Shinhwa: Music and Video

Shinhwa

By Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Shinhwa’s longevity is in part due to the quality and consistency of their music production seen in their comeback releases.

The Return is Shinhwa’s highly anticipated release following a four-year hiatus. Overall, critics note a  dual nature to the album, juxtaposing the classic sound of the group with more contemporary flourishes. Many praise “Venus” as the title track.  “On the Road” elicited positive reviews as well. Jung Bae (hellokpop) notes that the track “is an unexpected Brit-rock track, courtesy of Shin Hye-sung; while he rightfully takes control of the track, the other members join in and do their parts.” Nicole Rivera (Pop Reviews Now) notes the simplicity of the track, “with soft drum rolls laced with a pretty piano line and some cymbals here and there, before a very low-key verse that just spirals into this tear-jerkingly stunning chorus.” Testamentvm‘s (McRoth’s Residence) description of “Red Carpet” focuses on “its clubby supersaw lead and progressive house anthem,” while Rivera focuses on “the presence of a melody, and how the vocals deliver it in relation to the rest of the song.”  Jung Bae was impressed with “Let It Go,” which breaks “ballad molds and instead opting for a deceptively uptempo melody powered by electric guitar.”

Reviews of We are mixed. There was no critical consensus on the best tracks on the album aside from “Sniper,” the title track. Pakman (allkpop) identifies musical key elements:  “The whistle by itself is enough to pique anyone’s interest. The pre-chorus and chorus is what make you stay. Those impassioned vocals, the smooth, high-pitched turns accompanied by that lean-back dance move just scream all kinds of cool. The beatboxing interwoven in the instrumentals is a total bonus and a complete throwback to the 90’s.” Tam Huynh notes the centrality of Eric, Jun Jin and Andy, the rappers of the group, on “Give It 2 Me. Guest critics for seoulbeats points out “I Gave You” as an unusual track, with its acoustic instrumentation and harmony.

Shinhwa also brings a sophistication to their music videos.  In “Sniper,” Vincenlya Susanto (The AU Review) points to how Shinhwa “is again experimental in incorporating a classic and contemporary structure not only in their sound but also in their music video settings and wardrobe choice. The music video contrasts Junjin’s typical destroyed underground set with Hyesung’s chic white maze and contemporary framed art display Eric inhabits.” Maria Hunt (Ppcorn) points to experimentation in the choreography: “The seventh and final scene is a group scene of SHINHWA accompanied by backup dancers. With the set designed as an empty dark room with a center square-raised stage, the members and dancers perform the choreography. SHINHWA is known for usually having bold and energetic dance routines, but the last couple of years have seen SHINHWA experimenting with their dance style.” Minnimonmon (Kpop On My Mind) points to the choreography for “This Love“: “All of the movements were so crisp and well-rehearsed.  Whereas a lot of dance songs with fast, complicated dance moves often feel rushed, this dance was detailed, yet very refined.  I loved the hand movements in the first chorus and how the members looked like they were tapping piano keys in their dance moves during the piano parts.”

For more commentary on Shinhwa’s music and video, see Shinhwa: Unchanging

Sources

Guest. “Shinhwa’s Comeback: The Legend and ‘The Classic’ .” seoulbeats. 23 May 2013. (28 Mar 2016)

Jung Bae. “Album Review: Shinhwa – The Return.” hellokpop. 15 April 2012. (9 Apr 2016)

Maria Hunt.”Shinhwa: ‘Sniper’ Music Video Review.”   Ppcorn.  16 Mar 2015. (28 Mar 2016)

Minnimonmon. “Shinhwa ‘This Love’ Music Video Review.” Kpop On My Mind. 2 Jun 2013.

Nicole Rivera, “Shinhwa – ‘The Return.” Pop Reviews Now. 23 Mar 2012. (9 Apr 2016).

Pakman. “[Album and MV Review] Shinhwa – ‘WE’ .” allkpop. 4 Mar 2015. (9 Apr 2016)

SHINHWA OFFICIAL. “그룹 신화 (SHINHWA) – 표적 (Sniper) _Official Music Video.”: YouTube. 25 Feb 2015. https://youtu.be/y_VJHT6y-NI (12 Jun 2017).

Tam Huynh. “Shinhwa ‘We’ Album Review.” KultScene. 4 Mar 2015. (9 Apr 2016)

Testamenvm. “[Review][Album] Shinhwa – “The Return.” McRoth’s Residence. 2 Apr 2012. (18 Jul 2012)

Vincenlya Susanto. “Music Video Review: Shinhwa ‘Sniper’ (South Korea, 2015).” The AU Review. 5 Mar 2015. (28 Mar 2015)

Creative Commons License
Shinhwa: Music and Video by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

REVISED Last Fans Standing: Veteran Fans of K-pop

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

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!

The revised survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/vetfans

Shinhwa: Perfect Men

shinhwa_changing_kpopstarz

Shinhwa

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Shinhwa debut in 1998, the same year as 1TYM, 4MEN and Fin.K.L. The group is best known for being the oldest K-pop group that has maintained its original lineup, paving the way for longevity for other K-pop “idol” groups. Not only is the group one of the oldest “idol” groups, it has also pioneered promoting as a group while also supporting the individual careers of its members. One of the key factors in their longevity can be traced to the group’s constant presence in the public eye, before and after a four-year hiatus. In addition to consisting producing high-quality albums, “some members act, others make music, and some are even involved in helping others produce the next generation of idol groups” (The Altantic). Their long career can also be traced to their musical development:  “They may not have branched out and stretched the limits of pop, but they were always able to adapt to changes in pop music itself over the years. Their singles generally represent the sound of K-pop at the time they were released to the point w[h]ere you can basically start with “Resolver” and listen to their singles all the way up to “Venus” and have a history lesson along the way” (seoulbeats). 

Shinhwa chose the members of Battle, which debuted during Let’s Coke Play! Shinwha Battle. Eric initially produced Stellar. Eric founded TOP Media, which manages Teen Top, UP10TION and 100%.

LABEL MATES

None

COLLABORATIONS

None

RELEVANT SOURCES

Image

jasmooOnce. “Shinhwa Releases ‘Orange’ MV for Loyal Fans.” KpopStarz. 29 Nov 20016. http://www.kpopstarz.com/articles/275901/20161129/shinhwa-releases-orange-mv-loyal-fans.htm, (2 Dec 2016).

Articles

Amy He. “What the Backstreet Boys Could Learn from K-pop.” The Atlantic. 23 Jul 2013. Evernote.

Gaya. “SB Exchange #14: The Legend of Shinhwa.” seoulbeats. Evernote.

Shinhwa Essentials

SHINHWA_kpopstarz

Shinhwa

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

The ‘Essentials” series is part of my digital humanities project, KPopCulture, which curates the music, visual culture, choreography, promotions, media and fan culture of K-pop that support this global cultural production. “Essentials” items tell you about a group through playlists of key music videos, performances, choreography and promotional videos. It also offers a bibliography of articles, music reviews and videos. The first ‘Essentials’ item is, fittingly, on Shinhwa, the longest-running K-pop group with its original members. Click here and enjoy!

Colors and Consequences: Branding and Fandom in K-pop

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

While recent reports about arguments over K-pop fanclub colors may seem superficial, they reveal the value of branding for group promotion as well as the emotional relationship between K-pop groups and their fans.

The ire of fans of Shinhwa (one of the oldest K-pop groups and the longest-running K-pop group with original members) was raised when K-pop media outlets reported that iKON, a male K-pop group who just debuted in 2015, chose orange as its fanclub color. Shinhwa has been associated with orange since the group’s debut in 1998. K-pop idol groups frequently choose a color for the fanclub, which links the fans to the group and functions as part of the identity of the group. For example, during concerts, fans will fill stadiums in the fanclub color using lightsticks, creating “oceans” of color.

cropped-cropped-suju_super-show-osaka-5.jpg

Blue Ocean, Super Junior Concert

Fan color sparks strong passions from artists and fans alike because both play a role in the creation of a group’s culture.  In “Hallyu versus Hallyuhwa: Cultural Phenomenon versus Institutional Campaign,” JungBong Choi argues that while “the Korean creative industry irrefutably remains the linchpin in the protean architecture of Hallyu,” the spread and maintenance of Hallyu, of which K-pop is a major part, “is profoundly dependent on the cultural masonry carried out by a legion of underrecognized ‘craftsmen,’ namely, overseas fans” (41). In other words, K-pop functions through cooperation between fans and artists, some argue, more so than in other forms of popular culture. For example, the controversy originated in Korean media, but was quickly mirrored by global fans of K-pop.  Koreaboo based its story, “Shinhwa’s Leader Eric Speaks Against iKON Using the Same Fandom Color,” on a story from the Korean site, 10asia. Soompi‘s “Shinhwa’s Eric Asks Junior Groups to Avoid Orange as Fandom Color” was based on a story on Daum, another Korean site. The social media comments for both stories reflected a similar range of opinions as in the original stories in Korean media. In both cases, fans from different regions share similar opinions.

Why? In “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom,” Bertha Chin and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto suggests that the concept of transcultural homology helps to explain why fans from different countries can be united in their perspective:  “This concept frees fandom from the constraints of national belonging, reinforcing our contention that fans become fans of border-crossing texts or objects not necessarily because of where they are produced, but because they may recognise a subjective moment of affinity regardless of origin” (99).   This concept is based on affinity that transcends national origins and explains fan dynamics, but can also shed light on the relationship between fans and artists.

In the case of Shinhwa and iKON, Korean and global fans were not the only ones to take to social media to express their opinions.  The responses from Shinhwa members Eric and Dongwan show that K-pop artists use social media to communicate with their fandoms, which reveals a level of affinity between artists and fans.   Eric’s initial response to iKON’s fandom color was expressed through a tweet and Dongwan’s subsequent comments appeared on his Facebook page.  Both acknowledge the meaning of the color orange for their fandom.  Eric’s tweet reassured fans that Shinhwa values the color, presumably because of how it symbolizes the relationship between fan and artist throughout their long career. Dongwan’s more lengthy Facebook post identified two reasons that motivated the group’s concern about iKON’s use of the color. One one hand, it is an economic issue. Orange is part of Shinhwa’s branding:  “It is that next year, Shinhwa will be promoting. . . .Shinhwa’s promotion period won’t be long compared to that of the shining and energetic junior groups” (ilmare42).  Unlike many of the younger groups, Shinhwa only engages in promotional activities once a year. Orange is the key identifier, and used in much of the promotional merchandise for the group. Orange is key to the group’s promotional strategies. As a result, the issue is not merely one of respect between older and younger groups; Shinhwa has a compelling economic reason to ask other groups to refrain from using the color.

However, Dongwan also draws on the emotional value of the color for the fandom:  “Shinhwa and Shinhwa Changjo have to spend this short time together passionately and warmly. I sincerely hope that there won’t be any obstacles in the way of us spending this time together. . . . We are just hoping that a few of the things we have protected during our long time together will be respected. Those things are Shinhwa and Shinhwa Changjo, and the sea of orange lights that we see when we’re on stage” (ilmare42).  Fans often use emotionally-based discourse to describe their relationship with their K-pop artists, but Dongwan has adopted that rhetoric in speaking about the group’s fans. Orange, therefore, represents an emotional investment for group members as well as fans.

Incidents like those that involve Shinhwa and iKON show that K-pop culture involves economic and emotional elements, both of which are key to its global appeal.

Image: 1

Sources

Chin, Bertha and Lori Hitchock Morimoto. “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies. 10.1 (2013): 92-108.

Choi, JungBong. “Hallyu versus Hallyu-hwa Cultural Phenomenon versus Institutional Campaign.” Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media. Ed. Sangjoon Lee and Abe Mark Nornes. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015. 31-52.

ilmare42. “Shinhwa’s Kim Dong Wan Asks Other Fandoms to Respect Shinhwa and Fans by Not Using Orange.” Soompi. 19 Dec 2015. Evernote. https://www.evernote.com/shard/s213/sh/bc7376ab-a6da-420a-a910-45f4f21d8882/3cfd851c630d58cf9cd9331374453eab.

kiddy_days. “Shinhwa’s Eric Asks Junior Groups to Avoid Orange as Fandom Color.” Soompi. 18 Dec 2015. Evernote. https://www.evernote.com/shard/s213/sh/9e64605a-8f63-494b-aaeb-44005c962b06/9c52a061c082fe6b93eba5b865c54416.

“Shinhwa’s Leader Eric Speaks Against iKON Using the Same Fandom Color.” 18 Dec 2015. Koreaboo. Evernotehttps://www.evernote.com/shard/s213/sh/5f8c128b-e447-4790-ac9a-6c51cb3ceba0/1d8d79730bbee43c8f1cfb58d1342a93
Creative Commons License
Colors and Consequences: Branding and Fandom in K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Old School K-pop and Its Fans

Fly to the Sky

Fly to the Sky

Often believed to appeal only to teenagers, K-pop is experiencing a trend with old school groups making successful comebacks.

Some believe that K-pop has a short shelf life.  Several point to the “five-year curse,” a trend where male K-pop groups break up or disband, often in the face of mandatory military service in Korea. Others believe that K-pop is a fad that will run its course.  In 2011, Ree at seoulbeats declared:  “One thing people must note when discussing the popularity of K-Pop, is that to many people, whether they realize it or not, K-Pop has almost simply become a fad. Meaning that despite the fact it is at its peak of popularity, it will once again start heading on a downhill slope.”

However, successful comebacks of groups who debuted prior to 2000 challenge these notions.  Tickets for Shinhwa‘s Grand Tour 2012: The Return concert sold out in February, ahead of the release of the album The Return in March. Such success occurred after a four-year hiatus by group from the music scene.  Other first-generation K-pop groups, such as g.o.d and Fly To the Sky, have also announced comeback plans.

Who are the people who support groups who have been inactive for years and why do they continue to like such groups? I want to find out! If you are a fan of a group who debut before 2000, take this survey! It will ask you questions about old school K-pop groups such as H.O.T, Shinhwa, S.E.S, Fin.K.L, Fly to the Sky, g.o.d, 1TYM, Deux and others.

Image: 1

Sources

Ree. “The K-pop Fad: When Will It End?” seoulbeats. 22 Nov 2011. Web. 25 May 2014.

Son Dam Bi: Sound of Dam Bi

Son Dam Bi is a solo female artist who debuted  in 2007 on the Pledis Entertainment label. That same year, FT ISLAND, Wonder Girls, and Girl’s Generation also debuted, making Son Dam Bi’s introduction as a solo artist even more unique. In addition to her singing and dancing skills, which she has won several awards for, Son Dam Bi has also dabbled in acting by appearing on Korean television shows (We Got Married) and a Korean drama (Light and Shadow).

To see the enhanced profile, including discographies and videographies, click the image to go to KPOPIANA, KPK’s multimedia database on Korean popular music of the Hallyu era!

iFans Case Studies Status Update

Infographic based on data collected by Crystal S. Anderson as part of the iFans research study

Infographic based on data collected by Crystal S. Anderson as part of the iFans research study

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.

The iFans Case Studies survey is still active, and now, individuals can take the survey for multiple or  individual groups.

Now that a good deal of data has been collected, look for new research reports on what K-pop fans say about their favorite groups!

iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom

IFansOmekalogo

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.

Continue reading

CONFERENCE ABSTRACT: The Cultural Politics of Asian/Americans in Kpop @ Association of Asian American Studies

A Far East Movement: The Cultural Politics of Asian/Americans in Kpop

Dr. Crystal S. Anderson

Association of Asian American Studies Conference, Washington, DC

April 11-14, 2012

ABSTRACT

With the global spread of Hallyu (global Korean cultural movement expressed through music, television dramas and film), many have focused on the reception of Korean culture by other countries.  However, there is also a reciprocal movement, one where Asian/Americans migrate to the Korean popular music scene, bringing a sensibility reflecting experiences as people of color in the United States AND members of an Asian diaspora.  This paper explores the complicated results of such movement.   On one hand, Korean American artists like Jay Park have encountered obstacles in navigating the Kpop scene. Initially a member of the all-male group 2PM, Park created controversy over his abrupt departure and subsequent negative comments about Koreans.  His experience suggests challenges in acculturating to what seems to be a foreign culture to him as an Asian American.  On the other hand, Korean artists born or raised in the United States (i.e. Hyesung, and Andy of  Shinhwa) or Canada (i.e. Henry of Super Junior) seem to avoid the kinds of troubles that Park encounters.  In addition, Asian American groups such as Aziatix have gained a measure of success in Kpop. My paper will explore factors that may account for this difference.  In addition, American producers such as Steven Lee regularly work behind the scenes making music that draws on American R&B and soul, while Korean producers such as Yoo Young Jin work with African Americans to create what can only be described as Korean soul.  What are the implications of this transnational movement of culture? Is the reception of these subjects in Kpop impacted by transnational cultural politics?