On this day of 2011, Beast (now Highlight), the now-defunct K-pop boy group, released their first full-length album, “Fiction and Fact.” Topping the album was the hit song, “Fiction,” which made the group a household name in K-pop. Beast’s Fiction and Fact was an explosion upon its release. Many k-pop and even non-k-pop fans flocked over it. Thus, it became the 5th selling album in Korea in 2011.
During this time, K-pop and Hallyu wave was still starting to dominate the world. Before most mainstream people have embraced K-pop groups like BTS, Beast’s “Fiction and Fact” has already shown us that K-pop is something to take seriously. Sadly, during this time of K-pop invasion, many of my peers needed more than convincing to appreciate K-pop and all the beautiful things it offers.
In K-pop’s earliest times, I, too, have criticized it in my little way. I’ve always loved the genre–I’m a legitimate fan of their glitz and glamor, good looks, and candy pop songs, but I’ve never got to the point of genuinely taking them seriously, except perhaps for one of the first K-pop boy groups I adore, BIGBANG.
However, in 2011, Beast, Cube Entertainment’s cream of the crop, showed me that there is more to K-pop than meets the eye. Beast’s Fiction and Fact might be one, if not the best, K-pop album that a boy group has ever produced. Sadly, however, Beast wasn’t at the right timing as the overexposed BTS might even be bigger than the Backstreet Boys in the 90s.
Like BTS or perhaps still better, Beast has their own share of top-notch members who have it all–they all perform well. While other members may be more talented, the bottom members still perform better than most K-pop groups (yes, one can argue that they might even perform better than BTS, group-wise).
10 Years of Beast’s Fiction and Fact Album: Members Review
Beast, for me, is the ultimate boy group. While the members might be not as close as BTS or SHINee (yes, it showed during Beast’s idol shows), in my opinion, they are an ideal boy group when it comes to talent and performance. Beast’s Fiction and Fact highlighted everything the members could offer, from songwriting, dancing, choreography, and topnotch vocals, more than any of their other EPs and albums could have.
Let’s first talk about the almost perfect Jang Hyunseung (who almost took a spot on K-pop’s biggest boyband during their time, BIGBANG). While he wasn’t able to make the cut, he proved to everyone that he’s one of the ablest K-pop idols after joining Cube Entertainment and Beast. Plus, every fan knows that he wasn’t chosen for BIGBANG not because of talent but because of confidence. He was far more talented than Seungri and Top, and it was “badassery” that he lacked for BIGBANG’s image. I recall that when Beast became one of the top boy bands in 2011, BIGBANG members G-Dragon and Taeyang were very happy for Hyunseung. They knew that he deserved all the love that he and the rest of B2st have received at that time.
Cube Entertainment would eventually create the unit TROUBLEMAKER, with Hyunseung partnering with Hyuna. Hyunseung didn’t follow with the other members leaving Cube Entertainment, and independently forming HIGHLIGHT. He stayed with Cube.
Lee Gikwang Is known to be the group’s visual and most promoted member during their first promotions. Like Hyunseok, Gikwang has everything there is to offer (superb vocals, dancing, and even acting skills). During Beast’s earlier days, it’s almost as if Gikwang was hogging all the attention, but when Fiction and Fact was released, the other members have begun to share the limelight with him.
Yang Yoseob has always been the group’s go-to vocals and representative to idol group contests at that time as he has impeccable vocals that can reach the highest notes. His impressive vocal ability and aegyo nature amassed a lot of fans for himself and the group. His solo albums were also a success.
Yong Junhyung, the group’s resident rapper, is Beast’s answer to BIGBANG’s G-Dragon and BTS’ Suga. He writes and produces his own tracks and some of Beast’s songs, including Fiction and Fact. While Yun Junhyung himself was influenced by dark and underground Korean hip-hop beats, his rap style is not devoid of emotions and makes every song in Fiction and Fact beautiful and moving.
Unfortunately, in 2019, Junhyung left HIGHLIGHT because of his involvement in the K-Pop sex crimes scandal.
While not being one of the best when it comes to vocal and dance performance, Yoon Dojoon, the group’s charismatic leader, is an excellent asset to the group because of his leadership, hosting, and acting skills. Dojoon’s husky voice adds a variation to the group’s already solid vocal line as well.
Lastly, Son Dongwoon, the group’s maknae (youngest member), had a hard time following through with the other “huge” members but improved his craft in no time. I’ll talk more about him later.
‘Fiction and Fact’ Album Review
If you’re the ultimate pop, soul, and R&B lover, you would always love an album like Fiction and Fact.
The Fact is an excellent intro to the album. The guitar chords brought life and way to its excellent melodic beat and a little rap before paving the way for B2st ultimate song, Fiction.
Fiction, one of the most melodic songs in Kpop, is heartbreaking and poignant. Its video and dance moves are unique. I often wondered why it’s not so embedded in Kpop culture as much as other k-pop songs are. The song breaks in a great hook in the chorus, surprising us further into Yang Yoseob’s bridge part and Yun Jungyun’s rap part, and collates all the feelings and emotions, and what story the song tells. It won Song of the Year at the 2011 KBS Music Festival.
While being a subtle dance track, Back to you is not devoid of emotions and the usual 90s pop sensibilities.
As one of my most favorite songs in the album, You opens up with a wonderful start that will make anyone’s heart flutter. Beast’s maknae, Dongwoon, while being known to be the least talented member, did a great job singing the intro, full of emotions. In variety shows, he is seen to be quite insecure because of his abilities and appeal as compared to other members, but in You, he proved us and himself wrong.
Freeze, the album’s EDM song, is like an intro to the group’s next EP (following Fact & Fiction), Midnight Sun (almost a full EDM EP), in my opinion, is still way better than its predecessor’s album’s songs.
Virus and Though I call your name are two standout tracks. Its huge R&B and soul sensibilities highlighted each member’s vocal abilities. Both songs are melodic masterpieces that can rarely be heard in usual k-pop tunes.
On Rainy Days, was controversial and banned in Korean schools because of its lyrics about ‘drinking,’ is simple but another emotional authority that highlights each member’s vocal capability. Its guitar chords and overall theme reminds me of Craig David’s tracks.
Lightless, like Rainy Days, is their downtime and relaxing track, almost like an acoustic, and again, highlights the lyrics and each member’s vocal strengths.
Fiction (Orchestra version) was a great idea. The boys didn’t have to rerecord the song, but the producers mixed it that it would be more poignant than it is. It’s definitely one of the best remixes of a k-pop song.
Overall, Beast’s Fiction and Fact, as I’ve always thought, is one of the best albums that K-pop has ever produced. All of its songs are wonderfully written, arranged, mixed, and produced. I can’t recall an album as such, except perhaps for Exo’s XOXO. Beast’s Fiction and Fact is almost rebellious, in the sense that it didn’t follow the usual k-pop route of writing songs in a particular structure. It mostly followed the 90s and 2000s pop, soul, and R&B tunes, and it worked; many people loved it. While the songs in the album are full of rap parts, they are consistent in sharing every emotion and story that the whole album tells.
To be honest, I was very disappointed with Beast’s follow-up EP, Midnight Sun. It’s a shame, but it also made Beast a notch lower than what they have achieved during the release of Fiction and Fact. Their boy group status just went downhill after that, even after Beast’s Fiction and Fact peaking at number one on the Gaon Chart, selling over 142,000 copies, and the group winning Artist of the Year in 2011. There’s not an album like Beast’s Fiction and Fact, and I’m very lucky to be a part of that k-pop generation.
Beast has moved on despite all the changes that they have gone through. Their new group HIGHLIGHT recently released a new EP entitled The Blowing this month as four members Dojoon, Gikwang, Yoseob, and Dojoon. Hyunseung, after being discharged from military service, is currently still under Cube Entertainment, so I’m looking forward to any of his new releases. My bias Yong Junhyung is currently a public service worker. His talent is a waste, so I hope that the entertainment industry and its fans forgive his wrongdoings.