Welcome to this week’s Comments of the Week!

This week included a crop of new topics such as Baek Ji-young‘s new album and MV, K-pop Star finalists for Elle Girl, idols in musicals, Infinite‘s new album, dating bans, Dalmation‘s new MV, Rolling Stone‘s K-pop picks, JJ Project‘s debut MV, She’z debut MV, sub-units, archetypes, Gang Kiz‘s debut album and MV, 2NE1 and addidas, Leessang‘s “Hard to be Humble,” A Pink‘s “Hush,” the babying of idols, Kim Jong-min and his career post-enlistment, leaked songs, Juniel‘s “Stupid,” idol artists and Junsu’s “Tarantallegra,” the epicness that is Shinhwa Broadcast, C-Real‘s comeback MVour favorite voices in K-pop, AJAX‘s debut MV, and a spotlight on Maya.

Here are five of our favorite comments from this week:

suimanstudio on Your Company and Fans Know Best: The Babying of Idols:

I very much agree with your article although the part on aegyo is in my opinion a half-truth.

In South Korea and Japan aegyo/kawaii are deeply rooted, cultural phenomena not necessarily bound to youth – not to mention how subjectively people define “cuteness”. Aegyo is simply charming to Asians and people who think it’s an essential of appeal will try to reflect it on a broad range of things – when an older woman buys a new dress most likely her friend will say “what a cute dress”; when she goes out with her lover she most likely will giggle in cutesy style ( especially if the lover already stated how he finds her smile “cute” )

Regarding the parental behavior of fans – this is where I started feeling uncomfortable around idol fans. This exaggerated passion to control a person and notoriously fit the idol into a shoe box of features scares me. My own ideology is that humans are beautiful because the same person is able to show many different colors.

When fans idealize and overreact certain qualities it reminds me of creating a fictional character – popularly used, creators often build the personality of a character around a single main thought/idea like “braveness”, “cuteness”, “smartness”…etc… Fans – and due to demand companies – seem to be doing the same, especially by groups – we have the “pretty one”, the “dancer”, the “funny one”…etc.

Using your wording, “it’s not bad per se” unless it limits the individual growth of the idol. I’m surprised how many express dissatisfaction with solo careers of group members. These fans seem to not know or not acknowledge that a group is the reflection of the middle ground between the skills of the “worst” and “best” member – anyone acting above the average of the group puts the skills of the others to shame. That’s why I like it when the individual colors of idols of a group are being showcased – individually they have a chance to experiment and practice which in the end will benefit the group too.

Every idol should be allowed to grow and experiment – in various fields of entertainment, I mean – especially because they are in their youth. Be individual as long as you have the right energy and age for it. Limiting them is plain cruel in my eyes.

Same for dating bans and other restrictions – no, they should not drink alcohol, abuse drugs or medicine, smoke, practice early sex and whatsoever. Yet they should be allowed to decide for themselves – that’s true discipline and manner, when you are given the option to behave badly but choose not to. Parenting doesn’t equal putting your child in a golden cage; it means you explain why something is bad, grant your child trust and when he/she abuses that trust, pull consequences. Acting “good” because you are forced to and acting “good” because you choose to are completely different and personally I only applaud the latter.

Generally, my understanding of idoling is that there’s an on-stage persona and an off-stage persona. The entertainer and the person – I don’t have any right to control the person nor to limit the entertainer. I feel glad these people provide me some fun time and in exchange I respect their privacy and decisions.

Sorry for the long comment, I tend to be “talkative” about topics like this ^__^u

Lucy on SB Chat Box #23: Magical Junsu, idol “artists”:

Well I do think writing/composing is an important part of being an artist just because the musician is putting out a piece of work that they have thoughts, ideas and opinions on. If not at least participation other than recording the song such as picking tracks and compiling an album together. The lack of interpretation of any kpop is quite appalling sometimes as in interviews the questions about the actual song groups are promoting last for seconds and are very scripted whereas they questions about the actual group members themselves dominate to an extreme extent.

For example I watched as Exo interview in China, in which they asked the members about the song itself and there was dead silence and no one could think of anything to say since they already explained the gimmicks of the powers and what not. The song was supposedly about the downfalls of technology etc… Yet I have yet to hear members truly give any opinion of it.
The fact that most kpop artists are like this does take away from the music aspect of it, at least to me.

I heard you mention that in Asia songwriting is not prevalent but I’d disagree and say its mainly just kpop. That being said, I don’t follow jpop, but as for cpop/tpop, the music industry is based on solo artists who for the most part write all of their music. For example Tanya Chau, Leehom Wang, Karen Mok, Jay Chou, JJ Lin, Khalil Fong, David TaoMayday, Sodagreen… all huge names in the industry and still somewhat considered idols since they are mainstream but actually are artists/musicians…granted there are artists that don’t write their own songs like Amei, Jane Zang, Faye Wong yet I feel they are very connected to what they put out as there’s less of a dance/performance aspect to it.

Most of the fans of these artists focus so much on the music aspect and how its fresh innovative, touching, or beautiful vocals…and fans are inspired by the music and comment so on those videos. Yet when we look at the top kpop artists’ songs…. rarely are the comment section later on after the release is there any discussion on the song but instead about how cute or hot they look… This just shows how/what the kpop industry is about at least internationally… This is just a comparison on this aspect because the cpop industry is far from perfect for different reasons.

Most of the argument for artists is how much they are presenting themselves in their work. Although Katy Perry doesn’t write her own songs, I can buy into the message of the song as some of her own ideas whereas in kpop I feel the idols just simply are given songs and asked to dance to them. I’m sure they put on the proper expressions or charisma or what not to execute the song but sometimes I can’t take them seriously in that it is so packaged and manufactured since its obvious they sell their image sometimes even more than the song itself. Also many kpop artists that do compose seem to just be using midi and putting beats together and I feel don’t know about music enough in itself but maybe this is biased since kpop is so electro based and not a lot of real instruments and since  I hear lots of actual instruments in cpop and most people know how to play piano and guitar at the very least or in some cases like 10+ instruments. In kpop if you play an instrument… it gets professed to be a “talent” although they are not even very good at it.

Sorry for the run-ons… and really long comment

conanblue on Kim Jong-min and a Career Post-Enlistment:

The public definitely had unremarkably high standards for him. I believe he was called the genius of variety before military. That title is quite heavy and with more time, people’s expectations just built and built. Those expectations eventually became difficult to fulfill. Also by the time Kim Jong-min came back to 1N2D, that show has became what was your regular weekend show into this international phenomenon. People who haven’t watched his episodes heard he was this super witty guy but instead got this okay funny person. Of course they were unimpressed. I also think the pressure got to him, but I mean, who wouldn’t? Although lately he’s getting better and better with each episode, mostly because the 1N2D brothers are so encouraging. Now I see a brighter light at the end of his tunnel, especially since the current 1N2D cast are mostly inexperienced in the world of variety. Here he can hone his skills without being compared to his other hilarious brothers and perhaps later become what the first cast became after a few years together: a delightfully engaging group of brothers.

I personally think he’s rather weak in the voice department, so I wasn’t expecting too much from his music. I feel like he’s a physically talented person, though, in terms that he is one great athlete. In 1N2D he’s quite the athletic and he’s definitely a better dancer than he is a singer. If he were to succeed through music though, he’d have to come up with something that’s catchy with no difficult vocals and perhaps emphasize on the choreography because I think he has potential in making visually cool stages.

On the topic of military, it’s a double edged sword and unique to each person. Some may be like Kim Jong-min who is overburdened by expectations and failed to accomplish what people want him to do. It’s not to say it’s impossible to be successful. Gong Yoo left right after his hit Coffee Prince, but came back stronger than ever. It’s a tight rope, and you have to know how to balance it. On the other hand, military can also be like an eraser in which sins can be blown away. A few troubled celebrities take on military to gain apologies from the public. Joo Ji-hoon went straight to the army after getting busted doing drugs, and Super Junior‘s Kangin also drafted after his DUI. Two years later, the public have mostly forgiven these two. So I guess if you leave to the army at a high, be prepared to meet with impossible expectations. But if you leave at your low, you come back like a new born baby (almost) free of sins.

Arbitrary_greay on Rolling Stone’s Top K-pop Picks for US Success:

The inclusion of After School, Sistar, and Miss A aren’t necessarily so out of nowhere. Kpop has been getting the attention of actual music critics online, not the least of which is online music critic roundtable The Singles Jukebox. As you can see on the left-hand bar, songs that get aggregate scores above 7.00 is an accomplishment. Some of the higher scoring Kpop songs on the Jukebox: Sistar’s Alone, After School’s Bang!, Miss A’s Touch, Trouble Maker, Shinee‘s Sherlock. (Admittedly, Ailee didn’t fare so well, but the fact that she had a song nominated for review means something.)

(And for reference, the lowest scores for Kpop on the Jukebox are 2PM‘s Ultra Lover at 3.33, G.na‘s Banana at 4.60, and The Boys and Cry Cry at 5.00)

Having followed the Jukebox for a while, I’ve watched Bubble Pop and IATB become favorites amongst the reviewers, (as well as Hyuna and 2NE1 in general) many of whom aren’t Kpop followers, and keep getting mentioned as positive points of comparison to American music. Madonna got compared to Dal*Shabet, for pete’s sake.

Why I bring up the Jukebox is this. And this. And here’s the relevance of Freaky Trigger and ILX. The important quote: “Tireless efforts by Frank Kogan and the Singles Jukebox crew have finally made Korean pop much more than a curiosity for us ignorant westerners this year. 

So maybe Jeff Benjamin follows the Jukebox, and saw that AS, Miss A, and Beast have some respect. I’m just saying that the group choice didn’t come from nowhere. I mean, if he had gone off of numbers only, then where’s DBSK? Well, DBSK hasn’t been covered on the Jukebox yet…

Also, I completely agree with Richard Gamble’s comment below. It’s what I tried to express in my comment in the Is K-pop Entering the American Consciousness? thread, but failed to articulate well. The “misinformation” that these articles use to help make Kpop more relatable are much more likely to appeal to people currently not in Kpop than the factoids current fans want to see. New fans will get the accuracy they need from actual Kpop fansites. (If they don’t get scared off first by the prickly attitudes of fans offended by the inaccuracy of the articles.) An accurate article that intrigues no one new into the fandom is useless.

CLover/Infiknight on The Dogma Behind the Dating Ban:

As far as this whole ‘kpop dating bans’ thing goes, I have a very cemented opinion. Since I’m a YG stan I can only comment on people belonging to YGE. It’s basically smoking mirrors! Most of the sane YG stans don’t believe the dating ban one bit. Jiyong and Tabi had relationships when they were supposed to be under the dating ban. Seungri is a social butterfly and well let’s face it a flirt like no other. They’re young healthy men and the only reason why they wouldn’t date is if they were a bit awkward around girl (ex. Taeyang and Daesung) or if they had no time. But I’m pretty sure they made time for it when they wanted.

Second thing, Dara said that just for variety purposes. She said in the first episode that the ban was lifted, but then in the second episode she denied it. But the thing is both episodes were filmed in the same day. So only idiots would believe what she said. This why I’m pretty sure of it. If Dara’s and Bom‘s dating bans were real why would Seungri put Dara on the spot since 2010, hinting  she had someone. Then again on SH, why would he even say he tried to introduce her to those guys if the dating ban was real. He wouldn’t dare to do it because YG would have his ass on the plate. Let’s be real, the only dating ban within YG I believe in could be Minzy‘s ban. But even that ban might have been lifted she’s 19 so… Bom also hinted she had boyfriend problems in 2ne1 tv, if I remember correctly.

Dating bans are there for the fans, so they would continue supporting their favorite oppas and unnies (oppas especially). The companies don’t want fans turning into antis because the idea of their perfect idol is shattered by their dating situation. Look at what happened to Se7en or even Junhyung to a certain point. A lot of those fangirls turned around and left the fandoms.

It’s silly to think that just because they’re idols they need to put their lives on hold, but Korean audience kind of demands it. So for the sake of their career they choose do date in secret. They don’t have enough time for things young people are supposed to do because of their hectic schedules but they do try to lead relatively normal lives. They just do it as far away from the public’s prying eye as possible.

That’s it for this week! As always, thanks for being such great commenters (and seriously, some of you need to stop apologizing for writing good — if long — comments!) and feel free to share your own picks below.

(Woollim Entertainment, Cube Entertainment, SM Entertainment, Yinyuetai, Trifecta Entertainment, Avex Trax, YG Entertainment)