In the weeks preceding the launch of ITZY’s new album ‘Kill My Doubt’, the five-piece shared an unexpectedly raw glimpse into its rocky creation process. Behind-the-scenes footage of a comeback in the making is by no means new in K-pop, but the two-part ‘Kill My Doubt’ album documentary presented an entirely new facet to ITZY. Between the boxing classes they endeavoured to take in order to fully immerse themselves in the boxing concept of the album to the tears of frustration shed as they recorded their songs, the band’s courageous display of vulnerability and the candid portrayal of the hardships they’ve faced significantly reinforces ‘Kill My Doubt’’s overarching message: overcoming adversity.
Their work on ‘Kill My Doubt’ was already set in motion even before their last comeback, November 2022’s ‘Cheshire’. It was different this time – for ITZY, whose music has always been imbued with overtones of energetic youthfulness and unadulterated fun, ‘Kill My Doubt’ sees them at their truest. “Actually, the album was [made] with our own personal interviews, so the theme was really related to our own personal experiences,” Ryujin explains to NME over Zoom from Seoul.
These personal interviews felt like “psychological counselling”, as Yuna herself put it, as they were asked about the obstacles they’ve faced and the worries plaguing them. Off the bat, ‘Kill My Doubt’ has already set itself apart from the girl group’s predecessors with these intimate etchings of the girls’ own insecurities and bravery in facing them head-on. “All our albums are very special, but this time it’s a bit more unique because it includes our personal concerns and how we overcome them,” Yuna elaborates further. Yeji frames it best: “I thought this was a concept of ITZY taking up a challenge for the first time, but you always have doubts before you try something new, right?”
‘Bet On Me’, released a month before the album, was a taste of the new territory ITZY would be treading in both realms of music and subject matter. Despite starting off with the members giving into their fears, they pull each other out of it – not only do they bet on themselves, but they bet on each other, too. “I say, trust me, I talk to myself / Do I believe me? I can’t figure it out yet / But I hear this voice inside me / I’m going to follow it,” Yeji belts in the chorus.
“The reason for it was because we wanted it to be relatable for everyone,” Lia says. “We thought everyone would have their [own] inner fears, so we wanted to make it more casual and personal. We all have different inner fears growing inside us, but [this album focuses] on eventually overcoming them.”
The laborious undertaking behind the album’s creation – evident in the documentary – was further spurred by the time that has passed since ‘Cheshire’. “We had a hard time picking the right songs, because we wanted to come back with good songs with good quality,” Lia shares. The group were also hit with some roadblocks during recording sessions for ‘Bet On Me’ with JYP, but as they reinforced, they eventually rose from the ashes. “After everything was set, we had a pretty smooth time.”
When their second pre-release track ‘None of My Business’ dropped, it presented another dimension to the girl group that was breezier and more carefree. It’s a mellow, bittersweet track that speaks to their apathy toward a former lover. Unsurprisingly, a majority of the group named it as their favourite song on ‘Kill My Doubt’: “It’s perfect to listen to near the beach with a sunset,” Chaeryoung describes in vivid detail. “It’s relaxing and warm.” Yeji and Lia both agree, with the latter adding that “it gives a warm, summer vibe but at the same time has a little bit of sadness to it”.
The smorgasbord of genres on ‘Kill My Doubt’ aptly demonstrates their multifaceted abilities, but title track ‘Cake’ grounds them back to their well-loved origins of vibrant, catchy music. “The world is just a piece of cake,” Yeji describes. “[The song embodies the message that] you can easily forget all your problems, like a piece of cake. We want to tell MIDZYs that [at the end of the day], our problems are just like a piece of cake.” The song, laced with their signature blend of energetic pop and hip-hop, feels like the epitome of the youthful spirit they’ve embodied the past four years together.
“I still can’t believe it’s been four years already,” Yeji muses. “But thinking [back], we’ve done so many things. If I could say something to 2019 me, it would be that she’s doing great and doing her best, so I’m very proud.” Though half of 2023 has come and gone in the blink of an eye, ITZY emphasise that the release of ‘Kill My Doubt’ is their number one priority right now. “‘Kill My Doubt’ is the most important thing,” Yeji tells NME. “There will be many performances [from this album], so we hope MIDZYs stay tuned.” Ryujin also adds that the five-piece are “planning for ITZY’s success” for the rest of the year, but remains tight-lipped about what else they may have in store for us before the year’s end.
As the band continue to flesh out their discography and discover new dimensions to themselves as people and artists, ‘Kill My Doubt’ makes a strong case for their bravery and readiness to step out of their comfort zone in order to evolve, in spite of all the trials and tribulations that always follow change. ITZY may come with all these titles and brandishes, but at their cores, they are five human girls who are more than willing to go the extra mile, even as their doubts plague them. As they proclaim on ‘Bet On Me’: “It’s true, I will fall and fall again / A few will be standing till the end / But still I want to, I want to choose me.”
ITZY’s new album ‘Kill My Doubt’ is out now.