Welcome to another Comments of the Week!

Label me impressed: many of you readers went out of your way to write essays this week, and they were for the most part quite enjoyable to read!

I’d just like to say — it is truly an honor and a privilege to have the core readership that we do for this site. If I had to read through every single comment on every single article, every single week, for any other popular K-pop site, I would probably be foaming at the mouth… so thank you all for being awesome and contributing the opinions that you have each week — to share with both our readers and writers alike.

These are five of our favorite comments from this week:

Mika~ on Counterpoint: YG, Why So Weak with Se7en?:

I do feel rather sorry for Se7en, because you have to admit, his career as a kpop soloist has declined. I mean, Se7en’s a respected sunbae singer, but I don’t think he really has that legendary sunbae status of Rain or BoA, and it’s kind of sad, because he definitely used to be on their level (think back to that competition for MSG with Rain).

Announcing his long, romantic relationship with Park Hanbyul definitely hurt his career. Like it or not, that’s the way kpop fangirlism works… (But as for me, I thought it was incredibly sweet that they announced it during their seventh year of dating.) A lot of international fans were surprised that Rain turned down Meghan Fox, but can you imagine what would’ve happened with the Clouds if Rain didn’t?

Going to America was a poor choice. He didn’t really make it anywhere in America, and I don’t feel like his musical style was improved by his America-venture either. Maybe he was trying to go for an American feel when he came back to Korea with “Digital Bounce”, but the thing is, the musical style that he had before he left was already, in my opinion, the best style for him, so when he came back with this song that sounded nothing like his ballads or R&B songs, regaining the popularity he used to have became all but impossible.

Like the author, I feel that it’s a pity that Se7en’s career is no longer as illustrious as it used to be, but I actually think this album is chock full of lovely songs that are reminiscent of his earlier style, so for me, this is a step in the right direction.

Guest on Breaking the Idol Stereotype:

good article but i’m suprised that you restricted the idea of “breaking the stereotype” to only those idols who are involved in music production. people like kahi and jea, who had a huge part to play in the creation of their groups are also atypical idols. idols who choreograph or design or direct are also taking some creative control of their careers and i’m a little sick of people holding up the production of music as the ultimate achievement for an idol. writing music is a very specific skill and not everyone has the talent for it. however, they may still be the hbic – the one who tells the writers specifically what they want to sing, make the decisions on style, performances, design, be in charge of the financial aspect etc. that is just as awesome and is also just an unusual for an idol.

and slightly ot, g-dragon is amazing. he writes a lot of songs and more importantly from the industry stand-point, he writes a lot of hits. that is very unusual since most idols who do write music never get to promote it or if they do promote it, it’s not very well-received. he also writes for other artists but caters to their style and is always looking to reinvent his music and experiment.

but most people also give gd way too much credit (and this may have a lot to do with yg‘s over-hyping and excessive marketing). out of bigbang‘s 260-odd songs and gd’s 100-odd copyrighted songs, maybe 5 are written and composed only by gd. he almost always has a co-composer or a co-lyricist and has never ever arranged a song. this not a big secret, yg has openly said that gd works on the melody and someone else works on the beats. neither is this unusual for a pop musician. however, it seriously alters the image of gd as the sole mastermind of bigbang’s musical direction.

that is also undermined by the fact that every single bigbang member has some type of songwriting credit on their group albums, be it lyrics or composing. top probably has more copyrighted material (about 60 songs) than some of the other idols who’re often mentioned in the kmedia for their songwriting like b2st‘s junhyung. he’s also been actively involved in the technical production aspect, being credited as a recording director with gd at about the same time that gd took over as bigbang’s sole credited producer. that means he sits in the studio and tells the other members how to sing the song and that definitely influences bigbang’s music. the other members have also gradually moved to getting more hands-on with the musical production. they’re now all credited as recording directors and co-producers and by their own admission, have an equal say in their music (except maybe seungri because of korea’s age hierarchy, but he’s no slouch in the songwriting department). and those who’ve not been involved in music, have done other things like choreography (and in taeyang‘s case award-winning choreography). taeyang also produced gd&top‘s high high mv and seungri didn’t just co-write and co-compose 90% of the songs on his solo, he also choreographed all the performances.

in short, while gd does exercise considerable control over bigbang’s music, the other members also exercise a level of control over their group efforts. their solos also show that level of control, some more than others. as a whole, bigbang are atypical idols in that sense and it’s a pity that it’s something that the other members are rarely given credit for.

thk on WTF Moment: EXO’s “What Is Love”:

I’m surprised this hasn’t been talked about yet (guess there aren’t many Chinese people who comment?) but…

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that their Chinese is atrocious sounding?!  The first time I listened to the EXO-M version I actually thought I was listening to Korean.  I talked to a bunch of my Chinese speaking friends today (Happy 元宵节 everybody!) and we all agreed– the Chinese version is basically unintelligible.  I know that one singer isn’t a native speaker, but aren’t some members Chinese??  Isn’t that the point of EXO-M is that they sing in Chinese?  I honestly have my doubts after hearing this song… I’m pretty sure this is just an SM marketing ploy.

For anyone who reads Chinese, check out the comments here (youku = Chinese youtube for everyone who doesn’t know):

A sampling:

身为中国人,不看歌词,我听不懂! – “I’m Chinese, if I wasn’t reading the subtitles I wouldn’t understand”

这不和SJ小分队一个模式吗,可是中文歌没有SJM好 – “Isn’t this just like that smaller group from Super Junior?  But their Chinese is worse that SJM’s.”

中 国人的和韩国人唱的分不出来 韩国人没法说发音不准 可是身为中国人的几个 也能唱成这样 – “I can’t tell from listening who’s Chinese and who’s Korean.  You can’t blame Koreans for their pronunciation, but why are Chinese people singing like that?”

身为一个中国人 我感觉我这18年白活了 – “I’m Chinese.  I feel like I’ve spoken Chinese 18 years for nothing.”

这个歌听起来就很别扭怎么学呀!!!听起来有一种韩国的唱法,要进中国市场也要考虑下中国歌迷的感受嘛!!! – “This song sounds so weird!!  The way they’re singing sounds too Korean, if they want to enter the Chinese market they need to think more about Chinese fans.”

中文好别扭吖~~~ – “The Chinese is so weeeeeird~”

I’d say 2/3rds of the comments are like this, with 1/3rd being the “OMG HWAITING!!!” fans that exist in every culture.

On another sidenote:  their official music video (or whatever this is) release in China only has 24,000 views so far?  Is SM even actually marketing this group in China?

I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here but I’m 99% sure that the whole EXO-K/EXO-M thing is just a gimmick and they’re actually a Korean group that’s only going to promote in Korean.  At this point, goooooood luck to them if they try and release in any Chinese speaking country sounding like this.

Calpico on Is Fanfiction In K-pop A Force For Good?:

Interesting article. As I was reading, I was reminded of a quote: “If it exists, there’s a porn for it.” I’m a fanfiction writer, but I’m not responding to this article because it offended me. I don’t write smut, because.. just.. no. I just wanted to give my input as a writer. I do agree with certain points the article has brought up. Many a times, browsing through many K-Pop fanfiction sites and fanfic sections of forums, I noticed a lot of it consisted of, erm, indecent acts involving two of the members. In every chapter. And of that, at least half of them were poorly written with bad grammar and not spell checked. But even if the story had the most amazing plot, we still chose to make our idols the protagonists/characters in the story. After all, we could have easily come up with original characters with the physique of said idol, no? Instead, we chose to take the idols directly from our world and place them into our made-up worlds. Why, indeed…

Well, the only thing I’ve come up with was that maybe it’s because we love the idols and because we know others love them too that it’s easy for the readers to automatically like/sympathize with the characters, which, with original characters, is pretty hard to do right. You don’t even have to build up a character’s likeability because the reader already loves them! let me ask you this. Why then, would music videos with storylines starring the idols in them be produced? It’s the same thing as fanfiction, only film as a medium instead of text. Take TVXQ‘s “Before You Go”. I highly doubt that TVXQ’s Changmin and Yunho moonlight as field agents or whatnot, packing heat and cracking down on traitors when they’re not being k-pop stars. The MV featured a reeling scenario, catering to the fans’ imaginations. You can bet fanfics about the two men getting into gunfights pour in after a storyline MV like this, thus fueling fans’ love for their idols and the that concept SM had created, thus fueling promotion of the duo. It’s a great way to market, imo. SM should thank fans for their inclination of being creative.

And frankly, we do it just because we can. Since we have the creative capacity and like to be appreciated for it, we write. We like our idols. And we like to tell stories. Eventually the two forces collide, our skulls can’t keep the explosions in and we had to let it all out in a big fireball of words. We have writers then we have readers. Supply, meet demand. They want to see Key and Minho as a pair of spaceship driving pirate hunters? 2NE1 as the underdogs in a gang war? Shin Min Ah was a nine-tailed fox spirit trapped in a human body–oh wait, it’s been done. What I’m saying is, fanfiction is a typical cog in your run-of-the-mill big fandom/culture thing. At the end of the day, I hope to God no one would mistake a fanfiction for a biography of the idol and ruin their image of them for all of eternity. The intention of creating these stories isn’t to harm the idols in any way and if you want to be any kind of public figure, you kind of have to agree to allow these things. I’m not saying that as an idol you cannot have a problem with someone writing about an S&M fic starring… you, I’m just saying I’m hopeful fans will be more tasteful in the content that they write. Seriously though, any harm that fanfiction can do, unreliable news articles with twist facts about the idols’ personal lives for page hits can do it far worse.

LImpy Limpious on The Good Fan: A Rational Person:

To be a good fan of a certain idol, I think you need to praise your idol when deserved, and also be able to criticize them when necessary. Also, you should accept opinions of other people in your fandom, even if you disagree with them.

The bashing of SME from ELFs is well deserved. SME treats their ELFs like total idiots. Firstly, they give shitty songs to Super Junior thus putting ELFs in an uncomfortable position: they can either buy low quality Suju music, or face the demise of their favourite group, because SME would no longer take interest in Suju if they don’t bring profit.

Why certain fandoms have such bad reputation? Here are my 2 cents:

  1. Some companies, like SME, promote idols way too much through variety shows, creating such state for fans to fall in love with the personality of their idols, rather than through their music. Makes SM get away with giving shitty music to their groups.
  2. Certain individuals who create fanwars and do other stupid stuff, thus giving the rest of fandom a bad reputation.
  3. Idols themselves don’t react when fans get out of control.
  4. Companies relying too much on official fandom for buying their music, instead of trying to make their music appealing to general population. Here lies the need to mantain cult-like fandoms. Suju must rely on ELF to buy their music, but CN Blue can sell their music to general public, thus eliminating a need for strong fandom.
  5. Companies encouraging fanservice, or some other “creative” marketing strategies that only have purpose of sneaking the idols into fantasies of their fans and in that way creating rabid fans who can’t stand their oppa dating a woman.

My personal favourite would be SHINee. Marketing them as noona jailbaites, photoshoots that don’t reveal something, but not too much, that always leave sth to an imagination, making them look like some forbidden fruit. Imagination of the Shawols went wild, resulting in enormous amount of smut and fanfiction, blind adoration and obsessiveness. No wonder some Shawols could’t stand Jonghyun dating that actress.

  1. Companies fabricating marketable personalities of their idols, instead of letting idols acting the way they are. If an idol can’t live up to its fabricated image, they can face a lot of backlash.

If I were to praise the best fandom, it would be VIPs. They have their flaws, but Big Bang can’t be seen much on variety shows. Instead VIP connect with Big Bang primarily through their music and live performances, where Big Bang’s true talents and personality gets into the light. Emotional connection between Big Bang and VIPs seems the most sincere, since it comes from both sides equally: in every performance Big Bang gives 120% to making a memorable show, which their fans really appreciate, not feeling cheated for supporting them. VIPs also stood up for Big Bang when they were going though a crisis, and Big Bang were grateful for that. VIP were probably one of the main reasons why Big Bang didn’t disband because of the scandals they faced.

That’s it for this week’s comments! As always, please let everyone know in the comments section below if there are any great ones that didn’t make it into this week’s segment (sadly we only get to highlight five per week!) that you felt deserved to mentioned.

Until next week, stay classy folks! (and try not to feed the trolls…)