With the emergence of new groups this year has come the increasingly apparent redundancy of label sounds. It makes sense for labels to focus on their strengths whether it is a Pop, Rock, or R&B sound, but what I don’t get is why groups from the same labels almost always end up sounding like clones of each other. Again I ask, and this is to K-pop labels generally, where is the originality?
Recently Cube launched a new 7 member boy group called BtoB (Born to Beat). Though they crept up pretty quickly without too much promotion or fanfare (I’m looking at you EXO) I was relatively excited to see what Cube had produced. If anything I went off the fact that the company houses BEAST who consistently put out strong material so I had my hopes high. What I got was disappointment. Not that their song wasn’t good, but I got that been there done that feeling while watching their music video. Because of this my interest in the group has already waned. Now I’m turning my attention back to previously established artists.
BtoB is not the only group being plagued by redundancy. EXO has managed to fall into the same position as well. I will admit I’m actually a fan of what they have produced thus far. R&B and smooth vocals are always a plus in my book. Their sound also brings a sense of nostalgia to my heart, but their song “What is Love” is so reminiscent of DBSK 5 and DBSK 2’s “Before You Go.” What happened to the different color of K-pop that I’m always promised. Granted there will always be similarities in music and cycles but they’re supposed to be few and far between. I don’t want to look at one group and be immediately reminded of another promoting at the same time.
Of course the redundancy doesn’t stop there. Many times it occurs within a group itself. I like the fact that artists can have a sound so particular to them that you know it’s their song after a few seconds of listening without ever watching a video. What annoys me though is when companies breaks up their artists’ songs then mix them around and rehash them to the masses as if it’s a new wave of innovation. A group that is guilty of this is Sistar. Brave Sound has basically become synonymous with the group to the point that if you hear another girl group sing his songs they sound like carbon copies of Sistar. This happened when After School Red promoted “In the Night Sky.” Even when Brave Sound’s own girl group Brave Girls started promoting songs more reminiscent of the composer’s work they began to sound like Sistar. Sistar also consistently promotes songs that sound like one another. “So Cool” was proof of that.
Another group that constantly gets flack for this is Super Junior. When they released “Sorry Sorry” the K-pop blogosphere went crazy. Then for their following comeback they released “Bonamana” which sounded somewhat similar, but most people let it slide. There next promotions afterward brought “Mr. Simple” which sounded eerily like a mash of both songs in both sound and choreography. Like I said before there’s nothing wrong with having a particular sound but when one hands out the same thing over and over both parties get cheated. The artists because they don’t grow and the audience because they’re being sold basically the same product once again.