Courtesy of BigHit Music


Tomorrow x Together Conquers Their Bad Boy Era

On their album minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, the group grows up alongside their audience and gains more confidence and courage themselves.

Tomorrow X Together is comfortable being in the middle. The rising K-pop stars, known by fans as TXT, exist in the tumultuous space between adolescence and adulthood, somewhere amid whimsy and reality. Soobin, the group's leader, likens their in-between existence to Thursday — a weekday that's also kind of like a weekend. On Thursdays, there's a spark of possibility. This is the idea behind the fivesome's latest project, minisode 2: Thursday's Child, which finds them at the junction of love and pain.

On the project’s lead single, "Good Boy Gone Bad," the quintet emerge from a "tomb of love" reborn as battle-hardened heartthrobs, the jagged edges of their broken hearts sharp with spite. They bury their past selves, brood in dark alleyways, and crash motorcycles just to feel something. It's a far cry from the five fresh-faced unknowns who burst onto the scene in early 2019 with the bright, buoyant "Crown," or the rebellious youths who ran toward love with reckless abandon on 2021's punchy, punk-rock anthem "LO$ER=LO♡ER." But that's what makes TXT's creative approach so potent; they're growing up alongside their audience, shepherding themselves and their fans through the messiness of their teens and twenties.

"We dealt with friendship. We dealt with our first love. It's only natural for us to deal with the breakup that comes after such an intense first love," Taehyun tells NYLON, describing how they landed on the heartbreak concept that fuels the album. "Everyone goes through partings or breakups, whether it's love or friendship or someone who you hold dear to your heart," Beomgyu adds. "So we looked back at those emotions that we felt."

TXT’s Yeonjun.Courtesy of BigHit Music
TXT’s Beomgyu.Courtesy of BigHit

If the members of Tomorrow X Together have experienced real, world-ending heartbreak, they're not about to excavate those feelings during this interview. Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Hueningkai are still idols. They tread the line between personal and personae with careful precision, preferring the work speak for itself.

"This is actually our first time trying a darker, more mature concept, and we want to tell people that Tomorrow X Together can even pull off these themes," Taehyun says. Even so, this doesn't feel like a seismic change for a group whose entire concept is "growing up." Of course their naive love would sour, leading them to this angsty next phase. However, the bad boy bravado didn't come naturally for everyone. "I'm a good boy, so I can't really relate to the emotions of a bad boy," youngest member Hueningkai jokes. Beside him, Yeonjun, the oldest, laughs and Taehyun adds a wry "same." So TXT are just really good at acting bad? "Yes, exactly," Hueningkai confirms with a nod.

To get into character for "Good Boy Gone Bad," they took a lot of references from movies and dramas. They won't get into specifics, only noting that they turned to "main characters who turned bad" for inspiration, Hueningkai says. Visually, you can put the pieces together. There's a bit of the Joker and his harlequin lover in the way Yeonjun gazes into the camera with a devilish grin to deliver the line "I like being bad." Even their styling — black tees, chains, and leather jackets — can be traced to 1953's The Wild One, in which a young Marlon Brando originated the bad boy uniform in a black Schott Perfecto. They wear them like sartorial shields, accumulating more scuffs and scratches with every shattered heart.

TXT’s Hueningkai.Courtesy of BigHit Music
TXT’s Taehyun.Courtesy of BigHit Music
TXT’s Soobin.Courtesy of BigHit Music

It's not the first time TXT has used film as a reference point for their music and aesthetics. In 2020's "Drama," they imagined themselves as the main character, only to realize that they were the extra, watching life pass them by the entire time. The cinematic visual for 2021's anthemic "0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)" drew from Wong Kar-wai’s 1990 film Days of Being Wild and Andrés Muschietti's 2017 It remake, envisioning the group as their own version of the outcast Losers Club. On Thursday's Child, Tomorrow X Together finally arrives at the realization that at the center of every good coming-of-age story is a protagonist grappling with heartache. It's no surprise that the EP begins with "Opening Sequence," a song that plays like a flashback of a relationship — a moody prelude to a young person's grief, featuring lyrics from Hueningkai and Taehyun.

With every album, the members contribute more to the creative process, stitching their own stories into the fabric of their music alongside their longtime producer Slow Rabbit. The project's B-side track, "Trust Fund Baby," is a pop ballad with co-writing from Taehyun and Yeonjun. "I feel like it becomes easier for us to start the songwriting process," Taehyun says. For "Trust Fund Baby," he drew inspiration from video games in that no matter how many items you have, you're not always guaranteed success. "We feel more confident… We're getting more courage and willingness, and more passion, to work on music."

“Lovesick is the condition you get when you really love someone, but actually we were trying to express the pain that you get out of love.”

Their determination as songwriters is best displayed on the album's two subunit songs: "Lonely Boy," from Yeonjun and Hueningkai; and "Thursday's Child Has Far to Go," from Beomgyu, Soobin, and Taehyun. This marked the first time the members worked in units. It felt strange at first, making music separately, but Hueningkai says it became a "natural process" with the members who best fit the vibe of each song teaming up to finish it. "Lonely Boy" brings together Hueningkai's soft, acoustic sensibilities and rapper Yeonjun's deft lyricism and love of R&B. "I feel like Yeonjun can really pull off these types of songs," the younger adds. Meanwhile, "Thursday's Child Has Far to Go" — a reference to a centuries-old nursery rhyme — fuses Beomgyu's interest in retro music with Taehyun's bright melodies. Beomgyu, who worked on the song's production, typically writes songs on his guitar (see: his standout 2020 contribution "Maze in the Mirror"), but "Thursday's Child" gave him the opportunity to experiment with trendier sounds.

"People say trends come and go," he says of the track's '80s synth line. "I listen to those sounds when I'm working out, and I think they're really addictive and charming. So I wanted to try that kind of sound at least once in my journey [as a producer]. It's a little bit different from the previous songs." Taehyun wrote the topline melody and also penned some of the lyrics. He was inspired by the popular hashtag "breakup glow-up" across social media, in which a breakup is viewed as a catalyst for change and personal growth.

"The other four tracks deal with negative emotions after a breakup, but the last track actually ends on a very positive note," Soobin says of the song. "It talks about how a boy who went through this hard time is going to move forward regardless."

Courtesy of BigHit Music

By the end of the album, they've reached a state of acceptance. "Let's break up on Thursday," they sing on "Thursday's Child Has Far to Go." "It's a good day to break up." If falling in love feels like the end of the world — scary, uncertain, all-consuming — then heartbreak is a chance for rebirth. You come out of it stronger and more self-assured, ready for what's next. For TXT, that means turning a new page in their story. They say they have no idea what lies ahead, only that they'll continue to explore "the emotions people feel as they grow up," says Soobin, very diplomatically.

Right now, the group is preparing for their first-ever world tour, Act: Love Sick, which will kick off this summer — a milestone nearly three years in the making. "It has been two years and six months since we last went to the U.S.," Hueningkai says, not like he's been counting. "So we can't really wait." Beomgyu wants to "return all of that love and energy" their fans, called MOA, have sent them amid the pandemic. The tour will take them to cities around the world, from Seoul to Chicago, where TXT can tell their coming-of-age story on the global stage.

"Lovesick is the condition you get when you really love someone," Taehyun explains, "but actually we were trying to express the pain that you get out of love."

Through pain comes understanding, and eventually, a stronger love. One can't exist without the other, and TXT inhabits the space in between. It's the curious predicament that a Thursday's child finds himself in; no longer a kid, not yet an adult, they move toward an unpredictable future one step at a time.

Tomorrow x Together’s minisode 2: Thursday’s Child is out now.