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Illustration by Lexey Gonzalez for an article on Querencia

From Latin pop to house to rock ballads, the singer and her first full-length album refuse to be put in a box.

It’s been five years since Chungha’s debut, counting from her time in I.O.I, the former girl group she was a part of. From her official solo debut with her “Hands on Me” EP to her first studio album, “Querencia,” it is apparent that the singer has grown a lot in the past years.

The album was originally scheduled to be released on Jan. 4 but was delayed to Feb. 15 when the singer tested positive for COVID-19 back in December 2020. Despite this, Chungha was still able to find comfort in the album that she had poured her heart and soul into.

She was reported to be asymptomatic and took some time to fully recover before any further promotions. It is great to see that Chungha, who is known to overwork herself at times, was able to take some time to rest and take care of her health.

Singles Leading Up to the Album Release

Before dropping “Querencia,” Chungha kept fans updated through her singles.

The first pre-release single was “Stay Tonight,” a charismatic song that encapsulates the singer’s sexy charm. The song was released back in April 2020. Chungha blew fans away with the iconic choreography, which let the backup dancers take their own spotlight in the music video. It was truly immaculate and stunning.

The next single that was pre-released in July 2020 was “Play.” It is a bright, upbeat song accompanied by a captivating floral aesthetic and powerful dance. This Latin pop song is also filled with elements of reggaeton, and the song structure builds up from the pre-chorus to the post-chorus breakdown, allowing listeners to feel empowered.

During this time, Chungha also officially signed with 88rising, home to artists such as Joji, Rich Brian and NIKI, to help her reach Western audiences. She kicks off the relationship with her new label with an English pre-release single called “Dream of You” in collaboration with R3HAB. The song is a catchy electronic dance track, and the choreography in the video is so amazing that the singer was compared to Michael Jackson all over social media. Chungha does an excellent job at executing her amazing dance skills in the performance video.

Chungha released her last pre-release single “X” in December 2020. This particular song is meant to represent the singer’s past and the stories surrounding it. While making the song, Chungha said she thought about her mom. “X” is more of a heartfelt rock ballad song with inspiring lyrics that give off the message, “The moments of the past made you who you are today.”

The Album’s True Beauty

“Querencia” is meant to represent the singer’s safe haven from where she can draw strength. For most people, their safe haven would be their bed at home. For the singer, her albums are where she feels secure, as she spends all day and night working on them. Adding onto that, Chungha also claims that her fans are her most significant basis of support and calls them her biggest querencia — the album was also named after her fans.

The album is made up of four different themes: Noble, Savage, Unknown and Pleasures. It was originally the producers’ idea to incorporate the four components to showcase the different sides of Chungha. Through these four themes, the singer wanted to show a person who takes on challenges and musical concepts without being limited to one concept.

Chungha filled the album with concepts and vibes that she wanted, and each song was produced without any concern over chart rankings. There are a total of 21 songs on the album, with each one containing its own distinct aura that feels like a coherent collection of Chungha’s brand of mature, yet playful music. Many other artists such as Baek Yerin, The Black Skirts and Colde also collaborated with the making of “Querencia.”

Her track “Bicycle” contains parts of her pre-release singles and is like a grand movie that captures the essence of all the songs into one. As always, Chungha accompanies this song with a powerful dance that blows away fans. This song truly isn’t like the typical K-pop song — the singer takes the girl crush concept to a whole new level by crushing standards and creating her own.

Querencia’s Success

So far, the album has received incredibly positive reviews. It even entered as one of the top three albums on the iTunes album sales chart in America and debuted at No. 7 on Spotify’s top 10 global album debuts. “Querencia” proves that Chungha no longer has any competition and that she is in a league of her own. As a solo artist, she’s constantly growing and looking for opportunities when it comes to making music, choreographing and collaborating with artists from all over the world. With Chungha constantly testing her limits and experimenting, fans can definitely look forward to her next projects.

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