With so many rookie groups debuting practically every week, it’s easy to miss some of the more promising acts that the K-pop world has to offer. Luckily for ZPZG though, the four member South Korean boy band left a deep impression on this Kultscene writer. Comprised of leader/rapper Khan and vocalists Na Kang (N.K.), Baek Gyeom, and Lee Ji Hoon, these fresh-faced boys are bringing back the old-school K-pop sound that we all loved circa mid-2000s, making the flower boy image the new “cool” in a scene that is presently entrenched in power concepts.
The quartet under J Star Entertainment first made its official debut on September 25th of last year with their digital single, “Going Crazy.” It is a delightful earworm that mixes the mellow strums of ukuleles with the addictive synths at its core to produce an unforgettable and refreshing pop track. Nothing risky, but that’s to be expected for the new kids on the block under an indie label. The group even plays on the safe side by keeping the plot of the music video simple in order to underscore the energetic choreography and the numerous winks and eye smiles of the boys that are sure to have the noona (older female) fans melting in their seats. And how can we ignore the way they serenade and follow the girl whom they have fallen madly in love with around while she tries to avoid the camera’s gaze?? Big Bang’s “Lies” anyone? Indeed, the nostalgia factor is certainly strong with this group.
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And while “Going Crazy” may be the only release from the group since their debut, they were also seen at the Itaewon Global Village Festival a couple months later covering, of all groups, Big Bang’s “Sunset Glow.” Even here they were able to bring their youthful and enthusiastic flair from their first single to the classic hit. Until they comeback with an album that contains more than a song and its instrumental version, it seems that they have found their niche in upbeat and sweet love songs from yesteryear.
Since promotions for “Going Crazy” have ended, the group has fallen off the radar, but not into total obscurity per se. Thanks to member Kang’s talented bloodlines, the group has been able to stay alive since it has been revealed that the vocalist is the younger cousin of Beast’s dancing machine Kikwang. Moreover, popular idol group EXO’s Chanyeol gave a somewhat overdue shoutout earlier this year to the boys on his personal Instagram account, citing that the high school classmates helped him adjust to the new learning environment after he transferred over. This generated much buzz and interest in the fledgling group.
Nowadays, the boys have been staying true to their group’s name, which stands for zest play, zest grow. With fervor, the boys have been enjoying their vacation time while practicing for their upcoming Japanese concert in July. No comeback dates have been revealed as of yet, which only opens up the floor to questions about what avenues the four are going to take next. For their age (17-23), the pretty boy image works best, and through their performances the members have showed us that tried and true never goes out of style.
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As fans anticipate their return and watch them mature into men, they should take this opportunity to work on incorporating both new and old sounds into their music as well. Show us more of Khan’s raps that “Going Crazy” did not quite do justice to, or how about giving us more harmonization between the main vocalists? Although their catchy debut song did not achieve much fanfare as it should have (blame the marketing team), with the right guidance the boys should be able to establish themselves in the always competitive music business. After training for years, they’ve already got the know-how to do so. Hopefully one day ZPZG will develop a name of its own and not just as Beast’s distant cousin group or the kids who went to school with EXO’s Chanyeol.