter person by charmingly confessing his desire to enter his lover’s world, singing “don’t push me away, accept me permit me” in “Let Me In (20 CUBE),” and likening himself to a 10-month-old puppy who has grown into a mature dog in “10 Months.” This is ENHYPEN’s way of appealing to their fans. While “Flicker” is a song about “I” who is waiting for “you who can signal and recognize,” it could also be interpreted as a song about the protagonist’s past or origin, as it points out that the “you” and “I” mentioned in “Let Me In (20 CUBE)” and “10 Months” were meant to be. Consider this: “Flicker” was released on “I-LAND,” which essentially dealt with ENHYPEN’s past and origin. Whether the production team intended it or not, such overlap makes the song all the more interesting.

BORDER : DAY ONE begins as the song’s protagonist comes out to the world and falls in love. Shortly afterward, the protagonist discovers his fate that began in the past, and as he has done throughout the album, wonders where his footsteps will lead him next and whether the final destination will be “given or taken.” Eventually, “Outro : Cross the Line” concludes the album as the boy finally crosses the line and manages to live on, looking forward to the hope that will arrive like the dawn. In this regard, the album is almost like a soundtrack album of an imaginary film, and such composition is perfect for ENHYPEN, who came into the world through a reality survival show and has already been building up the team’s narrative for the past few months. The three love-themed songs in the album, in particular, sing of the protagonist’s love for “you,” whose gender or identity is unknown, like the “thee” from sonnets. And interestingly enough, quotes from Shakespeare’s sonnets and tragedy “Hamlet,” such as “carved,” “fate’s rain of arrows,” and “it must follow, as the night the day” appear here and there, fitting beautifully into ENHYPEN’s narrative. The classic literature goes well with the mysterious and fantastic mood of the album and leaves room for diverse interpretations of the journey ENHYPEN has made so far. The album is ENHYPEN’s first step toward the new world, and the underlying concerns and fears are revealed. However, their mission is to survive and take down the carnival-like days, where the line between life and death is blurred. ENHYPEN’s “day one” in the new world has begun in the album. Their concerns at the borderline and the stories of someone they love are the universal concerns their peers will face and the stories ENHYPEN experiences in the real world. Between the border of life and death, and the given and taken, they live the days presented to them and hope for “waking from a dreamless sleep to begin dream-like tomorrow” as the final lyrics of “Outro : Cross the Line” go. The first season of ENHYPEN’s story has begun, with many more in the years to come.

ENHYPEN’s “Fantasy” Meets the Reality

Yejin Lee:
From the debut trailers to the concept photos and intro videos, ENHYPEN’s debut promotion content shows the members going back and forth between the fantasy world and reality. The white ruffle shirts the members are wearing and the rays of strong light illuminating their faces stand in stark contrast to the dark red and black background. Thanks to the sharp contrast, ENHYPEN’s concept photo “DUSK” brings the viewers’ attention to the members surrounding the throne, which sits at the top of the staircase covered with the red carpet. In the next set of photos, the vintage objets next to the members, such as the candlesticks, candlelight, teacups, and glasses, create a classic mood and hints that ENHYPEN is in a fictional space and time somewhere in the past. The bold contrast and dazzling colors of “DUSK” give an unrealistic feel, and the fantasy-like photos describe ENHYPEN’s desire for the throne as they stand at the starting point of debut. In the real world, where ENHYPEN awaits their debut, the “throne” is expressed as a symbol of “the things ENHYPEN wants to achieve after debut.” As the DUSK falls and DAWN comes up, ENHYPEN puts on the image of the modern-day youth and starts chasing the unforeseeable future. The “DAWN” version of the concept photos capture this moment, depicting an image completely different from that of “DUSK.” There are no background setups, luxurious props, bright lights, fancy costumes, or perfect hair and makeup. At the crack of dawn, what appears on the secluded field is the silhouette of seven boys looking wild and natural. The concept photos “DUSK” and “DAWN” each stand for the fictional and real-world and indicate that ENHYPEN will cross the border of the two worlds. In the meantime, the debut trailer “Dusk-Dawn”hints that ENHYPEN’s universe is based on the life of a vampire from classic literature. The members of ENHYPEN, who were curled up in the middle of a lush forest, make mysterious movements that remind us of a vampire before finally waking up. The dusky sky they come together to look at is soon replaced by the scene from the reality depicted in “Intro : Walk the Line” of their debut album, BORDER : DAY ONE. The sun rises and falls above and below the horizon that continues to appear in the intro video. And the boys standing at the borderline between the light and darkness say they will “walk” the line rather than “cross” it. The unique choice of word reflects ENHYPEN’s ambition to take with them both the fantasy world and reality that light and darkness, as well as DUSK and DAWN, symbolize. It reflects their desire to bring the eternity of the classic vampire character into reality. In the title song “Given-Taken,” someone shouts that they will “Prove yourself by overturning the world” with “white fangs” and “red eyes,” but it is unclear whether it is coming from the vampire or ENHYPEN. However, it doesn’t really matter who that may be. ENHYPEN will walk the borderline between the fantasy world and reality and go back and forth between them to build their own growth narrative no matter what. ENHYPEN’s “fantasy” that will connect the fantasy world and reality has already begun.

Article. Myungseok Kang, Minji Oh, Yejin Lee
Design. Yurim Jeon
Photo Credit. BELIFT LAB