Hey there SB-ers! It’s been a big week for K-pop, full of happenings that generated quite a bit of heated discussion amongst our authors and readers alike. The news ranged from K-pop’s golden girls SNSD making a relevant stint on American television, to the release of the Wonder Girls movie on Teen Nick, to Se7en‘s long-awaited comeback album, to the fact that T-ara members can’t seem to catch a break (and neither can you guys, it seems).

These are five of this week’s best comments:

yellow on K-pop and America: Are Pop Groups Coming Back?:

I think any artist could break through here in the US, given they play to the right demographics and have a good company with good promotion tactics.

The key here is RADIO. It is all about radio, that’s about the best type of promotion any song can get. Sure, songs can shoot to the top of iTunes based off of hype or a performance on a awards show or the type, but it is radio that gives a song longevity, or, in “Glad You Came” ‘s case, first exposure. I feel like K-pop companies believe that they can go about using the Korean system of music promotion (which is release everything at once – the song, the (mini) album, the MV — and perform promote it. That’s not the case here. The way to sell in the US is to release a single and wait for radio to embrace it. If radio refuses to embrace it, make an MV (which increases sales, sometimes shooting a song into the Top 10). Radio could then be pressured into spinning a song, or they could already have been playing it and the MV just pushed the song even further. Either way, there you go. A hit song with some longevity. Kpop companies, you better have taken notes.

LaurenLCD on The Connotations of Hot Pants

As much as some of us want to be able to walk down the street in hoochie looking outfits without being groped, the sad fact is: the attention you receive is given according in the way you present yourself.

If a guy leers and gropes, then he will, but let’s compare say… a nun in her uniform vs. a girl in a tube top with booty shorts. Who’s most likely to get groped and cat called? The one who’s not dressed in a way to invite that sort of attention (the nun), or the one who’s dressed in a way that that leaves little to the imagination? Does the girl dressed scantily deserve disrespect? No, but she shouldn’t be let off the hook because she should have sense enough to know what kind of attention such an outfit can give. It’s not about “inviting” or “asking” for that kind of attention so much as it’s about the perception that a girl dressed that way wants such attention.

Now as for the look in Kpop… These girls (cause that’s what many of Kpop girl groups consist of – girls in high school) are pretty much owned by the old and not so old ajjussis of their companies. The ajjussis know which groups to market the most to boys and old men and how to do it. Men are visual humans. Ask any man what they like about a girl group and I guarantee you the first few reasons will pertain to how cute/hot/sexy they are before they talk about the music. I’m not saying girls aren’t marketed to the same way, cause they are, but from what I’ve seen, boy groups tend to have more attention given in regards to whether the music is listenable. They can’t switch back and forth between cute and sexy and have contrasting styles from power ballads to chipmunk squeals. They need more than a rotating door of concepts to keep us interested and to do that, they need to be the best at what they do. Girls can switch from aegyo to sexy and with the versatility comes the exploitation from the too short booty shorts to the baby doll dresses that came from the kids section of the store and barely cover the thighs. It’s not so much a problem with the idols themselves (because even they admit when they’re not comfortable and even if they don’t you can see it in their eyes) as it is the fact that the media has taken to grabbing our 5 minute attention spans by tapping into our most primal and basic desires. Companies know that if a catchy hook doesn’t reel us in, then the honey thighs, chocolate abs, lip wipes, hip rolls and booty shorts will.

happyslip on SB Exchange #7: T-ara

All boils down to mismanagement. It’s not surprising to see CCM pushing T-ara like this because the group indeed has the makings of becoming Korea’s next national girl group. I think their rotational leader system was a way for them to set themselves apart from the rest. IMO it’s useless because they could have done something similar to miss A if the leader position is just too burdensome for the members. However, I’d rather choose this kind of “gimmick” than AS‘ poorly executed graduation system because at least T-ara members learn something other than music, regardless of the amount of say they have in their promotions. As for Hwayoung, while I do think the last line-up before she was added was ok, I don’t think she pulls the group down that much. CCM better utilize her soon, though.

For their concept changes, it’s more like they haven’t found what fits them, or CCM is just blindly making them sing songs that are similar to hook songs that made some girl groups really big. If you strip off the concepts they’ve had after Bo Peep, you’d realize that they can be accused of being redundant as the other groups too — YaYaYa, Roly Poly, Cry Cry and Lovey Dovey not only look like the titles have been taken off the same page with the feeling of repetitiveness it gives, the actual songs sound like it came from one loop, too (Cry Cry is a bit of an exception to this however). I guess people don’t really notice because in Kpop, concepts can really influence a lot of people’s perceptions. I think AS in this aspect deserves the credit of  “coming up with something new” more if we are going to eventually base everything through concepts since the group not only wore costumes/changed looks…they actually learned how to do certain things (tap dance/drums) to further solidify their concepts.

The way they are promoted and the results makes me think sometimes, because most of it feels unnatural. I hope CCM rethinks their game plan for T-ara. With the amount of work they have as well with the success of Roly Poly and positive response of the releases that followed, they should have been easily the girl group after SNSD by now. But it doesn’t seem like it. There’s still this instability that surrounds them for some reason. CCM shouldn’t cover this up by making them promote songs continuously, the company should hold their horses and give these girls a break. Take time to slowly assess things.

conanblue on K-pop Voting Frenzy: Why, oh why?:

At the end of the day, K-pop is all about popularity. If anyone comes to K-pop for the music only, they may or may not be out of their minds. Idols themselves are based on whether that person would be popular amongst the people or not. Popularity brings success, and fans of successful idols become proud. I know a lot of these polls don’t really make sense (idol you want to be with during doomsday? Idol you want to snuggle with under an umbrella?), but a lot of them are also published in the news, believe it or not. It’s really terrible journalism, but that’s not the point. The point is when people read these news, they are able to see who is at the top of the food chain. And who wouldn’t be proud of being the biggest fan to the king/queen of the jungle? The fans of these people automatically gets bragging rights because it is “proven” that their idols are the best. Thus we return to the whole polling situation. If a fan can bring their favorite idol to the top, which can also bring them bragging rights, they will do anything to get that. Including hacking IPs.

I guess if I can sum it up, these polling doesn’t have anything to do with the idols. Most of the polls probably go unnoticed by the idols themselves. These polls are for the fans, for them to fight for that wanted queen bee spot in the K-pop fandom.

ilovessantokki on Read All About It: SNSD in the US:

Honestly, I never thought kpop would be progressing as it is into the American market, so good job to both the Wonder Girls and SNSD.

But I’d agree that Wonder Girls have better footing in America. They’ve lived in America, they’ve studied English, they’ve worked with American producers, they’ve even shot a movie in English on a (somewhat) major television channel – they’ve done a lot and put a lot of dedication into it. And I really am proud of how far they’ve come and how long they’ve stuck it out. I think it’s smart for JYP to try to carve out a niche market and target a specific audience instead of launching them in America and hoping the general public likes them. There’s so many genres and audiences in America, that just wouldn’t work. It makes sense that he’s aiming for the tween crowd since they’re the audience that most strongly supports idols in Korea. And I honestly can’t think of any other audience that would welcome The Wonder Girls.

I give props to SM/Interscope for working things out and getting SNSD on the show. SNSD put on the best performances they could but they’re sort of out here with no paddle. They performed on shows that have audiences that won’t really fit the demographic they’re shooting for. The typical viewer for Letterman is a middle-aged white man and I’m sure they enjoyed the performance, but not for the musicality of it. SNSD has a long way to go, but I have no doubt that SM has something in the works. They certainly don’t expect to sweep America with these two performances; this is just the beginning. They’ve definitely got their guns aimed at the US market.

What I think these companies should remember is that the audience in the US has a bite. Yes, audiences in Asia will lap up groups like SNSD and The Wonder Girls because they are the epitome of the ideal girl – cute, nice, pretty, and docile. The Asian Ideal is much different than The Western Ideal, especially in musical artists. To make it big in America, you need stage presence, a catchy-as-hell hit, and determination. You can’t half-ass promotions here. People spend upwards of five to ten years trying to hit it big. Granted, these groups do have an advantage with the (relatively small) population of fans they already have stateside, but they have to be ready for the criticism. These groups need to learn how to put on a good performance, not just over-choreographed glitz, and they need to prepare themselves for the criticism they will receive. Because they WILL get it. And they can’t give up. If they’re going to try to do this, they’ve got to stick with it.

I kind of love that these three groups are the ones trying to snake their way into the American market because they represent such different things to all of us.

I have no idea who’s going to hit it big or when, but I do know that it’ll be a long while before we see any kpop artists winning Grammy’s or at the top of the Billboard charts. But it’ll be exciting as hell watching them try to make it.

… and that’s a wrap! As always, if there are any great comments that didn’t make it onto this week’s Comments Of The Week (there always are, which makes it difficult for us to pick and choose), please feel free to share them with everyone in the comments section below. See you all next week!