Fly to the Sky

Fly to the Sky (Korean: 플라이 투 더 스카이) is a South Korean R&B duo consisting of Brian Joo and Hwanhee.[1] Initially marketed as K-pop idols, the duo later developed a more mature image and became one of the most popular R&B groups in South Korea.[2] The duo has released nine studio albums since its debut in 1999.[3]

Fly to the Sky
(L-R): Hwanhee and Brian Joo
(L-R): Hwanhee and Brian Joo
Background information
OriginSeoul, South Korea
Years active1999 (1999)–present
  • SM Entertainment (1999–2004)
  • PFull Entertainment (2004–2009)
  • H2 Media (2014–present)
Associated actsSM Town

Musical careerEdit

1999–2001: Debut and the early yearsEdit

The duo was formed in late 1998 by SM Entertainment. Brian Joo auditioned while he was attending Holy Spirit High School in New Jersey. Hwang Yoon-Suk, later to be known as Hwanhee, was encouraged to audition by a staff member working for the label at his high school festival. Fly to the Sky officially debuted on November 21, 1999 at the LOG-IN H.O.T. Concert and SM Festival Concert '99.

Soon after, the duo released their debut album Day by Day on December 9, 1999, and made their first official television appearance two days later. Unlike their predecessors on their label, popular teen idols at that time, they shied away from upbeat techno and dance music, opting for mid-tempo ballads. The debut became highly successful selling over 250,000 copies.[4] The duo acquired status as the next-generation stars as they won Best New Artist award in 2000.[5] At the same time, the duo failed to rise to instant stardom unlike their predecessors such as H.O.T., whose album sales have passed the one million mark.[6]

Their popularity rapidly climbed with the release of their second album The Promise in 2001, which featured more diverse genres than its predecessor. With more upbeat tracks, it peaked at #2, but quickly disappeared from the charts.[7] In the same year, they held a joint concert with Korean R&B singer Kim Jo-Han.

2002–2004: Musical transitionEdit

In April 2002, their third album Sea of Love was released while Joo was in New Jersey attending Rutgers University. As a result, Hwang began to perform by himself until Joo returned to Korea. The lead single from the album was the title track, a poppy ballad, and it became a summer hit. Their second single "Condition of my Heart" was written by American singer Brian McKnight; in contrast to the first single, "Condition" was a heavier ballad. The single signaled the duo's musical transition from bubblegum music to R&B. Along with their music, their image began to change as the duo traded in their "flower boy" look for a more masculine image. In the same year, the label released a female duo that was said by fans to complement Fly to the Sky known as Isak N Jiyeon, however the two groups never worked independently with each other.

Their 2003 studio album Missing You featured more tracks that departed from bubblegum music and emphasized their vocal skills for an image as serious artists. Performing commercially well, the album gave the duo many awards including "Bonsang" award from SBS Gayo Daejun and Korea Music Awards. This period is remembered for the highly publicized death of their manager, who was also the manager of BoA, another Korean singer.[8] On a variety show, both members recalled this incident as an emotionally hard time for them. Hwanhee was especially shocked, because he was on the same vehicle with his manager just hours before the incident.

In November 2004, the duo released their fifth and last studio album under SM Entertainment, Gravity. The album received little promotion, and became the duo's lowest-selling studio album, selling just below 90,000 copies.[9][10] Nevertheless, they held their first official concert successfully in Jamsil Arena on December 21, 2004, and received "Best R&B Artist" award from SBS Gayo Daejun.[11] A controversy rose as critics questioned their eligibility for the award, because the album was released only two months before the show. They challenged the credibility and fairness of SBS Gayo Daejun in its entirety as the artists who boycotted SBS such as YG Family or those who were not present did not receive any awards. They scorned the show as "a party for only those who were present."[12]

The release of their Greatest hits album Eternity in 2005 coincided with the release of the soundtrack of Korean drama Fashion 70s which featured the duo. The popular Korean show made their song "가슴 아파도" ("Although My Heart Aches"), the theme song of the show, an unexpected hit.[13] Eternity is the last Fly to the Sky album released by SM Entertainment.

2004–2006: Leaving SM Entertainment and personal strugglesEdit

After Fly to the Sky's contract with SM Entertainment expired in November 2004, the duo signed on with PFull Entertainment. The duo stated that they wanted a smaller label that was willing to promote them as musicians and focus less on commercial success.[14] Under this label, Fly to the Sky released their sixth studio album Transition after a year-long hiatus in January 2006. The album became massively successful, selling over 160,000 copies.

The duo embarked on their first nationwide tour, "Fly To The Sky: 2006 The Twice Tour". Starting from Jamsil Arena in Seoul in May 2006, they held concerts in Busan, Daegu, Junju, and Kwangju. Including the number of audiences in the encore concert in Seoul, the tour garnered more than 50,000 people.[15]

To commemorate the success of Transition, Fly To The Sky released a special new edition, which included music videos, deleted scenes and the additional tracks "Hwan Sang (Illusion)," "Hot and Cold," and "When I Say."

In 2004 and 2005, the duo's uncertain future after their contract with SM Entertainment led to a speculation that they would disband.[16] Brian Joo publicly addressed the rumours on SBS show "Yah Shim Man Man," which aired on July 10. He admitted that the two had difficulties in the early days of their career and said that he had been troubled by feelings of inferiority to Hwanhee, because he received more attention and praise than him.[17] Despite their status as a duo, he felt that he was not given his due or the same amount of attention as Hwanhee. Eventually he found this difficult to bear, and suggested to him that they pursue their separate paths. Hwanhee responded angrily and the matter escalated into a serious fight nearly leading to disbandment. The two reconciled soon after, and said they "grew to better understand each other and realized that they both needed each other."[18][19] Afterwards, the pair decided to try to better understand each other in order to solve their problems together and to support each other. After reflecting on this incident, Joo's eyes were brimming with tears.

Since 2006, the duo has been seen frequently on variety shows and pursued individual careers. Hwanhee appeared on Korean television drama "Over the Rainbow" during summer of 2006, and Joo released his solo album The Brian in December 2006. As they appeared more often on non-music programs, the duo saw an increase in their popularity and backlash from critics at the same time as they felt the duo were compromising their image as artists.[20]

2007–2009: Return to prominence and solo projectsEdit

The duo's seventh album No Limitations was released on July 4, 2007. Their first television performance to promote the album was on June 29, 2007.[21] Popular tracks that are included in the album are "Oneuldo Eebbeungul," ("오늘도 이쁜걸" Pretty Today Too) "Geuraedo Sarangipnida," ("그래도 사랑입니다" It's still love) and "Gee-uk Han Joom" ("기억 한 줌" Grain of Memory),[22] as well as "My Angel", which peaked at #1 on many on- and offline charts. No Limitations became the duo's first number one album. Decennium (2009) became the group's final album, with the duo stating that they will not renew their contract and will go their separate ways professionally. As of 2009, Hwanhee and Brian have released their respective first and second solo albums. Hwanhee has also participated in the production of Song Ji Eun's solo single "Yesterday" and also features in the title track.

2014: Comeback after five years on hiatusEdit

On April 14, 2014, Brian Joo announced on his Twitter that Fly to the Sky will be making their comeback in May. The band later signed up with H2 Media, the agency of member Hwanhee.[23] Their 9th new album "Continiuum" has been released and the main title track is "You You You".[24] The single peaked at number one on Gaon digital chart.[25]

In June, the duo releases a music video titled "Years Apart" as a theme song for the movie No Tears for the Dead.[26]

Although being on hiatus for 5 years, Hwanhee and Brian expressed their good teamwork and solid friendship in an interview, telling "There were rumors about us being gay and liking men, but it’s not like that. We’re that close so people feel that way about us”.[27]

Musical styleEdit

The duo's debut single "Day by Day" was a light bubblegum love song. Their subsequent songs were a combination of R&B, pop rap, and hip-hop until 2002, when the duo abandoned bubblegum pop. Since 2002, they opted for a blend of heavy R&B and Korean pop. They continue to sing love songs, and some of them continue to incorporate hip-hop and rap from Joo.

The duo differs in their taste of music. Producer of Transition, Hwang Se-Jun, has said Hwanhee prefers pure R&B while Brian likes music with distinct beats and has a strong liking for rap.[19] Despite his passion, their 2006 studio album Transition does not feature any. Brian predicts that there will no longer be any opportunity to include his rap in their album, and dislikes "being generalized as a duo comprised of one rapper and one vocalist." He lamented the waning popularity of hip-hop in South Korea where "hip-hop is merely labeled as dance music in Korea."[14]


Prior to the duo's transition to R&B, critics were displeased as despite being promoted as serious artists that appeal to older audiences, they felt that the duo was no different from other popular teen idols at that time.[28] In a lengthy interview with music review site "52street", the site described the duo in the early years as, "trendy hairstyle, thick make-up, and flashy dance moves."[14]

As their career matured, critics have pointed that Fly to the Sky has yet to find their own style. The duo has been criticized for lack of creative control over their works and relying heavily on composers whose distinct styles overpower their vocals.[29] During their career they have written lyrics for four songs in albums Gravity and No Limitations.[29][30] Music critic Shin Hye Rim says,[29]

Ironically, Fly to the Sky's sixth album Transition, which means change or transformation, shows no significant improvement. Despite that this album is their first step under their new label, the album almost turns out just the way we have predicted. Fany's thick tone color and Brian's clean-cut voice fuse to make music that spits out sorrow. That's about it.

Their appearances at variety shows were met with scrutiny as the duo were seen frequently outside of music programs during 2006.[31] They were one of many artists who hopped on a bandwagon to promote their albums by appearing comical on variety shows. Critics compared this choice to a double-edged sword; while they gained more publicity and a more viewer-friendly image, they were compromising their image as professional artists.[32] From January to February 2006, Seoul YWCA conducted a research to study variety shows that air from 6PM to 8PM. The research concluded that "variety shows star the same celebrities and air similar content."[20] The article listed celebrities who frequent those shows, of which Joo was one of them. He appeared in television shows of three major broadcasting networks of Korea during the same time slot on January 6 and January 29.[20]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Golden Disc AwardsEdit

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2003 Main Prize (Bonsang) "Missing You" Won [33]
2006 "Like a Man" Won

Mnet Asian Music AwardsEdit

Year Category Work Result Ref.
2000 Best New Group "Day By Day" Nominated [34]
Best R&B Performance Nominated
2001 "The Promise" (약속) Nominated [35]
2002 "My Heart" Nominated [36]
2003 "Missing You" Won [37]
2006 "Like a Man" Won [38]
2007 "My Angel" Nominated [39]

SBS Gayo DaejeonEdit

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2000 Rookie Award N/A Won [40]
2002 R&B Award Won [41]
2003 Main Prize (Bonsang) Won [42]
2004 R&B Award Won [43]
2006 Main Prize (Bonsang) Won [44]

Other awardsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2003 Seoul Music Awards Main Prize (Bonsang) N/A Won [45]
2006 Korean Fashion World Awards Best Dressed Singer N/A Won [46]
2014 Melon Music Awards R&B/Soul Award "You You You" Won [47]



  1. ^ Martin, Annie (2017-10-02). "Fly to the Sky to release new album in November". UPI. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  2. ^ Yoon, Min-sik (2018-05-14). "Hwanhee to release new single on May 22". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  3. ^ O, So-yeong (2014-11-21). 대체할 수 없는 시너지, 플라이투더스카이의 15주년 '되돌아 보기'. Sports Q (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  4. ^ "2000.04월 - 가요 음반 판매량 (Record Sales of April 2000)" (in Korean). Music Industry Association Korea. April 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  5. ^ "Fly to the Sky Artist Review". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  6. ^ "1999.12월 - 가요 음반 판매량 (Record Sales of December 1999)". Music Industry Association Korea. December 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  7. ^ "2001.02월 - 가요 음반 판매량 (Record Sales of February 2001)" (in Korean). Music Industry Association Korea. February 2001. Archived from the original on September 2, 2004. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  8. ^ "보아, 매니저 교통사고 사망 '통곡' (BoA mourns death of her manager)" (in Korean). 2003-07-09. Archived from the original on August 14, 2003. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  9. ^ "2004 Yearly Chart" (in Korean). Music Industry Association Korea. December 2004. Archived from the original on August 1, 2008. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  10. ^ "2005 Yearly Chart" (in Korean). Music Industry Association Korea. December 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  11. ^ "다양한 장르, 정상급 가수들의 뜨거운 경합 Diverse Genres, Intense battle between top-notch artists" (in Korean). 2004-12-31. Archived from the original on 2005-01-22. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  12. ^ "플라이투더스카이가 상을? 2개월 활동했는데? 찝찝한 결과... (Fly to the Sky wins an award? After only being active for two months? An unclear result..." (in Korean). 2004-12-30. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  13. ^ "드라마 패션70s 주제곡 뜬다 Drama Fashion 70s Theme Song becomes a hit" (in Korean). 2005-06-09. Archived from the original on September 22, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  14. ^ a b c Ok-sun Seo. "Fly to the Sky: Two voices, two attractions, second start... Four wings that fly once again" (in Korean). 52street. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  15. ^ "플라이투더스카이, 음반활동 종료..개인활동 돌입 (Fly to the Sky takes a hiatus and starts individual activities)" (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  16. ^ "브라이언 왜 생방송 도중 눈물 흘렸나 (Why did Brian shed tears on a live show?)" (in Korean). 2006-02-19. Archived from the original on 2006-03-09. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  17. ^ Kim Ji-yun (2006-08-09). "신화 플라이투더스카이 쥬얼리, 장수비결은? (Shinhwa, Fly to the Sky, and Jewelry: What are their secrets to a long lasting career?)" (in Korean). Retrieved 2006-12-24.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Lee Dong-Jun (2006-07-10). "브라이언, "해체 위기 맞은 적 있다" (Brian, "We Nearly Disbanded.")" (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
  19. ^ a b Won-kyung Cho; Kim Ha-rim (2006). "Fly to the Sky Transition" (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  20. ^ a b c Hu Yoon-Hee (2006-04-04). "오락프로 출연자 '그 나물에 그 밥' (Entertainment TV Show Cast All the Same)" (in Korean). The Hankyoreh. Archived from the original on November 13, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  21. ^ Park Mi-ea (2007-06-20). "환희-브라이언, 29일 플투스 7집 첫 무대 (Fany-Brian, First Seventh Album Performance on the 29th)" (in Korean). EDaily. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
  22. ^ Lee Gyoo-Rim (2007-05-28). "플라이투더스카이, 1년 반만에 정규 7집 발표 (Fly to the Sky to release seventh album after a year and a half)" (in Korean). Mydaily. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
  23. ^ "플라이 투 더 스카이, 9집 앨범으로 컴백".
  24. ^ Fly to the Sky Returns with “Continuum” on May 20 (April 30, 2014). Retrieved on May 20, 2014.
  25. ^ Gaon Digital Chart Week 22 of 2014 Archived 2014-06-01 at the Wayback Machine (May 2014). Retrieved May 31, 2014
  26. ^ Fly to the Sky Drops “Years Apart” MV for Jang Dong Gun and Kim Min Hee’s Movie (June 4, 2014). Retrieved June 4, 2014
  27. ^ Fly to the Sky: “Rumors That We Are a Couple Are Better than Rumors of Us Fighting” (June 11, 2014). Retrieved on June 15, 2014.
  28. ^ "Fly to the Sky at" (in Korean). July 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  29. ^ a b c Hye-rim Shin (February 2006). "Album Review Transition" (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2006-10-28.
  30. ^ Joong-Suk Yang (August 2006). "4집 - Missing You" (in Korean). oimusic. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  31. ^ 플라이 투 더 스카이, 오락 프로그램서도 종횡무진 ‘플라이!’ (in Korean). 2006-03-24. Retrieved 2006-12-24.[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ "발라드 가수도 웃겨야 살아남는다 (Even ballad singers must be funny to survive)" (in Korean). 2006-03-06. Retrieved 2006-12-24.[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ 역대수상자 [Past Winners]. Golden Disc Awards (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  34. ^ "2000 MMF part 1". MAMA. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  35. ^ "2001 Korean Music Festival Winners list" Archived 2014-10-09 at the Wayback Machine. MAMA. Retrieved 2014-07-22.
  36. ^ "2002 MMF part 1" Archived 2014-08-19 at the Wayback Machine. Mwave. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  37. ^ "2003 Korean Music Festival Winners list". MAMA. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  38. ^ "TVXQ Sweeps the 2006 MMKF" (in Korean). 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  39. ^ "2007 Mnet KM Music Festival Part1". MAMA. Retrieved 2014-12-14.
  40. ^ Choe, Seung-hyeon (2000-12-18). "SBS 올해의 10대가수 선정". Maeil Business Newspaper (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  41. ^ Hong, Je-seong (2002-12-30). "'2002 SBS 가요대전" 대상은 보아". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  42. ^ "2003 SBS 가요대전 대상에 이효리". JoongAng Ilbo. 2003-12-29. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  43. ^ Gim, Yeong-hyeon (2004-12-30). "신화, '2004 SBS 가요대전' 대상". Maeil Business Newspaper (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  44. ^ "2006 SBS 가요대전 대상에 '동방신기'". KBS News (in Korean). 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  45. ^ 역대 수상자. Seoul Music Awards (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  46. ^ 신현준, 코리아 패션 월드 어워즈 '베스트 드레서' 선정. Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). 2006-12-03. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  47. ^ "'2014 MMA' 플투스, R&B 소울부문 수상.."이수만에 감사"". Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2018-10-29.

External linksEdit