• http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

    Awkward — that’s what it looks like.

    A sexy group doing a bubble gum cute concept looks awkward. Almost as if they feel weird doing it.

    A bubble gum cute group doing a sexy concept looks awkward. Almost as if th– you get the point.

    Honestly, I don’t think there is much separation between cute and sex in Kpop (or at least a mixture of the two is too common for my tastes in many instances), it’s just two different forms of sexual enticement wrapped up in different wrapping paper. Just look at that picture for Jewelry Box — a vomitous explosion of pink with cutesy little pillows spread around and, in the center, a group of thinly dressed girls, including one laying directly over another girl’s backside. I may not be a mathematician, but 1+1 = 2 last time I checked. This form of cute/sex is an abomination — but that is for another discussion.

    Sexy concepts are a different beast. Sometimes they are done reasonably well (Run Devil Run), other times it looks like your little sister decided to vamp up and doesn’t look remotely comfortable enough to really sell the new look, yet. 

    Personally, I think new groups have to come with their own original flair to be noticed — but for whatever reason, the entertainment heads of fledgling companies think an act can only be sexy or cute, or almost a mirror of another, more successful, act. That, or they try to be TOO unique and wind up being decent in some ways, but nothing special in everything else (like AOA — who desperately needs to drop the dancing dead weight). Part of this is because the Big 3 usurp and drain the life out of any concept that exists, so there isn’t much room to find anything that hasn’t already been done to death (JYP corners retro and emo; YG has electropop and girl power messages down with 2NE1, plus hip pop with Big Bang; SM has aegyo nailed down with Girl’s Generation; all three occasionally dabble in every genre imaginable, as well). Short of coming out dressed like demented pimp leprechauns, there isn’t much unique territory left in Kpop — plus Crazyno has already laid claim to that one.

    About the most unique concept that could come out in modern Kpop is, crazy enough, a normal, well-crafted R&B or pop group with no dead weight vocalists and some creative and talented, but not too well known, songwriters penning the songs. Sort of like what TVXQ was back in the day. Part of what made that group such a success is that they really didn’t have any dead weight. There were singers that weren’t as good as others, but no bad singers hidden behind rapper facades. Even their “visual,” Jaejoong, was a good singer. 

    Music is cyclical; eventually, it all comes back around to past influences with some modern flavor added. That’s why cats like Bruno Mars, who was heavily influenced by doo wop and other older American musical styles, bring some of that flavor into their newer songs. It’s also why, after years without them, One Direction managed to carve itself a niche in a market that wasn’t as rife with boy bands as it was back in the day. It happened in rap, too. People wanted something different from classic rap, so gangsta rap came along, When they got tired of gangsta rap, people turned to more introspective rap with Pac and mafioso rap with Nas and Biggie. When people got tired of that, bizarre rap with Missy Elliot & Busta Rhymes came along, plus bling raps with Jay-Z, Cash Money, No Limit, etc. Party and sex raps came after that with 50 Cent and Lil’ Wayne. Bizarre rap is making a comeback with Nikki Minaj. Pretty soon people will tire of it and most likely want something more substantial. It’s just the nature of people to crave what they grew up with.

    Kpop just might be ready to put some of these clownish concepts to bed and go back to more simplistic ideas. If everyone is trying to be a loud, colorful character, who is going to stand out more than that one person/group acting perfectly normal? 

    • http://twitter.com/SrilathaR Srilatha Rajamani

      Yay, CraZyno :-)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2UNQGN7IPNTIRIWBNVHEFBHHV4 a z

      “it looks like your little sister decided to vamp up and doesn’t look remotely comfortable enough to really sell the new look, yet”
      You know what flashed in my mind when i read this? Hyuna in bubble pop and troublemaker. If you watch her face in those videos and live performances you can almost see her thinking “o, sexy thrust here, booty pop next, followed by breast squeeze”. She did not look confident or comfortable at all and it showed very clearly on her face IMO. Her new video ice cream or whatever she loos alot more comfortable cause its a mix of playful sexy and cuteness which i think is suitable for her and what seems to be her personality (as i dont know her personally i can only guess).

    • BishieAddict

      There are a few groups without “dead weights” for singing in my opinion, but they aren’t as popular (probably cuz of the genre): 2am (the one group where I actually like every member), brown eyed girls. I like miss A, 2ne1, big bang too but not exactly for their singing. Their members aren’t dead weights either. But to me the best vocal idol groups are 2am and BEG. If KRY and TTS can be considered as groups, I would include them too. As a DB5k fan, in my opinion there are some members that weren’t as vocally skilled as others, but they had 3 really good singers.

    • plushiesexual

      Yang Hyun Suk himself said that the idol trend is slowing down again and musical acts like Busker Busker etc have been the most successful during 2012.
      Would you say that has anything to do with the current success of new simple-but-quality acts like Juniel, Ailee, etc.?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

        YG is a lot of things, a smart businessman being one, but sometimes his actions make me shake my head. For instance, there is no way in hell I would authorize spending on an ip if I thought the market was in store for a major shift — meanwhile, after making that comment about idol trending, he creates a new girl group. That just boggles my mind, but I don’t have access to his head and he obviously knows how to run a successful company in that market, so I have put the flamethrower away and now just wait patiently to see the results. 

        I do think idoldom is getting a bit more focused on talent over appearance. That’s just the nature of changing consumer tides. Groups have been dominant for so long, the consumer will naturally want something different. Solo, vocally gifted singers are about as far away from highly image based idol groups as you can possibly get. I don’t know if I would say Juniel or Ailee’s success instigated this new shift in Kpop idol trends, but they are certainly a sign that the times are, in fact, changing. 

  • http://thankgyuu.tumblr.com/ Mrs_KimSungGyu

    Kpop needs more variety. We keep saying this over and over again don’t we? But cute and sexy are all idol groups can be, unless we’re talking about that 1% who choose music over appearances. From my point of view, I see there is a need for more female R&B idol groups– groups that don’t fall prey to this redundant cycle of imitating styles. I pray PRAY that Woollim’s girl group (which should just debut already) will be just that because if Baby Soul and Yoo Jiah’s minor pre-debut success climbing the digital charts with the song released by the former late last year and the single released by the two earlier this year is any indication, that’s where they might be headed.

    and I quote:

    “Last 18th, ‘Baby Soul+Yoo Jiah’ released their digital album ‘She’s a Flirt’, sweeping the online music sites’ real-time charts: they were 1st on Cyworld, 3rd on Bugs Music for example astoundishing the music industry with their surprise debut.
    They were against national representative idol girlgroups occupying the charts like T-ara, Wonder Girls, A-Pink, Rainbow Pixie, Nine Muses, which makes the result even more valuable, and they got recognized as a different girl group with appealing talent 180 degrees different from the standard girlgroups using fancy dances and visuals.
    ‘Baby Soul+Yoo Jiah”s ‘She’s a Flirt’ is the producer An Youngmin’s work, he wrote SNSD’s Taeyeon’s ‘I Love you’, An Youngmin said that it was a song he wrote and saved for Baby Soul+Yoo Jiah. This song, which is of a new R&B Hip Hop genre, talks about a woman’s boyfriend who fell for another girl, it’s fresh lyrics creating an impact.
    On the other hand, ‘Baby Soul+Yoo Jiah’ who released their new album ‘She’s a Flirt’ on the 18th are setting new girlgroup standards in 2012’s Korean music industry and are going to create a new trend of talented female musicians.”

    To me this doesn’t sound like they’re going to be blatantly ‘cute’ or ‘sexy’, perhaps somewhere in between. Which would be refreshing to say the least. You don’t know how disappointed I’ll be if I turn out to be wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/SrilathaR Srilatha Rajamani

    I see nothing wrong in cute or sexy, but I think K-POP must bring some realism into the mix. Yes – the concept of “cuteness” or “sexiness” is cultural. So I do see the value in K-POP retaining its Asian flavor. But this is my earnest request: please don’t make your audience feel like they are perverts.Showing sexually blatant actions through characters presented as minors or children is not acceptable in any culture.

     You don’t have to be child-like to be innocent. And you don’t have to be a slut to be sexy.

    I think cuteness can be marketed internationally along with sexiness as long as they understand the subtle cultural differences. First step for K-POP therefore is to get out of the teen-age audience mindset and realize they have multi-cultural, multi-age audience. I do not think that traditional Korean audience is going to collectively collapse from shock if they present a more international view of innocence or sexiness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513439726 Sharon Overlord

    Just want to say, I really love Super Junior’s Pajama party but the only thing cute there is Sungmin. The cute and funny MV does not match the lyrics that talk about preparing to sleep with your girlfriend for the first time. Thus, it really comes off as being a really bizarre MV.  

  • http://twitter.com/Kay_2512 K~

    I actually don’t think f(x) belongs to the extreme of either case. And it is working for them so far. The point is you don’t have to be typical and just whatever it works

  • BishieAddict

    I have a love/ hate relationship with kpop. Right now it is overstated with idols abusing autotune. But I still like the songs. The image and music style goes hand in hand. I don’t like sugary poptunes or happy music, so there it isn’t a surprise that I dislike the “cute” concepts.

  • http://chocobox101.blogspot.com/ chocopies:)

    I love you because you included B1A4 in this article. ANYWAYS, I honestly have no problem with cute concepts in kpop unless it just looks.completely awkward. But, the same.thing goes for sexy concepts as well. Like Troublemaker is a good song but Hyuna just looked like a complete weirdo crawling on the floor like a cat. So, yeah..

  • plushiesexual

    That was a somewhat interesting article but it didn’t really have any kind of conclusion other than “oh well lol Kpop industry what can you do” XD (just some constructive criticism)

  • illerz

    I am curious I don’t consider epik high kpop, I don’t know why they would be considered so. Opinions? 

  • illerz

    And some of that made me ill. Oh there should be a limit on ageyo.

    Clazziquai! I fell in love while alex was on WGM. A kpop act I love. <3 sigh. My ears are happy.