It’s a little after midnight in Korea, but the members of NewJeans don’t look tired at all. In fact, the five teen superstars Hyein, Danielle, Minji, Haerin, and Hanni are all smiling for a very late-night video interview. They are sitting next to each other in a conference room at the HYBE offices, which is the parent company of their label ADOR and K-pop groups like BTS. They are all wearing casual white outfits that match, like hoodies, baggy tees, crop tops, tank tops, and cargo pants. There isn’t a single piece of blue denim in the room.
The name “NewJeans” comes from how timeless and common jeans are. They came out a year ago and have been winning hearts ever since. It started out without their company giving any hints about who they were or what their band name was, which is common for K-pop acts.
They came out with the head-bobber “Attention,” and then their debut EP. In the months after that, their song “OMG” went popular, taking over TikTok For You Pages and getting fans everywhere to copy the dance moves from their music video. Not just the fans, who are called “stans” or “Bunnies”; they’ve also won over music fans who don’t listen to K-pop. This is likely because of how they mix genres.
Their songs are catchy, but they aren’t like the fast-paced pop and hip-hop-influenced music of other K-pop groups. Their music is a mix of styles, from punk to R&B to dance. From the beginning, the goal was to push the limits. Min Hee Jin, the CEO of NewJeans’ label ADOR, told Billboard earlier this year, “I wanted to break the stereotype that only certain styles of music could succeed in the so-called mainstream industry.”
But even though the sound of the group is hard to describe, people love it. In just one year, they’ve gotten 1.8 billion views on YouTube and beat Blackpink’s Lisa and BTS’s Jung Kook to become the fastest K-pop artist to reach 1 billion listens on Spotify.
K-pop Girl Group NewJeans Releases New Song and Dance Challenge
Now, the girls are getting ready for their next release, the GetUp EP, which comes out this Friday. Their latest songs, “NewJeans” and “Super Shy,” came out before that. The second one was shot in Portugal and had bright visuals and fun routines that made it perfect for a dance challenge. And sure enough, the group has teamed up with YouTube Shorts, YouTube’s site for short-form videos, for the #ImSuperShy challenge, which encourages fans to make videos with the song and show off their own versions of the dance moves.
As more fan videos come in, the “Super Shy” music video has already made it onto YouTube’s top ten list in several countries, including Korea, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. It’s a huge sign of how popular the song is and how sure it is that NewJeans will take over the world.
NewJeans have only been around for a year, but they are already excited to show a different side of themselves on their new EP. Hyein says that this record as a whole has a lot of different ideas. They give hints that their next song, “Cool With You,” which comes out on July 20 at midnight KST, will show even more of their range. Not only that, but they will also be the first K-pop girl group to appear at Lollapalooza next month.
As they wait for their next big achievement, the members of NewJeans talked to ELLE.com with the help of an interpreter about their new songs and how they deal with all of their success.
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Since “Super Shy” came out, you guys have had a great week. Can you tell me a little bit about the song’s story and how it felt to finally get it out there in the world?
Danielle: Well, “Super Shy” is such a catchy song that I think it will really get everyone up and dancing. I think the dancing really brings the whole song and vibe together.
It’s also very easy, so anyone can join in and dance to it, and there’s a lot of creativity in it. There’s a lot of room for imagination, and I can’t wait to see how everyone interprets “Super Shy.”
How did you feel when you were making the video?
Danielle: Wow, that…
Minji: Amazing. Is that right?
Danielle: Yeah, Portugal.
Hanni: It was a beautiful day.
Hyein: We laughed the whole time we were making the movie. We just had a great time and a lot of fun. I had never been to Portugal before, so the five of us got to see and explore a lot of beautiful places in Portugal and practice our routines with the local dancers. It was a lot of fun, and I think the scene with the bus was the most striking. So I think that’s something that stands out. I think that whenever I hear the song “Super Shy,” I’ll remember that scene.
Does anyone else have a favorite memory from when they worked on a movie that stands out?
Danielle: Actually, there was a park, and the buildings and scenery of Portugal were put into that scene so well that every time I see it, I think, “Gosh, the colors and everything just makes my heart tingle.” So that’s one of my favorite scenes, and I also remember that day. In fact, it was close to the ocean, and I love the water. So that whole feeling with the dancers and us dancing together in time was a moment I will never forget.
With the release of the video, you’re also doing a really fun “Super Shy” campaign with YouTube Shorts, where you encourage your fans to dance along or make their own videos of the dance. Can you tell me a bit about why you decided to work together?
Haerin: So, a lot of people watch YouTube, and the five of us do too. And it’s also how people found out about NewJeans and why they listen to our songs. So, we thought this would be a great way for Bunnies and NewJeans to work together, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Have you seen any of the takes or remixes made by fans yet? What have you done about those?
Danielle: So many.
Minji: I saw five girls dancing to “Super Shy” while wearing the exact same outfits from the music video. [Gasps]
Hanni: Oh, you mean the one I sent on the group chat?
Minji: Yes, it was a lot of fun. This is how quickly the internet works.
Hanni: In the “Super Shy” beginning, Dani is riding her bike, and when she comes over to join us, we’re just sitting and talking. I saw a video online of a K-pop dance cover group in Portugal. They were in the exact same spot and wore very similar clothes to the ones in the scene. And I said, “Oh my God!” and sent it to the group chat right away. We’re all like, “What is this? It’s so cool!” They looked the same in every way.
Danielle: It was also so much fun to see how [the fans] reacted to everything and how they interacted with it. We all like it a lot. [They all smile.]
I love how you said that you like to watch YouTube a lot. Do you also try to learn the moves and routines of other artists?
Hanni: I think that, yes, we do watch a lot of YouTube. We watch a lot of stages, live performances, and set lists on YouTube together, especially when it comes to artists from other countries or some of our own singers who are also pushing their careers. It’s a lot of fun to see. It’s so great to be there and have that kind of stage right now.
Danielle: Even before we practiced, we’d turn on a stage like a show, which would inspire us, and then everyone would be like, “Yeah, let’s do this!”
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It’s like having a watch party. Have you seen any recent shows that you really liked?
Danielle: Not too long ago, I saw Bruno Mars and Beyoncé perform live. Actually, I saw this a long time ago, and I loved it so much that I watched it again right before I went on stage. And that gave me a lot of motivation.
Hanni: I thought of one right away: Becky G’s performance of “Shower” at Coachella this year was…I got chills when I saw the video. So, when we were all together at dance practice, I played it on the screen for everyone, and we all just sat there in awe, watching people with shivers and a sense of nostalgia. It was so much fun to watch.
When we talk about videos, the visuals are such a big part of the NewJeans brand, from “OMG” and “Ditto” to “Super Shy” and I’m sure more of your hits are to come. How important do you think pictures and films are to your work?
Haerin: It’s important to express ourselves through music, but I also think that the visuals and movies play a big part in making a story flow. So, I think that the visuals and the movies really make it easier for fans to connect with our music and get into it.
We can’t wait to hear your new EP Get Up, which will be out soon. What can you say to make fun of it? What can we expect from this new song, and how was it to work on it?
Hyein: So, this new EP called “Get Up,” which will be out soon, has six different songs. Two of the songs, “NewJeans” and “Super Shy,” have been put out so far. Overall, there are a lot of different ideas on this record. So, each song will have its own feel. So, just listening to the whole record is going to be a lot of fun. I think that a lot of the songs will be a little different from what you’ve heard from us so far. I think this is especially true of the fourth track, “Cool with You,” because it features a NewJeans performance that you haven’t seen yet. So I hope you’ll be very excited about it.
I’d love to know how it’s different from the other things you’ve put out. This time, did you want to try anything new, like a new sound or a different way of thinking?
Minji: There are many. For instance, “Super Shy,” We kind of danced, didn’t we, Hyein and I? So, I think it’s a hard task. And these two girls [pointing to Haerin and Hanni] had blonde hair in the music video.
Hanni: It was hair, even though it was a weave.
Minji: It was good for you.
Danielle: And it gives away a little bit about the other songs to come: The dance steps are very different from anything we’ve done before.
Minji: This is very different.
Danielle: “Cool with You” in particular, and the way the whole music video was shot was very different.
Minji: It sounds like a movie, doesn’t it?
Danielle: The whole atmosphere. So, I hope you’re excited about it.
Minji: [Covering her mouth with her hand] It was a bit of a tease.
Danielle: What? No!
I’m sure you will still surprise us. You’ve all gotten so much better in the last year. How do you feel about all your wins and accomplishments, and what do they mean to you?
Hanni: It seems so strange. Yes, that’s the case. I think it’s especially crazy to see so many people listen to our songs, let alone dance to them, enjoy them, and talk about them on social media. And it’s so cool to see that it’s spread all over the world, which we never thought would happen. We are still so thankful and surprised all the time, but it’s been a lot of fun.
Also, I think a lot of people forget that there are a lot of people working behind the scenes who don’t get as much credit as they should because we’re not the only ones doing everything. We couldn’t do all of this without the help of our staff, our label staff, our CEO, our teachers, and our managers.
There are a lot of long hours, hard work, and effort, and we’re just at the front showing everyone. So, I think all the things we’ve been able to do and crazy things we’ve been able to do in the past year just remind us how thankful we are to everyone who has helped us along the way. It’s been wonderful. So fun.
It looks like a lot of fun for you guys to play and make music together. How has your friendship helped your music, and what have you learned from working together?
Minji: So, as I get to know my coworkers better and spend more time with them, I’ve noticed that our teamwork is getting stronger and more solid. I really felt that way, especially as I was getting ready to make this EP and as I was making it. We did some shooting overseas, in a place we didn’t know well, but we really looked out for each other, and I could tell that our members were leaning on each other [leans her head on Haerin]. So it was a really good experience that taught me how important it is to work as a team and how much we really care about each other.