Roundtable: K-pop Nightmares
All Hallows’ Eve is celebrated in many different forms throughout the world, but it is most well known in the context of American culture, as a holiday for all things scary.
So to celebrate K-pop and all its scariness, we asked our writers: what is your greatest K-pop fear? Good times, here we come!
Gaya: I feel like we should all be huddling around some campfire with s’mores and marshmallows.
Natalie: My biggest, most looming K-pop fear would be Exo never coming back and having to listen to “MAMA” for eternity. I fear that I’ll never see Exo-K on variety. I fear that Exo will become like Super Junior and lose members as the years go on, vanishing into non-existence or divorcing from SM. I worry the most about the least popular members, like Xiumin, Suho, and Chen, who aren’t even that popular internationally let alone in Asia. I worry about the Chinese members experiencing the sort of thing Hangeng went through. I worry that I’ll never see OT12 on variety or get an adequate amount of my favorite bromances.
I worry that B.A.P will make a comeback every week with worse and worse material, spiraling into a black hole. I fear that I’ll never see them release a full album and will just continue to rehash their old songs and go with continuously worse concepts. Although part of me likes that B.A.P has been testing the waters for other concepts, such as aegyo and hip hop, I miss their original, tough “Warrior” concept and wish they’d stop with this cute nonsense.
Gaya: I think Exo would fear never coming back more than the fans; at least we can ignore a performance if we want, while the members will have no choice but to perform the same song over and over for ALL OF ETERNITY.
I was going to tell you all my greatest K-pop fear, but now all I can think of is what kind of song Sohee would debut with, the concept, aaargh. Thanks, Amy.
Nicholas: My horrors:
Musical stagnation/pigeon-holing: Guess it must royally suck for idols stuck doing the same song/ the same concept which they are so fed up of/ performances that are way beneath their level.
While some might gladly trade some musical quality in the name of sales and that there are idols perfectly comfortable with perfunctory performances, I am sure there are those who wonder at night “is this what my performing life is going to be defined by”
Soloists Completely Unsuited For Their Concepts: Am with Amy on this one, and would add the point that a weak idol getting something also means to some extent a slightly more talented one getting overlooked.
On the flipside that also means these guys might have the power to surprise and hey skilled producers and hit makers can do some magic.
Outfit of horrors: Never fails to amaze me what some idols can call style and cool. From DBSK‘s moth suits to Boyfriend‘s coats of floral colours, some outfits could literally be the stuff Halloween nightmares are made of.
GD‘s painted lips in “Fantastic Baby”: Nuff’ said.
Nabeela: Super Junior in more drag .
Maryse: BTOB‘s Changseob and his aegyos.
Gaya: I don’t mind a man in a skirt, but I’m going to have to agree with the SuJu-in-drag thing. I’m sure they don’t do this all the time, but whenever they performed “Pajama Party” during Super Show 4 and Sungmin dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, the other members lifted his skirt up, felt him up and just generally harassed him. I get that the members themselves are very comfortable with one another, but I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I know Super Junior do really take the mickey out of the SM girl groups when they cross-play as them in Super Shows (and I won’t lie, I find their version of “Chu~” hilarious), but the treatment of “Marilyn Min-roe” really crossed the line for me.
A new fear I have developed is one of an idol being crushed to death by the fangirls (my money’s on Exo-M‘s Lu Han — if it’s going to happen then I may as well make profit); others include further appropriation of Indian (well, any) culture, seeing blackface again, and the fetishization of dark skin–oh no, wait, that’s already happening. Another fear that is now also reality: my mum and I were watching SHINee‘s “Dazzling Girl” on TV when she turned to me and said:
“I don’t know which are the guys and which are the girls.”
I’d say something about how she will come to regret those words when I marry Minho, but I also fear becoming a delusional fangirl, so…
Fannie: I’m sure there are people out there that would kill me for this, but if Niel from Teen Top or the Boyfriend twins showed up on my doorstep going “bbuing bbuing,” I would scream and run the other way.
I also fear the day that Yoo Jae-suk becomes embroiled in some scandal a la Kang Ho-dong; I don’t think the K-variety sphere currently has anyone qualified to step in to take his place.
Ambika: Completely with you about the Boyfriend twins, Fannie. They freak me out. Most cutesy stuff from boy groups really just reminds me of their age: how young they are or how old they are, both of which lead to me not wanting to see it.
A fear I have is that Running Man is going to run out of ideas for each show or that the cast is going to break up or lose members, and the show won’t regain momentum. If Yoo Jae-suk got into a scandal, I feel like my whole paradigm of the world would be shifted.
I’m also worried about idol groups going overseas too early. It makes me feel like their music is driven towards an international audience and developing likeability rather than developing an individual style. It’s not bad to think ahead; some groups do well with their concepts like B1A4, but when that comes before growth of the group, it makes me uncomfortable and usually turns out awry.
Also, I fear that SHINee will not come back with decent Korean material until after Exo comes back, and who knows when Exo is coming back. I was so excited earlier this year to hear that SHINee would have a full length in the latter half of the year but all of that was crushed.
And the last fear I can think of is that 2013 is going to bring some rookie group made up of ten-year-old boys or girls in order to appeal to an audience for a longer period of time, effectively sucking the youth out of them.
Fatouma: Most of Teen Top scares me to be completely, especially Chunji and Niel. I shiver every time I see photos of them. I too have no problem with drag, but the only male idol I refuse to look at in drag again is Shindong. Now that’s a total nightmare. I think male idols that are actually really pretty should dress up in drag, like Infinite‘s Sungjong and FT Island‘s Minhwan. Still counting the days until Luhan is forced to put on a dress and make-up. That would be a sight.
Putting my Luhan-in-drag fantasies aside, I think my biggest K-pop fear is idol death. Seeing the news about idols getting car accidents because of horrible driving and how strenuous idol life can be, and how crazy some fans are, the thought of an idol, bias or not, dying seems terrifying, especially if it were my bias.
Bethany: One of my greatest K-pop fears is JYP deciding to create a sub-unit within 2PM with Taecyeon, Chansung, and Nichkhun. That will not be okay.
And Leeteuk never leaving the K-pop scene. But at least I get a two-year break before he comes back.
Fatouma: Shivers. Can I take back my idol death fear and replace it with Leeteuk never leaving K-pop, even after enlistment?
Fannie: Oh my god. Leeteuk never leaving to give us a break.
Speaking of Leeteuk, of my K-pop nightmares is already starting to take root: Kwanghee is slowly but steadily starting to take over Leeteuk’s role in the variety airwaves. He’s already doing the We Got Married stint, next he’ll be co-hosting Star King alongside Kang Ho-dong. I’ll admit that the Sunhee couple on WGM is the most entertaining to watch, but that still doesn’t make him any less annoying.
Amy: Bethany, I just laughed out loud at the thought of a Chansung/Taecyeon/Nickhun subunit. Completely ludicrous, but I could totally see it happening, so buckle your seat belt.
Nabeela: Oh my god Bethany that 2PM sub-unit would be the death of us all
Natalie: There’s me, with my honest paranoid worries about B.A.P and Exo, and then there’s all of you, with worries about crossdressing and the Jo twins and Sohee getting a solo album. I worry too much.
Leeteuk’s always kinda scared me… it’s just his face looks kinda like Jin from Bleach.
Johnelle: Most of my K-pop nightmares begin any time an Orange Caramel comeback is announced or a Hyuna solo project–it’s been a rough past couple of weeks. I know that Orange Caramel is a whole concept thing and a lot of people like it because it’s over the top, but I just can’t. It’s just takes it over into creepers-ville when grown women dress and act like that to cater to fans. And Hyuna, you know I like her work with 4Minute and “Trouble Maker” was great, but her solo stuff is again too much in my opinion.
Jo Kwon and his get up for “Animal” also was kind of scary. Oh, and that picture of EXO-M’s Kris when the MCs at KCON kept calling them “Exo-K.” Definitely one of the worst nightmares is for something bad to happen or some scandal to break out and jeopardize the status of your favorite group–you don’t know how many little fan traumas I had when news first broke about Daesung‘s accident and then G-Dragon’s drug charge–especially when they are still at the pinnacle of their careers.
Currently, all my nightmares center around something happening to prevent me from getting to the Big Bang Concert in LA this weekend which I have been waiting for ALL YEAR. When the tour was first announced, I was worried another scandal would happen and they’d cancel it (you don’t know how pissed I was at Seungri for a while there), I was worried I’d get sick and couldn’t go, or some kind of natural disaster would happen — Hawaii just had a Tsunami warning on Saturday night — luckily it was nothing (of course my very first thought was “OMG, what if the airport gets flooded and I won’t be able to get to California.”), that someone is gonna steal my purse and I’ll have no ID or debit/credit cards to go on the trip (suffice it to say I am not letting my purse out of my sight for the next week), what if I get stuck in traffic and miss the concert, what if I lose my tickets, so on and so forth. Sooo, so scary.
Gaya: I’m going to another continent for K-pop and I’m nowhere near as worried… yet…
Nicholas: Ha ha, Australia and Singapore are rather kissing cousin-ish in some ways. If you ask the soccer associations and some groups we are one big family called Asia.
But I have to agree with you anyway: Asia & Oceania are kinda separate in more ways.
Dana: I’m already afraid of the Tiffany-composed ballad that will appear on SNSD‘s new album, given that she was responsible for that masterful rap in “The Boys.” Fany, you know I got love for you, gurl, but…yeah. All the love in the world couldn’t convince me to condone that atrocious display of “songwriting.”
Other than that, I’m with Johnelle on this one — I’m absolutely terrified that HyunA will succeed in becoming the next iconic solo female act. The precedents she sets worry me; additionally, I get ridiculously frustrated to see such an obvious black hole of talent rewarded with such a degree of fame. I guess the larger fear here is that the market over-saturation with idol mediocrity won’t abate, but will rather grow and continue to spread. It’d be nice to see a gradual growth of appreciation for individuals with unique talent and fresh musical perspective.
I’m also afraid that 8eight will never make another song now that Lee-hyun is in the army (and props to him for going in without making a disgusting big deal about it like Someone Else We Could Mention). I was really anticipating an epic 8eight comeback, but now I don’t ever see it happening. It would be great if the ever-useless Big Hit Entertainment would promote Joo-hee as a solo act in Lee-hyun‘s absence, but I won’t get my hopes up.
Fannie: What if dubstep never left K-pop?
Amy: It would be AWESOME, Fannie. I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. You mean you don’t want more of Kai wearing sweatshirts that say “dubstep” and songs where people are telling me what I’m listening to is dubstep?!
My K-pop fear would be seeing a debuting K-pop group where all the members are younger than I am at the moment… and I’m pretty young to start with. The day an idol group made entirely out of preteens or toddlers is the day I’d officially check myself out of this ship and never look back.
Gaya: I’m personally dreading the debut of idols born in the ’00s. I really, really hope I don’t find any of them attractive until after they have come of age.
Fannie: Another nightmare: Bowl cuts taking over K-pop. Permanently.
Gaya: … I’m just going to leave this here…
Ambika: Oh my god. Bowl cuts. Leeteuk. And too young idols. Please. No. Though I don’t find Leeteuk that bad, mainly because I have to give it to him: he works really hard. He can be annoying, but so many people know who he is.
Natalie: I guess I could add B.A.P’s fashion style to my list of fears, but seeing as how that’s a living nightmare, maybe I shouldn’t… also a new fashion fear: Exo wearing shiny harem pants forever.
(Images via SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Elle Magazine, Sidus HQ, KBS2, JYP Entertainment, Lizzy’s Twitter, CUBE Entertainment)