• braveviet Le

    I always wonder that when all Ent. companies claim that they invest big amount of money on training their artists but then when their artists make debuts they can’t sing. What did they train anyway? 

    • *-*

      They trained them with plastic surgery lol

      • braveviet Le

        3-4 years for plastic surgery? that is what a hell of makeover lol

  • Literati Tempo

    I see your point but tbh I already have a favorite band (Big Bang) and I know that the market is quickly reaching the end of it’s bubble phase 27+ girl groups have debuted in 2011 and more are planned for the remaining months and 2012. I’m not in the market for a new favorite I’m just here to enjoy some music, so if Supa Luv and Step become my iPod top ten for a while I’m fine with that even if they can’t sing live.

    I feel like it would be different if I had the opportunity to go to a bunch of concerts (aka lived in Seoul). then I would want to make sure I spent my heard earned time and money on a show that would be worth it. On the other hand half of SUJU aren’t the best singers but I’d be willing to bet good money that Super Show 2011 was a great time regardless.

    There is so much talent outside of kpop in S.Korea though there is no reason to support idols who can’t sing if you like talented voices. 10cm, 4men, Dok2, etc. It’s like looking for a cute pair of heels at foot locker you might find 1 pair but you’re at the wrong store.

  • Gnattie

    Kpop has shown me many things but one of the most profound things is this: if you were never meant to act, dance, or sing, it does not matter how much training you get, you will never be able to act, dance, or sing (I threw in act because you see idols on dramas frequently these days). But most fans just lap it up, not bothering to give the slightest bit of criticism. Example: I have a Tumblr and because I like kpop, I like to post pictures and videos and info about kpo groups. Back when SNSD’s “Bad Girl” was released, people all over Tumblr were just gushing about how amazing it was, how spectacular the girls looked, how great their choreography was, etc. I looked and looked and only found ONE critical, unimpressed review of the mv (I also wasn’t very impressed with the video at all). And most kpop websites are the same. They’re filled with blinded fans. Which was why I was glad when I found SeoulBeats, because although everyone on this website IS a fan of kpop, they give out constructive criticism.

    Also, I often wondered if this flaw in the kpop industry would go unnoticed in the USA, should kpop start gaining popularity here. My guess is probably not, because us Americans like to critique things. Yeah, there are countless gullible fans in America that are just as bad as kpop fans can be (hello Beliebers), but overall, Americans place a lot of judgement on entertainers and celebrities. We’re not so nit-picky that less than talented people can’t shoot to stardom (happens all the time), but these people deal with a huge amount of criticism as well. Lady Gaga reigns supreme but people still point out the fact that she’s not as original as people like to believe and is as strange as heck (don’t get me wrong, I love Gaga). And late night talk shows and satirical cartoons like South Park don’t let anyone scale the entertainment industry unscathed. So when kpop comes here, people will automatically, subconsciously even, look for flaws, even if they love SNSD or Big Bang or SHINee.

    I don’t really know much about Asian cultures or anything. I’m aware that Americans are far more outspoken and blunt than most Asians, but other than that, I’m pretty clueless. As far as I can tell, kpop groups don’t get as much criticism as they deserve and need. Are they as critical in Korea as they are in America? I’m sure there are countless Koreans that critique kpop, but I never see or hear about them. All that comes out of Korea is how great Korea is and how wonderful their music industry is.

    • JP

      I agree with most of what you said except for the lady gaga thing (for some reason people like to bash her).  She might not be the most original in terms of her style and strangeness, but she can sing and sing really well.  Look up any of her acapella performances on youtube and you will see.

      Also more popular kpop groups like DBSK, big bang, SNSD etc have proven quite well in the past again that again that they sing pretty well a Capella with minimal or with just piano accompaniment.

      • Anonymous

        Well – that’s the thing. I’m led to believe that most of Lady Gaga’s fans start out bashing her in the media (because it’s so easy to do so), but are converted after they bothered to discover that under all the bizarre fashion and fanfare, she actually has a ridiculous amount of talent to back it up. Anyone that debuts in the US will have to deal with a lot of criticism – different from the kind that anti-fans spew (just irrational hatred) – but rather that people will just express what they think, based on individual and more objective judgment and not a herd mentality. And there’s no such thing as dancing compensating for a singer not being able to sing. Good credit goes where good credit is due.

        Also – there’s a degree of authenticity (personal touch) that is a requirement for respect in the West – groups singing lyrics with no meaning (or badly translated), written and produced by other people, dressed and told how to act by other people, with only scripted dialogue…. they’re going to have a hard time connecting with the American public. We like to see a humble attitude and honest opinions – not just vain teens with short skirts and safe answers.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FS52P3WGP37JJ6YJNRLPPBVS4E A

          I suppose Lady Gaga (and the like) are THE anti-idols. 
          PC-unfriendly, flashy and controversial with natural talent


          Non-controversial, fan(and family) friendly, modest idols with cultivated talent.

          A vast generalization, yes, but mostly true? 

      • Gnattie

        YES I saw that! :D Her voice is so powerful and lovely! People mainly hate on Gaga because she’s controversial. Even if they don’t like her music, they’ll admit that she can sing.

        I love SNSD! But of the group, only Taeyeon, Jessica, Tiffany, Sunny, and Seohyun appear to have strong enough voices. Although I adore Sooyoung, Yoona, Hyoyeon, and Yuri as well.

    • Gnattie

      I’m replying to myself to add that I think it’s sad that the kpop industry is so incredibly based on looks. Looks matter in every entertainment industry out there, but more severely so in kpop. Like, talent scouters will look for the best-looking kids they see on the street, train them for years, and then have them debut in a gorup. Just because that kid’s good-looking doesn’t mean he or she is talented. There are sooo many incredibly talented people that do not fit into people’s typical standards of beauty.

      This though arose when I was listening to Glee music today (I. Love. Glee.). I asked myself, if any of the cast lived in Korea, would they have gotten discovered? They’re all incredibly talented, many being triple-threats, and that’s mainly due to their own natural skill and perseverence. Would two of the most talented people on the show, Rachel/Lea Michele or Mercedes/Amber Riley, become famous in Korea? Lea Michele and Amber Riley, though I find them beautiful, are like the polar opposites of ideal Korean beauty (Yoona from SNSD being the ideal, as many say). But those girls can sing much better than most kpop stars (I’m biased). Maybe this is a stupid comparison, because it’s highly unlikely that a non-Asian person would ever break into kpop. But there’s also Tina/Jenna U. from the show, who IS Asian, but also doesn’t fit into the standards of Asian beauty. So even though Jenna grew up on Broadway (as did several other Glee stars) and has a beautiful voice, she probably would’ve never became a kpop star.

      I dunno. It’s just a thought that I had. It makes me sad to think that there’s probably a lot of real talent in Korea that goes overlooked because that person isn’t perceived as beautiful.

      • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/blog Amy

        This is a flawed comparison though (and also somewhat a tangent?). Lea and Amber are both white American females. They can probably do anything they want in any music market they want in the world and be accepted. They are also deemed to be attractive by the American audience. Just because they’re opposite of what the Korean audience deems to be “beautiful” doesn’t mean that they won’t be accepted by the Korean mainstream. Again, them being white American makes a huge, huge, huge difference.

        (As for the Jenna example — another tangent, but — she’s barely accepted in her own market, the American one. She’s a side character on Glee with rarely any character exploration. Really hard to use this as an example *against* the Korean market when she’s not really accepted by the market she was born and raised in.)

        If you’re talking about talent, yes there is an oversaturation of the talentless, but Korea’s music scene is not without talent. It just seems like Korea is full of talentless stars, because there are so many of them being shoved in your face all the time throughout the various channels of the media.

        • Gnattie

          Amber Riley isn’t white… Neither is Lea Michele… Amber is black and Lea is Jewish. I think you mistook them for other characters. I’m sorry that you disagree with me and I respect your opinions, however I see a lot of non-white celebrities in American entertainment. There aren’t very many Asians, though!

          • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/blog Amy

            Whoopsies, confused Amber with someone else.

            Yes, I know Lea is Jewish, but she’s ethnically white…?

          • Gnattie

            I always considered her ethnically and religiously Jewish. I read that her mother is Italian and her father is ethnically Spanish and Jewish, I believe. Dianna Agron, who plays Quinn, looks ethnically white but is religiously Jewish. You can be both since being Jewish is an ethnic and religious. For Lea, I guess it can be left up to debate.

            LOL I guess my Glee comparison wasn’t that great. It was just a thought that struck me how someone overweight and dark-skinned like Amber and someone with a broader face and larger nose like Lea would most likely not succeed in the entertainment industry, if they lived in Korea and tried to make it there instead of here. I think Amber and Lea are both pretty and charming but they don’t fall under Korean expectations of beauty.

            My thoughts are all jumbled. I don’t even know what I was trying to get across lol. I apologize if I unintentionally offended anyone.

        • Nana

          Amber Riley is African-American, not white.

  • Gnattie

    I just looked up MR removed videos of SNSD… wow… And I love SNSD….

    • Yoki

      I love 2NE1 too…..and yikes!

    • Pg13247

      I can see their fatigue so clearly but it doesn’t look like SME cares.  The early Gee performances and most of the 1st Single/Album performances were done pretty well if you care to look them up. I miss the days when Yoona still sang.

      To be fair, most of 2011 has been AWFUL sadly. 

      • Gnattie

        Which is why I’m on the fence for SNSD’s comeback. I love and don’t love SNSD. I love them, but their crazy fans make me dislike them. I’m anticipating their comeback but at the same time I’m afraid of another Bad Girl let-down.

        • http://profiles.google.com/serra.abak Serra Abak

          I doubt it will be a let down. But I’m worried that they’re getting so tired that they’ll never be back to Into the New World times. Listen to ITNW MR-Removed, and they sound AMAZING. But they’re so tired that, forget singing they look like they can’t even walk! ._. I want them to rest…

        • Guest

          Actually SNSD is definitely one of the better MR removed singers.  Their comeback for the boys was very nearly completely live.  You could even tell without the MR removed that very nearly every single word was live.  It was impressive to say the least.

        • Guest

          Actually SNSD is definitely one of the better MR removed singers.  Their comeback for the boys was very nearly completely live.  You could even tell without the MR removed that very nearly every single word was live.  It was impressive to say the least.

  • http://twitter.com/purplepuzzle19 Tina Lu

    but see, does MR removed actually help decrease the number of “talentless” artists out there??? does it tell companies that as fans we actually care about singing ability (as in companies will be more careful when picking trainees to put out on the market not just blah blah we know singing well is important to singers)? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FS52P3WGP37JJ6YJNRLPPBVS4E A

    “just because you worked really hard doesn’t mean you’re really good, nor am I going to give you a pass for it if you suck.” <— Counterpoint: Just because you're really good doesnt mean that you're going to be a success, and fans WILL give you a pass if you inspire the right amount of loyalty and charm.
    being an IDOL doesnt mean being a SINGER these days. In fact, singing has taken a bit of a backseat.

  • http://www.geekygamergirl.net Jean Park

    Excellent article. I could definitely feel the passion behind the counterpoint. :)

    Ultimately, it’s easier to sing your best when you’re standing still in a studio than on stage without the proper equipment. Some artists do surprisingly well on stage, others not so much. Tons of factors come into play, many of them behind the scenes. 

    Fans know who to turn to for some true talent, but then said talent is always subjective to the listener. One group (and not necessarily antis) may think Yoona is a horrible singer, yet others think she sounds like an angel. Yes, compare her to IU and the difference is clear, but in the end, it’s just an opinion. If SM Entertainment’s subjective opinion favors Yoona’s ability, she’s a star and removing the music on stage won’t expose her as talentless to them. She’s still in SNSD and SM still approves, and so do her fans. She must have some talent – after all, she’s up there while we’re not. 

    A’s comment rings true too, and it’s a sad reality. Being an idol doesn’t mean being an actual singer nowadays. Charisma and attitude go a long way. Britney could never belt out tunes like Christina Aguilera, but she’s still making money and still making albums (while Aguilera’s not). Audiences will gladly pay for 2NE1’s latest album, autotuned or acapella. It’s all about the marketing, and removing the music on stage won’t change it. Flawed concept, yes, but there’s little the fans can do about it unless we speak with our wallets. And there just isn’t enough out there willing to do that.

  • Blasphemy!

    What a nice read this article was. 

    It is my opinion that if you can’t sing, you can’t sing. The whole singing part is not up to personal taste. 

    It’s not like the criticism about K-Pop comes from comparing artists on their vocal performance or ability, rather of many idols not having any vocal merit for them to be singing in the first place. 

    To illustrate my point, it’s palpable the fact that Celine Dion and Sade can both sing, there’s not much debate on whether either lady can hold a note or sing in key.  On a personal level, one individual may gain greater or less pleasure from listening to either artist, but it’s not up to debate whether they can sing, since yes they can. Put differently, it’s like insisting that Britney Spears or Ke$ha can sing . . . no they cannot. Lady Gaga sings, Adele sings, Christina Aguilera and Beyonce can sing.  These ladies prove to me that you can have Pop Music with talented performers, so that as consumers of Pop Music we shouldn’t be content with mediocrity, even if it comes in a nicely packaged box with a big, bright ribbon.  At the very least the idol should be able to sing their ridiculous pop songs.

    As a final thought, let’s not confused congeniality with talent. For example, Go Hara is pretty, but she ain’t no singer. 


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  • Gnattie

    So I was looking up a variety of different MR removed videos and this is what I noticed:

    SHINee does a good job. They don’t typically lip sync, despite their more complicated dance moves, and though they’re not always perfect, they’re one of the better bands.

    SNSD varies. Sometimes, they do horrible. Lip syncing and they’re about as together and in tune as an elementary school choir. And then sometimes they do pretty well. Taeyeon is obviously the best singer of the group. I don’t know if the weird variety of their performances is due to bad MR removed videos (some people just turn the music down or don’t remove it all the way and some people cheat and play music video versions over live performances) or if they just have continuous off days. They do better at ballads. It’s all so incredibly confusing because some MRs are actually altered to make the group sound better. Overall, in the performances, Taeyeon and Tiffany appear to carry the group and sing the best live. A lot of the time, most of the girls sound weak or nasally. Lip syncing is common. Because of the variety of MR videos for them, I can’t really tell if they’re good or bad, but I’m still judging them as inadequate, fake, and overhyped. This is sad for me to say because I’m a fan! But I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with SNSD.

    2ne1 does pretty well.

    Wonder Girls does pretty well.

    KARA is pretty horrible.

    U-KISS was weak.

    Brown Eyed Girls does well.

    After School was unimpressive.

    B2ST isn’t that great.

    F(X) is good.

    Sistar is good.

    Miss A isn’t horrible but they aren’t that great either.

    Super Junior is pretty bad.

    Secret is bad.

    The larger the group, the worse they are live, I’ve noticed. A few members have to cover for everyone. Like, in one MR removed video of SNSD performing Hoot or Gee, it just sounded like Taeyeon was singing.

    These are what I noticed. What are your opinions?

    • Juli Gregg

      I don’t think you can really say U-KISS is weak. 0330, Someday, and Neverland all have great MR’s even some of U-KISS’s old songs feature strong and good vocals from Kevin and Soohyun. Watch their MR’s and then judge if they’re really weak.
      Someday: http://youtu.be/w0A-efTVLHE
      Neverland: http://youtu.be/7IrJlZUHWfQ
      0330: http://youtu.be/tFCPs-vG7OQ

    • xian

      i didn’t quite agree with you… u-kiss is not weak. theyre got even better now… i think you don’t know what your saying about… wonder girls didn’t made it that good in nothin on you cover comparing to ukiss’ as long as you love me, run it and end of the road covers… anyways i really like the dancing skills and vocals of 2ne1 and beast and sistar… and ofcourse the dancing of Miss A.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mishka-Moncrieffe/544916778 Mishka Moncrieffe

      I really have to disagree with you about Secret, They never lip-synch and are very consistent vocally.

  • Fairy_cute_88


    this what you call MOST TALENTED GROUP

    no one can beat them

    • mino

      totally! they are the best singing group! the group that can do EVERYTHING!
      it’s really funny how some groups can be given just one tune and nobody can get it right. but TVXQ can each sing a different tune and sound SO GOOD!

      anw, i agree with the author that idols shouldn’t be given the pass simply cos they put in a lot of effort. which idol group in korea doesn’t work hard? but if you can’t sing, you simply can’t. no matter how much you wink, act cute, show off muscles/butt, it doesn’t make you a better singer. and ultimately, their job is to sing. 

  • pammiej85

    Amy, I agree with your counter point. MR is only a sore spot those idols who can’t sing and their fans. I think it shows the raw talent behind these performances. And I’m so tired people use the whole “they work so hard” defense. All idols work hard but that doesn’t mean that they can sing and dance. The truth of it all is that many of kpop’s biggest idols don’t have any discernible talent.

  • asianromance

    I stand somewhere between the two opinions.  I think it is important for idols to know how to sing (they’re in the music business after all) and even if they don’t have the natural talent, their years of training should have brought them to a point of acceptability – to a point where they DON’T sound like they’ve been plucked off the street just 2 hours before going on stage, which some of them sound like.  MR-removeds are great for detecting any laziness. It really bugs me how some idols would barely sing the 10-15 words they’ve been assigned to or even the chorus and let the music sing it for them.  So what if you sound bad, go and go your job! If you’re worried, then maybe you should have practice harder!

    But I also feel like people should take MR-removeds with a grain of salt too.  The sound quality of the MRs isn’t that great to begin with.  Everyone sounds like they’re singing while being trapped inside a tin can and the nuances of a voice, especially when the music that is being removed was originally really loud and difficult to remove music in the first place, may be lost.  And MR-removeds are often done of group performances of their gimmicky songs rather than idols’ individual performances of serious songs.  A lot of these idols sound pretty good singing ballads and songs by other artists.  But sound like crap in an idol-song. 

    I think most idols are capable of putting out decent singing performances – more than half are probably even capable of great performances- ONLY when the voice is the focal point of a performance.  BUT with the concept songs and gimmicks, they’ve put dance and looks over voice.  Example: t-ara.  Most of them are great singers.  In early days of their group, their group singing was decent too (though their dancing was horrible) and even sang the chorus.  But in recent group performances, even someone like Soyeon sound like complete crap.

    There are a lot of MR-removed videos out there.   It’s been going on for at least 2 years now.  These idols can’t hide anymore.  Why isn’t the industry working to devote more effort to produce good-sounding singing? 

  • Limpy Limpious

    I hate MR so much. It totally ruins the whole live performance. You think, OMG they are so great – they can dance, they can sing, and are having passion for performing, maybe kpop performers aren’t only a manufactered product made to make money as their sole purpose, maybe they really like their job.
    But once you remove music from vocals, you suddenly wake up from this sweet dream and realize it was a nightmare. You see continuous vocal declinement in terms of quality (SNSD), boring and unsynchronized dance routines (SNSD), and tired, bored people performing same songs for 1000th time all over again (SHINee). And you realize the nature of kpop: all shiny and polished on the outside, but all rotten and smelly on the inside. Thus begins a love-hate relationship with kpop.
    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think all kpop entertainers started their careers as passionate people with some talent and desire to show their music or dancing to their future fans, and earn some money in the process. They devoted years to training in their predebut days and signed questionable contracts with hope to make their dreams come true.
    Once they had debuted, they also probably realized the harsh truth. It’s a world where your company forces you to perform constanty on little or no sleep because of stupid slave contracts, do aegyo or act all sexy though it’s not your personality or you are too young, can’t fall in love and be in a relationship because fans can’t see the their bias dating anyone except them, and see your dancing and singing skills decline every day because of constant performing and because your company stopped caring about further developing it.
    SNSD are not the way they are due to lack of talent, but because the way SM treats them. Taeyeon and Tiffany were not once mindless drones with emotionless voices, but singers with potential who need more vocal training to improve. Hyoyeon was a dancer who needed more training and space to show her skills. And Yoona and rest of SNSD probably had more in them than acting only sexy, but too cute and stupid to realize it, and all that for satistying the fantasies of old farts who are mayority of their fandom.
    Dear kpop, I sometimes hate you cause you make feel guilt for all bad things that happen with you, because I, as your consumer, sometimes feel that I am supporting this stupid system that abuses young people only to make money which goes to the people who created that system.

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  • Karen Yu

    the girl in the second picture looks like an asian scarlett johansson? anyone know her name?

    • meytenkai

      That’s SNSD’s Taeyeon.

      This answer is wayyyyyy too late, btw. Hahaha!

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    Sigh…I guess not everyone can be DBSK. :P

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