Music Junkie: K-Pop

There isn’t a point in complaining about something when the only things listening are a brick wall and a parrot.

Hey, all! It’s been quite a while since I’ve been on here, but, as the saying goes: Life waits for no one. With college, a part-full-time job, an unpaid internship, becoming an officer for a group on campus, and trying to budget for the new year, I’ve gotten myself up to my ears in work of all sorts.

Today’s Music Junkie Focus

However, I have had some time to do my music thing: making it, loving it, listening to it, and analyzing it. Today, I wanted to analyze a group of people whom I have joined, being K-pop fans. K-pop is the popular culture in Korea, consisting (mostly) of music and trends set up by famous labels and performers. The big labels I’ve seen and studied are the Monster 3: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. These three labels release many of the top-ranking artists in the Korean music industry, training them from young ages and making groups to then perform in a conceptual fashion.

Crazy K-Pop Fanatics

As I’ve said, K-pop is simply Korean Pop Culture, just like American Pop Culture consists of trends aesthetically and musically. But, K-pop performer fans (or fandoms) like to take things a little too far sometimes. Here is what I mean. K-pop music fans grow fond of certain groups, and within those groups choose a bias (or favorite member) to cheer for during the group’s endeavors. If something happens to the bias member that the fans don’t like, they complain and rant and whine to the record label as if their pleas and crying will be taken into account.

I’m not saying that I don’t react when my favorite member of a group gets fewer lines than the others in the song; because I do. What I don’t do is comment on the internet with the hopes that my complaining and dislike will fix the already produced product of the song or album.

I will use a few music groups that I know from the industry to demonstrate my point. The first is a group best known for cutesy concepts that portray the members as playful and childlike for their title tracks, while their B-sides are more sexy, powerful, seductive, and edgy.

TWICE: JYP’s Cuteness Bombshell

A 2-year-old group that is popular because of its vocal variety and catchy, cutesy Title tracks, TWICE (트와이스) is normally considered the girl group to beat. Musically, they have a diversity of voices and each of their title tracks has reached number one within no more than a week.

TWICE’s latest release is called SIGNAL. The lyrics translate to the members trying to get noticed by a crush but don’t understand how they’re not taking the hint. People got mad over this song simply because of how much each member participated vocally.

The top three (label-ranked) vocalists of the group are JiHyo, NaYeon, and JungYeon. JungYeon’s vocal style is different from the other two, having a bit more bite to it than a cutesy sound; and so, she frequently has fewer lines than JiHyo, NaYeon, and another vocalist, Mina. SIGNAL did the same pattern as the rest of TWICE’s title tracks: Jungyeon got 4th place in line distributions, but it’s not because she lacks the skill or anything. She simply just doesn’t have the sound that JYP (the vocal director) is looking for, and so she has fewer lines. This same situation works for Tzuyu. Her voice has a very mature feel to it, and so it doesn’t always fit the song in the way the vocal director would like. Her lines are often few in the title tracks, except for SIGNAL.

However, people go berserk (and I politely did so) over the fact that JungYeon consistently gets fewer lines in title tracks, but always has that one song where her voice shines as a B-track in the album. Fans don’t have to like the product, but businesses sell what the market wants. And that’s where it ends, I have to say.

BLACKPINK: YG’s Rookie Rocket

This 4-member girl group, BLACKPINK (블랙핑크), is a very hyped group with a fanbase that exploded upon their debut in 2016. Their latest song “As If It’s Your Last” (마지막처럼) is a mix of tropical house music and thumping baselines. As If It’s Your Last is vocal heavy, with a catchy chorus that is very repetitive and an English Rap part. One of the Vocals, JiSoo, had a smaller vocal exposure in this single than in others of the past. And out of 5 songs, she has never had the most lines, which has caused an uproar in BLINKs (the fan base).

But not only does this song have fans in a fit; so does the member line-up of the group itself. YG Entertainment only lists the general parts for each member, meaning the performance or idol category they have been trained in or are assigned to do/be. The line up is as follows (Written in the English fashion, not Korean fashion):

  • Jennie: vocal, rapper
  • Rose: vocal, dancer
  • JiSoo: vocal, visual
  • Lisa: rapper, dancer

So as it can be seen, the girls’ respective parts are considered general instead of the crazy lead vs. main crap that I’ll explain in a different post. But, it is the particulars that have the BLACKPINK fanbase in a civil war: who is the best? Who is second? Who should do what? How should YG arrange the parts? It’s all stuff that is uncontrollable by the audience, but yet has them screaming and fuming. It’s pretty ridiculous.

I also disclose the fact that not all fans of K-pop groups are idiotic and have tunnel-vision for their biases. Many, though, fall into the stubborn and unrelenting category from my personal observations.

Again, I can’t say that I’ve ALWAYS been logical, but I keep my opinions to myself. I do this because I know that the record labels aren’t going to listen my opinion whether it is alone or coinciding with a group’s. There isn’t a point to complaining about something when the only things listening are a brick wall and a parrot.

2NE1: Disbanded, but Still Standing

Another YG Entertainment girl-group, 2NE1  or 투엔니원 (said like the English number 21), was a ferocious and powerful in-your-face group with immense vocals, unique dancing, and experimental music styles. Though, most of 2NE1’s songs were a mix of R&B and House/Dancehall music, the group nevertheless was a big money maker for the label. A similar problem like BLACKPINK and TWICE appeared in this group as well.

The 4-member, currently disbanded, girl group has vocals, dancing, modelling, TV, and music down to a science. Each member has her own cute charms that makes her desirable to the public. Bom, meaning spring, has an interesting R&B voice that is both powerful and entrancing (though now she is not with the label). CL, standing for Chae Lin, has a distinctive voice that catches rhythm like a spider web does insects and seemingly flawless English-speaking skills. Dara has an impeccable mezzo-soprano register with beautiful projection and can rap. And finally, Minzy has a great, husky voice for R&B and can dance like she lacks a skeleton. (Seriously, her dance skills are crazy, sometimes I forget she has bones.)

However, one of the biggest complaints was that YG showed favoritism when creating the group’s songs, down to the title tracks. CL almost always got the most lines or the most memorable parts of the songs, with Minzy usually taking second place or tying the position with Bom. Also, it came down to Dara’s voice being so edited that it sounded alien or inhuman, and Bom’s register being forced to perform higher than its natural comfort zone.

No one knows exactly why this group disbanded, but needless to say, fans of YG Entertainment don’t want what happened to 2NE1 happen to the label’s new and only girl group BLACKPINK. Many 2NE1 Blackjacks (fans) have supported BLACKPINK and wish them the best. But YG Entertainment doesn’t have the best track record for employee treatment (and frankly, neither does JYP Entertainment).

That’s A Wrap

To conclude, my point is that if you are ever watching a YouTube video that’s K-Pop or K-pop related and you read the comments (like I do), this has been your warning. The rants and whining will begin, and even if they are heard, another group will consequently rant and complain. This is a never-ending cycle. But you don’t have to take part. Just enjoy the music you like and PLEASE try to keep a level head. K-pop is still a business at the end of the day.

This is Ocie signing out. 안녕! 감사합니다!

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