Article. Yoon Haein
Photo Credit. &TEAM YouTube
&TEAM has made their debut in Japan and they constantly upload new content as they move back and forth between there and Korea. The nine members fully commit to the unique concepts behind every video, and even in their simple vlogs they’re endlessly entertaining. With different members coming from different countries, the group can speak five languages between them, and it’s endlessly entertaining to hear them speaking together in a mix of different tongues. That includes times when EJ, the only Korean member, responds cheekily in Japanese, and when the Japanese members goof around in Korean. If you’re LUNÉ and new to the world of &TEAM, read on for YouTube recommendations that will help give you a sense of how entertaining, passionate, and cohesive the group really is.
The endlessly entertaining &TEAM: NIGHTBALL CLUB
To mark their recent comeback, &TEAM launched a new series, called NIGHTBALL CLUB, and it opens with a disclaimer: “This drama is a work of fiction. All characters and events are fictitious.” In NIGHTBALL CLUB, the members of the group portray students on the Sunshine City nightball team, a school and sport invented for DARK MOON, the group’s original series. Though the series is “a work of fiction,” aspects of the members’ real personalities leak in, like how NICHOLAS is always snapping photos, and YUMA keeps vitamins and traditional Korean medicine in his locker. Typical school story tropes are added in for good measure, as with HARUA playing the enthusiastic but clumsy bespectacled student, EJ as the stand-offish but popular boy, and TAKI portraying, as the others come to find out, the school director’s grandson. But the funniest moments in NIGHTBALL CLUB are when the idols slip out of character. It’s hysterical watching as TAKI, who’s supposed to be in the same year as K, keeps addressing K as hyeong per their real age gap, or as JO plays against type as a tough guy, complete with a bandage on his face—something so out of character that the whole group ruins the take by bursting out laughing, no doubt sending LUNÉ into fits of laughter as well.
The &TEAM members’ knack for being entertaining can’t be overstated. Just look at the way youngest member MAKI pranks the others with a gag potato chip can (befitting of his true character), or how K tries to keep playing a melodica he pulls out of a locker even while being tickled. They even play a game of copycat where they split into two teams and one strikes a challenging pose for the other to emulate, but with poses that look so difficult as to be impossible, in the end it becomes a contest of who’s the most flexible and has the most core strength—until they come crashing down in a hilarious moment of slapstick comedy. There’s no way you won’t be on the floor laughing when you see and hear the nine of them joking around, playing off one another and staying in character. Don’t miss this over-the-top school sketch show punctuated by handsome young men acting like they’re in a comic book.
Nine members, nine different personalities: Prank and “&BTI”
How would you react if you were taking a personality test and there was a completely different person sitting in front of you when you looked up? That’s the premise of the first episode of Prank, where the nine members of &TEAM reveal aspects of their personality in real time for viewers—albeit unwittingly. While each idol is busy taking the test in turn, the producer and an identically dressed actor swap places. Some of the boys aren’t fooled for a second, although some of them are too polite to say anything. On the other end of the spectrum are the sweetly naive ones who don’t even realize anything’s amiss until the crew tells them directly that it's a prank. In the second episode of Prank, the staff pretends to spill a cup of fake coffee, but by that point, the &TEAM members have already learned to spot a prank in the wild. Some of them even give tips on how the staff can better fool their next victim. Although it’s fun to watch the boys’ reactions to the prank, it’s also just nice to see them trying to help clean up the spill when they still believe it could be real. If you’re curious to see even more footage shedding light on the &TEAM members’ personalities, there’s “&BTI,” where all nine of them take an MBTI test—a de facto requirement for idols appealing to the Korean market these days. While waiting on the edge of your seat to hear their results, it’s also fun just watching all of them discuss everyday situations. How many times could you go out in a week? What would you do if you didn’t like a meal your friend cooked for you? If you were to get a day off now, how would you spend it? It’s all hypothetical, but the boys take the questions very seriously, sometimes telling stories about the others or discussing their habits now that they’ve lived together for some time. The fact that they agree so strongly with the results their groupmates receive shows just how well they’ve gotten to know each other. If you watch all that and still want to learn more about their personalities, check out TMI TALK with &PROFILE, where they write bios for each other, and “&TEAM Exam,” where they have to try and figure out which of the group members corresponds to each fact (or, in the case of TAKI’s amazing talents: smell).
&TEAM adjusts to K-work: Idol Human Theater
&TEAM first debuted in Japan but has also done promotions in Korea since releasing their second mini album, First Howling: WE. The group not only makes appearances on the usual music shows, but also on web series that have become integral to the Korean idol circuit. That includes doing an episode of Idol Human Theater, where they’re so proficient in being funny in Korean that you’d be forgiven for thinking they're native speakers. NICHOLAS pulls out a Korean slang term somewhat akin to “boomer” and says he “learned it to [describe] EJ,” while K humblebrags about how often he gets a chance to use the phrase, “I don’t know how to react.” In the episode, the group learns “dramatic comments,” a part of “K-idol’s essential culture.” One of the members reads out the words, “MAKI is not nice. You landed on my heart,” to which HARUA responds with a sad face that it’s “bad” to call someone “not nice.” But viewers will surely smile at this cute exchange. It’s also fun watching how the members never miss an opportunity to gang up on one of their own, not to mention the show’s trademark gag of talking bad in front of, not behind, others’ backs.
Some other series you can watch to catch up on &TEAM’s past work in Korea are EUNCHAE’s Star Diary (talking about what it’s like for groups to move back and forth between Korea and Japan), Tingle Interview (JO and HARUA giving a very quiet mukbang performance), Leemujin Service (youngest member MAKI covers songs in a variety of different genres), and Idol’s Physical Race (showing off the &TEAM members’ physical prowess; read on for more about their appearance on this series).
&TEAM enjoying their K-life: Our Diary
Although &TEAM comes to Korea to promote their music, they also get to spend some time enjoying sights both familiar and novel. And that’s where their vlog Our Diary comes in. FUMA and NICHOLAS accompany YUMA, who’s very health-conscious, to an oriental medicine clinic. There, they experience body constitution exam (which somehow ends up saying something of their personalities as well), chuna, traditional medicine, and gongjindan (itself a traditional herbal medicine. The three of them also unexpectedly put their Korean language skills to the test while filling out forms.) In other videos, JO, HARUA, and MAKI go around to a couple photo booths—par for the course among Koreans their age these days—while another episode sees EJ, K, and JO skating at an ice rink and eating Korean street foods like tteokbokki and sotteok-sotteok (sausage and rice cake skewers). Korean LUNÉ will feel a sense of familiarity watching the boys visiting places that people their age love going to, while LUNÉ from other countries can take their destinations as recommendations for travel. As a bonus, we also get to listen to the members of the group cheerfully and casually exchange thoughts on everyday life and these new experiences. If you crave more videos of the gang having a ball in Korea, take a look at the short “&TOUR with EJ” hosted by the group’s Korean leader, as well as “&TEAM PARK,” where they visit Wolmi Theme Park and its famously high-swinging Viking ship ride (and even though it’s intimidating just to look at, EJ and FUMA are perfectly tranquil as they ace a lightning round quiz while riding).
Working out the &TEAM way: Idol’s Physical Race
Considering how intense &TEAM’s choreography is and how much practice they put in, it’s no surprise that the boys are as in shape as they are. On top of their own material, the series Idol’s Physical Race is a perfect showcase of the &TEAM members’ athletic abilities. The show rates each idol’s physical aptitude using a standardized national fitness test. K, who was a marathon runner back in his high school days, breaks so many records during the &TEAM episode that the show’s producers give up recording his times for long-distance runs altogether. FUMA is so well-rounded that his personal trainers suggest he change his occupation. NICHOLAS, an ex-badminton player and a natural, TAKI and HARUA as most likely to make everyone laugh, and EJ, simply described as “the leader,” all achieve the highest level in shuttle running. Clearly, the whole team is above average when it comes to fitness. If you watch this and still want to see the boys performing at an even higher level, don’t miss K, FUMA, and NICHOLAS learning acrobatics in the second episode of Our Diary. They all make light work of the basic moves and quickly pick up the harder ones, taking their instructor by surprise. (Bonus points as well for K and NICHOLAS’ slapstick work when their fear holds them back from pulling off some of the harder moves.)
&TEAM is all about teamwork: WE LINK!
The group’s “ONE TWO, WE LINK!” catchphrase is a literal expression of the connection at the core of &TEAM. The group’s series WE LINK! gives a behind-the-scenes look at the nine-way teamwork that goes into pulling together their short-form video challenges. The nine of them need to link arms and stand up all together, then walk single file without dropping or popping the balloons between them. Next, the boys need to swap spots without knocking over an umbrella. When they succeed, they’re over the Moon; when they fail, they plead with their staff to give them one more shot. In the longer behind-the-scenes video of the challenge, viewers get a peek at how the members keep each other’s spirits up. For example, when YUMA figures out the secret behind untangling their arms quickly, he says, “&TEAM, let’s use our brains!” And from there he leads the whole group to success. The others call him the MVP and “the true brain” as a result. On the other hand, when they struggle with one of the more difficult challenges, they pick each other back up, as when NICHOLAS tells the others with his trademark laid-back words not to worry because it’s just a game. Then there’s K, who carefully analyzes their efforts to find the point of failure and whips up a solution while keeping receptive to ideas from the youngest members, including HARUA, so they can push forward and complete the challenge successfully. As always, teamwork makes the dream work.
&TEAM’s dance chops on display: “‘Road Not Taken’ Dance Practice”
“We got the timing of all the movements right,” Lee Sebastien Satoru, a representative from the Performance Directing department under HYBE LABELS JAPAN that which handles &TEAM’s choreography, told Weverse Magazine, describing how they orchestrate everything “down to the sound of their footsteps, and even the sound of putting their hands on their bodies, of their fabric rubbing together, and even as they move quickly through the air.” &TEAM’s performances are the peak of idols dancing perfectly in sync. Just look at the “FIREWORK” choreography: The members fall over one after the other like dominoes, let one person take the center while the other eight paint a tableau in the background before connecting it to the next dance move, and shift into the chorus with perfectly timed movements that imitate running. “Road Not Taken” opens with YUMA and MAKI pulling each other to keep balance. Later, MAKI jumps up, across, and off the others’ backs, HARUA sings while being picked up and lying back on top of the group, and NICHOLAS is lifted up into the air just as the music briefly drops out. It’s a highly technical show of talent and a perfect display of how well they keep in sync. And you can tell how considerate the &TEAM members are when practicing. EJ has talked about how they’re “always talking with each other to make sure we’re all able to do it without issue.” YUMA has noted that “it’s harder for the taller ones” at times. And FUMA, the SP (security police) of the group, has said he gives “general advice on how to make sure they can pull things off.” One look at how tight &TEAM’s group choreography is is all the proof you need of how much they practice—and it’s all that time practicing together that makes their teamwork come across as so intuitive. And that makes everyone that much more excited for the performances they’ll put on in the future.
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