2023 is the year that keeps on giving for LOONA / ARTMS fans, and HeeJin is the next member to thrive in her post-BlockBerry era with the release of her solo mini album <K>.
Literally putting the K into K-pop, HeeJin’s mini album is her first as a solo member since she debuted seven years ago. Now a Free Woman, the ‘so-called perfect hexagon of talent’ has intended to capture the essence of K-pop’s multi-faceted nature across the six tracks of <K>.
As you’d expect from something related to Jaden Jeong, the title track “Algorithm” is a cleverly layered piece which contributes new lore to the ARTMS universe. Channeling legendary ’80s divas Madonna, Janet Jackson and Cyndi Lauper, “Algorithm” kicks off with a spirited beat and is a break-up song which creatively plays on the motif of social media algorithms.
The meaning behind the “Algorithm” music video is a dramatic and intriguing one, depicting HeeJin in the role of a traditional Korean princess who is falling in love with the K-pop world while sitting in her palace. The storyline evolves into HeeJin escaping the palace to meet her friends, practice choreography, and participate in auditions in a K-Drama style – reflecting her real-life narrative of escaping an established company and becoming ‘one’ with her friends: ARTMS.
Adding to the excitement, the “Algorithm” music video features cameo appearances from ODD EYE CIRCLE members Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Choerry, as well as HaSeul who makes a surprise appearance at the end.
Elsewhere on <K>, “Sad Girls Club” and “Nokia” are laid-back R&B ballads which show off the richness of HeeJin’s beautiful vocals. The raunchy “Video Game” is certainly a stand-out moment, comparing love to a fast-paced video game via extremely risque lyrics (co-written by HeeJin no less): HeeJin demands to “make sure it won’t fall out, plug-in tight” and that she is a “vacation just for the fingers, thrilling location” and to “ride on me… all night long, like video games.” Scandalous!
The acid jazz closer “Addiction” is an apt way to round out <K>, with the sensually bouncy rhythms allowed HeeJin to tell a story of becoming addicted with love: “My addiction, you will like it too” she coos as the track finishes.
The best part of <K> is that it marks the cryptic revelation that ARTMS has begun preparations for an album that will mark a new beginning early next year. The album is allegedly titled <DALL> and will “signify the beginning of a new worldview” for the LOONA members.