In becoming an idol, there are usually only two paths available to you. You either become a star with all of Korea adoring your every breath, or you just never get off the ground and bask in the darkness of your eternal irrelevance.
However, there are some individuals that straddle the line between these two paths. These idols are neither adored nor are they irrelevant. They simply exist, latching onto the fame of their more recognized group members. It can be hard to argue that these idols are unpopular, but they certainly don’t have the same popularity that is proportionate to others in their crew. These individuals, while underappreciated, are immensely talented in their own way. The companies that house them should reconsider how to market them. Let’s take a look at four idols who are being left at the wayside.
Soyu – SISTAR
While 4minute is known as Hyuna + friends, SISTAR is known as Hyorin, Bora, and the two others. Soyu is one of the “others.” Surely, some of the fame is attributed to her participation (or lack thereof) in Sistar19. Probably the biggest reason for both her popularity and unpopularity is Hyorin. The main vocal’s unique and powerful voice will overshadow most idol singers, including Soyu, who actually has a great singing voice. A recent ranking of female vocalists placed Soyu above more well known singers like Park Bom and Song Ji-eun. Had Soyu been in nearly any other group, her vocal talents would be recognized and appreciated. Alas, she is in a group where the main vocalist’s popularity exceeds the group as a whole. Aside from Hyorin and Bora, Starship Entertainment seems to have trouble getting their artists on variety shows, which is the easiest way for Soyu to improve her popularity. If she could only catch a few glances from the public, her talent will draw in a crowd. Little known fact: Soyu almost debuted with 4minute. Seeing as how member recognition pans out for them, this is probably for the better.
Jia – Miss A
Jia falls under what many would consider “The Junho Syndrome.” She is an extremely capable dancer, but maybe not as strong as Min. She is also an extremely capable vocalist, yet as a whole, miss A is essentially on the same level. Like many Chinese idols in the industry, the language barrier makes it difficult for them to fully participate in variety shows. While f(x)‘s Victoria and Amber have appeared on We Got Married, Invincible Youth, and Invincible Youth 2, their unfamiliarity with the language becomes apparent (and sometimes part of their character).
Contributing to Jia’s lack of fluency (and probably Fei’s as well) is how much of their pre-debut activities were spent in China. Jia had only been signed by JYPE in 2007, with much of 2009 being spent in her home country. It’s very likely that Jia is not as strong in Korean as Victoria or Amber, making her public appearances very limited. JYPE actually tends to distribute lines extremely evenly between all members of a group, but for that reason it’s hard for members to truly stand out, especially in a group where the scope of talent is fairly uniform. Popularity in miss A is largely based on solo activities. For Jia to improve her popularity, she should honestly just put herself out there. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak the language well, use it to your advantage.
Dongwoon – BEAST
Dongwoon is an interesting case. He is essentially left behind in the pool of talent that is BEAST. Dongwoon is known for his atypical looks and his quiet reserved role as maknae. In Cube‘s quest to find an effective marketing strategy for ANYTHING, Dongwoon has participated in a few solo endeavors. He released a single with Davichi‘s Kang Min-kyung entitled “Udon.” It received a pretty warm response from the public, but many broadcasting channels would not air the song due to the mere fact that the title is in Japanese. His second solo activity comes in the form of singing a song for Shinsadong Tiger. However, to be perfectly honest, “In The Clouds” doesn’t fit his voice at all and really highlighted his faults as a singer. His greatest strength most likely lies in his personality. Given the right mentor (like Yoo Jae-suk was for Daesung or Kim Shin-young was for Sunny), Dongwoon could really develop into a memorable variety character. When compared to the other members, perennially aegyo-fied Yoseob and silly yet seductive Kikwang has its limits, but a truly 4D personality like what Dongwoon seems to exhibit can take him far in the industry.
Jungshin – CNBlue
Jungshin is CNBlue‘s bassist as well as back-up rapper and vocalist. FNC actually recognized Jungshin for his rapping ability moreso than his abilities as a bassist. His proficiency at rapping is relatively unknown since, at debut, he had inner braces. These braces hindered his ability to rap, causing most of the rapping to fall onto the lap of Yonghwa. Although his braces are now off, the effects are still felt. With CNBlue being rock-oriented, rap is generally avoided. Even when raps are present, Jungshin will have to divide it between Yonghwa and himself. This was actually a bad decision for FNC/Mnet as a whole to debut Jungshin in a pop-rock band. He’s tall (1.86m), good looking, and he can rap. Shouldn’t it be clear that he belongs in a more conventional idol group? Who knows, maybe he has two left feet (a la TOP) and they thought he might not be able to keep up with the normal choreography T-ara or Co-Ed School get. For some reason, it just feels like Jungshin is being wasted in CNBlue.
These four individuals are just a few of the idols that really make you want to take another look at those popular groups. Sure, when you think about a group, generally the most popular comes to mind first. However just think about that member in the back, who seems to not belong. While the public might not recognize him/her for whatever reason: marketing strategy, language barrier, personality, you might come to realize he or she was placed in that group for a reason.
How about you Seoulmates? Who do you think deserves more attention than they get?