Ever watched a music show and found that things have changed ever so slightly for your favourite group’s performance? Something about the moves, the outfits, or even the lyrics that was different from the performance last week, or even an entire song dropped from the repertoire?

Well, then what you have experienced was a rolling change, where a change is made midway through a promotion or sales cycle. While rolling changes are pretty common in the technology field, ostensibly to recognise improvements in competitors, they are far rarer in music and art, where artistes would either stick with an artistic direction all the way, and make few (if any) concessions to censorship or bans.

K-pop however, is a notable exception to the rule. Companies are usually quick to respond to any call for change, as well as happy to think up of new ways to avert the Ministry Of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF). There are a fair amount of reasons for this.

Firstly, K-pop listeners tend to be pretty reactive, as well as opinionated by nature. Any minor thing that does not sit well with them, they tend to comment a fair bit on, resulting in a fair amount of quick small changes to appease them and keep the show on.

Another reason is also given the huge amounts of money spent on a concept, to have its promotions curtailed for a minor lapse in the choreography or the lyrical content would result in a fair amount of financial loss, particularly for a large and popular group. So rather than calling off the whole promotion, it makes far more sense to change things slightly.

So with that, it’s worth taking a look at some rolling changes in K-pop.

The lyrics:

Given that it is pop, cusses or sexual terms are usually off the menu, which tends to give K-pop an age-friendly and wholesome feel. However, given that there are a million and one other ways to express vices, largely involving metaphors, or slightly less harmful (and surprisingly common ones), like drinking. Which results in the MOGEF being arbitrary as any bureaucracy and cracking down on all kinds of metaphors.

One rather known example was DBSK’s Mirotic, which famously included the phrase “under my skin”. Pretty acceptable line to describe having absolutely charmed a lover, except that the MOGEF saw it as having sexual undertones. Fortunately, the (still enjoyable) song was saved from being banned with a rather clumsy line change to “under my sky”. Guess it still kept those charming/trapped lover vibes.

In some cases though, the affected parts of a song go too far, such that entire promotion plans get changed. A known example was G.NA’s Banana. Could be a fine and dandy song about going crazy and having fun, or one about (ahem) anatomy?! The MOGEF in this case saw it as the latter, and Cube Entertainment decided to just not use the song for promotions, preferring to roll with the less interesting Top Girl.

And it’s not just innuendo that gets Cube Entertainment down. In 2011, Beast’s On Rainy Days was slapped with a ban for the rap portion, which contained the lines “I must be drunk, I think I need to stop drinking/Since the rain is falling, I think I might fall as well”. Fortunately, Cube quickly responded by saying the song was not intended for promotions, despite doing well on the charts, and advanced promotions for Fiction, which thankfully was just as critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

Drinking was also a theme touched on in SIstar’s Alone. Interestingly though, the lines “I get drunk alone” were left untouched, for reasons unknown. Maybe drinking alone was viewed as more commonplace, and hence not worth censuring? Or maybe females tend to be more socially responsible post-drinking?

The dance moves:

A key point of most K-pop MVs would have to be the dance moves. While companies try to garner attention and interest with choreography, at time the attention garnered is of the wrong variety. A good example would be Rania’s Dr Feel Good, which was roundly criticised by the publics and the censors alike for being too raunchy, and hence received some quick modifications, as shown below.

Another known example would have to be 4Minute, whose promotions were affected by complaints that parts of the choreography, involving leg spreading on the floor were maybe too much for the members, some of whom were barely 20 at the time the video was shot. Keeping with the rolling changes theme, in subsequent performances (even till today) that iconic (if it could be called that) move was dropped pretty quickly, allowing the song to still be promoted.

Here now:

Gone soon:

The outfits:

Given the varied music shows which idols provide, it comes as no surprise that the different channels have varied standards for attires that pass muster for broadcast. Cable channels for example tend to allow for a fair bit more skin, while conservative national broadcasters like KBS always call for a fair bit more cover up. The differing clothes for the promotion of the same song below is a pretty good example.

For Cable:

And for Free To Air TV:

And then there are the varied and arcane outfits that seemingly try to marry many mutually exclusive concepts like looking good and sexy, while covering up at the same time.

How else does one explain female outfits which cover the navel and at the same time show the mid-riff?

Or the outfits that aim to cover the nipples and show those abs at the same time?

So Seoulmates, do you admire these changes and adaptations to the rule? Or did you just wish they flew in the face of convention and rolled with the original idea?

(KBS, MBC, Mnet, Cube Entertainment, kpopTVHD, joohsnsd, CrazyCarrotExtra2)