“It’s we! Hello, we are Tempest!” Seven youths dressed in an array of bold patterns and united by various shades of red, hold out their right hands in unison, their pointer fingers and thumbs creating a “T” shape.
Although their original debut date was postponed due to all of the members testing positive for Covid-19, Tempest finally debuted on March 2 as Yuehua Entertainment’s newest Korea-based music project. They are the first Korean boy group for the Chinese company since Uniq in 2014 and a follow-up to the rising girl group Everglow.
As soon as Yuehua began unveiling the members on social media, it was clear Tempest’s concept would strive to answer the question “Who am I?”, the tagline that accompanied the image teasers of the seven. Indeed, “Who am I?” is a loaded question for anyone, especially for those like Tempest who are introducing themselves to the world.
However, for some members of the group, this is not their first experience stepping onto a public stage. “Who am I?” is an apt question for the four whose names are already known in the K-pop scene. Leader and rapper Lew participated in the second season of Produce 101 (which formed Wanna One) as Lee Euiwoong alongside Tempest vocalist Hyeongseop. The duo debuted in 2017 as the project Hyeongseop x Euiwoong.
Other familiar faces are the eldest Hanbin and main rapper and dancer Hwarang. The former competed in Hybe’s survival show I-Land, while the latter appeared in another music survival competition Under 19. Vocalists Eunchan and Hyuk and the youngest Taerae round out the well-balanced team of veterans and rookies.
With these histories in mind, Tempest begin to respond to their overarching question with seven unique keywords. Lew’s representative word is “Present”; Hanbin’s is “Challenge”; Hwarang claimed “Freedom”; Hyeongseop took “Passion.” Maknae and rapper Taerae is “Happiness”; Eunchan is “Classic”; Hyuk completes the group as “Possibility.” When the selected letters are strung together, they spell out “Tempest,” a nod to the members’ individuality and their team identity.
Meanwhile, their powerful group name—Tempest—reflects their desire to “turn the music industry upside down” and “open a new world of K-pop,” according to the press release that introduces the album. “Tempest” can also represent the tumultuous nature of youth and the storms they will have to weather now that they have officially debuted as idols.
The storm imagery continues with their fandom name “iE.” Pronounced like “eye,” the fandom is the “center of Tempest,” but it is also a fun note that iE sounds like 爱 (ài) in Chinese, meaning “love.”
During the media showcase on March 2, Hyuk stated that the group “wish[es] to create a tempest with [their] powerful performances and colorful music.” It’s Me, It’s We, their debut mini album, is not quite the tempest one may expect. However, it is a solid first step, a beginning to build the storm through their music.
The five-track mini also does “contain the confidence that has been prepared for a long time.” It is clear that seven members’ voices and styles meld well across a variety of genres, and even more so with veteran producers like MonoTree working on the tracks. It’s Me, It’s We does not have the most groundbreaking music or concept (cue the myriad of artists who explore youth and identity), but the strong overarching idea pulls together the Tempest name, the members, and their music in a convincing way.
Given Lew, Hyeongseop, Hwarang, and Hanbin’s past experiences in the K-pop industry, this history probably had some influence on the confidence felt throughout the album. Lew and Hwarang’s lyrical contributions to all of the tracks probably impacted the cohesion of It’s Me, It’s We as well.
The central identity question and Tempest’s first answer in It’s Me, It’s We demonstrate the group’s current faith in who they are while also allowing for a more personal exploration, both on an individual and group level. In It’s Me, It’s We, Tempest play with their fresh, upbeat side (“Bad News,” “Find Me,” and “Bad At Love”) and swing to the other side of the emotional spectrum with their ballads “Next To You” and “Just A Little Bit.”
According to Lew, their title track “Bad News” “breaks the story of [Tempest’s] beginning.” It does so in its earworm quality, the “da da da” hook instantly looping in listeners’ heads after hearing it once. “Bad News” is a refreshing song despite its mainstream sound, although its tried-and-true form may prove to be beneficial, especially in the wake of debuts that have pushed experimental noise music.
The MV for “Bad News” reflects its bright production, an explosion of color dominating each frame and radiant smiles gracing the seven members’ faces. However, the lyrics of the track, which Lew and Hwarang helped write, dig a little deeper beyond this sunny exterior. The new group’s sturdy foundation of confidence is evident in the challenge they present to listeners: “Are you ready?”
Tempest also assert that they carve their own path, a declaration they repeat in the chorus of “Bad News” with the line “I stick to my rules that I set, until the end.” This image of rules—and perhaps games—appears in the choreography. Among the fun killing parts is a move reminiscent of “Cham Cham Cham,” their crisp and powerful gesture just about convincing viewers to swing their heads from side to side.
The seven continue to boldly announce their arrival when they shift from singing “Here comes bad news” to “Here comes Tempest” as the instrumentals drop out, and they launch into the final chorus.
The rest of It’s Me, It’s We never matches the energy nor the addicting cheerful hook of “Bad News.” Instead, the album shows off a laidback vibe, especially in the third track “Find Me.” Heavy downbeats and a relaxed yet dynamic melody are woven with lyrics of pursuing dreams on their own terms and the acknowledgement that there are (and will be) ups-and-downs in their journey.
“Find Me” possesses the strongest content connection to “Bad News,” and the song’s situation as the center of It’s Me, It’s We” reaffirms the message of Tempest. In the pre-chorus, they sing, “So that I don’t have any regrets when I look back / I’m going to run as I wish,” and later they add on, “Time won’t last forever / To hurry up and find my own way, find me.” The group is not blindly optimistic, but they are hopeful for what the future holds.
Unlike “Bad News” and “Find Me,” the concluding track “Bad At Love” has very few similarities lyric-wise to the other songs of It’s Me, It’s We. Its staccato hook, though, does loop back naturally to the energy of “Bad News.” “Bad At Love” speaks to the playful side of youth and romance in the digital age, painting a story of Tempest waiting to hear back from a crush (“Why is there no answer?”). There is a humorous edge to the fast-moving lyrics that reflect the anxious minds of the singers.
The group demonstrates their maturity and their strength in singing ballads with “Next To You,” a fan song based on the lyrics. The seven puzzle over their individual identities (“me”) while getting to understand who Tempest is as a whole (“you” as in the other members, and “you” as in iE).
A smooth trap beat and breathy “ahhs” open the slower track and support the emotional weight of their words:
Even if I turn back time
I want to meet you tomorrow
I’ll be next to you
Most rookie groups would not have a track like “Next To You” on their debut album, as they are still building up their fanbase. Yet. Tempest’s histories allow them to do so.
“Just A Little Bit,” the b-side they performed during their debut showcase, also reveals their more sensitive side. As the song that follows the vibrant “Bad News,” “Just A Little Bit” makes an even stronger impression by balancing powerful vocals, poignant emotions, and a resonant EDM drop.
The classic love song—a tale of lingering feelings after lovers go their separate ways—can be viewed through Tempest’s experiences as artists and how being an idol is dependent on having people supporting you. The sophisticated lyrics also consider physical distance and distance in memories in the chorus:
Even if it’s just a little bit
I just want you to think of me
I don’t want anything else
I don’t want you to forget me
However, the highlight is a line from the bridge, “I don’t wanna lose myself.” This statement applies to the story of “Just A Little Bit,” as the past romance still impacts who they are now. But, it also connects with Tempest’s overarching concept of identity, casting light on a less sure part of themselves despite their confidence.
It’s Me, It’s We is an album full of easy-listening tracks that still manages to establish a sound sense of Tempest’s identity as one of the newest boy groups in K-pop. The five-track mini gives listeners a taste of the paths the seven might take together, and it will be, for sure, a journey worth following.