Crystal S. Anderson, PhD
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University
Preliminary results from an academic study on individuals who have been fans of K-pop five years or longer reveals the appeal of both new and veteran groups and a focus on vocals and choreography. 192 responses collected between September 9, 2016 and November 7, 2016 are in response to the query, “Please list your bias (i.e. favorite) K-pop groups and solo artists and briefly explain why you like them.” The entire dataset can be accessed here.
New and Veteran Groups
While one might assume that veteran fans would gravitate toward older groups, these results reveal a nix of new and older groups. Several respondents indicated that Shinhwa, the oldest K-pop group with original members, as their favorite group. One respondent noted, “Their music has evolved over the years to stay current. Their choreography shows their strengths and skills. I love when they all sing as a chorus; I wish they would do that more. They are gorgeous grown men, not boys.” Another cited TVXQ, who debuted in 2003: “They are the masters of adult performance of R&B, and they have persevered through unlikely membership changes.” This suggests that longtime fans tend to stick with the groups that introduced them to K-pop. However, the responses also indicate a number of newer K-pop groups that longtime fans indicate as their favorite. Groups that debuted in the last three years that make appearances in the survey results include Astro, Blackpink, Day6, Got7, KNK, Mamamoo, Seventeen, Twice and Winner.
Vocals and Choreography
Music continues to factor into the appeal of K-pop to fans, but these survey results go further, specifying vocals and choreography in relation to certain groups and artists. Specifically, respondents identified the harmonies of Akdong Musician, BEAST, TVXQ, EXO, and SHINee as reasons for the appeal of these artists. In addition, they also cited individuals in groups with vocal talent, including Hongki of FT Island, and G-Dragon and Taeyang of BigBang. Moreover, they cited a larger number of solo artists with vocal talent as compared to other surveys, including Dean, Roy Kim, IU, Park Hyo Shin, Kim Lim, Lee Moon Sae, K.Will and Rain. Similarly, choreography was identified as a key factor in the appeal of groups like BTS, EXO, Infinite, SHINee, Super Junior, and Teen Top.
The fact that longtime fans identify both veteran and newer groups as their favorite suggests that these fans remain active K-pop fans, keeping up with the changing K-pop scene. They do not just stick with the group that may have introduced them to K-pop. This may help to explain the broad appeal of certain newer groups, that they need both fans newer to K-pop and more established fans to sustain their popularity. The uptick in vocals and choreography may be linked to increase in popularity of vocal and dance competition shows, such as Immortal Songs, King of Mask Singer and Hit the Stage that showcase these talents of groups and artists in different ways. At the same time, the kinds of vocals vary, from R&B to pop, which suggests that longtime fans are drawn to vocal talent regardless of genre.
“Longtime and Adult Fans of K-pop Survey: Preliminary Data,” KPOPCULTURE, accessed January 6, 2017, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/713.
Data Drop: Preliminary Results for Study on Longtime and Adult K-pop Fans by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.