It’s an ugly February day in downtown Los Angeles when the five members of Tomorrow X Together, a Korean boy band, arrive at the studio, as if on a sunbeam. The hair of each member is perfectly parted in varying fractions of asymmetry. They shimmer even in muted street clothes, a spectrum of baggy pants and cardigans and Loewe jackets and wavy Maison Mihara Yasuhiro sneakers. Their In-N-Out order—five Double Doubles and two small trays of Animal Style fries—is set before them by invisible forces on a low table. The food will remain untouched for the duration of our time together, an exercise in endurance and mental fortitude to rival 63 hours spent shivering in a block of ice while wearing an adult diaper.
The boys have been busy. They performed on James Corden the night prior (“The crowd was small, but they were energetic,” said one member). Colloquially they refer to themselves as a single entity—Tomorrow by Together, or TXT for short—and are part of K-pop’s so-called Fourth Generation, joining emergent idols like NewJeans (Hybe Corporation, formerly Big Hit Entertainment), Enhypen (Hybe and CJ ENM), Stray Kids (JYP Entertainment), and a handful of other acts, each of whom have billions of views on YouTube and diehard fans in surprising corners across the globe.
In person the TXT boys are all beautiful (yup) and reticent like shy teenagers (a little disarming), with pores so small you’d need an electron microscope to find them. The group consists of Soobin (the tall sexy one), Yeonjun (the other sexy one; also the consensus best dancer among the guys), Taehyun (the enthusiastic one who dominates the groupchat), Huening Kai (the multiracial one who makes everyone laugh), and Beomgyu (a gentle angel from heaven).
They are all roughly in their early twenties but they’ve been training for this moment their whole lives. Unlike their contemporaries, they also have the pressure of being anointed the spiritual successors to a little band called BTS: their labelmates at Hybe, the heralds of K-Pop’s Third Gen, and currently the biggest musical act on the planet that doesn’t end in -yoncé. So far, so good: TXT swept up basically all the rookie awards there were to win in Korea shortly after they made their debut in 2019, and now they have their sights set on global domination—imperialism by way of catchy tunes. TXT is, in many ways, a harbinger of pop music’s expansive and increasingly borderless near future.