We’re taking a break from our 2021 Annual Report to recognize our last Artist of the Month of the year! AOTM is an accolade given to an up-and-coming artist or group who is poised for the big time. In December 2021, we recognize K-pop act TOMORROW X TOGETHER, who continue to solidify themselves as 4th-generation leaders in the genre.
Throughout 2021, TOMORROW X TOGETHER was frozen in time.
The K-pop group (whose name is often shortened to TXT) burst onto the international scene with a remarkable debut in 2019 and quickly amassed a no-skips reputation. The still very young group was poised to explode in 2020 — when the world, of course, came to a screeching halt.
It must have been somewhat frustrating for the five members — Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun and Hueningkai — but if that’s the case, it hasn’t managed to deter their output, nor their optimism. So here we are in 2021, witnessing a group that spent the year managing to break through to the next level with their new set of albums, collectively referred to as The Chaos Chapter.
Being able to pull off this kind of year under these circumstances is all part of the reason TOMORROW X TOGETHER is our December Artist of the Month. The group joined Consequence for a conversation over Zoom digging into their new heights, goals for 2022, and next steps.
The first entry into the new album series was The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE in May. From the first concept trailer, the metaphor was clear: Through circumstances beyond their control, the boys are stuck. The tracks here touched on some darker themes than TXT’s otherwise largely bright discography had before. “Say you love me, say you love me/ Till the end of the world/ All or nothing, I want all of you,” they sing desperately on the aching “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” featuring Seori.
“This album was the start of a new series, so it was a new challenge for us as well in terms of both sound and concept,” Beomgyu tells Consequence in reference to The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE.
While their music is accessible across ages, the demographic for whom TXT speaks is largely Gen-Z — the members themselves range in age from 19 to 22 years old. These feelings of being trapped, of their youth being robbed, and of the world spinning around them while they stay stuck in one place are hallmarks of existing as a young person right now.
It’s clear that the album, with its exceptional production and performances, resonated with people. The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 back in June, became the first K-pop album of 2021 to spend thirteen weeks on the chart, and ultimately placed at number 197 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart of 2021.
“I sometimes worried about how we were doing with our music, but then we heard the good news and thought, ‘I guess we are continuing to grow after all.’ Many people are listening to and liking our music,” shares Soobin, recalling the experience of finding out the album debuted at No. 5. “I’m very thankful for that.”
Next came The Chaos Chapter: FIGHT OR ESCAPE, where the guys leaned even further into the angst. Their first repackaged album, FIGHT OR ESCAPE expanded the story with songs like “LO$ER=LO♡ER,” an edgy, rock-inspired track that joined the group’s hit “Anti-Romantic” for an explosion of its own on TikTok.
“With each album, the scale of experiences and emotions we deal with expands. The more we experience, the wider our outlook of the world becomes,” Taehyun says of the new direction explored in The Chaos Chapter: FIGHT OR ESCAPE.
Vaccine rollout continues in South Korea, and conditions for live shows are slowly improving across the globe (variant concerns notwithstanding). As lovely as it is to experience massive sales and exhilarating chart success, the members of TOMORROW X TOGETHER are focused on their fans, collectively referred to as MOA. “One of our goals is to go on tour again as soon as possible and meet our fans around the world,” Hueningkai says.
It seems like TXT is keenly aware of the solidarity that is possible in this time and the experiences that tether young people together. When asked about what’s been creatively inspiring them these days, Yeonjun gives a thoughtful answer: “No matter where we are, there are a few sentiments that people our age tend to have in common, and there are so many stories our fans tell us that we then get inspired by as well.”
“We want our fans to be proud of standing with us and telling our story together,” Hueningkai confirms.
It’s hard not to be proud of this group, and nearly impossible not to be endeared by the members. Last month, Hueningkai posted a TikTok of his daily routine, encouraging fans to eat with him throughout the day, a simple but heartening gesture from someone in a corner of the industry previously largely known for its strict regimens. The group casually represents a new kind of masculinity; Yeonjun recently tweeted a photo in a long skirt, captioned, “Men can also wear skirts, everyone,” with a smiley-face emoji.
The group concluded their new music rollouts with Chaotic Wonderland, TXT’s first foray into Japanese releases. The EP includes an original track (“Ito,” with gorgeously stacked harmonies) and Japanese-language versions of tracks from other parts of The Chaos Chapter. One is a song called “MOA Diary (Dubaddu Wari Wari)” and is, as the name suggests, a love letter to TXT’s beloved fans. “The time spent between you and I is like a dream/ Let’s gather together forever/ Until we’re shining again,” they sing.
The ice has finally begun to thaw here at the end of 2021. We have a feeling that this is just the beginning, and that TOMORROW X TOGETHER will be shining for many years to come.
Watch the full video interview above, and look out for an upcoming video of TXT challenging each other during a fun game of Battle of the Bandmates.