Riding on a high after winning the iHeartRadio Music Award for Best Solo Breakout two days prior, Tiffany Young wrapped up her Lips On Lips North America mini showcase tour in her hometown of Los Angeles with a sold-out show at the Troubadour on Mar. 16, surrounded by long time and newer fans, friends, family, and a surprise cameo from a former bandmate.
After making her name in the K-pop industry as a member of the legendary girl band Girls’ Generation, Tiffany moved back home to pursue a solo career in the West. To commemorate her newly released EP Lips On Lips, the singer went on an intimate tour where she not only sang her new and previous material, but she also sat down for a Q&A with the audience.
From her wardrobe aesthetic to her song cover choices, Tiffany channeled the ‘80s on the Lips On Lips tour. Decked out in an all-white outfit, wearing a shimmering bustier, a matching choker, and pearl embellished tulle gloves, Tiffany kicked off the show with a mix of her new and older releases, like “The Flower,” “Fool,” and “Talk.” She even sampled the Madonna classic “Express Yourself” by mixing it with her Korean debut solo track “I Just Wanna Dance.”
Much like the interviews she has been doing for the release of her EP, Tiffany championed women empowerment and self-acceptance throughout the show. “Thank you for making me the woman I am right here on this stage,” she told the crowd right before jumping into “Over My Skin,” one of many prefacing monologues of the night. Later on, she dedicated “Not Barbie” to her fans, saying the song was for all the times she had to apologize for being herself. For this self-love and celebration of one’s imperfections anthem, the singer brought out onstage not only the co-writer of the song, Satica, but two lucky fans who were serenaded to. For her second cover, ‘NSYNC’s “Gone,” Tiffany shared she chose this song because, before pursuing the American market, she used to only show a happy and cheery side to her. Now, she stated, she feels more comfortable sharing more vulnerable and even darker sides to her, and once again thanked her fans for giving her the courage to open up.
One of her most powerful songs on Lips On Lips, “Born Again” is the song Tiffany wrote to embody her rebirth as an artist and a woman. To make the moment even more poignant, she followed up that performance with a cover of George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90,” telling fans she never wanted to let them down. This song referred to the late icon’s past success with his group Wham!, but in it, he also declared himself a new man and artist who is cynical about the music industry. Given her own past with Girls’ Generation and K-pop as a whole, Tiffany created the perfect parallel singing “Freedom! ’90” as the closer for the concert portion — a strong declaration about her newly acquired independence, both as a person and an artist.
“Stay right where you guys are, and I have a few surprises for you today,” Tiffany told the audience before stepping off stage for a refresher. The first surprise was Chelsea Briggs, an on-air host who would host the Q&A. During this portion of the show, Tiffany talked about being the first Asian-American woman to win at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, declared she “[wants to] just own pop” rather than be recognized for being a K-pop star, working with Babyface on “Runaway,” among other things. With her answers, Tiffany kept stressing the importance of feeling empowered as a woman and wanting to relay that message and sentiment to her fans. Though a trendy topic for pop stars to talk about nowadays, Tiffany’s constant reinforcement of these themes are important coming from a singer who used to work in an industry where female idols get chasticized for having a cell phone case with the message “Girls can do anything” or have pictures of them burned by male fans for reading a perceived feminist book.
Tiffany’s second surprise —which wasn’t a surprise at all since the crowd went wild at the sight of her before the show started— was fellow Girls’ Generation member Sooyoung, who had been watching the show and fighting back tears through the performances. After exchanging a warm hug, a bouquet of flowers, and thoughtful words, the duo treated Sones, Girls’ Generation fans, to a short, acapella rendition of their debut single “Into the New World.”
“Walking the many unknowable paths/ I follow a dim light/ It’s something we’ll do together to the end/ Into the new world,” sang the two Girls’ Generation members, bringing Tiffany’s rebirth full circle. The song talks about the group at the starting point of their careers back in 2007 as teenagers, full of hopes and dreams and with big expectations. Now, Tiffany’s back to square one and alone, though much wiser and experienced. The K-pop queen might have ended the night with “Into the New World,” but it was the perfect restart button to this new career and life she’s creating for herself as a pop queen without the “K” prefix.