We all know of the talent, or lack thereof, that exists in the wonderful, candy-coated world of K-pop. Groups abound the music scene every year, some old, a lot new, and some make it big while others definitely don’t. But to have at least a moderately successful K-pop group, there is always a vocalist (or vocalists, depending on the range of talent) that leads the group musically. These group members, however, are not typically the ‘face’ of group, and actually tend to trail behind in the popularity rankings of respective group members as a whole. Sometimes, I look at vocalists and pity them. In an industry that is really supposed to be about music, a vocalist’s musical talent usually gets stumped by the puffer-fish selcas or shots of oiled muscles of more attractive or outgoing members. That idea alone has convinced me that some of these artists who belong to groups should have been solo artists. Today, we’re going to take a look at a couple of vocal talents that I think should have ditched the group scene.

1. Onew

Onew is so freakin’ talented. However, I don’t think he gets enough credit for his smooth vocals, that in truth, carry SHINee as a whole. His voice sounds amazing when the kid gets a second to sing alone and it also strings together all the rest of the vocals and rapping and whatever it is that Taemin does that makes up SHINee. I mean, it seems to me that in the group setting, fans seem more focused on things like the odd ‘Will and Kate’ impersonator couple (Key and Jonghyun) and Minho’s abs. I mean, granted the other members are considerably talented, but their public appeal and exposure seem to trump Onew’s in a way that shoves his talent under the rug a bit.

I mean, I bet more people know Onew for liking chicken and his “Onew condition” than they do for his extensive vocal talent. If it were my decision, I would make Onew a solo artist because he seems musically sound enough to handle singing alone and because he has this genuine quirkiness to his character that comes through on variety shows that lead me to believe he would be A-okay attracting love from fans on his own.

2. Ryeowook

Ryeowook is one of three major vocalists from Super Junior. At first, I was convinced it was Yesung that had it rough, but thanks to some input from Ree, I remembered that Yesung doesn’t have it all bad–he landed a spot on Immortal Song and has had plenty of OST deals to keep him a happy man. But Ryeowook is a different story. Of all the SJ-KRY members (KRY being the Super Junior sub-unit composed of the three main vocalists Yesung, Kyuhyun, and Ryewook) I never see enough Ryeowook. And what is it that he’s doing? He’s not an actor, and he’s not the star of variety either. He has a very shy and reserved demeanor, and perhaps that’s why he sometimes seems to fade in the presence of all the other rambunctious Super Junior members.

But damn it, Ryeowook can sing. He can even sing in English pretty well too, as he proved to crowd of thousands at the recent Super Show in his cover of Maroon 5‘s “Moves Like Jagger.”  I think if Ryeowook had the right marketing and the right stylists to play up his masculinity, he would be a phenomenal solo artist. His unusual voice coupled with the strength of his vocals really create a powerful sound that gets downplayed all too often in the grander scheme of Super Junior. Going solo would get Ryeowook the attention he deserves.

3. G.O.

Personally, I will never understand why this kid’s stage name is two letters, but I guess there’s been worse right? G.O. has great all-around voice that, like the others mentioned above, really balances his group out. But what I think is especially great about G.O. is the depth his voice is capable of. He hits a lot of the deeper notes in MBLAQ songs, relative to the ranges of the other members, and yet he is able to be soft and melodic, as he was in his solo single “In My Dreams” and his “Believe OST for Mr. Idol. Plus I appreciated G.O.’s facial hair. Where did that go?

Focus is truly detracted from G.O. when Joon is constantly keeping eyes glued to him and his washboard abs and when current news is based around Thunder and his ‘son’, which is really just his cat. Even during live performances, G.O. gets less time under the spotlight than other members, even when he obviously carries more weight in the vocals department. I think G.O. could definitely gain more from being a solo artist than being in the backdrop of MBLAQ. Again, he’s one artist that would definitely need the right moves and the right threads to hold his own. In light of his previous solo works, it’s hard to say if he’d be a stellar solo act, but then again, he was still G.O. from MBLAQ when those songs were released. Had G.O. been a solo artist and showcased the dancing skills and charisma that he really does have on top of his vocals, he really could be something much more than what he is now.

As with any case such as this, I’m sure there are way more idols who seem too talented to be in a group setting. Onew, Ryeowook, and G.O. are just three examples of talented vocalists who are key players standing in the shadows of the other members of their groups. In an industry dominated by appearances and appeal, it is easy to dismiss talent even when it’s staring you in the face. In a perfect world, these artists could’ve been extraordinary solo acts, but alas, such is not the way of the mighty K-pop machine. If you could have it your way, which male idols would be better off as a solo artists?