The Wanted suffered from bad timing. They could have been the biggest boy band since *NSYNC, but then those meddling One Direction kids popped up, with their nautical outfits and their boyish enthusiasm. That’s not to say The Wanted aren’t big, “Glad You Came” topped charts in Ireland for 5 weeks, Britain for 2 and was nominated for Best Single at the 2012 Brit Awards (although 1D won it in the end). They have more than made their mark in America too, performing on Jay Leno, American Idol and were the first boyband to reach Billboard’s Top 10 since the Backstreet Boys. Now, One Direction’s Louis is totally my homeboy and gosh do they have catchy songs, but The Wanted’s sound has an edge and maturity that comes with age and more time spent learning each other’s vocal strengths and weaknesses.
You know what else they have? A soft spot for K-pop.
This was first brought to our attention in September of 2011 during their time in Singapore. When asked who they would like to collaborate with, Jay McGuiness — suprising not Irish — mentioned a K-pop girl band, when fellow bandmate Siva “Jawline” Kameswara added the idea of Super Junior. While the boys quickly added they were “the opposite of K-pop” in that they lacked the polish and ability to synchronise (if they are impressed by Super Junior, Infinite are going to blow their minds). Nor do they wear eyeliner — in fact, the teasing that follows suggests they hold the view that it’s very much a girls only thing. Give it time boys…
The incident was largely forgotten until very recently, when at a video for the Billboard Awards member Jay, clearly the band’s resident K-popper, sang the chorus line of “I Am The Best” by 2NE1. It must be said he pronounced it pretty appallingly; “meaga” not “neaga”. In his defence he might have though they were saying “mega” and considering I pronounced “hyung” like “hi – un –gee” for an unacceptable amount of time, personally I can’t judge. The important thing is that he definitely knows who they are now, as the video’s YouTube account and his Twitter was flooded with Blackjacks eagerly encouraging the possibility of a hook-up.
The exciting thing is that is any group might actually entertain such an idea, it’s going to be a YG one. 2NE1 famously are releasing music with Will.I.Am and GD&TOP have featured on Pixie Lott’s album. The Wanted have, in theory, just the tools you need to crack K-pop: Simple, yet memorable hooks, distinct and varied looks and personalities, not to mention easy camaraderie and lovable interview techniques. They can smoulder and play the bad boy card, but they can be goofy too. The only problem might be their attitude, as they made headlines for calling Christina Aguilera a “total bitch” and have badmouthed Britney Spears. Then there are the photos of the smoking, the drinking, and some of the music videos can be pretty provocative (by K-pop standards). Now, I know all this fits their “devil-may-care” image but, just put SHINee or Beast in their shoes and you see the difficulty.
This is why if, if, they ever tried to break the K-pop scene, it’s the YG artists they should stick with. Not only does The Wanted’s music fit the likes of Big Bang and 2NE1 quite well, but let’s face it, the likes of SM are going to make them clean up their act far too much. After “Hands Up,” JYPE might invest in them, but their best bet is YG. Although, the boys have been photographed with Girls’ Generation in New York during their “The Boys” tour, sadly, it doesn’t seem much has come of it.
Will this actually happen? You never know, there is constant talk of over-saturation in both the Korean and Western music industry, and a side-move into K-pop, if only briefly, would stop them having to compete with American and European artists while injecting a fresh sound into K-pop. 2NE1 would get even more ammunition for their American take-over while The Wanted adds to their fanbase, ready for a Western comeback. Or perhaps 2NE1 will go to America and then collaborate with them. I think they would all have pretty amazing chemistry, and even better, 2NE1 barely dance! Pity there are only four members of 2NE1, but it’s okay, I’ll take Nathan. No really, I’m prepared to make that sacrifice, you can thank me later.
Two vague mentions and no response from the other side is precious little to go on, but the more interest that is stirred up the more likely it is to happen. YG sure doesn’t miss an opportunity and I don’t even think the fan wars would be too bad. The song would, going by Jay’s pronouciation, be in English, meaning a UK release would do amazing things for 2NE1’s popularity here. 2NE1, I know you are planning a comeback soon so if you want to include something with The Wanted, it will only improve your Western popularity. When you’re in America, pop ’round to see them, or if they are in England, stop over. You can crash at mine if you like.
What do you think, full of potential or wishful thinking?