Welcome to another Comments of the Week!

This week, you guys chattered about a variety of topics that included (but was not limited to) Open World Entertainment and the ugly side of K-pop, Changmuro at the Cannes, B.A.P powering back up, our WTF reactions to Girl’s Day’s “Oh! My God,” a look at the older woman/younger man trend in K-dramas, Nell’s Slip Away album, the legend that is Shinhwa, idols that dip their foot into all aspects of the entertainment industry, SISTAR’s new album and MV, how to succeed in K-pop if you are in a boy or a girl group, and exploring the lack of divergency in Korea’s music industry.

Here are five of our favorite comments from this week:

Stefania GermaNOTA on How Beats by Dr. Dre Became Embedded Into K-pop Culture:

It’s funny reading this article now, as I was just gifted a pair of headphones (beats) a few days back. I have been using different headphones for sometime now, and it’s performance is just ok. But I like the fact that I can turn off the bass in my iPod & just let it play in beats without enhancements & it sounds good, specially on cd-ripped mp3s.

Actually, it’s not only in KPop where Dr Dre has a partnership – a lot of other artists from various countries have been seen using it or including it in their music videos. If it’s in a music video, it can be paid, like a product placement. Payment can either be cash or barter exposure (ie show my headphones in your video, I’ll feature you in my site as a featured artist) or in kind (ie I won’t pay you outright cash, but I’ll take care of your touring equipment, recording equipment, etc). So it’s a win-win with the artists & the brand. If the artists appear on the ad, or they are declared as endorsers, that’s when the sh**load of money comes in.

The only time it’s possibly free is when an artist is seen wearing it in public. It can be the PR company of the brand approached the management of the artists to give them free stuff. These usually happen with fashion brands – seeding different stars in the hope that they get photographed wearing the brand in public. Of course photographs in public have much more higher reach with little investment (ie just the headphones themselves). The artist loses here in terms of money, but gains in the image department.

Knowing how shrewd the Korean companies are, I don’t think the exposure in music video is free. Brands now realize that music videos are better than TVC’s to sell a product, and you see a lot of this happening in almost all US music videos. It just so happens that Dr Dre is the only one visible so far in Kpop, but it will follow the trend soon, specially as music videos rack up millions of views in sites like youtube. Compare that to the cost of airing a TVC, and you see why brands like Dr Dre are more keen to invest in mv’s than in ads.

Sorry for the long post, but in business like these, no one loses – it’s a win-win scenario for these shrewd businessmen. And we the consumers, just lap it up :)

CLover/Infiknight on Why it’s More Important to Be a Good Dancer Than a Good Singer in K-pop:

I had a discussion with someone the other day. He/she said “how come some fans are quick to call some of these idols less talented or not talented because they can’t sing, when they posses other talents like dancing, variety skills, modeling and acting”. Personally, I know many of these idols are good actors, or models, or dancers, that they do have talent. But what ticks me off is the fact that those same idols are in a singing group. Read it: singing group; they’re not in a dance group, or an acting group, or gag men/women or models. They are in a group, which main focus is to sell music, be it good or lousy music. If you are a good dancer then by all means be in a dance group. If you are an awesome actor, then be an actor, if you are a beautiful person with a perfect body, then by all means do commercials, strut the runway. You see where I’m going with this.

If Big Bang, for example, was a dance group, I could never go and say “oh but people don’t say Tabi isn’t talented, he can rap and act’. That’s all fine and dandy, but if he’s in a dance group, and he can’t dance to save his life, the mere fact that he’s an excellent rapper and a good actor wouldn’t count for shit. Same with Bom and even Dara to an extent. And I know for sure that the same fans complaining about the fact that we call out their precious oppas and unnies, would come out rushing to say their opinion. IF YOU CAN’T SING, THEN YOU HAVE NO PLACE IN A GROUP WHOSE MAIN FOCUS IS TO SELL MUSIC.

Sadly this isn’t how things work in kpop. Being a good or average dancer/model/actor and having a banging body/face is enough to qualify you as a SINGER. That’s why most of the kpop groups and by most I mean 95% consist of 1-2 real singers (who are usually overlooked and underrated) and a bunch of dancers/models/actors/ who get by solely on their looks and those 1-2 members who can actually sing.

However, even despite the fact that both Big Bang and 2ne1 were never presented as excellent dancers (they are singers/performers) I would love to see Bom and Tabi apply themselves more, I know they just can’t dance, but they try as much as they can. They could try harder, but then again, to me personally as to many VIPs and BlackJacks, their dances are never that important since we know from the beginning these groups are all about music, dance is something they just add to make the performance a bit interesting. To me it’s more important to have good quality music and stage presence and for them to ALWAYS SING LIVE (if not sick) than to see those 5 boys or those 4 girls dance uniformed choreography and mouthing the words of a song without actually pronouncing them into the mic.

I know a lot of those groups practice hard to learn the choreography, and it’s hard to dance and sing at the same time, so I would never try to take anything away from them, but if you call yourself a singer then to me as a spectator and listener it’s more important to hear you sing, then to see you execute a choreography.

I took Big Bang and 2ne1 as examples because those are the fandoms I belong to just in case anyone wants to jump on me for “elitism” as many would call it.

Oh and one more thing. I see a lot of comments about Dara here, yes she’s the least talented in 2ne1, but the most popular one. I’m by no means a Dara fan. I like Dara within 2ne1, but if she were to go solo or if 2ne1 was to disband (God forbid) I wouldn’t continue following her career, however, Dara has sang LIVE from day one, and has improved vocally, whereas some idols like Hyuna, 4minute leader (I don’t know her name sorry), Sohee, UEE, Minho, Taec, half of SJ and half of GG etc. have stayed in the same place after all those years. They still can’t hit a note to save their lives. So I would pick her over any of them any day of the week.

MidoriAkiko on SB Chat Box #22: What’s in a debut?:

The debuts of kpop groups in the past three years has been an explosion. But the new groups haven’t been coming from the big three (not counting project groups and sub-units). They’ve been mostly from relatively unknown small labels. The last to debut from the big three was Miss A in 2010. SM hadn’t put out a new group in 2.5 years. I’m actually glad they took a hiatus on debuting groups each year. They needed to focus on the current artists on their label.

It’s hard enough to keep up with the groups I already like; do I want to chance wasting my time on a new group? I simply don’t keep up with debuts. There’s too many and I’d rather spend my time listening to groups I’m already familiar with.

To put it into perspective, from 1998-2008, the number of idol groups debuting each year was 10-15. From 2009-present, the number has grown to 25+. When there are that many groups floating around the market, not only will the quality of music become diluted, so will the fans attention. To win the attention away from the other 5 groups that are probably debuting at the same time as you, as well as the other established groups that are currently promoting, something has to be done to generate buzz.

That’s why I think EXO‘s debut was absolute genius. Whether because you loved them or hated the inordinate amount of teasers put out, you at least heard of them. They became instantly loved and detested. There were fansites of them three months before they even debuted. Fans had their ‘fan chant’ in perfect unison when they did their debut stage and showcase. They released their EP less than a month ago and it’s already eclipsed all other rookies in sales.

SM made sure EXO was the talk of the town. People criticized their robotic movements, their similarities to other artists and the excessive attention they were getting. How circular. What SM showed us was that bad attention was still attention. I may have stopped watching after 4 teasers with Kai, but there are others who watched every single one and bought the EP. SM at their finest.

Besides the groups from the big three and a few select others, I can’t see most of these groups gaining wide international appeal. CNBLUE may have a chance; being a band and composing their own music gives them the opportunity to be popular long after it would be socially acceptable to be dancing around in tight pants.

ggoma on Slipping Away with Nell:

This album is amazing. I have all the previous albums. This is by far, IMO, their best, even though I adore their older songs. I feel like there has been a gradual improvement in music, though the lyrics have always been stunning.

As for “The Day Before” (Why is it translated to this, honestly? or the Korean title “The Things that Remain” – I really really think it’s wrong to assume that Jae Rim‘s character is his lover. I really hate that it’s been taken that way.

I also dislike that people are losing some of the ambiguity in the Korean lyrics by translating various parts like for 이별 they are translating it to “breakup” but it can also just simply be “farewell”, etc.

I think this is not a traditional “love song”, but rather a song about loss in a more general sense and possibly about losing someone to suicide more specifically.

As for the music video itself – I feel that it’s not assisted suicide or allowed suicide. Due to John Berger‘s ideas about peoples’ souls being left in film, I think that the video is about LMK‘s character previously committing suicide and filming it and SJR’s character searching for answers as to why and also simply wanting to see him again. So according to Berger’s ideas, he can truly still experience the person’s soul in film. So he watches the film and through that tries to communicate with him. But in the end, I feel that he doesn’t get the real answers he is looking for but simply is able to find some closure and acceptance. Like the lyrics “I am standing in the same memory” – it’s like asking “Were you feeling as much pain as I am feeling now?”

I think this is simply about the grieving process.

GracefulCassieShapley on Open World Entertainment and The Ugly Side of K-pop:

Cases like these really sicken me. Maybe its a topic that I feel more sensitive and uncomfortable towards, but well aware of. Its horrible that these young girls were sexually harassed, and even worse was that the CEO called the shots behind it. These girls were trainees, some didn’t know any better and probably weren’t expecting this; they just wanted to be famous or achieve their dreams as singers, actresses, dancers, etc. The CEO knew this and  exploited their vulnerabilities. Its just awful, I pray for those girls. I really do.

Statistics show that the more you move up the “power” pyramid, the more insane, greedy, and power hungry the person is. Not all powerful people are like this, but some of them might be like this. They feel that they can do whatever they want because they’re above the law. Since the CEO is a man, he feels like he is exerting male dominance over these females and he enjoys having control over them sexually, mentally, etc. This really disgusts me, and even worse he had other people assist him in abusing his female trainees. I find it disturbing that they managed to hide this for five years.

I really believe that it is not THE BOSS, but with X-5 and few others….I’m not sure. I sincerely hope that none of these idols were involved.

South Korea really needs to step its Justice system up and stop blaming the issue on the victim. In Canada (were I live) this CEO would spend a quite a long time in prison, and in the U.S.A., depending on which state he is in, he would spend a lifetime in prison. Two years is not good enough, that’s a bullshit sentence, it does nothing I tell you, NOTHING!

Sadly this isn’t the first case, we have heard of idols and actors/actresses committing suicide, plus other really terrible cases. Sometimes I even wonder about the ‘big three’…..

That’s it for this week’s comments! As always, feel free to highlight any we missed, in the comments section below.