[What Mary Thinks] HIGHLIGHT is baaaaaaaack and you know what that means!

Hello beautiful people! Today is a great day (and this year in general) as Highlight (formerly known as BEAST/B2ST) finally returned with their long-awaited and anticipated comeback “Plz Don’t Be Sad”!!

For those of y’all who don’t know, Highlight (it honestly feels weird to call them this now when I’ve been calling them BEAST their entire music career) is my ultimate bias group in the K-Pop industry. I have a lot of mixed emotions about how I feel regarding Highlight’s new start, group changes, journey, and their music career, but I’m just glad that they are back with new music and a new image and doing what they love – music.

Being the nostalgic person that I am, watching Highlight’s new music video made me think about a lot of things (and I mean A LOT). One, I absolutely enjoy their new MV and album. I knew I was going to support Highlight no matter what with this new comeback, but I wasn’t too sure if I was going to like their new songs and title song. However, upon watching the MV teaser for ‘Plz Don’t Be too Sad’, I fell in love with the song. It was only a 30 second MV teaser, but I loved it so much and could not stop watching and listening to it. The next few days of waiting for the album to come out was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do because I just couldn’t wait to listen to the full song and the entire album and watch these amazing boys in the MV so once the MV and song came out, I immediately watched it on Youtube. And just like I had anticipated, Highlight did not disappoint (they’re not my biases for no reason). ‘Plz Don’t Be Sad’ is such a fun, cheerful, and crazy song emitting so many positive vibes and it just makes you want to dance to it. It’s such a good song (*squealsssss*).

03

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t sad about what happened to Highlight that lead them to where they are now. Although a part of me is very happy and proud of these boys for doing the impossible, for advocating for themselves, for fighting for what they love and want to do, another part of me cries inside. Because I grew up listening to BEAST and was with them pretty much ever since their debut, I thought they would last forever and stay as OT6 forever. I never thought in a million years that they would ever part ways or go through any member changes. When I heard that Hyunseung was leaving the group, a part of me was definitely very sad and heart-broken. I had imagined that if BEAST was to ever part ways with CUBE that they would all go together, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case and Hyunseung decided to go his own way and stay with CUBE. Some people blamed Hyunseung and endlessly criticized him and called him harsh things like ‘selfish’ and whatnot, but I don’t hold any hate for Hyunseung. Just like I did with the other members, I watched over him when he was in BEAST and I had so much love for him and the other members that I couldn’t hate him when he decided to stay with CUBE. I respect his decision and I will support him like how I am with Highlight. Although it’s unfortunate that BEAST has parted ways and they’ve gone their own ways, maybe it happened for a reason and there’s nothing we can do about it. I fully support both Highlight and Hyunseung as they continue on with their own respective careers and do what they want to do and are passionate about and I am here 100% to support them both – as a B2UTY.

Highlight’s relationship with CUBE isn’t an unknown issue in the K-Pop industry. It was obvious that even though they were CUBE’s breadwinner (and had been since their debut which was able to help CUBE launch the debuts of many other groups and artists since then), they weren’t being treated the best and were often neglected, abandoned, and left doing their jobs by themselves. I remember reading posts and comments about how B2UTIES would have often do the job of promoting and publicizing BEAST’s comeback promotions by themselves because CUBE was incapable and incompetent of doing it themselves and left BEAST on the backburner. The past few years has been so painful, complicated, and difficult for Highlight and B2UTIES. We can all agree on that. It was so painful only getting one comeback from BEAST every year and then seeing them get shipped off to Japan and other countries for tours so that revenue and money could come in for CUBE and then the cycle would start over again. It was such an unhealthy and exhausting and frustrating cycle, but it was a cycle that happened over and over again. And then BEAST finally had enough of it and that’s when they decided to change things and stand up for themselves.

02

Which is why I’m so proud of my boys for doing the unthinkable and ultimately being so brave and courageous and daring to part ways with the one agency that gave them that second chance that other agencies refused to give them. In a way it’s kind of ironic. CUBE, the entertainment company that recruited all of BEAST members (who were often known to be rejects from other entertainment companies) and gave them a second chance and helped them become the big name that they are right now ended up becoming their worst enemy and in the middle of all the changes and chaos didn’t know how to support their breadwinner anymore and had to part ways with BEAST. It’s so weird and odd how things work out and also really heart-breaking. Somewhere along the way, CUBE’s relationship with BEAST became so sour and unhealthy and bad and something had to be done about it and that’s when BEAST ultimately made the decision to leave. I can’t even imagine how hard and difficult and exhausting it must have been for the members. How do you leave the one place that you basically grew up in? How do you leave the one place that was your home? Is it an act of betrayal if you leave the one place that gave you a second chance that lead to your success as an artist when other companies weren’t willing to invest in you the same way? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t an easy decision for the members, but because of the awful treatment they were receiving from CUBE, they decided to leave.

I’m just imagining how Highlight felt as they were going through this whole process of splitting ways with CUBE and creating their own entertainment agency and how uncertain and unsure they must have been. How many doubts they had while going through this.. doubts of whether it would work out, doubts about whether they will be successful or not on their own, doubts of whether they had any fans or not, doubts of whether fans were waiting for them or not, doubts of whether they were doing the right thing or not, and so much more. But here they are. They have returned to us and they look so happy. They look so happy. Although I’m pretty sure they are still doubtful and concerned about many things and may have a hard time sleeping at night, another part of myself also feels like they sleep at night with some content and peace in their heart. That they no longer feel suffocated and stuck in the place they once found liberation and happiness in. They’re in a much better place now and I could see that through the MV and album that they recently released.

Through Highlight’s comeback, you can really tell just how strong and close the members are to each other. After years of neglect, isolation, and suffering together, they stayed together through all the obstacles and troubles. I saw on Tumblr just today a post of Ki Kwang and Dongwoon having an honest and heart-to-heart conversation with each other about Highlight and their decisions to part from CUBE and it was so touching seeing this. They trust each other so damn much and relied on each other when they had no one or nothing to rely on during the difficult time of transitioning into Highlight. You can tell that they care about each other so much and that they admire, support, and love one another so much. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.

I’m extremely proud of my boys for making a comeback and for being brave and strong. For holding on even though the past few years have been so cruel, harsh, demanding, and painful to them. For continuing to trust in themselves, one another, and B2UTIES that things will get better and that times will be more positive. For being role models and setting themselves as an example to their Hoobaes of all the possibilities they can do as well as if they endure similar experiences and struggles as Highlight did. Just like Shinhwa, Highlight is setting a precedent for future K-Pop groups and in a way is sending a message to all the K-Pop groups out there that they don’t have to put up with their company’s bullshit and as difficult as it might be can advocate for themselves and do what they want too. With that being said, Highlight is back everyone and they are going to slay. Y’all better get ready. Y’all better prepare yourselves.

04

And while I know group and member changes are inevitable and it happens, I think another part of me will always be sad over what’s happened to my favorite K-Pop group of all times and all the possible things that could have happened had none of this ever started or if Hyunseung had just stayed with Highlight. But until then, I will leave the endless possibilities linger in the back of my mind, in my imagination, in my heart, and in my memories and move forward by showing my endless support and love for OT6.

 

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