Way back in 2007, when I first began listening to K-pop, the industry and the genre was a different place. The quality and variety of songs, videos, and performances was much better; there weren’t nearly as many groups; and, best of all, comebacks happened more sparingly. But, the thing that has changed the most, and has hurt my K-pop experience more than anything else, is the loss of the Art of Teasing.
Yes, teasing. To some, this may seem like a trivial problem in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was an element of K-pop I valued most.
Nothing was better than waking up one morning, and seeing a brand spanking new teaser video in my YouTube feed, and Twitter going absolutely insane. The last time I felt this thrill was back is 2008, when Big Bang released their mini album, Stand Up. The group had been promoting in Japan for about two years with no word about a Korean comeback. But, one morning I woke and managed to check the K-pop blogs before school, when there it was:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VQhsyzovRs]
These days, teasing a comeback takes up nearly no effort or energy at all. With a picture here, and a misleading 20 to 30 second video there, there’s no build up. In fact if I wasn’t a K-pop blogger I wouldn’t even take the time to watch 99% of the teaser videos that get released.
And as if that weren’t enough, there is a complete disregard to the element of surprise. Suddenly it has become trendy for groups and agencies to announce that they’re thinking of planning a schedule to come up with the concept to make a comeback (here’s looking at you, YG).
Take Orange Caramel for example. They made a comeback with “Catallena” in March of 2014, and by July they were announce their plans to make a “surprise” comeback in August. Surprise? FYI, the fact that I know it’s going to happen, a month before it happens, is irony itself.
Why spoil the surprise?! If I’m a fan of a group, and have been patiently waiting for three years, or ten months, or even a ridiculous four months, for a comeback, I don’t want someone to spoil the surprise for me. I want my heart to skip a beat because while I was scrolling through my favorite blog I found out Group X dropped a teaser in the middle of the night, Beyoncé style!
Instead, we have to suffer through things like the rollercoaster ride that was/is SNSD’s comeback, where they released of article after article about supposed comeback dates. Following the dramatics of losing member Jessica last year, SNSD did NOT need any more hype and media play for this comeback. But, rather than just dropping the teasers when it was time, we were subjected to article headlines like the one below, that literally did nothing to help build my anticipation.
SME Announces Girls’ Generation’s Comeback Date will be Confirmed Next Week
Teaser videos are, at their core, meant to build the excitement and interest around an artist’s comeback. They’re supposed to give listeners an idea of not only what the promotion will be like, but what the album will sound like. And, at first K-pop understood this, and had the formula down pat. But these days, they’ve thrown their fundamentals to wind, and honestly, don’t know why.
Why shoot a flare into the sky? Why do K-pop acts suddenly feel the need to brace us for impact? Is that your new idea of building hype?
Trust me, K-pop, a well-timed, unannounced teaser is all any artist, rookie or veteran, needs to get their fans excited and enthusiastic about their comeback. Take a cue from the brilliant teasing work of Block B sub-unit, Bastarz, and get back to the good ol’ days of actually teasing, and not just talking about it.
(Allkpop, YouTube. Images via: SM Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, Seven Seasons)
This piece was written by La Shauna Campbell, Editor-in-Chief at Asia 24/7.