Let’s face it: Core Contents Media, the label that will live in infamy for as long as the average K-pop fan can hold a grudge, is in desperate need of some new blood. Bread-winning girl group T-ara faces an uncertain future after a scandal that effectively damaged both the members’ credibility and the credibility of CCM as an agency, vocal powerhouse duo Davichi peaced out as soon as their contracts allowed them to escape from what looks to be an increasingly fraught situation, and CEO Kim Kwang-soo continues to be regarded as perhaps the worst and most undesirable CEO working in the industry today. Introducing a new group — a group untarnished by the label’s earlier misfortunes — might be able to play some role in rebuilding CCM’s image and reintroducing it in a fresh way to fans and non-fans alike.
Unless, of course, this hypothetical new group was to be a half-assed rehash of an earlier (failed) group that CCM used to manage — a group whose ugly breakup garnered (if possible) more negative press than did the summer’s T-ara debacle, and one that was plagued with member discord and mudslinging. Extra points if this new group bears almost the exact same name as said failed group, because nothing says “turning over a new leaf” quite like explicitly reminding everyone of the failed group’s failure.
Needless to say, of course this is exactly what CCM has done with their newest girl group, a four-member project called (wait for it) THE SEEYA. I wonder how they came up with that name. Could it perhaps be inspired by, oh, I don’t know…CCM’s earlier girl group that went by the name of (wait for it) SeeYa?
Really, CCM? Really, Kim Kwang-soo? Really? Really? Really?
Though they fell out of relevance later in their careers, seasoned K-pop fans will remember SeeYa, who debuted in 2006 before the idol boom really took off. Comprised of members Kim Yeon-ji, Lee Bo-ram, and Nam Gyu-ri, SeeYa formally disbanded in January 2011; though they had a fairly good run as a pop group, they unfortunately became embroiled in controversy in 2009 as Nam Gyu-ri stopped participating in all group activities, prompting CCM to declare that she was in violation of her contract and subject to possible legal repercussions. Gyu-ri eventually left the group amid accusations that she was ostracized by the other members and mistreated by the CEO (hey, this sounds familiar) and was promptly replaced by Lee Soo-mi, with whom SeeYa intended to continue their promotions as a three-member group. However, she, too, left the group just one year after joining to become part of CCM’s new mixed-gender group Co-Ed. Gyu-ri returned to SeeYa to record a farewell album in 2011, but bad blood between her and the other two members has left an unfortunate stain on what might otherwise have been a solid legacy. All of SeeYa’s members were exceptionally vocally talented and their music was well-received; however, when people think of SeeYa, it is inevitable that they return to the group’s bitter discord, which ultimately spelled out the group’s end.
Oddly enough, the new SeeYa (I mean, THE SEEYA) bears essentially no resemblance to the SeeYa of yesteryear — and this fact only serves to further complicate what must be some really terrible logic in selecting the new group’s name. I mean, it is bad enough to demonstrate a pathetic lack of creativity and originality in picking a name for a new K-pop group (really, how hard could it be? Doesn’t CCM have an enormous staff of people for exactly this purpose?), but deliberately selecting the name of a group whose name already had negative connotations to begin with? I just…don’t understand. Suppose SM Entertainment decided to debut a new five-member boy group called THE DBSK. How do you think fans would react to that one? Would they warmly embrace the rookies and give them a fair shot? My guess: probably not. Naming this new group THE SEEYA will not only alienate SeeYa’s fans, it will start THE SEEYA off on rocky footing, ensuring that they are not judged by their talent or the quality of their music, but by their extremely tangential association to a troubled K-pop group plagued by the very same problems that destroyed T-ara’s reputation just a few months ago.
Even worse is the fact that CCM just does not have the leeway right now to continue to make outrageously bad business decisions. Although much of the badmouthing that took place following Hwa-young‘s ouster was directed at the remaining T-ara members, both CCM and Kim Kwang-soo took a heavy (and deserved) hit for how badly the crisis had been managed. Even before Hwa-young’s departure, fans and non-fans alike were already shaking their heads at the inexplicable decision to add two new members (one of whom was a 14-year-old girl with a tenuous grasp on Korean that Kim Kwang-soo literally picked up on the street) to a T-ara that seemed to be doing just fine — and rolling their eyes at Kim’s assertion that the members all needed to “work harder” in order to maintain their positions within the group. Recent fans of K-pop likely wouldn’t know about the mishandling of SeeYa’s controversy, which is yet another stain on Kim Kwang-soo’s record (in an online post around the time of her exit from the group, Nam Gyu-ri referred to him as “the devil”), but now that THE SEEYA is all but begging fans to learn about SeeYa’s 2009 troubles, it can only further hurt the label and THE SEEYA members that are about to debut.
In any case, THE SEEYA (comprised of Sung Yoo-jin, Oh Yeon-kyeong, Song Min-kyeong, and Heo Young-joo) is gearing up to begin their first round of promotions with the song “Be With You,” for which a teaser has been released. Having seen it, I can only say that it looks as though THE SEEYA has borrowed both their name and concept from senior labelmates. This looks remarkably similar (if not practically identical) to the opening of T-ara’s teaser for “Cry Cry,” and both videos seem to revolve around the relationship between a young man and an older women (in the beginning of the “Be With You” teaser, the voice-over addresses an off-screen ajosshi, a word used to refer to a middle-aged man, at whom the girl is pointing a gun; “Cry Cry”‘s teaser involves Ji-yeon giving a similar speech to an off-screen ajosshi whilst also pointing a gun at him). I say again: really, CCM? Really? Really? REALLY?
I don’t want to count THE SEEYA out, but I do think they face a particularly uphill battle in both differentiating themselves from SeeYa and standing out amidst a plethora of rookies who have already debuted in 2012. Additionally, the fact that they come from what might be the most universally disregarded label in K-pop right now will not in any way help their case. I wish them luck, but I’m not confident in their ability to surmount these challenges, especially in the current over-saturated K-pop environment.
What do you think, readers? Will you be following THE SEEYA’s debut?
(Core Contents Media, Nate)