Let KPK Introduce You To… Rob Base and Vanity 6 (A Mash-Up)

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

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. 

Artist: SHINee

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).

Learn more about Vanity 6 – a girl group that was produced by Prince.

SHINee Minho and SHINee Key’s rapping cadence echoes…

Artist: Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock

Press Play to Hear “It Takes Two” from Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s album It Takes Two (released August 9, 1988).

Learn more about Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, and read about how this song became a classic!

Happy Listening!

Works Cited

Leight, E. (2018, May 2). How American R&B songwriters found a new home in K-pop. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/how-american-rb-songwriters-found-a-new-home-in-k-pop-627643/ 

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Fault Lines in Transcultural Fandom

Stock photo from Pixabay
                                                                           Stock photo from Pixabay

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

A recent clash of opinions over the status of Kangin, a member of the Korean pop group Super Junior, exposes fault lines that can occur with transcultural fandoms.

SM Entertainment issued a statement about Kangin’s recent DUI accident.  Not satisfied with the common period of self-reflection that typically follows a scandal,  a group of Korean fans created a petition to have Kangin leave the group entirely. Citing Kangin’s previous drunk driving incident and other controversies, the fans argue that Kangin’s continued presence will damage the group’s reputation:   “We see this series of acts not benefiting Super Junior’s image and career at all. Instead we view them as actions that only cause damage. From our position as fans who support Super Junior, we cannot help but discuss this issue that will influence their image greatly” (soompi).    However, comments on soompi’s Facebook post for the story reveals criticism of those who support Kangin’s departure. This is typical of several posts:  “Not true fans of Super Junior, if they want Kangin to leave the group.”

Such opinions reveal fault lines in the fandom that fall along lines of national identity. The original petition was brought by members of the Korean community site DC Inside, which cannot be accessed by those outside of Korea. While all who support Kangin’s departure are not Korean, the non-fan and anti-fan characterization of those who do certainly applies to the Korean fans who created the petition. Such statements overlook the contextualization of these fans. Operating within Korean culture, they reveal the danger they see to the reputation to the group, which plays differently inside of Korea than it does outside of Korea.  Subtly, fans who criticize the Korean petitioners ignore the Korean context and unwittingly impose their own cultural expectations.

Bertha Chin and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto argue that transcultural fandom offers “the possibility that a fannish orientation may (at times) supersede national, regional and/or geographical boundaries” (99). This certainly describes times when the transcultural fandom is in agreement. However, controversies often reveal how national perspectives inform how fans interact with one another over a controversy. Fandoms contend with notions of authenticity generally, creating hierarchies to determine who is a “real” fan. However, a scandal seems to make these existing fault lines even more pronounced.

With no in-depth knowledge of the petitioners, some fans question their identity as real fans. This is particularly odd given the history of the E.L.Fs, or Everlasting Friends, the Super Junior fandom. These fans reportedly have a history of taking action surrounding the membership of the group. Reportedly, they protested at SM Entertainment when it appeared the agency planned to add additional members to the group. Others have suggested that E.L.F’s pooled their money to buy SM Entertainment stock to become stockholders and have a say in such decisions. Documentation of such events are difficult to locate, but such stories point to the tendency for this particular fandom to be deeply concerned about the membership of the group. Moreover, given that this is a Korean pop group, it is intriguing that fans largely outside of Korea would question the fan identity of the petitioners.

Sources:

Adrian. “Some Fans ‘Abandon’ Kangin; Ask Him to Leave Super Junior.” hellokpop. 26 May 2016.

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

Soompi. “Do you think 슈퍼주니어(Super Junior)‘s Kangin should leave the group?” Facebook. 26 May 2016.

kokoberry. “SM Entertainment Releases Official Statement About Kangin’s DUI Accident.” soompi. 24 May 2016.

kokoberry. “Super Junior Fans Petition for Kangin to Leave Group.” soompi. 25 May 2016.

 

 

It’s a K-pop Thing(Link)….

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

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?

Try ThingLink.

ThingLinklogo
Make K-pop artist overviews featuring websites, videos, and more using ThingLink.

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 on Google Play and the App Store!

Here’s a ThingLink I made for …well, you know…(drag your mouse over the image to interact with it):

Enjoy!

P.S. Taemin is on second left. You know, in case you were wondering…casually. 🙂

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Iconiq (Ayumi Itō)


Click to jump to a section:

BASICS

FANFACTS

NEWSWORTHY

VIDEOS

DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES


BASICS

Iconiq (Ayumi Itō) Source: http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/_/50130925/ICONIQ.png

 Name

  • Iconiq (伊藤 亜由美 Itō Ayumi)
  • former stage name: Ayumi

 Debut

 July 3, 2006

 Status

 Active

 Label

  • Starworld (2002-2006)
  • SM Entertainment (2007-2009)
  • Rhythm Zone (2009-present)

 Fan Name

 None

 Origin of Fan Name

 N/A

 Official Website

iconiq.jp

 Related Websites

 N/A

Click to Return to Top


FAN FACTS

Official Fan Color: 


Awards

52nd Japan Record Awards: New Artist


Television Appearances


Concert Tours


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VIDEOS

Kiss & Cry


Light Ahead


Tokyo Lady


Compilation: I’m Lovin’ You // Change Myself // Bye Now!

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DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

   잘못된 만남 (Wrongful Meeting (Digital Single cover of Kim Gun Mo) (Novembe 7, 2006) (Starworld Entertainment)

  1. 잘못된 만남 (Wrongful Meeting)
   Cutie Honey (Digital single cover of Koda Kumi) (November 7, 2006) (Starworld Entertainment)

  1. Cutie Honey

Click to Return to Top


DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES

   Light Ahead (Extended Play) (September 15, 2010) (Rhythm Zone)

  1. Girl Power
  2. Tokyo Lady
  3. Change Myself
  4. Light Ahead
  5. I.D. feat. Verbal from m-flo
  6. Kiss & Cry
  7. Bye Now!
   Tokyo Girl (Debut Single) (April 11, 2010) (Rhythm Zone)

  1. Tokyo Lady
  2. Tokyo Lady (instrumental)
   Change Myself (March 10, 2010) (Rhythm Zone)

  1. Prologue
  2. I’m Lovin’ You feat. Exile Atsushi
  3. Change Myself
  4. LoveShineMagic
  5. Bye Now!
  6. I.D. feat. Verbal from m-flo
  7. No Distance
  8. Crystal Girl
  9. Like a Virgin (Madonna cover)
  10. Epilogue

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Brian Joo (Fly to the Sky)


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BASICS

FANFACTS

NEWSWORTHY

VIDEOS

DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES


BASICS

Brian Joo | Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Pj5kTQyZGok/TaerQxV-aJI/AAAAAAAAAE4/RhGWaRwi-es/s1600/Brian+Joo.jpg

 Name

 Brian Joo

 Debut

  • Fly to the Sky: December 9, 1999 – August 2009
  • Solo artist : December 2006

 Status

 Active

 Label

  • SM Entertainment (1999 – 2004)
  • PFull Entertainment (2004 – 2010)
  • Jellyfish Entertainment (2010 – )

 Fan Name

 Brian’s Family and Friends (BFF)

 Origin of Fan Name

N/A

 Official Website

http://brianjoo.com/

 Related Websites

 http://www.briansfamilynfriends.com/

Click to Return to Top


FAN FACTS

Official Fan Color: 

Awards

Television Appearances

  • Family Outing (ep. 3 and 4, 2008)
  • Strong Heart (2011)
  • Oh My School/100 Points Out of 100 (ep. 21; 2011)

Concert Tours

  • 2011 Unveiled Club Tour

News
Click to Return to Top


NEWSWORTHY

COMING SOON!

Click to Return to Top


VIDEOS

Let this Die


I Loved, Now It’s Over


 My Girl


 In My Head


 Shine (On Your Heart)


 Living One Year in Winter


Click to Return to Top


DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

  Reborn Part _ 1 (January 26, 2012)(Jellyfish Entertainment)

  1. Let This Die (featuring Tiger JK) (너 따윈 버리고)
  2. Can’t Stop (featuring Jay Park and Beenzino)
  3. Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong (duet with Jade Valerie)
  4. Let This Die (Extended English version)
  5. Can’t Stop (English version featuring Jay Park and Dumbfoundead)
  6. Domino (Acoustic version)
  7. Let This Die (Instrumental version)
   Unveiled (April 7, 2011)(Jellyfish Entertainment)

  1. 눈물의 구성요소
  2. I Loved, Now It’s Over
  3. 나도 약속이 있었으면 좋겠다
  4. 24
  5. Song 4 U
  6. Domino (English version)
  7. I Loved, Now It’s Over (English version)
  8. 사랑하다 끝났어 (Instrumental)
  9. Shine. (On Your Heart_ 단편영화 “출발” OST) (Bonus Track)

 

  Manifold (December 10, 2009)(On Point Entertainment/Sony Music Korea)

  1. Dreaming
  2. 내 여자 (My Girl) (Featuring Supreme Team)
  3. One Step
  4. Erase
  5. Tell Me Baby (Featuring Day Day of Dalmation)
  6. Lock Me Up
  7. Bullet
  8. Move It
  9. 친구의 여자를 사랑했네 (A Friend’s Girl I Loved) (Featuring Tablo & Mithra Jin)
  10. 눈물이 마르면… (Tears Run Dry)
  11. Do It (“Move It” English version)
  12. Tears Run Dry (English version)
  13. Bullet
  The Brian (December 20, 2006)(PFull Entertainment)

  1. 일 년을 겨울에 살아(Living One Year in Winter)
  2. 가지마 (Don’t Go)
  3. First Date
  4. 사랑하지 않으니까요(Because I Don’t Love You)
  5. 닮아 가기(Becoming Similar)
  6. 하지 말라고
  7. 신사(Gentleman)
  8. 검은 눈물(Black Tear)
  9. 눈물 속으로(Into the Tears)
  10. 바래! 바래! (I Want! I Want!) (Featuring 윤동훈 Trepass)
  11. All I Know
  12. 바래! 바래! (I Want! I Want!) (Remix)

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DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES

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Tony Ahn (H.O.T.)


Click to jump to a section:

BASICS

FANFACTS

VIDEOS

DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES


BASICS

Credit: http://www.hellokpop.com/2011/04/21/tony-ahn-attempting-to-produce-the-next-h-o-t-group/

Name

Tony Ahn (Ahn Seung Ho)

Debut

October 4, 2004

Status

Active

Label

TN Entertainment

Fan Name

From Tony

Origin of Fan Name

N/A

Official Website

http://www.tonyan.co.kr/main.php

Related Websites

http://wn.com/Tony_Ahn

Click to Return to Top


FAN FACTS

Television Appearances

Concert Tours

News
Click to Return to Top


VIDEOS

Top Star


Wallet


Yutzpracachia

Click to Return to Top


DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES


Volume 1 – Believe (October 19, 2004)

  1. 사랑은 가질 수 없을 때 더 아름답다 (Love Is More Beautiful When You Can’t Have It)
  2. Caught My Eye
  3. 부탁해… (I Request)
  4. 혼자 남겨지는건… (Being Left Alone)
  5. Round And Round
  6. Blue Sky
  7. Somewhere Someone
  8. TKO Skit
  9. She Is The One (ft. Seven(Da Crew), Hyunmoo(Trespass) & TKO)
  10. 어떻게 내가 (How Can I) (feat. Kim Jo Han)
  11. Up Front
  12. 사랑은 가질 수 없을 때 더 아름답다 (Love Is More Beautiful When You Can’t Have It) (Instrumental)

Behind The Clouds (November 29, 2005)

  1. 촌스럽게 (Behind The Clouds)
  2. 널 사랑한게 죄겠지 (It Was A Crime To Love You)
  3. I’m Sad
  4. Blue Sky (Active Electro Remix)
  5. Somewhere, Someone (Coldfeat Remix)
  6. Caught My Eye (12Bit Productions Remix)
  7. 촌스럽게 (Behind The Clouds) (Instrumental)

Volume 2 – Yutzpracachia’s Love (April 14, 2006)

  1. Yutzpracachia
  2. Aisha
  3. 기억해… 사랑해… (I Remember You… I Love You…)
  4. I Am Sad (Matsunaga Mastering Version)
  5. Lady, Enough To cry
  6. Player
  7. 함께 있어 좋은 사람 (Someone I Like Because We’re Together) (ft. May)
  8. 어디선가 나의 노랠 듣고 있을 (To You, Who’s Probably Somewhere Listening to My Song)
  9. Automatic
  10. 그녀 내게 걸어오네 (She’s Walking to Me)
  11. 내 안에 그녈 기다리며 (Waiting For Her In Me)
  12. 촌스럽게 (Matsunaga Mastering Version)
  13. I Am Sad (Instrumental Version)

Untold Story (June 1, 2007)

  1. Freeway
  2. Singing That Melody (Feat. Sat)
  3. 못난 남자
  4. 사랑은 가질 수 없을 때 더 아름답다 (New Arrangement Ver.) (Feat. Miryo of Brown Eyed Girls)
  5. 우두커니(Inst.)
  6. Freeway (Inst.)
  7. Singing That Melody (Chorus Ver.)
  8. 못난 남자 (Inst.)
  9. 못난 남자 (Orchestra Ver.)



Look Blank(우두커니) (April 28, 2008)

  1. 지갑 (Wallet)
  2. 우두커니 (Absent-mindedly)
  3. 그리움도 고마워 (Giving Thanks For Longing)
  4. 지갑 (Saxphone ver.)
  5. 지갑 (MR)

Top star (April 4, 2011)

  1. Top Star
  2. Thank U (Feat. Simon.D)
  3. Trouble Maker
  4. 변해 (Change)
  5. 지금 만나러 갑니다 (I’m Going To Meet You Now) (Junjaman Bottoms Up Remix)
  6. Top Star (Inst.)

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DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES

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The Unsung And The Unsaid In Kpop

The Unsung And The Unsaid In Kpop
Source: http://taicarmen.wordpress.com/category/the-role-of-the-dreamer-the-falseness-of-civilization/

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Elon University

Kpop is subject to a lot of criticism.  A LOT. The most repeated charge against Kpop is that it is manufactured.  But is that really true?  Usually when critics level this charge, they make sweeping generalizations about the whole landscape of pop.  In doing so, they perpetuate stereotypes about the lack of originality in Asian popular culture.

Continue reading “The Unsung And The Unsaid In Kpop”

Zhang Liyin (Jang Ri-in)


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BASICS

FANFACTS

VIDEOS

DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: CHINESE RELEASES

DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES


BASICS

Zhang Liyin (Source: http://milkroll.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/zhang-li-yin.jpg)

 Name

Zhang Liyin (Jang Ri-In)

 Debut

 2006

 Status

 Active

 Label

SM Entertainment

 Fan Name

 Chocolyn

 Origin of Fan Name

Derived from combining Chocolate (Zhang Li Yin’s fanclub name) and Zhang Li Yin’s name.

 Official Website

 Related Websites

Click to Return to Top


FAN FACTS

Official Fan Color:  Gold

Awards

2006

  • Rookie of the Month, Cyworld Digital Music Award: “Timeless”
  • Best New Solo Artist, M.NET/KM Music Festival: “Timeless”
2008
  • Female Newcomer with Most Potential, Mengniu Music King Awards: “星愿 (I Will)
  • Best Mainland Newcomer, Southeast Music Ranking
  • Most Fashionable Female Artist of the Year, 2008 Starlight Grand Ceremony
  • Most “Attention Grabbing” Newcomer, 1st Annual Mengniu New Music Festival: “星愿 (I Will)”

Television Appearances

Concert Tours

News
Click to Return to Top


VIDEOS

Moving On


Y


I Will


Timeless Part 2


Timeless Part 1

Click to Return to Top


DISCOGRAPHY: KOREAN RELEASES

  Dear My Love Original Soundtrack (November 11, 2008) (Avex)

2. 연인이여 (Love Theme)

  2007 Winter SMTOWN – Only Love (December 7, 2007) (SM Entertainment)

10. Oh Holy Night

  2007 Summer SMTOWN – Fragile (July 5, 2007) (SM Entertainment)

9. Under the Sea

  2006 Winter SMTOWN – Snow Dream (December 12, 2006) (SM Entertainment)

9. Heaven

   Timeless (September 8, 2006) (SM Entertainment)

  1. Timeless (featuring Xiah)
  2. Y (Why…)
  3. Timeless (featuring Xiah) (Instrumental)
  4. Y (Why…) (Instrumental)

Click to Return to Top


DISCOGRAPHY: CHINESE RELEASES

   Moving On (October 29, 2009) (SM Entertainment)

  1. 晴天, 雨天 (Moving On)
  2. 愛我 (Love Me)
  3. 晴天, 雨天 (Moving On) (Instrumental)
   I Will (March 8, 2008) (SM Entertainment)

  1. Intro (初戀)
  2. 初戀
  3. A Flame for You
  4. 星願 I Will
  5. 幸福的左岸
  6. 交错的爱/交錯的愛
  7. 相信愛
  8. 纯真的爱/純真的愛
  9. One More Try
  10. Y (Why…)
  11. Timeless

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DISCOGRAPHY: JAPANESE RELEASES

Click to Return to Top

An Idol Army: Thoughts On The Mega Group

Too many!

That’s what a lot of netizens say when offering an opinion on new or returning idol groups with extremely large numbers. They may have a point, but I also think that there is something to be gained from mega Kpop group.

While fans are always noting the sheer number of idol groups that debut, they seem to be especially sensitive to groups with large numbers. Five members may be ideal, but when numbers start to climb beyond that, as it does with groups such as U-Kiss (seven members), T-ara (seven members), Infinite (seven members) , ZE:A (nine members) and After School (nine members), people get antsy.  Given their success, fans seem to have accepted the large numbers in SNSD and Super Junior, but that was not easily achieved. So I wasn’t surprised at the reaction to newer, larger Kpop groups. Something seemed to snap in fans when Golden Goose Entertainment announced plans for a Japanese debut for APeace (formerly Double B/21) back in March. With 21 members in tow (yes, 21!), some viewed APeace as a science experiment gone horribly wrong, one that created a monster with the numbers of Super Junior and SNSD combined. Kpop fans flooded forums with their displeasure at the high number of members. Some wondered how all 21 of them get paid. Others complained about not being able to see them all. And still others lamented having to learn all of their names.

I have to confess, I like APeace. I like their single, Lover Boy. I find it to be a great dance song. But what can prepare you for the music video for Lover Boy? It makes me absolutely giddy, and it has everything to do with the fact that there are eventually 21 of them dancing on the screen at one time!

Maybe I like this video so much because it brings back memories of being in a marching band. I especially like the move at :41, which I’m sure will be come the international sign for “baby girl.” However, beyond my potential fangirl-y reaction to APeace, I do think that they learn from some of the challenges that other mega groups like Super Junior face, and, as a result, could make it work.

Mega groups mean mega profits for agencies, as they can strategically place members in multiple places at once, so it makes sense from their point of view. Clearly, SM Entertainment did not foresee how attached fans would get to the initial membership of a mega group like Super Junior. Now, before we get started, I like Super Junior, so I want all the ELFs to take a deep breath. I am not hating on Super Junior, but there are some things that we all know to be true. For instance, all was well in Super Junior land back in 2007 until SM Entertainment started making noises about adding more members, like Henry, to the already super large Super Junior. This prompted some fans to take action to protect the membership. Asianbite.com featured a story about fan protests over the plan. One fan stated, “We do not want Henry or anyone else to be added in Super Junior. We want Super Junior to be a safe 13-membered group.”  I believe that some of this anxiety came from the fact that fans perceived the membership of Super Junior to be set, and that the addition of Henry was not something they signed up for. As a fan, you would wonder whether or if the additions would stop.  SM Entertainment could just keep adding members, with no end in sight. However, APeace avoids this by hitting you with 21 members up front. 21 is a large number, so if you accept that APeace has 21 members, you are not likely to have anxiety about the possibility for additional members. If they added more members (gasp!), would it really be that big of a deal?

The creation of subgroups by SM Entertainment to capitalize on as many markets as possible contributes to even more anxiety around the mega group. Hey, when you are working with 10 to 13 people, you have options. But sometimes these subgroups cause challenges of their own, especially for new fans. I encountered Super Junior M before I encountered Super Junior, so I didn’t understand the relationship between the subgroups and the main group. I could not understand why I couldn’t find Henry or Zhou Mi in what I have come to call Super Junior Proper.  And don’t get me started on the guest status of Sungmin and Eunhyuk in Super Junior M right now. Are there more subgroups on the horizon? One never knows with SM Entertainment. However, APeace has the foresight to establish their subgroups up front. According to their official website, we can look forward to APeace Lapis, APeace Jade and APeace Onyx, three subgroups with seven members each. This move avoids fan disappointment and confusion.

The number of members and the subgroups are not the only things that causes anxiety in fans in relation to a mega group. One of my issues with Super Junior is the presence of the membership of Super Junior at any given time. When a news story runs that Super Junior will make an appearance, can you really be sure who is going to show up? How often do you see all of them together? Yes, we know that Kangin has a good excuse, as he is doing his military service, but when was the last time you saw Kibum? Is he even still in this group? I miss him.  This inability to predict which members of the group participate in group activities is in part linked to the busy schedules of individual members, and this is a problem for me. I was introduced to Super Junior as a group. I kinda expect them to act like the other groups I like.  You know, to be together, to show up, together. Sometimes, it just seems that they are individual artists who get together once in a while and make music. However, I don’t even expect APeace to function as a group in that way because they are rolling 21 deep. I’m not looking for them to have a deep bond with each other. I don’t know APeace, but I don’t feel that I’m expected to know them individually in this 21-member unit. Yes, I vaguely remember them introducing themselves, but who remembers that? I remember them being introduced as a 21-member group, so I don’t invest in their group dynamic, as I did with SS501 or SHINee. APeace, with its large numbers, lowers your expectations about the interaction among the members. I see them more as individual artists who come together to form the mini-nation that is APeace every once and a while. So if fans rarely expect to see them all together, then they are less likely to be disappointed.

I guess this is why I’m not up in arms about APeace. I know I won’t convince a lot of you that bigger is better, but that’s not my goal. What I am saying is that creating a viable model for a large Kpop group is worth exploring. Whatever you think of APeace or any other mega group coming down the turnpike, it takes a certain amount of expertise to promote a mega group. Somebody had to arrange 21 voices on a track. Somebody had to choreograph a dance for 21 people, and I think APeace pulls it off. They are so in sync, a friend of mine thought it was a special effect. Somebody had to film 21 people in motion. There is something to be said for the people who work behind the scenes and for the members of mega groups themselves. You try doing anything with 21 people.

Sources:

“Super Junior Fans Protest Against Addition of New Member,” Asianbite.com

Profile, apeace.jp

Photo Credits: thehottestprimadonna

Video Credits:

APeace, Lover Boy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvUuSfXlA7I

One Agency To Rule Them All?

Originally published on hellokpop on July 14, 2011

On June 24, 2011 several high-profile idols, including Kim Hyun Joong, Super Junior, TVXQ and 2PM gathered to help launch United Asia Management, an agency that represents a collaboration among the top Korean agencies, including SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. While this may be a great way to pool resources to extend the global reach of Kpop, the collaboration could also worsen some of more suspect elements of Korean idol system.

This isn’t the first time that the major Korean agencies have collaborated on a project. Last year, The Big Three and other companies embarked on a joint venture, Korean Music Power Holdings, that would focus on the production of programs and digital music distribution. United Asia Management could also expand all the things we love about Kpop.

Before you get all up in arms, this is not a praise party for The Big Three. I do not own stock in any of them. Actually, a lot of my most favorite groups are not represented by them. We’ll get to the critique of how they do business later in the editorial. Whether you like or dislike them, the fact is they are responsible for a sizable amount of the Kpop you and I listen to. Often, fans complain about what they see as exploitation of the artists. Yes, there is a school of thought out there that says that anytime you have one group of people doing the work and one group of people making profit off of that work, you will automatically get exploitation. However, there is another school of thought that says even when you have one group of people managing another group of people who do the work, the people who do the work consent to do the work because they are comfortable with what they get out of it. In other words, artists do have some agency–they do choose to be idols and we have to leave room for the possibility that they know what they are getting into. This is particularly true now that we’ve had so many other artists enter the idol system. New recruits have more of an idea of what to expect because they can look at the careers of other artists. It is too simplistic to go with either one of these positions; the reality is  probably somewhere in between for any given artist at any given time. Here’s my point: The Big Three can give a glimpse into how United Asia Management could treat its artists and affect fans around the world, both for good and ill.

Even if you think it is evil incarnate, the fact is that SM Entertainment represents a model for the global promotion of Kpop. They have international Kpop cred, having produced a number of successful Kpop artists, including  BoA, SNSD, SHINee, Super Junior, and TVXQ. These aren’t just one-hit wonders, getting their 15 minutes of fame and then disappearing into the night. They all share the distinction of sustaining successful careers since their debut. SM Entertainment is doing something right, something that others are eager to know. Before his resignation, Lee Soo Man gave a lecture to business school students from Stanford University on “theory of CT (Culture Technology)” as well as “the aspects of SM Entertainment’s successful globalization and business management strategies.” It also hard to dispute SM Entertainment’s high-profile presence in international markets, such as its two recent shows in Paris or its previous show in Los Angeles. If United Asia Management could reproduce this on a global scale, it would be groundbreaking for Kpop. Artists would be able to travel to more countries. Kpop could go to far more places, both figuratively and literally. The prospect of international fans seeing their favorite artists in the flesh increases tremendously. If individual agencies represent a town, a family and a nation, then United Asia Management would be its own solar system. The collaboration represented by United Asia Management could also allow artists to directly compete with one another by erasing to a certain extent the individual agency identifications. Also, fans could be treated to more collaborations between artists with a de-emphasis on agency affiliation. Imagine joint projects by some of your favorite Kpop artists.  Let’s face it, sometimes the agencies, in trying to get attention for their artists, engage in tactics designed to get fans to choose, not just among artists, but among the agencies themselves. For example, JYP Entertainment consciously branded itself, just like SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment, to promote concerts and artists overseas. But, agencies do not give fans names and assign fan colors. Fans are fans of artists. With no individual agency jockeying for their loyalty, fans can focus on the artists.

At the same time, United Asia Management could face the same problems faced by The Big Three on a larger scale. With great power comes great responsibility, and it is hard to miss how often artists sue, leave or generally criticize their treatment by large companies like SM Entertainment. asiafanatics.net points to the common complaints by fans regarding SM Entertainment’s treatment of its artists, including a vindictive attitude towards and exploitation of artists and generally unfair business practices.With potentially more money at stake, United Asia Management could operate in the same way, especially with even more artists at its disposal. We could see more stories and more instances of friction between management and artists.

United Asia Management’s collaboration with The Big Three could also result in a drop in the variety of artists we see in Kpop. SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment represent different flavors of Kpop, seeking to cater to different audiences. By bringing all The Big Three under United Asia Management, those differences could be erased, resulting in a whole lot of Kpop that sounds the same and possibly fewer artists overall.  It is also unclear how this large-scale collaboration would affect smaller entertainment agencies who have solid artists of their own. Some of the more up-and-coming artists are not always found in The Big Three. BEAST and A Pink are with Cube Entertainment.  DSP has KARA. NH Media has UKISS. FNC Media, a subsidiary of Core Contents Media, which is Mnet Media’s primary entertainment management label, has FT Island and CN Blue. Could these companies continue to survive, or would UAM just squeeze them out? And what happens to the variety of artists they bring to the table?

Who knows? I really think it could go either way. I guess we will have to watch and see how United Asia Management actually operates. I mean, the one agency could unite them all for good or evil.

Sources:

allkpop.com, Major entertainment companies establish joint venture KMP Holdings

allkpop.com, Lee Soo Man gives a Hallyu lecture to visiting Stanford university students

allkpop.com, JYP Entertainment family titles itself “JYP Nation”

asiafanatics.net, SM’s Court Verdict Refutation Unleashes A Flood Of Criticism From The Public

Photo Credits: soohyundreamer.blogspot.com, oneasiaa.wordpress.com

Video Credits:

Ystar, United Asia Management Red Carpet, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRloFhFHin0