In This Life, The Greatest Star In The Universe - C.35:


Chapter 35

When I suggested working on a song that everyone else had given up on, my brothers had mixed reactions.

Are you sure you can do it? Dont give up halfway. Lets be realistic and start with something easy.

The main vocal of New Black, who was in charge of the reality check, was skeptical.

Im worried, but if you say so, Ill support you.

The main dancer smiled with concern and approval.

Jung-hyun just shrugged his shoulders as if to say, do whatever you want.

The youngest one proudly showed off his thick wallet while eating a pickle.

Do as you please. Its your choice that matters. I dont know anything about composing, so Ill just treat you to some snacks.

The vote was 3 in favor, 1 abstention, and 1 against.

We settled our opinions on the debut song project.

Ri-hyuk didnt seem happy and said.

Ill go along with the majority, but can you really do it? Its objectively too difficult.

Hyung, dont you remember what you said at the end-of-year evaluation?

The youngest one chimed in.

Back then, Woojoo hyung suggested an idea, but you said it was unrealistic and too hard.

Are you really useless? Whose side are you on?

Im obviously on the side of the composer who will give me a good part.

He fed me a pickle with a smile in his eyes, and Ri-hyuk stuck out his tongue in disbelief.

Then, Bi-ju suddenly said as if he remembered something.

By the way, I was curious about this at the end-of-year evaluation. How do you work on composing or arranging?

Right. Me too.

It was so weird back then. You suddenly said, Ill finish it by tomorrow, and then you came back the next morning with the completed arrangement.

I dipped a pizza in the sauce and answered.

It was thanks to Director Jos help that I finished early. If I had done it alone, it would have taken longer because of the computer work.

Then how did you do the arrangement? Without a machine.

I wrote it by hand. Roughly made a score.

My brothers looked at me with strange expressions.

You did it by hand?


Where did you come from? 19th century Europe?

I did it that way in the army. I couldnt install Logic or Pro Tools on the military computer. In the end, I had no choice but to use my hand.

They seemed to accept it when I mentioned the army.

They probably thought it was a mysterious world they didnt know.

They would probably believe me if I told them I was a combat warthog breeder in the army.

Then how do you work?

Jung-hyun asked.

We need to know that so we can figure out how to help you.

Oh, the work method.

I recalled the method I used when I worked on music.

I created a stage in my head and worked from there.

But if I said that, they would probably look at me even more strangely.

Im telling you in advance, dont look at me weirdly after you hear it. I know Im a bit special.

Just tell us, old man. What else can surprise us?

Um Well, its like this.

I put down the pizza and said.

Close your eyes.

They all closed their eyes.

In the meantime, the youngest one stole a piece of pizza that Ri-hyuk had saved, with his eyes open.

I held back a laugh and continued.

Did you close your eyes? Then, think of a familiar space. Preferably a large one. The auditorium of your school, or the stage of the music show we performed on.

Their eyeballs moved under their closed eyelids.

Thats it. Then, in that state, you set up a session, that is, instruments, on the stage. Guitar, bass, keyboard, saxophone, cello, things like that. Drums are enough for drums. Leave out the other percussion for now.

Hyung, I think I forgot from the middle.

I couldnt even remember. Hey, Wang Ji-ho. Do you remember?

I think I did it roughly.

Ji-ho, who was focused on eating pizza secretly, didnt answer, and only Jung-hyun seemed to follow my instructions roughly.

Youre almost there. The next part is easy. You put the five of us on the stage and work on it. Imagine that were all singing. Make a melody. Add some instruments.

Just repeat that. Until it works. I did the same thing for the end-of-year arrangement. I kept imagining it in my head.

Is that it?

They opened their eyes and looked at me.

I nodded.

Thats it.


One by one, the members opened their eyes.

At first, they seemed to adjust to the light, but soon they looked at me strangely.

I told you. It sounds weird.

You can do that, hyung? Playing instruments in your head?

How else do you think I arranged the song in one day?

They all had skeptical expressions.

It was the same when I was at TJ Entertainment.

When I told the TNT kids about this, they reacted similarly.

Does that make sense, hyung?

They would say.

And they would look at me like I was an alien.

Their gazes were exactly the same as back then.

Some seemed to admire me, and some seemed to look at me with disdain.

They all stared at me blankly.

How much time had passed?

Ri-hyuks voice broke the silence.

What the hell. Wheres my pizza?


The first day at the studio passed and we returned to our daily routine.

Events, practice, lessons, and music production were added to the list.

After singing Something with Jang So Won sunbae at a local event and returning to the company, we had group PT, vocal, dance training, foreign language education, and so on.

When that was over, Jung-hyun and I headed to the studio instead of the dorm and stayed up all night.

Most of the work was technical.

Discussions and work on how to shape the melody.

The concept was already decided.

The concept of our B-side song was a summer season song.

We had announced the spring season with Something, so the plan was to make a summer season song for our debut.

Of course, this was what we said in front of the director.

It was just a simple idea that we came up with, Its summer, so lets make a summer song.

That was a secret between us.

A cool and refreshing song that suited the summer.

We made the melody of Untitled according to that concept.

It was a simple task.

At first, I wondered how to tweak the melody, but once I tried it in my head a few times, it was surprisingly easy.

Of course, it wasnt because I was talented.

It was possible because I didnt preserve the subtlety of the melody as other people did.

I tried to keep that feeling at first, but I failed in the end.

So we decided to make a beat from scratch, even if we lost that subtlety.

And we got a lot of help from our connections in the process.

We asked Jang So Won sunbae for advice whenever we met him at the event hall, we asked the director for his opinion whenever we took lessons from him, and we talked to the companys A&R team and the affiliated composers whenever we had a chance.

With their help, the work went smoothly.

Where should we get the instruments from? I want to make the sound more sophisticated.

Lets scan the Billboard chart up to 100, what.

We referred to the latest trends in the US for the sound that went under the top line melody.

Why dont you do the intro, Jung-hyun?


You have a good sense of rhythm, so you can find the bending or attack point well. Then it will have an impact. And here, B part, Bi-jus voice is soft, so it will fit well.

I think it would be better if you did it, hyung.

We also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the members for the parts.

What about Ri-hyuk?

He has a good vocal balance, so he can fit anywhere.

Thats true. Well have to think about it when the choreography comes out. We should put him in the part with less dance.

If Ri-hyuk had heard our conversation, his ears would have turned red.

In this way, we progressed the work quite quickly, enough to discuss who to give the parts to.

The problem occurred then.

Hey, Jung-hyun.


Do you see this in your head?

Are you talking about that weird method that only you can do?

No, not that.

I asked.

Do you see yourself performing this on stage in your head?

Uh Wait a minute.

He closed his eyes and immersed himself in his thoughts for 10 seconds, then opened them.

It doesnt work.

Right, it doesnt work, does it?

The problem was the identity of the song.

The work was going smoothly, but no matter how much I listened, it didnt feel like our song.

It felt like no matter what title I put on Untitled, it had nothing to do with New Black.

To put it simply, I succeeded in technically crafting a gem, but I didnt know what to make of it.

I had a gem, but I didnt know if it should be a necklace or a ring.

What do you think is the problem, hyung?

I think we didnt consider our identity when we made songs so far.


Something is Jang So-wons song, but this is our song. It should feel like New Black, but its too bland.

The problem I hadnt thought of until now was New Blacks identity.

What kind of music do we want to do?

What are the emotions or codes that we want to convey?

I only studied how to make the sound better while working, but I didnt think about who we are as a group, or how to express ourselves in this song.


In the studio, Jung-hyun and I were lost in thought.

The sound of Jung-hyuns grip strengthener and me tapping the keyboard made a discordant sound.

I learned by imitating movements, but the muscles of my fingers that couldnt follow the signals of my brain got tangled up in Rachmaninoffs piece.

Just like my head.

Time kept passing, and Jung-hyun, who had stopped the grip strengthener and was doing push-ups on the studio floor, came up with an idea.

Hyung, how about this. Lets focus on what we like.

What we like. That sounds good.

What do you like, hyung?

Me? Grandma is number one, money is number two.

Uh neither of them seem to go well with our song. Maybe rap would be okay.

Yo, I like two things. GrandMoney and Money. How about that?

The rapper laughed at the ridiculous rap.

But focusing on what we like was a reasonable suggestion.

Taste is related to who we are.

In the end, we have to think about what kind of singers we are. To do that, we have to know who we are.

I honestly dont know. Do we have anything that can be called our team color?

We have to find that out from now on.

He scratched his chin and bit his lip.

Then he got up from his seat.

I think we need to talk to the kids about this problem. Its about our team color.

Lets do that. Lets talk to them after the broadcast. They said theyd be here soon, right?

They might take a little longer. Bi-ju said hes going to make them practice more because theyre not in sync.

The clock on the studio wall pointed to 10 oclock.

It was Friday night.

Finally, the night music program Ha Seung-joos Music Cafe was airing.


11 p.m.

Thirty minutes before the broadcast of Music Cafe, the studio was bustling with five people for the first time in a long time.

On the table, there were a laptop with PBS channel on and a pile of snack bags.

Hyung, can I just have a sip?

The youngest eyed the beer greedily, but Jung-hyun shook his head.


Im the only one who hasnt drunk alcohol at school. I hear that other group kids say that their hyungs or unnies give them a sip each. Even Gil Chaekyung tried it.

Why are you trying to drink alcohol as a minor?

Ri-hyuk, who was sitting on the edge of the sofa, chewed on a sweet potato snack.

And stop spilling snacks on the floor.


He smiled and rubbed his snack-covered hand on purpose.

Soon, a sweet potato snack hit his face accurately.

I must have been absorbed in the work.

I was making a beat without knowing it, following the rhythm of the youngest and Ri-hyuks fight.

Hyung, have one.

A slice of apple that was carefully cut was offered. I turned my head and saw a tray full of apple peels and Bi-ju.


My mom says apples are the best when youre tired. You worked hard composing.

Only you can do this, Bi-ju.

As I ate the apple with gratitude, Jung-hyun put down the dried squid and stretched out his big hand.

I worked hard on the composition too.


Ah, not the one thats been bitten. Dont you have a clean one like Woojoo hyung?

I smiled at my friend who was the same age as me.

No, I only smiled with my mouth.

Jung-hyun, who was looking back and forth between the knife in his hand and his face, coughed awkwardly.

Wow, that apple must be really delicious.

Bi-ju turned to me and asked.

Did you contact your grandmother?

She must be sitting in front of the TV by now. Do you want to say hello to her since were talking about it?

I pressed the speed dial number 1 and switched to video call.

The younger ones who were measuring their head sizes on the screen slowly retreated behind me.

Soon, Mrs. Kim Deoksoons face appeared.

-Oh, my. What a surprise. Whats this? Why is your face showing up?

Everyone burst into laughter and I felt embarrassed.

I wanted to try video calling you for a change.

-Then you should have told me before you called!

Yes. Im sorry, Mrs. Kim Deoksoon.

I smiled and introduced the younger ones.

You remember them all, right, grandma? We met last December. I came here with them to watch the live broadcast of Music Cafe.

-Ah, yes. Its nice to see all your faces.

Her wrinkled face, which was tense when she saw me, softened and brightened as she looked at the younger ones.

What the hell, why, how.

Im your grandson, but you like them more than me.


The younger ones greeted her and grandmas face became even brighter.

-Oh, how pretty.

Grandma. Im your grandson. Pay attention to me.

-Youre so petty, you know that? Ive seen your face enough in the corner of the house. Why do you need to see it again? If someone else looks pretty, you go, Grandma, Im jealous and all that.

Grandma, theyre laughing at me.

Ri-hyuk and Ji-ho were biting their lips and holding back their laughter. Is it that fun to see me suffer?

But I didnt feel bad either.

Its weird.

I feel more comfortable when I hear grandmas harsh words.

We continued the conversation until the broadcast started.

I tried to brag about how I got a studio at the company, but she didnt even compliment me once.

She just told me not to bother her.

Finally, when the logo of Ha Seung-joos Music Cafe appeared on the top right corner of the TV screen on the laptop.

Grandma, Ill hang up now. Ill call you again after the broadcast.

-Is it channel 7? I cant see well these days.

Yes, its channel 7, PBS.

-By the way, Woojoo. Did you make any mistakes this time? Like last time, when you said something weird about bread

Huh? What? I cant hear you. I love you, grandma.

-You, this

I ended the call with a faint you, this echoing.

The younger ones looked at my face and burst into laughter.

Yeah. Laugh

I sighed deeply and then unknowingly got infected by their laughter.

I felt lighter after laughing for no reason.

My mind, which was complicated by thoughts of my dad who would appear on Music Cafe and the composition, felt a bit clearer.

Now I was looking forward to the scene that would become the youngests black history.

Oh, the logo is gone. It must be starting.

The laptop monitor went black and then the studio appeared on the screen.

Everyone swallowed their saliva and looked at the screen.