SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- For South Korean boy band WINNER, this year has been one of the busiest and happiest since its debut in August, 2014.
The video for "Really Really" surpassed the 100 million view mark on YouTube earlier this year as the four-member act's first time reaching that milestone. Its second studio album was released in April, and the group successfully wrapped up its Asia tour to meet some 110,000 fans.
"It felt surreal and I was so thankful. I thought we needed to return the support with better music," member Kang Seung-yoon said of the YouTube achievement while meeting with local reporters on Wednesday in Seoul ahead of the release of its new single, "Millions," later in the day.
WINNER was YG Entertainment's ambitious new boy band, coming nine years after BIGBANG. One member, Nam Tae-hyun, dropped out in 2016 due to health issues and was not replaced.
So the success of "Really Really," written by Kang and Song Min-ho, also known as Mino, took on extra meaning for the band, as it was the first song that came out following the act's painful four-member rearrangement.
Besides its immense popularity, the song also proved the group's self-producing capabilities.
The group now pins high hopes on its new single, "Millions," a tropical-pop dance song, to repeat the success.
"The song talks about everyone deserving to be loved. In the beginning, we were going for more sophisticated and heavy tunes. But the song turned out to be much warmer and bubblier than we had planned," Kang said. "Even though we grow older, our songs seem like they're becoming younger, and I like it."
"We wrote the song in the summer, but its release was postponed due to its warm ambience. It will be good to listen to, instead of carols, at year end," he added.
The group originally planned to use the song on its third full-length album, slated for February, but changed the plan to drop it as a single to keep its promise to fans that they would return within this year, Song said.
It's been a hectic but successful and satisfying year for the group, members said.
Last month, Song released his first solo studio album, of which main track "Fiance" topped local music streaming charts.
"I think I grew up the most this year as an artist. I was so happy to be doing what I love," Song said.
"It's been the busiest year since our debut. We have run at full speed to satisfy fans' thirst from our long hiatus," said Lee Seung-hoon, adding that he would do his best to make 2019 their best year yet. Kang reflected on the year 2018, "We have achieved what we had been dreaming of."
The group is slated for a U.S. tour next month, with stops in seven cities, starting in Seattle on Jan. 15. Kim Jin-woo and Kang are expected to drop solo albums sometime next year.