Photo Credits: JYP’s Instagram
For the first time in several years, J.Y. Park, often called JYP, embarked on a short U.S. tour in February. Stopping by just two cities, the veteran singer started off with two nights in New York, before wrapping up this leg of his Groove Back tour in Los Angeles. Despite taking place on Super Bowl Sunday, The Wiltern was still packed with fans, known as Soulmates, of all ages ready to dance the night away. Featuring hit after hit, the show attracted a diverse audience, with the younger crowd decked out in JYP’s signature plastic pants and holding lightsticks and the older crowd holding their phones in one hand and an alcoholic beverage in the other. JYP exclaimed, “Everyone was asking if the Chiefs or the Eagles would win [the Super Bowl], but for you guys, I won, because you’re here!”
Having debuted in the early nineties, JYP’s musical journey is filled with all kinds of songs. Wanting to share this with Soulmates, the singer put together an impressive setlist that walked the audience through his life. Always emphasizing his love for music and the inspiration he received from U.S. musicians such as Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson, JYP took a very unique approach to sharing more about these artists and the impact they had on him throughout the concert. Each segment of the show included an introduction that explained a little about the instrumental behind the songs and showed off a different “groove.” The singer combined his own tracks with songs from various eras of music from South Korea and the U.S., paying homage to the artists that influenced him. A cover of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” transitioned smoothly into JYP’s very own “Groove Back” for the first segment, showing off the funky, retro dance track to start the night. Other mashups included a combination of “Don’t Leave Me” and Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real,” “When We Disco” and Song Dae Kwan’s “Four Beats,” and “Proposal Song” and Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock.”
Aside from his own music, the soloist is also credited for writing and producing songs for nearly all the artists under his company, JYP Entertainment. Covering some of these tracks, the singer added his own “JYP sauce” into these performances, dancing and singing to “Nobody” by the Wonder Girls and “Alcohol-Free” by TWICE, performing a slowed down version of “Bad Girl Good Girl” by Miss A, and playing the keyboard for “Again and Again” by 2PM. JYP also performed several of his own collaboration tracks, starting with “Who’s Your Mama?,” opting to skip Jessi’s rap, and going through other songs like “Fever,” which originally features BIBI and Superbee, “Switch With Me,” which is originally sung with Rain, and “Still Alive,” which was released with Conan O’Brien and Steven Yeun. Performing a song meant for more than one person alone is no easy feat, yet his years of experience helped the soloist perform these songs with ease.
The best performances of the night came during the first of two encores. JYP’s encore performance version of “Don’t Leave Me” and g.o.d’s “One Candle” had everyone on their feet, singing along at the top of their lungs and basking in the nostalgia. The singer jumped and danced across the whole stage, greeting as many fans as he could with polite smiles and waves. The two songs proved their timelessness as Soulmates enjoyed the performances alongside JYP, carrying that heightened energy into the second encore and even chanting “JYP” endlessly after the true end of the show in hopes of a third encore.
The 51-year-old showed incredible tenacity, performing live, singing and dancing for two hours almost non-stop. Without any special stage effects or VCRs, the singer dominated the stage with his accompanying band, vocalists, and dancers. Amazed by the warm welcome he received from LA Soulmates, JYP wanted to repay the love as much as he could with his performances. “Everyone is going through struggles, and you guys supporting me and coming here despite your own struggles makes me want to work even harder to give you strength with my show.” Having dreamt of performing at the historic Wiltern years ago, the show was also very meaningful for the singer. “I used to carry CDs in my bag and go from record label to record label trying to spread K-pop. I used to go past this venue in K-town, and thought if I succeeded, I wanted to perform here in the heart of the city.”
Even with JYP Entertainment being a billion dollar company, JYP hopes to continue performing on stage until he’s 60 years old, at the very least. Promising the audience he’ll continue coming here until no one attends his shows, he hopes to inspire others the way his musical influences have inspired him: “Every time you’re struggling, you can watch me and think, ‘Wow, that guy’s old, and he’s still dancing, man.'” With JYP’s performance prowess and the crowd’s adoring reception, it’d be no surprise to see Soulmates waiting for his concerts even when he’s past the age of 60.