“Monday’s child is fair of face/ Tuesday’s child is full of grace/ Wednesday’s child is full of woe/ Thursday’s child has far to go/ Friday’s child is loving and giving/ Saturday’s child works hard for his living/ And the child that is born on the Sabbath day/ Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.”
Just like Thursday inspires a bittersweet mix of excitement and ennui – the weekend is finally within reach, but not really – Thursday’s Child has the grave misfortune of open-ended interpretations in this famous rhyme, always wondering whether the long path he’s destined for is tough or rewarding.
However, the five members of Korean pop stars TXT, or TOMORROW X TOGETHER – Yeonjun, Soobin, Taehyun, Beomgyu, and HueningKai – have never been afraid of uncertainty, nor do they squirm at the prospect of hard work. After all, when you set out with the ambition to chronicle the vast landscape of youth and growing up, you have to be at least a little bit comfortable with not having all the answers, curious enough to venture into the unknown, and brave enough to know when to let go of outdated beliefs and ideals.
TXT’s task, however, was far more difficult. When they debuted under Big Hit Music (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) in 2019, they were the first boy group on the company’s roster in six years. The only other such group on the label? Worldwide phenomenon BTS – who, by that time, had become leaders of a new K-pop order, built on the backs of unprecedented numbers and honest releases that chronicled their humble beginnings and personal struggles. To say they had big shoes to fill was an understatement – while also facing the mammoth task of creating their own identity and voice.
But this uneven terrain is where the group thrives. Since their very first release, TXT’s works have read like poetic theses on the victories and challenges of growing up and finding out who you are. On their debut single ‘Crown’ – which made them the fastest act to reach No. 1 on Billboard‘s World Digital Song Sales & World Albums charts – they depict the onset of adolescence through a boy who wakes up with horns on his head and starts to hate himself. He only realizes that being different is not a bad thing when he meets another character with wings.
This boy and his story become a conduit for TXT to explore their limitless potential. From wanting to slip away to his own magical island on “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)” to realizing, painfully, that some friendships are not meant to last on “Can’t You See Me?,” he reckons not just with the internal emotional maelstrom of growing up but also finding his footing in a volatile world. As he flits between dreamscapes and reality, the layers get murkier and emotions get more complex. “0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You),” for instance, carries the unlimited and invincible spirit of young love. Even this materialistic world cannot stop them from being romantics, as they say on “LO$ER=LO♡ER.”
Looking back, it’s understandable why the group’s latest EP, Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child – released May 9th – comes riddled with heartbreak. It comes at exactly the right time in their evolutionary journey: At some point, idealism has to turn into practicality, first love has to beget first heartbreaks, and the foundations of your belief need to be shaken up before you decide who you want to be.
This helplessness and disappointment becomes the central theme of Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child. Gone are the group’s rose-tinted glasses – as their perceptions and ideals lay in shambles, TXT are taking a step back and reevaluating the trajectory of the boy who believed in dreams and magic.
Dotted with neat references to their past work – title track “Good Boy Gone Bad” references their track “Cat & Dog” by saying “My tail wagged at you,” while “Trust Fund Baby” stands in direct contrast to “LO$ER=LO♡ER,” with the group wishing they could have been trust fund babies if it meant keeping love alive – Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child shows TXT at their most mature, honest, and contemplative. Of course, the journey doesn’t end here, but wherever they go now, they will be different people.
Below, Billboard catches up with TXT to talk about Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, how they have evolved as artists, and how they found their own voice.
I found out that the album is based on the “Monday’s Child” nursery rhyme. Why did you choose “Thursday’s Child,” as opposed to the other children of the week?
Soobin: If you think about it, Thursday is a day in the middle of the week, but it also feels like the weekend. So, this album talks about that transitional period of a boy turning into an adult, and this boy is experiencing the emotions of going through a breakup or a parting.
The phrase ‘Thursday’s Child has far to go’ has a lot of interpretations. Some say it’s a good thing: that the child is destined for greatness. Some say it’s a bad thing – that he or she is going to have a hard life. Which interpretation do you think fits this album?
Taehyun: I think we are interpreting as a more positive side. We have always been always telling our own story, and when we say we have a far way to go, it means we have more music to make, and more music to make [fans] hear. So, we think it’s a positive interpretation.
It’s interesting you said that it’s a positive interpretation because when we looked at the visuals for this one, it’s such a transformation from your early work. How was it tapping into this dark side for Thursday’s Child?
HueningKai: Actually, we knew we were gonna try this kind of concept once in our lifetime. When we tried it, I knew that the time had finally come. At first, I didn’t know how to get used to this new concept, but I slowly got familiar with it, and even found a new aspect of myself. I learned a lot throughout the process.
What was this new aspect?
HueningKai: The five of us aren’t too used to overtly expressing or even embracing so much anger. Portraying this kind of new and dark style allowed us to experiment with expression. I guess what we uncovered is a broader range of charm.
What do you think this darker side brings to you as an act?
Taehyun: Concept-wise, music-wise and performance-wise, this is something that we have never tried before. I think this is the darkest concept and theme that we have ever tried. I think this album can show people that even TOMORROW X TOGETHER can pull this off.
When I looked at the teasers for this album, one emotion that immediately jumped out to me was anger. This album feels a lot angrier than your previous works. Why did you decide to go down this road?
Taehyun: I think rage is a kind of emotion that you naturally go through while you’re growing up. We thought that it was finally time for us to talk about this emotion called “anger.” We’re talking about a breakup and parting. So, we are trying to go through these diverse, different emotions that a boy experiences when he’s growing up.
“Trust Fund Baby” and “LO$ER=LO♡ER” seem like opposites of each other – on “LO$ER=LO♡ER,” you say that you’re more a romantic than a materialist. But on “Trust Fund Baby,” you regret not being a “Trust Fund Baby.” Was this intentional, and why did you go this route?
YEONJUN: Yeah, there is a link that you’ve probably noticed between the two tracks. The lyrics “lover with a dollar sign” from “LO$ER=LO♡ER” turns into “love with no dollar sign” in “Trust Fund Baby.” The boy in “LO$ER=LO♡ER” was a firm believer that money was all he’d need to protect his love, but unfortunately, his love has failed. The boy is now a cynic. This progression of the story felt natural.
Growing up has been a major theme in your work, along with the intersection of a dream world and reality. You’ve said that the fantasy world depicts a more innocent version that you want to protect. Now that you’re releasing albums that are dealing with ‘adult’ emotions, how do you think these things are going to impact the dream world?
Taehyun: So, ‘The Chaos Chapter’ [series] was about love songs – these songs talk about love that felt like a dream, and a love that looked like it’s gonna last forever. But if you listen to this album, especially “Trust Fund Baby,” it talks about a breakup where a boy breaks up with somebody because he was barriered by this wall of reality. I think it’s a continuation of the dream and reality.
When you debuted, there must have been so much pressure. You were only the second boy group in your company and you had huge shoes to fill. Now that you’ve gotten to a place people know TXT as the mouthpiece of a generation, what is the most important thing to you when it comes to telling your own stories and finding your own voice?
Soobin: A lot of people tell us that when they listen to our music, they feel “Oh, this is just like me. This is what I’m going through.” So, when people listen to our music, I want them to find our music relatable. I want our music to bring them comfort. I wanna keep on doing music that brings people more comfort.
The members participated in the production of this album. Now that you guys have worked on a number of albums, how different are your creative processes from each other?
Taehyun: So for me, I think I’m the type of person who just jumps into songwriting. I tend to write one song or one lyric in one sitting. Instead of getting inspiration from [my] exteriors, I’d rather get inspiration within the music. So if I get a good track, I can write a good melody. And if I get a good melody, I can write good lyrics. So I get inspiration within the music and the song.
What about the other members?
Yeonjun: I’m actually the opposite. I think I put in a lot of thought when I’m writing music or lyrics. When I’m writing lyrics, I think long and hard for just each line. I study really hard, so I’m not the type of person that just writes everything once.
Beomgyu: I think it really depends on the situation for me – if I get a theme or a sound that I’ve been thinking about, then I just incorporate my own story into the theme and the song. But if I come across a very difficult theme or something that I really need to immerse myself in, then I take references from a lot of TV shows, or I think about the stories that my friends told me and get inspiration from that.
We are essentially in the post-lockdown era now. It must be so important because it feels like you guys have spent more time in the pandemic than out of it. Yeonjun even said in an interview that you lost interest in performing due to the pandemic. Now that you guys are going on tour, how are you feeling?
Yeonjun: Now that we can meet our fans in person and bring our performances to them, I’m really glad that we can finally do that. You know, the energy they bring is real; it really helps when they’re there in person. I really can’t wait to meet them through our tour.
Soobin, in an interview earlier, you said that you believed TXT were on the right path because you found your voice. What are some things that constantly make you believe that you are on the right part in your daily life?
Soobin: As we have more years and even more albums under our belts, we’re getting better outcomes and better numbers. We have [also] tried many genres in music. As we work on more and more albums, [I feel like] we don’t have any limits. We’ve taken this musical journey step by step.