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Sunmi returns with a bold swing of ‘Tail’

Feb. 23, 2021 - 20:13 By Choi Ji-won
(Abyss Company)

Channeling her inner feline, Sunmi has returned with a transformation into a seductive yet innocent, cat-like woman in her new single “Tail” released Tuesday.

“It’s completely different from my previous song ‘pporappippam’ and also strays far from my other songs released so far,” Sunmi said during a live-streamed press conference about the title song of her new digital single.

“Tail,” as the title implies, is an embodiment of the instinctive emotions of a cat-like woman.

“Animals use their tail to express their emotions. They’ll shake their tails gently when they’re in a good mood and flick it hard if frustrated. I liked the frankness of this instinctive behavior and the word ‘tail’ just left a huge impact in my mind,” Sunmi said.

Sunmi teamed up with producer Frants to create the self-written single, after collaborating with him multiple times with “pporappippam,” “Siren” and more.

“For the audio, we focused on making it sound sharp and temperamental like a cat, while placing the animal’s uniquely cynical yet listless traits here and there,” she said, adding that they incorporated rhythmic beats and guitar riffs to mimic cat-like sounds.

The stage was once again set ablaze with Sunmi’s astonishing dance in “Tail,” which was created by renowned choreographer Janelle Ginestra. Ginestra has previously worked with divas Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez, and recently with K-pop girl group Red Velvet members Irene and Seulgi in their unit track “Monster.”

Sunmi new single “Tail” poster (Abyss Company)

The solo artist dominated the stage with her striking performance during the press conference, hoping to convey the ferocity of the song, so much so that she accidentally scratched her face with her elongated fake nail tips.

“I don’t have a tail, so I wanted to illustrate how animals express their emotions with their tails. I told Janelle to really go bold with it so the animal rawness can really come across. I loved how she made it.”

The second half of the two-track album is “What the Flower,” a gentle, yet rhythmic track that stands in stark contrast to her title song.

Turning 30 this year in Korean age, the new album has marked a milestone for Sunmi.

“It’s my first move taken in my 30s and I feel like I’ve taken a very daring step forward,” she said.

After debuting into the entertainment scene in 2007 as a member of girl group Wonder Girls, Sunmi temporarily left the group in 2010 and focused on her personal life, while staying contracted with the group’s label JYP Entertainment.

In August 2013, Sunmi officially debuted as a soloist under JYP Entertainment with “24 Hours” which became an instant hit. While returning to Wonder Girls in 2015 with “Reboot,” she eventually left JYP Entertainment in 2017 as the group disbanded.

Sunmi’s other hits, such as “Gashina,” “Heroine,” “Siren,” and “Lalalay,” propelled her to the top of the music charts every time she dropped new songs. Industry players say she has paved her own genre of “Sunmi-pop” with her unique husky voice and distinctive choreographies, while also praising her for her writing and song production.

Sunmi poses for picture before press conference conducted in Seoul on Tuesday. (Abyss Company)

Despite her achievements, Sunmi said she is not free of the pressure to keep up with herself and the expectations put on her.

“I wanted to give up many times. Even just 10 minutes ago, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to make it. I think I had put a limit on myself -- a limit that didn’t really exist and which I could easily break free from if I really wanted to. I realized at least I had to believe in myself but I didn’t. All this while when I had been exhausted and confused, the only reason I could still stand on the stage was my fans,” she said. “I just try to live every day with a grateful heart, and tell myself that I’m doing well.”

By Choi Ji-won (