As K-pop band (G)-IDLE speed toward their five-year anniversary in May 2023, the girls are ending 2022 with two major milestones: Their mini album I love, which was released in October, became their first work to chart on the Billboard 200, and they just completed their first world tour. It’s been a rejuvenating experience for the now-five-member girl group, which has 8.8 million fans (their fanbase is called “Neverland”) on Instagram alone. As MINNIE tells ELLE.com of their time on the road, “The atmosphere was so different, and the energy was so good that we gained a lot of strength.”
(G)-IDLE’s music doesn’t live in the shallow, sugary love-song end of the lyrical pool. I love is the kind of mature exploration of self worth that invites deeper reflection on what it really means to love yourself, whether it’s questioning society’s over-sexualization of women in the first track “Nxde” (English translation of one particularly poignant lyric: “I’m born nude / And you’re the pervert”) or describing how someone can reshape themselves for a partner in “Sculpture” (English translation of one telling lyric: “Even if there are cracks in my sculpted body / Yeah, I think it’s easier to lose me than to lose you”).
There’s a lot to unpack from the work—and the girls of (G)I-DLE encourage listeners to take the time the way they did themselves. “Each track expresses the process of loving yourself through the love of others,” SHUHUA says.
In a brief e-mail interview, MIYEON, MINNIE, SOYEON, YUQI, and SHUHUA talk to ELLE.com about what they learned about self-love, the meaning of I love as a whole, and what to expect next from them on tour and beyond.
Your mini album I love explores self-love. What did creating this album teach you about loving yourself?
MIYEON: Rather than preparing for this album, I always thought a lot about what way I can love myself. The first is to think about myself first when making any decision. In the past, I considered more about my surroundings and the people around me, but these days I think that making my decision for me is deciding for my surroundings.
MINNIE: I learned to show my weakness confidently. Originally, I thought showing my weakness was a disadvantage, but it shows like that anyways. I learned how to give love and show it more unless it hurts others.
SOYEON: On this album, I didn’t try to look good. Also, it didn’t matter if I get cursed at. As a result, I naturally learned how to love myself and fully focus on myself without caring about [how I look in] other people’s eyes.
YUQI: The most important thing is not to care about other people’s judgment and not to [let that] affect me. I can focus and love myself more in my world because I do not get any [negative] influence[s].
What track are you most proud of and why?
SHUHUA: For me, it’s our title track “Nxde.” The message that this track gives is a cool, meaningful message, so I hope this track will resonate around the world.
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You just wrapped your world tour at the beginning of this month. What was your favorite memory from tour? How has the experience playing for your fans inspired you musically?
MINNIE: Since it was our first world tour, we worked hard, and it was our first time meeting our fans worldwide. The atmosphere was so different, and the energy was so good that we gained a lot of strength. We especially had a concert in my hometown [in] Thailand which was my dream.
What can you tease about what you want your next tour to look like?
MINNIE: For the next tour, we want to visit countries that we could not visit on our first world tour and meet more [of] Neverland [our fanbase]. We will prepare better music and show a better performance and music, so please look forward to it.
Next May will mark the fifth anniversary of your debut. What are you most proud of accomplishing since your debut? Do you have any new dream goals to accomplish in the music industry?
YUQI: Recently, our concert and a world tour is most memorable, [particularly] during our Seoul concert, when the curtain went up. This was one of the reasons why I started liking K-pop when I was [a] kid and wanted to perform on a great stage. So, it felt like I went back to my old days. I’ve worked so hard for this! This is the reason why I became a singer. I was proud and happy.
What can you tease about what’s coming next for you? Are there any themes you’d like to explore in your music next?
MIYEON: I think the biggest strength of our group is that we have various tones. Even if it is not a dance song, I think an R&B or ballad song would go well [for us]. I want to sing a song that can show off our vocals and voices more. It’ll be different.
You can stream I Love here on Spotify and here on YouTube.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.