A recent Rolling Stone article discusses the major thread of American R&B in Kpop music. A producer notes the attraction towards the genre, sharing, “Korean pop music likes differentiation and changes,..the average American song is four melodies, maybe five. The average K-pop song is eight to 10. They are also very heavy in the harmonies. The one-loop beat doesn’t work over there…” (Leight, 2018)
Well – we stan complexity.
In this edition of “Let Us Introduce You To…” we showcase a song that highlights how that nostalgic R&B feel is built in Kpop by using numerous beats, harmonies, and even rap cadence to hook listeners by producing a new sound that simultaneously feels familiar.
Press Play to Hear “Lock You Down” from SHINee’s album The Story of Light EP 3 (released June 25, 2018).
Lock You Down’s beats echo…
Artist: Vanity 6
Press Play to Hear “Nasty Girl” from Vanity 6’s album Vanity 6 (released August 11, 1982).
Finding The Most Important K-pop Stuff So You Don’t Have To
The Return of the Kings
TVXQ broke attendance records by attracting one million to their “Begin Again” Tour in Japan that began in November 2017. This also sets a new record for most concertgoers in a single tour for a foreign artist in Japan. This is significant, as the tour is the first following their mandatory military service. As a veteran K-pop group that has been together over 15 years, the concert attendance shows that TVXQ remains popular in the competitive Japanese market. (See Soompi: “TVXQ Sets New Record in Japan for Foreign Artists With Most Concertgoers At A Single Tour“)
New videos this week from Longguo (aka Kim Yong Guk, formerly of JBJ) and Nano (formerly of History), OSTs for Are You Human? and About Time, newcomers DPR Live and BlackPink and veteran K-pop group SHINee.
Longguo, “Clover” Ft. Yoon Mirae
Lyn, Hanhae, “Love,” Are You Human? OST Part 2
DPR Live, “Playlist”
Hui, “Maybe,” About Time OST Part 3
Nano, “Walkin’ (ft. Pry)”
SHINee, “I Want You,” The Story of Light EP. 2
BlackPink, “뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU),” Square Up
Choreography videos from fromis_9, A.C.E and Viction.
fromis_9, “두근두근(DKDK)” Choreography Ver.
A.C.E, “Take Me Higher” Relay Dance
Viction, “Time of Sorrow (오월애)”
Choon Entertainment. “[MV] 용국(LONGGUO) – CLOVER(Feat.윤미래).” YouTube. 13 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/-Ot30Tlslfs (13 Jun 2018).
SUPER SOUND Bugs! “[M/V] LYn, HANHAE(린, 한해) – LOVE.” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/py4nem_e-nA (18 Jun 2018).
Dream Perfect Regime. “DPR LIVE – Playlist (OFFICIAL M/V).” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/n0LYGzYt6DU . (18 Jun 2018).
Stone Music Entertainment. “[멈추고 싶은 순간 : 어바웃타임 OST Part 3] 후이 (Hui) – Maybe MV.” YouTube. 12 Jun 2018. https://youtu.be/-VsOrKThs3Y (18 Jun 2018).
While it may seem that the current norm in K-pop is single-fandom (the tendency to support just one artist), data suggests that older K-pop fans started and continue to be multi-fandom. This may be another way the overall K-pop fandom has shifted in the past few years.
With the rise of K-pop groups, their individual fandoms have also garnered more attention, leading some to focus on using a single fandom to define K-pop fandom in general. However, 316 responses collected between April 29, 2011 and March 4, 2015 suggest that K-pop fans of that era exhibited very different behaviors and attitudes. Respondents were asked the open-ended question, “How did you become interested in K-pop?”
Many respondents related their entrance into K-pop with specific groups, and overwhelmingly with one group in particular: SHINee. Other high recurring groups include BigBang, Super Junior and TVXQ. Rain was the most-cited solo artist. What is interesting is that these groups all debuted between 2003 and 2009. The first responses collected in 2011, so none of these groups were brand new to the K-pop scene at the time that respondents encountered them. For this generation of K-pop fan, the appeal of K-pop was asynchronous, meaning that individuals became fans, not as a result of debut promotion or marketing, but by other means.
More importantly, respondents routinely noted that once they discovered one K-pop group, they were motivated to look for additional groups. One noted, “My friend showed me SHINee’s Lucifer video, and I was immediately addicted to them. So then I started looking up other groups too.” Another responded wrote: “I started listening to more BigBang, and then other groups such as 2NE1 and SHINee, and then read a ton of Wikipedia pages about different groups and record labels and learned about the training system that K-pop stars go through before debuting. I also started watching variety shows that K-pop idols appear on, and find that whole concept really interesting too.” I call this phenomenon branching.
Some respondents go through a great deal of effort to expand to additional K-pop groups. One respondent explained how a search to find one K-pop song led to more: “However, the obsession didn’t just stop with that song. During the many hours that I spent trying to find the name of that song, I discovered many other catchy tunes and fell in love with a new genre of music that I had never heard of before.” Several respondents use the term “research” to describe the activity of looking for more K-pop groups: “I became interested in K-pop when I accidentally happened upon a Super Junior song on YouTube about 3-4 years ago. I don’t remember what song it was. But after I heard it I was thinking… Wow. This is good stuff. I want more. I wanna hear more. I researched, found more groups I absolutely fell in love with. Then 2-3 years ago, I found Big Bang, followed by 2NE1. And now all of the other amazing groups I love.”
For some, the quest for more K-pop groups takes them to other forms of Korean entertainment. K-drama and K-pop are linked, as members of K-pop groups often star in Korean television dramas and perform on soundtracks for the shows. One respondent noted: “I happened across Kdramas and liked an actor in it. I found out he was a singer and then discovered other singers, groups, bands, etc.” Another explained: “Hulu.com recommended a Kdrama to me called “Boys over Flowers” and as I became more interested in the characters and the OST for the show, I started to look up various actors/singers on YouTube.”
And while “idols” may be the way many are introduced to K-pop, the phenomenon of branching may take fans far afield. One respondent wrote: “I think, what’s 2pm? I think my friend had mentioned groups named 2pm and 2am to me before, and I thought they were silly names. But I really liked Jason in Dream High, so I decided to look up this Wooyoung on YouTube. That day I discovered my love for K-pop. I became a hardcore Hottest, and expanded the groups and genres I listened to little by little until I was listening to anything from rap to pop to ballads to indie. All in a language I can’t completely understand.”
One respondent summed up the branching phenomenon with this formula:
JPop = discovered Tohoshinki = wiki = O.O = OMG! = google other kpop artists
Such findings suggest earlier generations of K-pop fans tend to develop more broad interests in K-pop that go beyond one group, while more contemporary fans seem to be more devoted to single groups. By only focusing exclusively on one group, they may be less knowledgeable about the larger K-pop and as a result may have distorted perceptions of it. These findings also support earlier findings that point to a more diverse general K-pop fandom, one that at the very least, is made up of those who support individual K-pop groups and those who support K-pop in general. Both may be needed for the continued viability of K-pop. Such findings reveal fan behavior that suggests that the appeal of K-pop is more complicated. The K-pop landscape continues to change.
Like many K-pop fans, the members of KPK: Kpop Kollective are extremely heavy at heart about the passing of Jonghyun. Both Kaetrena and I are Shawols, and just saw the group in Dallas. We know that for many, SHINee was the group that introduced them to K-pop, and Jonghyun was not only an integral part of the group, but shared his songwriting gifts with others. He will be deeply missed.
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University
One of the things that happens when conducting qualitative surveys is that they can raise more questions than they answer. This is what happened with the preliminary data from Last Fans Standing: Longtime and Adult Fans of Korean Popular Music (K-pop). Response rates were unusually low, which was unusual given the rising number of fans who have been fans for more than five years. I speculated that respondents may think that only adult fans who had also been fans for five years or more could take the survey. So, I revised the survey to focus solely on veteran fans of K-pop, individuals who had been fans for five years or more. This means all you fans of ZE:A, CN Blue, SISTAR, Infinite, Miss A, Teen Top, Nine Muses, T-ara, f(x), BEAST/Highlight, SHINee, UKISS, 2PM, IU, Wonder Girls, KARA, FT. Island, Girls’ Generation, SS501, Super Junior, BoA, Dynamic Duo, Epik High, Lee Hyori, Kangta, Se7en, TVXQ, K. Will, Big Bang, 2NE1, 4Minute, Fly to the Sky, g.o.d, H.O.T, Jinusean, S.E.S, Sechs Kies, Shinhwa, and any other group that debuted more than 5 years ago need to get on it!
You’ve finally convinced a friend/co-worker/parent/spouse/transit-seat partner/random stranger that your favorite group is worth taking a closer look at, and *gasp* they’ve asked a K-pop Fan Gateway Question (while feigning nonchalance): “which one is [member]”?
As a K-pop fan, you already know this game: such a question is already an indication that the questioner would like to know more…way more. But you don’t want to overwhelm them with information – rather, just give them a comprehensive overview of the group or member. You know…to “satisfy” (read: further ignite) their “casual” curiosity. To prepare for this moment – and help emerging K-pop fans everywhere – what can you do? Where can you send them?
ThingLink is a web and mobile application that allows its users to create interactive images and videos for use in social media, on websites, and more. Users can augment photos with links to websites, videos, audio, and more. After images/videos are posted to ThingLink, community users can search for images and “Touch” (like) other interactive images and videos, too.
If you make ThingLinks for several groups from different entertainment companies, consider organizing them by Channels – a feature in ThingLink. You can also decide what you want everyone to see by choosing if your TLs will be public or private. One drawback: if you want browsing users to locate your work, you’ll need to make a title that has the search term(s) you think people will use since ThingLink doesn’t really make use of traditional hashtags as a finding aid.
ThingLink is free and also offers expanded options for different fees. It is available onGoogle Playand theApp Store!
Here’s a ThingLink I made for …well, you know…(drag your mouse over the image to interact with it):
P.S. Taemin is on second left. You know, in case you were wondering…casually. 🙂
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University
As their 2014 comeback shows, Fly to the Sky (FTTS) remains a potent force in K-pop, even after a five-year hiatus. However, even before the rumors of a comeback, the group was ever-present in the minds of fans, who recalled Fly to the Sky’s emotional impact and place in K-pop history.
A review of 361 YouTube comments posted between 2006 and 2011 on videos uploaded to YouTube show a lingering sense of nostalgia for the group. These comments appeared on uploaded videos for “Day By Day” (music video), “Sea of Love” (performance and music video), “Condition of the Heart” (music video, performance and audio), “Missing You” (music video, performance and audio) and “Habit” (performance).
Some still associate even veteran K-pop groups with American boy bands from the 1990s. Most frequently, viewers compare Fly to the Sky to the Backstreet Boys (BSB). bgurl1210 explains:
vujonny89 stated that FTTS are the Korean version of BSB. And ForeverJunjin wondered y she or he chose BSB rather than NSYNC. I was explaining that being compared to BSB is a compliment. NSYNC was never really praised for the outstanding vocal abilities. They were more known for their dance songs than their vocal abilities. IMO, JC was the strongest singer of the group. BSB is considered by many as a true vocal/a capella group and have been praised for them. That’s what I mean.
However, other commentators reflect a more emotional attachment to the group that they associate with the past. Sometimes, such nostalgia relates to how long one has been a fan and the length of FTTS’s career. hyegyo1 writes: “THE song [Missing You] that made me a FTTS fan and brought me into K-pop way back then… Am forever in love with this song and this duo.” Similarly, Amy L writes: “Miss them. I’m just looking forward to Hwany finishing his military service and FTTS releasing their new album. I’ve been a huge fan of them for more than 7 years, and I will always be their big supporter. Love you guys.” These are sentiments of long-time fans of the group, who follow their activities even during periods of inactivity. Other comments relate the group’s emotional impact in terms of personal memories related to FTTS’s music. Jenny Leem relates: “Wah. I finally found it [MIssing You]. My parents used to play this song when we went on road trips and I didn’t know its name or who it was by I just really loved the song… But I found it! I’m so happy ^^”
In addition to nostalgia, fans also recognize FTTS as a pioneer in K-pop and an influence on newer K-pop groups. Beating the odds that befall many K-pop idol groups, such as the so-called “five-year curse,” where male groups would disband or be dissolved by agencies in the light of mandatory military service, FTTS’s decade-long career is also reflected in its impact on other K-pop groups.
Their songs have been covered by a variety of K-pop groups and singers. These covers not only show the group’s lasting impact, but also the way they bring new fans to FTTS. Perhaps owing to the time FTTS spend on the label, SM Entertainment artists tend to cover their songs frequently. Yesung of Super Junior and Jonghyun of SHINee covered Fly to the Sky songs at the SM Town concert in Los Angeles in 2010. MissAshleyCakes notes how the cover of FTTS’s “Sea of Love” changed her perception of the group: “If Yesung and Jonghyun wouldn’t have sang this song at the SM TOWN concert in LA I would have NEVER found this song! I was never a big fan of Fly To the Sky. I only knew 1 song by them.. But now that I’ve heard this song by them, I love them! They are an amazing band! BRIAN<3.” D.O of EXO and Ryeowook of Super Junior, covered Fly to the Sky’s “Missing You” during the SM Town show in Seoul in 2014, as well as on the Sukira radio show in 2013. haz reen writes: “I was looking for the original version of this song . And here I am. Big thanks to D.O and Ryeong who brought me here. I love both version ok.” Other artists cover Fly to the Sky songs as well. K-pop male group ZE:A, with the Star Empire Entertainment agency, performed Fly to the Sky’s “Missing You” live on MBC in 2014. “Missing You” was chosen for performance as part of The Voice of Korea television show.
With frequent criticisms that K-pop is a fad or a passing trend, such comments during Fly to the Sky’s inactive period shows how fans feel a sense of nostalgia for K-pop groups. FTTS emerges as a foundation Korean R&B group, one that fans refer to with nostalgia and as elders to more contemporary idol groups.
SHINee debuted in 2008 under the S.M. Entertainment label. During the same year, U-KISS, Davichi, and 2AM also debuted. SHINee has five members: Onew (Lee Jinki), Jonghyun (Kim Jonghyun), Key (Kim Kibum), Minho (Choi Minho) and Taemin (Lee Taemin). Known for their emotional songs, avant-garde fashion, and mastery of difficult choreography, SHINee call themselves a contemporary band who aims to set music, dance, and fashion trends around the world. . . . Click here to continue reading on KPOPIANA.
If you keep with research on K-pop, you may be aware of the iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom project. The surveys that make up the qualitative studies seek to understand how the fandoms differ from one another and their relationship to the groups they support. K-pop fans know that the fandoms are unique. Because they have detailed knowledge of the groups they support, they provide a unique perspective on the appeal of their respective groups. Too often, commentators make assumptions about K-pop fans, while the iFans studies goes to the source: the fans.
As the chart above shows, fans of 2NE1 and BigBang have participated the most in the surveys, while fans of Shinhwa and Aziatix have participated the least. Other groups with high participation rates include SHINee and TVXQ, while other groups with low participation rates include Epik High and f(x).
These participation rates are interesting, because groups like Super Junior and Girls’ Generation have very active global fandoms, yet those numbers are not reflected in participation rates. Rates may not reflect all fans, just fans who are likely to take (and complete) a survey. Participation rates may be affected by the activity of the groups.
IFANS: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom is a scholarly research project that examines global fan attitudes and activities through surveys, collection of information on online communities and analysis of websites. Crystal S. Anderson, PhD (Elon University) is the Principal Investigator of the studies and Curator of the iFans project site.