Welcome to another Comments of the Week!

This week, you guys ruminated over topics such as K-pop fan art, a look at Girl’s Day‘s  evolution and mini-album, classic OST and CF songs, the Korean teen film Jenny, Juno, whether SNSD is at their peak, a spotlight on Hyorin, a review of Sunny Hill’s “Is the White Horse Coming?” MV, thoughts as K-pop Star wraps, a look at Korean stars in Hollywood, the interchangeability of K-pop group members, indie band Busker Busker‘s album and success, bringing K-pop down under, A-JAX‘s teasers, JYP and Ga-in‘s “Someone Else” MV, whether scripting is ruining Running Man, thoughts on the progress of Invincible Youth 2, “Love Rain” fashion, how to fight irrelevancy T-ara style, and a look back at Ivy‘s career.

These are five of our favorite comments from this week:

AJ_Gee on Eli Whitney and K-pop: Interchangeability of Group Members:

Honestly, there isn’t a proper formula for adding or removing members at whatever time you want and hoping that success will grow from it. There have been both times where adding members proved success and improved quality in their sound, and not so great times when adding members can prove to be too much, especially for fans.

In my opinion, change should only come when things aren’t working AT ALL. And I mean not working by not being able to make a small scratch of positivity with the current material. I’m a bit biased towards the quote “why fix it when nothing’s broken?” Obviously I believe it to an extent, because when there is an opportunity to upgrade or improve something’s current state for undoubted and assured success, then why not, right? But with K-Pop groups, I feel like the excuses and needs for member changes are being used very leisurely and care-free.

I know that After School came out with an “Admission and Graduation” concept that was already announced when they debuted. Sure people shouldn’t complain and be angry about it because it was already known that members were going to come and go at any time… But I feel like they can only go so far with the idea. Before, the change was very well needed. The group had a concept that was too oversexualized and mature for the very conservative and young pre-teen/teenage idol group fans that still hold the average age of followers at a low to this very day. There was no way to attract a younger, and especially, the more overpopulated female fan base (which outweighs the male idol group fan base) with their concept and members back then. After Uee, Nana, Raina, and Lizzy were added, and Soyoung, who did not have the vocals or chops as an idol member left to follow a more suitable acting career, that all helped After School shift towards the positive end of the K-Pop spectrum. This is when member change works. Younger members, along with a concept that was not over-the-top sexy, but still mature with a fresh sound and upgraded vocals lured in their current, larger fan base that sticks loyally by the members and their ever-changing concepts.

But things started getting a bit worrisome when E-Young was added and Bekah “graduated.” A member leaving a group will do damage to that idol group’s fan base, especially when it’s all for the wrong reasons, and this is potentially hazardous to T-ARA, if that ever happens. Bekah fans to this day still feel the pain and void of having the group’s best rapper leave, whether it be her personal decision, or because of the admission/graduation concept’s system. And for E-Young, as the article stated, unless her talents with instruments are beneficial to the group and managed properly, she is just another deadweight to the group. It’s also problematic for fans who have to get used to a new member and get to know them at a personal level until their on par, like with the other members. This other member addition is going to slow down After School’s fan base loyalty, whether this be some crazy prediction or not.

T-ARA is doing this completely for all the wrong reasons. Their group is reaching a success and high popularity peak where nothing needs to be changed. Their music has been upgraded to a better quality in where they’ve established a sound that can be identified to their fans and and the K-Pop audience. The reason of “the fear of becoming lazy” after being in the industry for quite awhile is a very stupid reason made by their company’s president. If anything, he should know that member changes/addition/removal is a much bigger gamble, and either a big hit of miss for the success of their group rather than changing something as simple as the concept or genre of the music. This is when that clichéd quote of “why fix it when nothing is broken?” fits best. They’re already getting heat for this announcement, and to have their president go along with this, in what he believes is a “beneficial change,” is beyond me.

BUT, like an unpredicted outcome, we never know unless we see it ourselves, right? All I can do is wish After School and T-ARA luck with this member change concept and hope it turns out for the better. All we can do is complain or comment (positively or negatively) about it since we don’t pull the reigns in either group’s respected companies.

MidoriAkiko on SNSD: As the Limelight Fades:

I’ve always thought of this. I haven’t really seen a group descend from stardom. It’s usually an implosion (DBSK, h.o.t), members going to the army (Shinhwa, g.o.d), members doing solo activities (FTTS), or the group slowly loses members or swaps members out until no one cares any longer (Jewelry, Koyote). Not saying that these groups are no longer relevant, but there doesn’t seem to be a smooth fade from the light.

FinKL seems to be the ideal situation. As group, they enjoyed great success, and as they got older, sought out solo endeavors. A couple pursued solo music careers, a couple went into acting and mcing. Obviously Lee Hyori is the most well known out of the solo pursuits, but each member has managed to stay afloat in the entertainment industry alone.

I see this happening with SNSD down the road. I have no doubt that not all of the members will renew their contract with SM. This company just won’t match what each member will want to do with their career. I can see Taeyeon, Jessica, Sunny, Yoona, Yuri finding a niche in the entertainment industry and keeping a profession for years down the road. I’m not so sure about Hyoyeon, Seohyun and Tiffany. For me, their personalities just don’t seem like they can keep them in the spotlight. It’s not an insult, I just don’t see solo careers for them as superstars. Sooyoung is the strange one. She’s got an MC personality and a model’s body, but where in the Korean entertainment industry does she fit? Perhaps as a talk show host? I’m not sure. I’m actually very interested to see what these girls decide to do when the curtain falls on their last “Right now, it’s Girl’s Generation!”

The lifetime of an idol is unpredictable. For every SNSD that has stayed on top for 3+ years, there are five other groups who never got off the ground. Remember Code-V and Piggy Dolls? Anything relevant from them? Ever?

There is no one in the industry that can pose a threat to SNSD right now. Maybe 2NE1 soon, but not yet. Wonder Girls were the closest until their member swap. Sadly, JYP groups have fallen hard because of scandals and member changes. T-ara would’ve had a chance because of their propensity for choosing songs that have cutesy hooks, but they all might faint from exhaustion before that happens. Until there is a group that can challenge SNSD and take attention away from them, they will remain Korea’s darling girl group.

Really, it’s not waiting for SNSD’s star to fall; they will stay up there until a star shines brighter and takes the light away from them.

JasmineA on A Shining Star in K-pop: Hyorin:

I agree with a lot of the article except for maybe one thing. When you said “There are many female K-pop artists out there who would be incredibly successful, without a doubt, as solo artists (such as Taeyeon from SNSD), but when they choose to lend their talents to a group instead, I always feel like they are putting their group’s success before their own, for the time being.”

I wouldn’t say that she is necessarily putting her group’s success before her own, neither do I think that about Taeyeon. I think there is an obvious difference between being idol and being a solo artist who is usually not considered an idol in Korea. I think that Hyorin like many other kpop idols who can actually sing want that status of being an idol. You get more attention that way, your looked up to and admired by many, and you’ll probably be more popular in Korea and on a global scale as well. I mean do you really think Taeyeon would be as popular/well known as she is without SNSD, I don’t think so. I think these idols who can actually sing chose the group route because there are more benefits to it. I mean look at Jay Park, IMO he released/produced a great album this year, but since he is a solo artist his success is not as great as say BIGBANG, or even some of the rookie groups that just came out this year…ya know. I mean his song “Know Your Name” hasn’t even reached 2 million views yet on youtube…Now I could be wrong about this but thats just my thoughts. But other than that you are right about Hyorin, and when she is ready to become a solo artist I’m sure she’ll be a great success.

foofoox33 on How Scripting is Ruining Running Man:

I am a huge fan of Running Man and I don’t think it’s lost its spark. now there have been a few boring/annoying episodes, i.e. when the ending feels a little bit “scripted,” but I deal with it. There are still plenty of laughs throughout every episode, and I basically stay there for their interactions, like you do. That’s why I prefer non guest episodes the most.

“Because honestly, after almost two years playing the game, there’s no reason Running Man members should lose to Big Bang, or any group of guests for that matter, unless they’d been advised to by production staff.”

After two years of playing these games the cast members don’t NEED to win all the time. They’ve won plenty! It’s their job to make the guest look good, because the guest is doing the show a favor by hopefully bringing ratings up. I hate that everyone has to play this way, but without these high profile guests Running Man wouldn’t be as popular as it is today.  I agree that the scripting is lowering the quality of the show, but honestly I blame some guests for that. Most have this need to look “perfect” and so they almost always win the endgame. For the first 30 episodes the show was really hurting in terms of their ratings and they were on the verge of cancellation. Ever since having really popular guests Running Man has been doing well, so if I have to watch a guest have an unfair win, I will, because I want the show to stay on air! I think they need to find a balance between painting the guest in a good light while still being competitive and playing the game. Because if they go back to having amazingly creative episodes with no thought to the guest, no one will want to go on the show because they know they’ll be edited out.

Lately though I feel the show has been amazing. Especially the last two episodes! I loved the prisoner theme and the callback to the watergun episode! Lots of suspense and super fun. And the episode with the older actors was HILARIOUS! I haven’t laughed at an episode like that in a while (without subs!). I feel like that’s partly because they were older and so didn’t need to look good in front of the cameras, and so were very natural and overall very fun to watch.

Black_Plague on Busker Busker’s Win and the Music Show Conundrum:

I think it’s safe to assume (yes, ASSUME) that the Korean public to a degree has realized that idol groups are dominating too much of everything in Kpop. And suffice to say, the number of rookie groups bursting about is so enormous up to the point as much as 95% of them can’t be taken seriously at all.

Frankly, the only rock bands I can think of that were highly successful in Korea is Buzz, which disbanded 5 years ago and was reformed again, only that one of the original members came back and for all intents and purposes, is only a shadow of its former self at this stage compared to its former years of glory.

I also heard somewhere that producers for idol groups were even throwing a fit that songs performed from Immortal Singer in KBS and I’m a Singer! in MBC were being downloaded at better numbers as well. And rightfully so. I always used to look at Mnet.com for music charts and would always see some horrendous material being ranked in the top 20.

I don’t have any big beef against idol groups but it’s clear that the Kpop industry has become too reliant on idol groups over the years – basically, there’s too many of them. When BEAST, MBLAQ, T-ara, Girls Day, Boyfriend, Chocolate, Co-ed etc. debuted, I didn’t give much of a damn about them – in the case of T-ara, it wasn’t until late 2011 when they really started catching my attention and before then, they were just the typical rookie group that had a decent start but BPBP made me stay away from them. The others listed, they’re still ‘nugus’ to me for the most part now – maybe I can remember a few of the members’ names but that’s all it goes – if anything it’s more entertaining to see them and their fans being mocked in AKF.

As the author said, current idol groups that had been around for a while (SNSD, SuJu etc.) have put around less than impressive material. Over the recent years, yes, fandoms have increased tremendously in size – I don’t want to generalize fans in a negative way but it’s clear many don’t give a flying f**k about quality of music and just want to see their idols dance and look cool, cute or sexy in performances. Result? Only the agencies win as it’s the fans that are the biggest source of cash.

As a Diadem, it really disappoints me to see that the bulk of the fans in that site are more concerned with T-ara being more active in TV and stage rather than producing and promoting something that’s worth a damn – Roly Poly took a long time to get used to, YaYaYa was an atrocity to mankind, BPBP was a just disappointing job and IGCBOY sounded more like robots than humans singing. Their Lovey Dovey Japanese MV was just…ugh;;

Korea needs some more mates like Busker Busker to roll out and start competing hard. I hope Busker Busker at least made a foothold into that trend. I myself cannot bear to imagine what the Kpop industry would turn out to be in 10 years time if the number of new idol groups debuting every year continues to grow while the old ones eventually disband and branch out.

That’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed our selections, and as always, feel free to add more in the comments section below!

(Cosmopolitan Magazine Korea, Esquire Magazine Korea, Pledis Entertainment, SM Entertainment, Starship Entertainment, SBS, Core Contents Media)