K-Pop artistes and bands are usually formed by an entertainment company, where they train potential artistes and group them together to see who fits where. However, Akdong Musician plays on the contrary as they were an already formed band, even before they started kindergarten. They won the hearts of everyone from the very beginning with their special chemistry and their inarguable talent.
Akdong Musician, also known as AKMU, is an exceptional group in the Korean music scene, not only for its formation involving real-life siblings but also for its clever songwriting and diverse music style. They debuted under YG Entertainment on 6 April 2014, with their debut album ‘Play’ after winning SBS' show ‘K-pop Star 2’.
The brother Lee Chan Hyuk, has a special gift as a composer, instrumentalist, singer, and rapper. He also writes all of the songs for AKMU. And the sister Lee Su Hyun has a lovable charm accentuated by her beautiful, crystal clear voice. She was also part of the YG duo HISUHYUN together with Lee Hi. She recently got further recognised after she sang (In your time) an OST of a K-drama “It’s okay to not be okay.”
The siblings first chose their band name due to how easily it slips out of your mouth, but their mother gave the name an official beautiful meaning. She explained that “Ak” stands for the Chinese character “Rak,” which implies to have fun, and “Dong” stands for the Chinese character that means kid. Essentially, together they form “Children who love to have fun.” They're both adults now, so they took out the 'dong' to be called 'AKMU' so that they won't be limiting themselves in terms of their future music. Appropriately, the new albums feature songs that show the pair's artistic development.
AKMU is also really thoughtful with its lyrics, music videos, and other activities. As an example, on 9 October 2014, they released the digital single, "Time and Fallen Leaves". Originally, it was planned as a lead single of Play but was held back for an October release due to suiting the autumn season more. The song made an ‘all-kill’ two consecutive days after the release by ranking number 1 on nine major real-time music charts. The song was not given a music video so that the fans would imagine their own stories with the song.
AKMU’s famous song "Melted," brings in the feeling of struggling to find hope in a bitter and cruel world. Not only does the lyric bring a sense of pain and sorrow however the story of the music video really brings out the cruel reality of how cruel the world is. With a line, "I leave the darkness that finds my heart/ Even the cold shadow that covers the night starts to harden" AKMU gets you puzzling over the darkness surrounding us and also the desire to find a source of peace and light.
As soon as their album "Sailing" was released, the popularity of the album's title song hit No. 1 spots. Fans hailed the brother-sister duo's new work. Many of them praised the perfect quality of the title song. The album is full of heartfelt, rhythmic vocal pop tracks performed by Lee Chan-hyuk and Lee Su-Hyun. Throughout the song, the pair evocatively sing about the heartbreaking feelings that precede the end of a romance, knowing that the end is near and waiting for it to come with sorrow. As most of the album's 10 tracks were written aboard a ship, the album, like its title "Sailing," is reminiscent of the ocean and the night sky, with track titles in English.
The album's main track, "How Can I Love the Heartbreak, You're the One I Love," is a result of his two-year experience with the marine forces, which included a one-month naval voyage. This image of AKMU was provided by YG Entertainment. With little access to a guitar, recorder, or other musical instruments, Chan-hyuk composed the heart-rending song aboard a marine vessel with only a pen and notebook and his melodic memory.
The new album also comes with a special matching novel, whose chapter titles overlap with the titles on the music record. Lee Chan Hyuk’s debut novel ‘Fish in the Water’ has been a bestseller since its release. It is connected to the album with insights into life values and perspective on the arts. It is a story Chan-Hyuk wrote during a short break at night every day in the military.
AKMU’s Lee Suhyun is stepping forward to indicate her own colours along with her 1st solo single ‘Alien.’ It’s jam-packed with unique yet lively sounds. And fans hope that, with the song, people not only notice what kind of color Suhyun resonates outside of AKMU but also take the energy with them in times of difficulty. The 21-year-old explained ‘Alien’ tells the story of a mother who unbuttons a long-held secret to her daughter, who suffers from low shallowness, so as to encourage the girl. Suhyun said, “For those of you who feel that you are just worth nothing, why don’t you dig into your own secrets that might cause you to be a brilliant alien, and be part of the alien army with me to shake this world?”
While Suhyun may be going onstage without her brother, the partnership continues, as Chanhyuk took charge of the production for his sister’s first solo single. He also composed the tune and lyrics for the single. He was always there beside his sister, ready to take her hands if she ever fell over. Suhyun believes that she was able to jump alone as he had her back. She is grateful for such support from her brother.
Nowadays, most of siblings act like real ‘siblings’ only on the social media. In real life, they don’t have time for each other. But AKMU sets an example that if you have a brother or sister, consider yourself lucky. You can also be the next AKMU.
Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 9th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka.