TM Chapter 89

Chapter 89: Symbol of Happiness (1)

TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir


 

{‘Neptune’ will make a comeback soon! Expected to reveal their full-length recording at midnight today!}

 

The girl group Neptune is about to make a comeback.

Neptune’s mini-album, which received a lot of interest due to the hit songwriter Simon Lee’s involvement, will finally be unveiled. Celebrating the release of their second mini-album ‘Guardian’{1}, Neptune will host a press showcase and conference today (the 3rd) and is expected to signal the start of their comeback.

This 5-song mini-album consists of double title tracks: Simon Lee’s unique rhythmical, clear pop dance song ‘Pisces’ and Neptune’s leader Lee Taehee’s song ‘Satellite’.

Their full-length recording and music videos are expected to be revealed on various online music sites midnight today.

 

-Oh, my god. After looking into it, this is their fifth album. They really failed a lot.

-Looking at their list of songs, it’s like a public cemetery. All buried.

-Whether their album is a success or failure this time is really important. Looking at Lee Songha’s drama and Im Seoyoung’s entertainment show reactions, they seem to have individual potential. If they slip up, the team might disband. They need to have a hit song this time.

-If their album flops this time as well, the heavens have abandoned them.

-With Lee Songha’s buff and Simon Lee’s song, I don’t think they’ll flop though?

-It’s not like they are a boy idol group, Lee Songha’s buff won’t work on the music charts.

-To have good music chart performance, you either need to have incredible fandom firepower where they systematically stream your songs or have such a good song that it gobbles up other fandoms.

-Still, since their popularity is different from before, it’ll be worth seeing.

-Let’s not make a fuss and just wait and see. We’ll be able to make a conclusion midnight today.

 

Sangam District KS Move Hall.

Dim purple lights scattered inside the dark hall. The enormous LED screen set up for their performance played a shooting star graphic.

Around two hundred members of the media filled the first and second-floor seating areas designated for the press

Journalists placed their laptops on the table and wrote articles in real-time. This was so that they could add a few keywords once the showcase began and publish them before others.

“How good will they perform on the charts? It’s the peak season. Since the top ranks of the charts are set, it’ll be difficult to pass tenth place, right?”

“Success, decent, and complete flop. I should write all three versions.”

“Getting into 20-30th rank is a success. If their songs are good, then their rank will go up as they appear on music broadcasts and entertainment shows. I bet they already have a few entertainment shows lined up?”

Murmurs could be heard here and there. There were reporters discussing Neptune’s album performance and the direction they would move towards in the future as well as reporters who were focused on gossip.

In a path away from the press area, a few reporters from celebrity gossip sites were waiting outside Neptune’s waiting room. Looking at the firmly shut door, a young female reporter said in an irritated manner,

“So quiet. The chief reporter threw a fit telling me to grab an exclusive.”

“They are coming out without any break, right? If they became chubbier or if their faces were swollen, I could write a story with that. There are no signs of discord within the team, right?”

“I hope one of them cries. Then it’ll be easier to write up a lead.”

“Hey, hey.”

The murmuring reporters looked to one side before shutting their mouths.

A man wearing a thin knit sweater rolled up to his elbows was walking towards them with steady steps. The reporters instantly recognized his face. Jung Sunwoo. This was because he was the target of the articles they scrambled to publish during the long weekend.

Unlike others from W&U, who ran around with tense faces before the showcase, he was on the phone with someone, talking so leisurely that it was strange.

“I’m on my way there with the cue cards. I’ll prepare the girls with anticipated questions. Ah, Gunyoung and the PR team are going to check the route and guide the MC. Once the showcase ends, we need to take a picture with the MC-“

“Excuse me!”

He was someone worth writing about among those related to W&U. The reporters scrambled towards him.

“Could I ask you a few questions about Neptune’s future activities?”

“How about Lee Songha’s own activities? Are there any projects you are looking into as her next project?”

“There are rumors that Simon Lee and Neptune will appear on entertainment shows together as supporting fire. The reactions from Star Manager have yet to die down, do you have any plans on appearing alongside them?”

To the outpour of questions, Jung Sunwoo said,

“I’m a bit busy right now.”

Then he used his chin to gesture at his phone, which he was still holding.

“Since there will be a joint interview time with Neptune soon, please ask your questions then.”

Unable to say a word, the reporters simply opened and closed their mouths. Even though his tone wasn’t threatening or unpleasant, it felt it would be difficult to stick next to him.

A female reporter smacked her lips as she saw Jung Sunwoo’s fading appearance.

“I saw him at a music broadcast in the past. I should have gotten close to him then.”

*

As soon as I opened the waiting room door, I was met with a heavy atmosphere.

It even felt like gravity was different starting from the door. Although today was the day Neptune was revealing their songs, W&U employees had also spent the past few months for this day as well.  Everyone inside the waiting was tense like a drawn bowstring.

“Mr. Sunwoo! Where were you? You were in the middle of a call when I tried to call you.”

A female PR team employee rushed towards me.

“Why? Did something happen?”

“The girls have been looking for you since a while ago.”

“The girls?”

When I entered the waiting room, I flinched because the scene in front of me looked so unrealistic.

After finishing their makeup and changing into their outfits, the girls were sitting on the sofa and dressing table chairs.

The outfit was made to match the album concept. It was an elegant yet combatant-style dress, giving off a conflicting feeling. Should I say they looked like they would appear in myths? Or like they should hold a harp in one hand and a bow in the other?

“I heard you were looking for me?”

When I asked after clearing my throat, Im Seoyoung, who was hugging her legs on the sofa, looked at me. There was no point to making her look lovely since her expression seemed like she was possessed by an evil spirit. She looked like she needed an exorcism.

“Oppa, is it raining outside?”

“Yeah, why?”

The sky looked murky since morning, and it started drizzling not too long ago. It was the first rainfall indicating spring. I even thought that spring had actually come when I saw rain dripping from the windows.

However, the girls’ moods seemed more uneasy for some reason.

It wasn’t only Im Seoyoung, they all looked unhappy.

“Why are you all like this?”

“Oppa, we have a sad tradition on rainy days.”

“It is a sad tradition. One you can hold your tears back when listening to it.”

Im Seoyoung said, and LJ added with her lips askew.

Although I wasn’t sure what it was, I decided to match their tune.

“What kind of tradition?”

“The day we made a comeback with a digital single last fall. It rained that day too.”

“… So?”

“We thought it would become a hit since we worked hard on it. We revealed the song at midnight that time too so we waited with wide-open eyes, but it was still raining then. We didn’t know at the time, but that was the start of our misfortune.”

Recalling that day, Im Seoyoung’s eyes narrowed.

It seemed like someone should add a thunder sound in the background.

“As soon as it turned 12, our song was released, but do you know what rank it placed?”

From what I heard, it was around 80-something.

“87th. Then it dropped out of the charts two hours later.”

“Ah.”

Im Seoyoung buried her face in her hands as she despaired.

“But, it’s raining today as well! It’s the symbol of misfortune to us. We don’t have a good feeling. That’s why we were looking for oppa as an emergency measure.”

“Sorry, I don’t have the power to stop the rain.”

“Not that. Oppa is our lucky snake! Symbol of happiness! Staying next to you will neutralize the misfortune. If I could, I want to boil and drink you up! Oppa, you probably don’t understand how I feel!”

“I know that you aren’t in your right mind right now.”

Well, when looking at it psychologically, I could understand how they felt since they reduced their sleep and were hung up on this for months in preparation for today.

Relaxing my body, I leaned against the sofa.

If I could act as a placebo by just staying next to them, then why not?

“Okay, do what you want. Besides boiling me up.”

Since I easily accepted, she was taken aback. Im Seoyoung hesitantly came up to me and poked my shoulder and arm with her thumb.

Other staff members took pictures of this from afar, saying that they had to take pictures, upload them onto social media, and spread them amongst reporters.

Then, unsure when he arrived, Kim Hyunjo chuckled saying that I was like a ‘stone grandfather’{2}. The thing that would help you give birth a son if you rubbed his nose.

I sat after emptying my heart, but Lee Songha, who was sitting next to me, handed me a chocolate snack. I was used to receiving food from Lee Songha. Tasting the sweet chocolate covering my tongue, I asked in a joking manner,

“Why Songha, do you need anything from me?”

“No, I’m good with this.”

Lee Songha came closer to me. Then, while closing her eyes, she said,

“I’m becoming calmer.”

 

I prepped the girls with anticipated questions. During this time, Im Seoyoung calmed down so I no longer had to act as a ‘stone grandfather’. While I was looking around to check if there were any other problems with them, Lee Taehee suddenly tapped my back.

“Oppa, one moment.”

After saying that in a quiet voice, she entered the dressing room where hangers were set up. I followed behind her. Lee Taehee rubbed her lips with her finger. Her eyes, which were always calm like an autumn lake in front of the girls, were rippling.

“Will it really go well?”

“Why? Does the sad rain tradition weigh on you too?”

Lee Taehee smiled slightly.

“No, I kept thinking that I should have worked on the song more.”

“Don’t worry. Your song is good, and the rehearsal went well. The reporters’ reactions will be good too.”

I said while smiling. Lee Taehee coughed lightly and said,

“Once more.”

“Your song is good, and the rehearsal went well. The reporters’ reactions will be good too.”

“Once more please.”

“Your song is…”

“Last time.”

After repeating those words five times, we finally left the dressing room.

Lee Taehee, now with a relieved expression after letting out her worries, returned to being the always calm leader as she examined the cue cards.

Smiling, I sat back down on the sofa when LJ, who had been playing a game on her phone, bolted up. She came up to me taking long strides before crossing her arms and looking down at me.

“What’s up with you? What do you want?”

LJ slowly licked her lips. Then she stretched her hand out and touched my hair. I instinctively pulled my head back. I couldn’t let my guard down in front of her.

I frowned trying to figure out what she was up to when LJ said,

“Please cut a piece of your head.”

What kind of fresh nonsense was this?

“Ah, not your head, but your hair.”

“Why my hair?”

“I feel like it’ll be effective as a talisman. A talisman of luck?”

LJ’s lips curled into a smile. I clearly knew one thing. Unlike other girls, she wasn’t saying this because she was nervous. She was definitely doing this because she thought it would be fun.

As soon as her words left her mouth, three pairs of eyes landed on me. Im Seoyoung, who had been smitten at the mention of a ‘talisman’, was the first to rush towards me as though she was about to do a ‘hundred and eight bows’{3}.

“Oppa, me too! Me too! I want one strand!”

“Since you’re pulling hair out anyway, one for me too.”

“… I want two, no, three strands.”

In the end, I had to pull out a few strands of perfectly fine hair.

*

Dozens of idols debuted each year. If you added all the other singers who unveiled their own showcase for their comeback, this number was over a hundred.

That was why reporters were used to and even bored of idol group showcases. It was a boring event akin to replaying a video you had already seen.

What reporters were waiting for wasn’t a monotonous performance. They simply could comment on the new songs by extracting information from the press release sent out by W&U’s PR team ahead of time.

What the reporters were really interested in was the press conference that followed afterwards. What kind of questions should they ask during the press conference to obtain an article-worthy remark from the members?

Because of this, when Neptune went up on the stage and greeted them, the reporters were focused on their laptops.

However, not long after their first performance began, the reporters began to raise their heads one after another.

“Wow… This isn’t an audio recording but live, right? They are skilled.”

“Their skills were confirmed on Next K-Star. But I heard Songha was less skilled, yet when looking at them in person, she’s fine? Their stage composition is good and so is their performance. This is the best out of the showcases I’ve been to this year.”

“The song is good too. It’s this one, right? The one Simon Lee made?”

“If it’s like this, it’s worth W&U promoting them aggressively. If they are lucky, this will probably perform well.”

Murmurs could be heard from the press seating areas.

Among them, there were reporters who nodded their heads after becoming absorbed in the song, and there were also people who truly felt it was a regret that the performance ended.

As if comforting their regret, the second performance began.

It was a dynamic and powerful rhythm, however, a fleeting violin tune added an emotional aspect to the song.

It was a performance which melded Neptune members’ unique tones as well as their outfits and choreography that made one think of something other than humans{5}. The word ‘divine’ best described this scene.

By the time their performance ended, a reporter mumbled,

“… What the heck? Is this Simon Lee’s song?”

“This is Lee Taehee’s song. From the press release, it says she composed and wrote it herself. I thought they mentioned this to add an ‘artist’ image on top of being a talented girl group, but it’s better than I thought?”

“Better than you thought? I like this one better than Simon Lee’s song.”

 

When the joint interview began, questions popped up everywhere without rest. It was to the point the MC overseeing this event was astonished. Although he had attended a few showcases, it was his first time attending one with so many questions.

“Ms. Lee Taehee’s song was chosen as one of the double title tracks. Is there any story behind the song-writing process?”

At a reporter’s question, Lee Taehee, who was sitting at the center of the table on the stage, raised her mic.

“There is because, if it wasn’t for manager oppa, my song wouldn’t have even been included in this album.”

“By manager, do you perhaps mean… Mr. Jung Sunwoo?”

“Yes.”

Smelling the scent of something article-worthy, the reporters’ fingers worked faster. On their laptop screens were leads like ‘The story behind Lee Taehee’s Song’, ‘Lee Taehee’s song, if it wasn’t for her manager.’

Lee Taehee brushed her light brown hair and continued,

“I was in a slump during the song-writing process, but manager oppa came to our residence. He gave me something as a present, and when I looked inside, there were alcohol and snacks… He said he bought everything in the store aisle.”

“Why alcohol?”

“Ah, drinking while working became a habit for me. He told me to pick and drink whatever I wanted while handing it to me, and thanks to that, I finished the song in two days.”

Her somewhat cold-looking eyes narrowed to form a gentle smile.

“After that, he even pushed for my song to be included as part of the double title tracks. If this song obtains good results, it’s all thanks to manager oppa.”

*

“The rain has stopped.”

I said while entering the practice room. The Neptune girls, who were lolling around after becoming exhausted from practicing, and Kim Hyunjo and the traitor, who were talking on one side, looked at me at the same time.

Widening her eyes, Im Seoyoung said,

“Our misfortune has ended now.”

“R-really? The rain really stopped?”

“Yeah. The rain stopped and a ray of light shined in the sky.”

“Really?”

“That one’s a lie.”

The girls laughed like deflating balloons.

When I went to where Kim Hyunjo and the traitor were, I saw that they had their laptops and cellphones out and were in the middle of monitoring reactions.

After the showcase and press conference ended, articles about Neptune’s comeback poured out onto portal news sites like a broken dam.

The PR team was putting in their last remaining effort into promotions, and social media and community forum sites were bustling with talks concerning Neptune’s comeback.

Online music chart tabs were lined up on one laptop.

“What rank will they reach? I hope they hit at least 50.”

“Some songs shoot through the graph as soon as they’re released.”

When I said so while smacking my lips, Kim Hyunjo coughed.

“What ‘shooting through the graph’? Do you think songs can hit the ceiling whenever they want? While it’s good to hold expectations, do it in moderation. It hurts more if you fall from a high place.”

“Still, it’s not like there is zero possibility of it happening.”

This time it was the traitor who spoke. A strange excitement radiated from his eyes.

“If they reach 10-20th rank, it’ll go up higher as they appear on broadcasts. As long as they do well on entertainment shows, can’t we aim for first?”

“Yeah, we might be able to aim for first.”

I agreed.

Of course, the song the traitor and I were thinking of was different.

Awaiting midnight, we huddled around the computer. I heard someone gulp from somewhere. I also heard someone pant heavily while pressing their chest and a strange groan escaped from being unable to endure any longer.

Everyone was calming their excitement in their own way. I licked my lips slightly. A pleasant excitement surrounded my body.

The minute hand slowly tilted. Then, the moment it precisely hit midnight, Neptune’s second mini-album was released.

 


{1} The mini-album is called ‘수호성 (guardian)’, but since the two are redundant, just wrote ‘Guardian’.

{2} Statues on Jeju Island and are considered to be gods of protection and fertility. There’s a saying ‘if you rub the stone grandfather’s nose, you’ll give birth to a son.’

{3} A Buddhist meditative practice for reflection and concentration.

{4} Probably referring to the muses in myth.

 

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Comments 12

  1. Thank you for the chapter despite the exams. Hope your results are good.

    It’s interesting how they’re all starting to depend on him more and more (with the possible exception of LJ). Wonder how this is going to affect what the traitor does next if the ranking results turn out the way we expect them to.

    Also, this author is really good at building cliffhangers. The last few sentences was just stretching out the tension to breaking point.

    1. why? he is doing a good job.also,the chief think about recruiting more people for individual schedules so that would be dumb to put gunyoung in another team when he has experience in this one.
      he has accomplishments and didn’t made any wrong(only in mc futur prediction,not reality).

  2. thanks for the chapter!
    got a little annoyed when all the praise go to the mc support.this is true but that feel like we will have only things like that in all the novel.i want him to fail a bit (even with his power).i don’t like much novels in fairytail mindset where everything go on the perfect path.things like songha sprain is pretty interresting for that reason. humans fail sometimes,even with cheats

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