• Josh Chinnery

    So… Anybody else surprised that Trap wasn’t written or produced by Henry? Because I definitely way… I barely follow the dude (not that big a fan of Super Junior, or SJ-M), but it just felt like it was his to sing, ya know? And quite honestly, I’m just glad he’s escaped SM’s dungeons. Any narratives on why they took so long to unleash him, or why Kyuhyun and Taemin are there are not needed on my part.

    • http://samsoondowntherabbithole.com/ dewaanifordrama

      SM (and all the other major entertainment labels in South Korea) carefully control anything their idols do. My guess is that the ridiculous “Only 13” campaign from ELFs has something to do with why it has taken so long to debut him as a solo artist. And that is also probably why Kyuhyun and Taemin are there as well. The ELF’s “Only 13” campaign is scary, racist, and in my opinion one of the greatest travesties in K-pop.

      • Josh Chinnery

        Trust me, it’s glaringly obvious at times that these idols don’t think for themselves and are handed practically everything. It doesn’t bother me, but I wouldn’t want to be in their position; I am too “rebellious” (in the sense that I say what I feel and can’t keep my emotions to myself if I tried) for that. Anyway, that “Only 13” campaign was so stupid. There are already 13 members of Super Junior (some of which I’m convinced only have two words in a song, or have their voices dubbed over someone else’s), so what difference would it make to have two more? Honestly, SM lucked out by keeping Henry and Zhou Mi out of the main group; they sing just fine to me, and Henry is a damn good composer. Why they haven’t tapped him to start writing some of the music they hand to SuJu or SM’s other groups is beyond me.

        • http://samsoondowntherabbithole.com/ dewaanifordrama

          I think that the main issue with the “Only 13” campaign was mostly to do with racism, and very little to do with actual numbers. I think in part it’s why Han Geng left Super Junior and went to do solo promotions in China (where has done fabulously). So even if it’s late, and has taken a long time, the fact that SM is finally debuting him without focusing on his ethnicity, and despite all the controversy, I actually think it’s a pretty big deal.

          • Josh Chinnery

            The justice seeker in me was cheering for this guy more than my fanboi when I heard he was SM’s latest solo artist, but after that song and performance, I’d definitely say my fanboi is getting excited about listening to the entire mini album :3

          • straighttohelvetica

            I know this is old, but I’d love to hear your theories about what Han Geng went through? Despite the happy, shiny veneer SM likes to put on things, I’m sure Han Geng had to deal with a lot of crap. I’ve heard the stories about the anti-fan mail; God only knows what else he had to put up with.

          • http://samsoondowntherabbithole.com/ dewaanifordrama

            I think the situation was complex, and we will never fully know the truth. I know that he has talked about it a lot, and that the remaining SJ members felt a little hurt by what he said. That said, from what he said and general SM stuff, he was under a 13 year contract, with no sick leave (he ended up with kidney problems because of this), and he was unable to visit his family. Even at the beginning of his debut, he had to wear a face mask when performing on stage (Heechul publicly took it off later on), this was related to his visa status as a Chinese citizen. And his Chinese nationality caused all sorts of other restrictions of how often he could appear on variety shows etc. And there was just all sorts of contract breaking that violated Han Geng’s rights. From what I have read about the whole situation, it looks like he was treated very poorly, and inhumanely. In my personal opinion, he was probably also not allowed very much creative license and freedom, and going solo and China has helped him enormously! He is such a talented performer, and he he has done well in China. I am sure there is a lot more that happened, and we’ll probably never know the half of it :/ I hope that helped a little.

  • chamelean75

    I’m really glad you brought up the elephant in the room. I’ve always been saddened that idols like Fei and nickhun never get endorsement deals or cfs alone. I mean god forbid, a person who isn’t full korean promoting a Korean product. That being said, I don’t see any endorsement deals for mixed Koreans either. Though I will admit, there are few of them in the entertainment industry.

    • http://samsoondowntherabbithole.com/ dewaanifordrama

      Nichkhun gets plenty of solo CFs. It was only recently during his DUI scandal that he was not promoting in any CFs. And that would be the same for any other idol who had a DUI scandal. And Fei does a lot of variety show promotion and recently was all over the news for her excellent work on Masterchef Korea (where she made it into the last rounds).

  • http://samsoondowntherabbithole.com/ dewaanifordrama

    Thanks for the post! I really enjoyed “Trap”. It most definitely makes me want to dance. As you pointed out, I think that allowing Henry to make a solo debut is rather progressive of SM. While I definitely associate with being an ELF, I am not part of that crazy section of K-pop fandom that spear-headed the ridiculous “Only 13” campaign. It is so hard for me to really comprehend why it was so hard for ELFs to embrace the Super Junior-M members as full members. If anything, it is going to hurt Super Junior in the long run. All that aside, I am glad that SM is showing that they can debut a Chinese-Canadian artist who has so much to offer without sacrificing his identity. I hope that this carefully orchestrated debut will allow him to have a greater level of self-expression. For now though, I think this is a great start.

  • anon

    Is funny how this article is questioning if making henry a solo was a good decision when a year before in this same site there was an article begging SM to give henry and amber an opoortunity lol.

    In my opinion of course everything is safe, they are just introducing him, they don’t expect him to succeed inmediately, the song is good i don’t see any problem with him as a performer except for the fact that some people dislike his tone but everything else is great he just needs time to show what he has and to feel confident on stage without his members or his instruments and i’m sure that once he is known and accepted they will give him even more musical freedom.

    • Josh Chinnery

      I find nothing wrong with his tone :3 And yes, I am very biased; his tone of voice is very similar to mine ^_^

      In all seriousness, that’s how I feel. Anytime he’s been on stage, he wasn’t alone; he was either with SJ-M or various other members of SMTown. Stage presence and charisma can’t be “taught”; you either have it naturally or you gain it through experience. I say that by the end of this promotional cycle, he won’t need Taemin and Kyuhyun to slay the fangirls hearts :3

  • http://blossom423.tumblr.com/ Elizabeth

    I’m not really a fan of Henry as a solo artist and isn’t perfect as you said but “Trap” is a good song overall didn’t mind Taemin and Kyuhyun in it and I think Henry sticking to bubblegum pop and pop suits him better. The music video for “Trap” had mixed feelings though as it was not the out of the box video I wanted.

    I do think Henry as other non-Korean idols in K-pop even if it’s progressive Henry’s Chinese-Canadian background isn’t mentioned in the press, the public and audience would still notice Henry as a non-Korean like every other non-Korean in K-pop.

    • Josh Chinnery

      I’m actually glad that this video wasn’t a typical SM video. It had traces of a story line there, and it was kind of interesting to watch.

  • WorthInClay

    I wouldn’t laud SM for not milking Henry’s foreign identity. In fact, I am prone to think that in the case of SJ/SJ-M, SM has been forced to hush down ZM and Henry’s foreign identity.

    Firstly, because of Hangeng’s fallout – SM was the first (I think) to market this “foreign talent” concept in Kpop history but all the more, Hangeng’s fallout with them made their fail in this concept too obvious.

    Secondly, SM fandom has a longer history than most other current fandom (except DBSK and Shinhwa etc), with the notorious mark of the “Only13” believers. Whether or not, the “Only13” prevalence is still huge, I doubt SM is at all keen to have ZM and Henry stand out by being The Awkward Foreigners in SJ anymore. With Victoria and Amber, they might be ok for media to highlight their “cute mistakes” on Korean pronounciation etc, but I really do not think ZM and Henry have much liberty to make those “cute mistakes” in light of SJ’s history.

    But… I’m sure if SM discover a Thai trainee who must be good looking, they will proudly boast their own “Thai Prince”.

    PS: Something very irrelevant here, but will you guys put a victory post just for B2ST winning Music Core with merely their pre-release song ;b

  • Mini Squid

    The first time I heard of two members of SJM not being a part of SJ itself, I was like what the heck? How can members of a subunit not be a part the group which it came from? Then I learned of the truth and although I was never an ELF, I felt so ridiculously nauseous. When I learned about the stock buying thingy, I could only facepalm myself and ask what the world has become? Granted, only delulu fangirls did that, but you get the drift….

    • mangochic

      What stock buying thing? I never heard of that before.

      • Mini Squid

        Some Korean ELFs teamed up to buy SM’s shares. So they could call themselves shareholders too and thus, have a say in the inclusion of Henry and Zhoumi into SJ. This is why they are not really a part of SJ itself.

  • JoreenFeehily

    I’m so glad SM has finally given a chance for Henry to shine. I can’t express how proud I am for him. He’s been hidden for so many years and only generally known as “that SJ-M dude” amongst the public. He was even bashed by Only13s but he never gave up. Although it was a surprising decision from SM (why would they suddenly debut a solo male artiste after more than 10 years? And it clashes with EXO’s comeback!), I’m still glad they gave this amazingly talented guy an opportunity.

    Not only I hope Trap further promotes SJ/SJ-M, but also Henry as a performer, where he finally has his platform to showcase his talent.

    Whether is Henry solo material, I will pray that he is, but we shall see. :)

  • sophomore

    “As a non-Korean, he’s seen as a guest rather than a welcomed, productive member of society. ”

    I have not been to Korea yet but this is also the vibe I get from following Kpop for years.

    In one way they seem to teach their people so much about respecting others, to be good and well-mannered but when put in a situation with foreigners it’s always such a strong reaction – mostly ranging from worshipping them (Europeans, Americans) to total hostility (we are better than those (insert race here).

    I have yet to see a non-Korean being included into their society as a normal person just like themselves.

    Is it fear? Fakeness? Being ignorant? Living in their own bubble?

    Whatever it is, this country is fascinating but has so many issues. It wants to receive the world’s love yet never let’s the world in, so it hardly ever grows, expands beyond of what they know. Maybe that’s also fine because they are unique but maybe they are also losing out a lot to become more than what they are now.

    Concerning Henry’s debut, I found the marketing misleading with the tattoos and all.

    Initially I was put off by his voice. He sounded like a perfect fit for a Disney production as Aladdin or the likes lol. Once you look past that, the album is better than some other solo releases (listenable tracks, no weird hipster electronic samples woohooo).

  • Cynical_MissGiving

    So… I have a confession. When I first got into Kpop, I was a bit of a mindless fangirl, and though I didn’t hate Henry, I did slightly disapprove of him back then. I thought that it wasn’t fair for him to latch onto Super Junior’s success, that it wasn’t fair for the Super Junior members to have to split their salaries into fifteenths instead of thirteenths, that it wasn’t fair to ruin the already established relationships between the members… that he didn’t deserve to join Super Junior. Looking back on it, I was just so stupid. I would have never gone so far as to hate on him or to join Only13, but I do remember thinking, “Oh wow, SM, what a stupid move, all the fans will just hate him and Zhoumi – why don’t you just save him for a later debut?” However, as his Mandarin improved and he started getting more active on talkshows, I discovered that… I really, really liked this kid. He was funny, witty, cute. A phenomenal violin-playing dancer. Had adorable cheeks. What really sold me, though, was watching fancams of him interacting with fans: when all the other SM stars passed by the fans standing in the hotel lobby, he went up to the ones waving at him and gave them an autograph. Now, I’m not saying I think it was wrong for the other idols to ignore the fans, and I don’t want to promote stalking idols either, but that moment just showed me how genuinely sweet he was. It was as if going through that whole experience, of having been hated, made him appreciate and value every fan all the more. So now, I absolutely adore Henry. There are still times when I wish he never joined Super Junior, though… But it’s not because I don’t think he’s good enough for Super Junior. It’s because I can’t imagine how much hurt, how much pain he’s had to endure while plastering on a bright smile for the cameras. I really regret being so judgmental, for having ever thought he would’ve been more of a burden than a help before even giving him a chance… I can’t say I’m a great fan, or even that he’s my bias. But I’m thrilled for Henry, for his chance to really prove himself.

    On a side note, though I do love almost everything about Henry’s debut – what it means for him, what it means for Kpop on a larger scale, the song itself… is there anyone else who thinks his kneesocks look absolutely horrid next to those orange-black patterned shorts?

    • MissMare1028

      Your comment almost had me in tears, it’s very touching.

      • Cynical_MissGiving

        Th-th-thanks… -insert anime sweatdrop- I’m glad it touched you but now I feel really embarrassed.

        • anonymous

          yea, you should be

          • Cynical_MissGiving

            Umm… Do you mean I should be embarrassed about how I didn’t wholeheartedly support Henry before? I /am/ sorry that I didn’t support Henry enough before, but can’t I change that, and I apologize for it. If you mean that I should be embarrassed about this comment… Well, it’s a little embarrassing but not shamefully embarrassing…

  • darkchocolatecoffee

    Yes, Patricia you’re right, the genre is for Henry to conquer. I think SM did the right thing to put him out as solo for his Korean debut despite his ethnicity etc because Henry’s talents would probably be “trapped” (not intentional pun i swear!) beneath the other Suju members. I don’t follow Suju but this is what I reckon based from the fact that Sungmin and Ryeowook are greatly underused in Suju’s promotional songs to give way to the likes of Yesung and Kyuhyun. And although Taemin and Kyuhyun did help Henry’s live performance, Kyuhyun’s part were redundant musically. I thoroughly enjoyed Taemin’s appearance in the song but I didn’t see the need for Kyuhyun to participate. Three’s a crowd imo.

  • Sun_&_Raine

    Sometimes I think Korea puts way too much emphasis on “otherness” So what if Henry is Taiwanese-Canadian, he’s still Asian, he can still speak Korean. He’s really not that much different than any other idol. I’m proud SM didn’t blatantly point out Henry’s ethnicity, it’s not necessary. I wish Henry the best for his solo activities and that he’ll be welcomed as soloist with ease by Korea’s music scene.

  • intheshort

    I’m actually hoping he’ll release Trap in Chinese so I can beg my sister to get me a copy when she goes overseas this summer.

    • Gaya_SB

      Apparently there is a Mandarin version, with Kyuhyun taking on Taemin’s parts.

  • b55555b

    maybe this is just me, but when the company says solo debut. i expect a freakin solo debut. as in i want to see henry, and only henry. why the hell is kyuhyun and taemin here?? -_-

  • MissMare1028

    If you watched Henry’s performance on Music Core (only featured Taemin), you will see that he was more relaxed and focused than his first try on Music Bank. I understand you questioning whether Henry will succeed as a solo artist, but I totally think he will. He’s never been on his own before, so it’s normal to be a little rusty at the beginning. But when the second time rolled around, Henry immediately captivated the audience throughout the entire song. Taemin’s dancing was awesome as always,but he also pulled off the falsetto perfectly, I was very proud. I think Henry will climb a much higher ladder as time goes on, this is only the beginning, he has so much to offer, and I can’t wait to see what else he’s going to dazzle us with in the future.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hipployta Hipployta

    I’m sure he’ll promote a Manadarin album too…it only makes sense so Kyuhyun takes Taemin’s lines

  • ugh

    “The idea of someone composing commercial pop fluff out of genuine love for the commercial pop fluff genre is somewhat mind-boggling”

    Add to that, Henry had a reasonably certain future in classical music, he was heading for a career as a violin soloist, and had actually left a youth orchestra to pursue pop music. Henry doesn’t care that pop music has little respect as an artform, it’s just what he wants to do.

  • taequila777

    I was looking at my mom’s vinyl collection (Vinyl is considered ancient by today’s CD/mp3 format) and one concept caught my attention. The album covers rarely showed what the artist’s looked like. It was judged by the music alone, why can’t we all go back to those days. Music is supposed to unite us-my family thinks I’m silly because I listen to ALL types of music-regardless of what region of the world they come from and I don’t give two cents about what a person looks like( the media plays up- if they’re considered too ethnic, too foreign, too black, not black enough, too white, a wannabe, etc. etc. etc.) It’s music at the end of the day…it’s either good or bad, we like it or we don’t like it. I understand some people’s concern of K-pop trying and I do stress TRYING to assismiliate R/B, Soul, Hip Hop influences in their music, but rarely, if ever see a person from that culture in the videos. This is getting a bit long-in summary, it should be about the music, and not what someone looks like, but I’m not naive, I know we don’t live in that kind of world…that’s what bothers me the most. Peace!

  • anon

    Can someone explain why Henry got the solo gig? He’s been pretty non-existent in the kpop world. It’s hard to believe that he got this solo gig through talent alone when there are other band members who are equally talented
    and more popular to the korean audience. Are they setting him up to become the second Hankyung in China but avoiding the messy fallout by gifting him this opportunity?