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LOONA on New EP, Haseul’s Return (Q&A)




If you’re an Orbit or know anything about LOONA, you can probably guess that doing an hour-long interview with all 12 members of the Korean girl group can only mean chaos in the greatest way possible — but the “chaos” extends far beyond LOONA’s quirky and unique personalities off stage.

LOONA’s epic narrative dates back to 2016, when Korean company BlockBerry Creative launched a campaign to reveal a member of the group — comprised of Heejin, Hyunjin, Haseul, Yeojin, ViVi, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Choerry, Yves, Chuu, Gowon and Olivia Hye — each month for a year. With each new member’s reveal came an introductory solo single and an ever-unfurling lore to the group (the “LOONAverse”), and the members were also divided into three sub-units: LOONA ⅓, Odd Eye Circle and LOONA yyxy.

Ever since LOONA made their official debut with “Hi High” in August 2018, the intricate details and hidden messages included in the group’s teasers, music videos, choreography and on-stage façade — all part of the ongoing LOONAverse narrative — have created a deep fascination for fans, with Orbits poring over each move LOONA make in an effort to unveil more about the relationships between each member and how all their worlds collide.

Now, with the release of their fourth EP, [&], as well as lead single “Paint the Town,” LOONA are back with another sonic epic that expands the LOONAverse. (Also returning? Member Haseul, who was previously on hiatus while taking a mental health break in 2020.)

And while LOONA look to the future on their new EP, the music video for “Paint the Town” also honors their past: The visual carries heavy references to sub-unit Odd Eye Circle (Jinsoul, Kim Lip, Choerry), with an emphasis on the return of Kim Lip’s “Eclipse” persona, as well as Haseul’s return. Overall, LOONA’s new offering is a celebration of the group’s grand return to its 12-member format.

Below, LOONA open up to PopCrush about their exciting new EP, welcoming Haseul back, the records they hope to break and why they’re worth stanning.

First off, congratulations on your new album and all the achievements thus far — and a special welcome back to you, Haseul! It’s exciting to see all 12 of you complete again. How does it feel?

Haseul: We’ve been nervous! We’re very pleased to be back. It was quite a nervous process, but after we practiced a lot for a long time we can have our fans expect a lot more from us.

What can you tell us about the new EP and lead single “Paint the Town”?

Heejin: On the new album, especially “Paint the Town,” we’re trying to speak to the fans to overcome the standardized rules of the world. We want to show up and tell the world about LOONA’s voices.

Yves: For us, until right now, [the theme of] “Why Not?” is about waiting for someone, while “Paint the Town” symbolizes the period, as in the end of a sentence, of not needing to wait for [this person] anymore. Overall, it’s a continuation [of “So What” and “Why Not?”]!

If you could “Paint the Town” in LOONA’s colors, what colors would you choose and where would you paint?

Yeojin: Personally, in my opinion, I would choose black. You can see all of the colors of the rainbow in black, right? So I want to succinctly cover Orbits’ hearts in black.

Chuu: If we’re touring, it doesn’t matter where. Wherever we go, I really want to meet a lot a lot of Orbits. If Orbit calls, we will go wherever they are.

Any favorite songs on the EP?

Hyunjin: We would recommend “Dance On My Own.”

Yves: In “Dance On My Own,” the lyrics are all in English — all in a foreign language just like “Star” — and it would be very comfortable to listen to especially for [English-speaking] fans.

Is there any genre that you guys explored for the first time on this new EP?

LOONA: We went a bit deep into the ballad genre this time.

Because you mentioned this is a continuation of your past releases within the LOONAverse lore, are there any key hints or Easter eggs in the new music video?

Choerry: To be honest, there are so many hints in the music video, so you shouldn’t miss a second of it when watching.

Yves: Especially because of Haseul’s comeback, I recommend paying attention to that part. Her wings!

Are we going to find out where Hyunjin’s missing shoe went in the “Why Not?” video?

LOONA: We can’t say!

Do you guys get lost in the LOONAverse yourselves?

Chuu: Hyunjin is a real cat.

Hyunjin: [creates claws with her hands] Meow!

LOONA: She’s really into her role! [All laugh]

Are there any pressures facing this new release?

Kim Lip: We do feel pressure [with this new release] since we’re labeled as a performance group; we have some kind of pressure to be better and stronger during each new performance or promotional cycle. And with the amount of practice we put in, you can expect a great album.

Your fan meeting and your concert is happening back-to-back. What has preparation for that been like?

Yves: We continuously go according to our schedules, like, go to the shop [hair and makeup salon], practice, shop, practice and then we sleep at the shop. So it’s been very déjà vu for us lately!

Do you have any specific routines that help you keep up your energy levels during hectic schedules?

Jinsoul: When we find some members are tired or exhausted, we shout out “FIGHTING!” during practice so we can keep up.

Are there any specific performances that you want fans to look out for at the new concert?

Yves: You guys can expect the chemistry and energy of all 12 members coming back.

Haseul: Except for one song, we’re going to perform all the tracks from this album.

You broke into the Billboard 200 last year with [12:00] and “Star” got Top 40 radio play. What are your goals this time around?

Yves: We’re so happy to communicate with [our fans] Orbit and be healthy and perform all over the world, but specifically we’d like to break records again. For example, we want to challenge the Billboard 200 again and break past No. 150.

Jinsoul: Yes! And we personally want to hear our song come out on the radio. These are the two specific things we’d like to achieve in the future.

So, for those who want to stan LOONA, how would you differentiate between your EP releases?

Olivia Hye: First, with [+ +], we’d say it has very cute charms while [x x] showcased a lot of dreamlike imagery. And I think with [#] we wanted to make something a little more new and exciting, so it’s kind of rebellious.

Yeojin: With [12:00], you can see our passion on that first album as we enjoyed party-inspired concepts. And finally, with [&], we really wanted it to have a passionate, but cooler and intense impression.

For fans who are intimidated by the LOONAverse, what is the best piece of advice you can share on how to get into LOONA?

Heejin: My debut “ViViD” is definitely the best place to start for fans who are intimidated by the LOONAverse. Start from the beginning!

What more would you like to do as a group or as individuals?

Gowon: As a group, we most definitely want to try and go on a world tour since we couldn’t before because of the global pandemic.

ViVi: I haven’t gone back home for a long time, so I would like to introduce all the members to everyone back home and enjoy some time there.

Yves: We all have specific individual activities we’d want [to do], but we also want to showcase and concentrate on telling more about the LOONAverse. So as a group, maybe we’d like to try a reality show more than we’d like to do our own individual activities.

Haseul, because you have a knack for opera, would you ever be open to join a show like [Korean TV drama series] Penthouse?

LOONA: Oooh!

Haseul: If I could be on the show, it would be an honor.

What is one thing you want the world to know about LOONA?

Heejin: Because we are more known as a performance group, we’d specifically like the world to know the whole story of the album, and our music. We’d like the fans to also concentrate on the story since it’s not only the performance. The album has a whole story. We’d like the fans and the world to know more about LOONA through the story of the album.

How important is communication with Orbit?

Yves: We put a lot of effort in “Star,” which was all in English; we wanted to say thank you to our foreign fans. Through this we could give our thankful feelings and be comfortable. English is difficult, but it’s somewhat similar too … Because there are a lot of us, we can study a lot for all of our fans. We want to be sympathetic.

Do you have a message you want to share with Orbits around the world?

Hyunjin: For Orbits all around the world, we will visit the places you are at, so wait and we will show you more and you can expect a lot from us!

This is going to be vague, but fill in the blank: LOONA & …?

Jinsoul: I would say LOONA & Orbit because Orbit are the reason why we perform. They’re the main reason we work, and we can’t separate ourselves from Orbit so that’s what first comes to mind.

Yves: LOONA & “-ing” because we don’t know how far our potential goes, so we want to be in the present to try more and more things. I think “-ing” is the best way to express our unlimited goals and what we want to achieve.

Chuu: LOONA & paint, related to our album — because if you mix up all the paint you’re not sure what kind of color will come out!

Haseul: LOONA & world star.

How about LOONA & world domination?

LOONA: Oh yeah! [All clap]

Yves: [Gives standing ovation]

Haseul: Good idea!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Yves: Do you know the Korean actor Yeo Jin Goo? You look like him!

[&] was released on June 28.

Best Albums of 2020


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St. Vincent Covers “Funkytown” For Minions: The Rise of Gru




Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.

For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.

Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.

Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.

The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!


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Parmalee Shares The Music Video For Their Top Five US Hit ‘Take My Name’, A Musical Marriage Proposal.




Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”

Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners. 

Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!

With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.

Matt says:

“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”

With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video. 

Parmalee - Take My Name (Official Music Video)

Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.

‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.


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Mercedess Releases debut album ‘Casa Fantasia’ along with lead single ‘Summers Already Gone’




This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.

She says:

“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”

The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak. 

The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.

The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”

The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim  with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial. 


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