The fact that JYP Nation looks so much like family is verifiable through last year’s holiday release, ‘This Christmas’. Instead of appearing as though they were a government that has to trade or discuss economics or arrange peace treaties with neighboring countries (meaning formal, distant, and political), Park Jin-young and his minions come off more as a tender, loving and caring family. Although that should be the goal of all companies and establishments in all industries, it does not come without the notion that somewhere within that family tree, there must be a golden child.
If I were to pin-point that one person in JYP, it would be none other than the Wonder Girls’ Sohee, which may have started when she sang her line in “This Christmas”. Just this year, Sohee
- had that line to fill in one of the year’s hottest tracks (Hands Up – 2PM, her line was a cherry on top of such a fulfilling sundae)
- sang all four verses in ‘Be My Baby’
- graced the cover of Dazed and Confused Korea, a reputable artsy high-fashion glossy and probably the youngest idol to individually do so
- has an iconic move all to herself that get’s parodied by other, senior idols
- appeared in the United States’ NYLON and TeenVOGUE with the Wonder Girls
But Sohee’s ‘achievements’ this year (excluding those of years past) probably stem from her advisory duties on Hands Up, which earned her a credit on the song’s liner notes, and perhaps in the long-run, JYP’s love and affection (the guy, not the company).
For starters, singing all four verses is a big deal because they add so much life to a song, since choruses are all the same. Most people might ditch or skip a song if its verses are poorly composed and arranged. Rarely are there songs with great choruses but weak verses. Furthermore, it’s a big deal because sometimes, I feel kind of sorry that the powerhouse vocals (namely Yenny and Sunye) have to carry the choruses, and just the choruses, mainly because they are repetitive. It must be such a bore to sing the exact same paragraph six times for each music show, for three different shows each week (maybe even more considering the variety show scheduled), for almost a month.
Even Lim‘s bridge was shortened after the second set of Sohee’s verses, which stayed the same length. In most songs both Eastern and Western, the second set of verses would usually be cut in half, but the bridge the same length. One last thing, Sohee also has the most screen time in ‘Be My Baby’, where oftentimes, she would appear and dance individually while Yubin or Yenny would be delivering their lines.
But the fair and just JYP would then go and give Yenny and Sunye their own verses to sing in ‘Du Go Du Go’. I just personally wish he would give them the chance to promote it, because ‘Du Go Du Go’ is such a beautiful song. And to cover for Lim’s cut bridge, JYP gave her one whole song. The Yenny-Sunye collaboration and Lim’s solo track also stood-out and overshadows the Sohee-Yubin track. Once again, the world is a fair place as Yubin has three song credits in the album.
It is noticeable that there is a part in every song that stands-out from the whole. We, as listeners tend to cherish that part of the song. Maybe we even listen to the song just to hear that part. For example, in Kara‘s ‘Step’, there was this beautiful Gyuri ad lib that happens just once and goes “I will never forget ’bout you yeah…”; or Sandara Park‘s bridge in ‘Lonely’ and her middle-eight in ‘Ugly’; or Britney Spears‘ melisma in the last line of ‘Womanizer”s middle eight; or… Sohee’s note-decline melisma in ‘This Christmas’, which was the gem of this track. To put it in other terms, it could be what the monkey arms were probably looking for in that Christmas box (see single artwork); since overall, the track is quite bland.
But notice again that Sohee’s line in ‘This Christmas’ ended the song’s middle eight, which is usually where that rare moment of truly-liking-a-song happens; or that signal when the powerhouse vocals are to belt the last chorus, in an explosive mountain-moving, sea-dividing manner of singing. But instead of giving it to the abundance of powerful singers in JYP’s roster, JYP himself gifts ‘the gem’ of this song to Sohee.
It’s not just Sohee. At Cube Entertainment, we could easily pin-point HyunA, since this year, she truly outshone everyone else from Cube, well apart from Beast. But it’s hard not to notice Beast since you know, there’s a bunch of them, and there’s only one person with HyunA. Cube’s golden child even has her own logo now, if you’ve noticed it. So with a hit summer-song and viral video, an appearance on one Spin Magazine‘s year-end list (and a reputable list I might add), a provocative sub-unit, there’s a strong possibility that she may reign as Korea’s Queen of K-Pop (singular), with a throne handed down by BoA or Lee Hyori.
The selection process of The Golden Child, whether purposely or not, could probably be attributed to how well the K-Pop audience responds to a particular member of the group. In other terms, the entertainment companies try to milk the cash cow of the group, as hard and as ruthless as they can. At times, it can seem a bit off-putting, as with HyunA’s sexy-overdosed ‘Bubble Pop’. So it may be assumed that HyunA is Cube’s most profitable artist this year.
Another golden child at Cube would be Beast’s Yoseob, since a wide array of K-Pop audiences probably respond very well to said member. But there are advantages to being extremely likable. For one, the entertainment company may move forward with the idol by providing him, her or them with bland, cheap or boring material. Companies think that fans would simply eat up anything the idol puts out, and they will put up with it. An example of such treachery could be seen with Kara. Undeniably, these girls are DSP Media‘s answer to Wonder Girls and SNSD. They have a huge following and are reserved the very last performance spots at year-end concerts, together with Super Junior and Se7en.
But do we see growth and evolution with Kara’s image? Not at all. ‘Step’ is simply recycled from ‘Jumping’ and ‘Jumping’ from ‘Mr.’, even though I find all three songs great in composition and production as well as an amazing accompaniment for when you’re trying to jog faster on a treadmill (this is personal stuff here). While we may applaud DSP Media for allowing the members of Kara to grow and experience equal levels of popularity, DSP and a slew of other agencies should not get too complacent with what they provide their idols and golden child(ren).
Another example would be G.Na, a CF queen and who has a positive popular image where she doesn’t have to overtly sex up herself to win viewers. G.Na also has an amazing voice, but then is left to croon ‘Top Girl’? ‘Black and White’ was just okay, but then came ‘Top Girl’. I mean, the album cover itself was a thousand times better aesthetically and artistically than the song and video combined. Let’s invest more on the music instead of the image of just one person, since isn’t this what it’s all about? No?
At SM Entertainment, the golden child may be Sunny, what with her new hair length AND new hair color, and that red jacket everyone’s vying for. One might argue that Sunny and Sooyoung have what I’d like to call self-earned popularity, which was then noticed by SM and nurtured upon the order of the head honchos, while from day one it is YoonA who tends to ‘purposely’ outshine the rest of SNSD; I leave this to you readers to decide. As for Super Junior, some members might not even get the chance to see the light of day if they keep on hiding in the shadows of Siwon‘s perfect abs, lush hair, pecs, legs, lips, facial bone structure, skin tone and endless amount of screen time…
Back to SM’s other juggernaut: one popular comment that caught my attention on ‘The Boys” YouTube page sounded something like this: “Once again, Sunny shows everyone who’s the boss at SM.” Notice that? When talking about SM, you’ll say ‘boss’. Although it might stem from the phrase, “who’s the boss”, it still comes with a connotation that SM runs more like a company. We come back full circle to the family that is JYP, or if that’s too ambiguous still, we could probably relate JYP Entertainment to a really close classroom who’ve come to think of themselves as a family, with students who look out for one another like bros. JYP is the teacher and the rest are his students, from the dramatic and a bit-to-the-left Jo Kwon (I was the Jo Kwon of my class all through elementary till high school), the blushing honeymooner Sunye, the jock-ish fitness frenzied jock Taecyeon, and the exquisitely breathtaking foreign exchange students, Fei and Nickhun. So perhaps for fine-tuning 2PM’s Hands Up this past summer, Sohee, probably the most evident golden child (based on merits,
not on looks, well a profound bit on her looks too) in the K-Pop scene, probably deserves all the gold stars and bonus points she’s earned this semester.
Afterthought: Is this a sign that we may soon see Sohee stepping out of The Wonder Girls (for a while, for a bit or forever) and storming the world solo? Like Beyoncé? She’s tried the dance moves. She’s tried the hair. Why not go all the way?