Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rant: Is KPop All About Quality or Quantity?

There was a time in j-indies rock that I thought people just picked up random guys off the street, threw some make-up and fancy costumes on them, and told them to perform like rockers. Usually, this leads to a bunch of failure and blind fans supporting visually appealing bands with no talent. Now, I can say the same thing with American music as well. I'm sure you all know my beef with hip-hop and rap music these days. But as a listener of kpop, I've noticed there's been an increase of groups popping up since last year. Some are pretty awesome rookies like Infinite and Piggy Dolls and others I think are complete busts like Girl's Day and Boyfriend. Since 2011 ended, companies have been announcing that new groups have been formed and trained to debut this year. That's all well and good, but, excuse me, you just released a new group last year or even a few months ago. I'm really thinking that the kpop industry is really focusing on quantity of groups as opposed to quality or longevity like jpop (or jrock, in my case) groups.

Being a fan of jrock, bands aim for longevity in the industry. Most don't want you to solely focus on their visual appearance, but the talent they bring to the table. Or in Girugamesh's case, they went for a minimal appearance so fans could focus on their musical abilities. Let me use a band I really love by the name of BORN. They started as Renny Amy, changed their name, sound, appearance when they became D&L, and did it once more when they became born. They've had their rough patches and contemplated splitting from each, but here they are bigger, better, and growing in the well known jrock label PS Company. Dir en grey have been around for a long time and have you noticed the growth in Kyo's vocals? What about the composition skills and musical abilities the other members displayed from album to album? From the handful of j-indies bands I read into, they all share a passion for music and need to spread that passion for years and years.

Now I'm not saying that kpop groups are not aiming for longevity, because it seems like they pride themselves on training these young talents. But their companies need to focus on one project at a time before building and promoting a new group so soon. Seeing my favorite rookies still needing that guidance with their vocals in music videos or even their choreography and charisma on live performances is quite saddening. They have all this potential, but they are being pushed back because the label is working on a brand new group. This is a major reason I don't avidly watch kpop lives online or have an urgent desire to see the groups I enjoy live, because their performances are quite weak.

In 2010, a male rookie group by the name of TOUCH started promotions in South Korea and a little bit overseas. I must admit watching their first music video for "I/Me" wasn't the greatest thing in the world, but I could see and hear potential from it. So, I checked out their first release and "Killin' Me" became one of my favorite and most played tracks of the year in kpop music. Unfortunately, watching them live was quite painful. The vocals were too soft and timid and their dancing lacked confidence. As they kept appearing more and more, their dancing became a little sharper and the boys were gradually becoming more comfortable on stage. Unfortunately, they had a departure in the group. The label (or group) tried to make up for it with a new direction in their style and once again, their live performances were a bit sloppy. I obviously haven't given up on these boys, so hopefully this'll be their year.

Last year, Block B made their debut with the guidance of Cho PD. They had great personalities that made each member different from each other, which is a big deal for me because I often don't bother with names and mix up members quite easily. They had great vocal potential and openly admitted that choreography is one of their weakness, but that didn't stop these boys from making appearances and pushing themselves to make a name for themselves among all the rookies. Honestly, I think the weakness in live performances were vocals, but I believe ZICO will work out all the kinks when they start promoting their new album for this year. My reason for bringing these boys up is because toward the end of the year, the same company began pushing their new project up front while Block B's activities seemed like a whisper among the promotion of EXO. Can we polish these boys up for a couple more years before bringing someone new?

Semi-controversial, powerhouse trio Piggy Dolls debuted about a year ago and were the topic in kpop industry, mostly due to their weight and not their astounding vocal talents. Upon the release of their first album, fans brought them back into light as the girls revealed their weight loss and their growth as a strong group and not just a gimmick. I think I've seen less news about them then Block B, which is quite unfortunate, but even more saddening is that the company will further push them in the back as they promote EXO's rookie rivals CHAOS. Clearly, I want the girls to get more exposure for their talent and not their weight, but they have some tough competition when it comes to female talent in the kpop industry and I'm afraid their company will simply forget about them completely.

Recently, I have taken the time to check out the boys of CHAOS and my overall opinion of them is quite unfortunate. They already left a semi-bad first impression on potential fans with one of the members being named Taeyang and everyone knows there can only be one Taeyang. Anyway, that isn't really one of my complaints. While watching their debut music video for "She's Coming", I felt a tiny bit conflicted. I was really blown away and surprised by the high caliber vocal talent a couple of the members possessed, which proved the label has a good ear for talent as reflected by those individuals and Piggy Dolls. Among further observation of the video, I was put off by the bad styling choices, the basic song and choreography, and the bland cinematography. Overall, I wasn't convinced that I should give these guys the time of day as far as checking out their first release. On top of that, their live performances aren't that impressive either, especially compared to Piggy Dolls when they debuted.

Aside from being annoyed by companies being too eager to make new groups and put their current rookies on the back burner, it's also quite irritating seeing all these carbon copies of already very well established groups. I know you ladies want to try to kick SNSD off their "sexy" throne, but labels are trying too hard to follow the near exact same path with groups like Rainbow, Nine Muses, and RaNia. I guess Teen Top, MYNAME, and Boyfriend are trying to push SHINee out of their "aegyo" throne with their innocent smiles and winks, but they're too busy trying to work the leftover noonas and charm their way with nauseatingly cute twins. I just saw some group called Twilight trying to be 2PM. I swear if I see one more fail wannabe G-Dragon or T.O.P, I don't know what I'll do. And don't get me started on this sub-group nonsense either.

So, what do you guys think? Do you believe the kpop industry is too focused on quantity more than quality?

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Yes I have to say I believe their main focus is quantity. They promote new groups every couple of months and a lot of groups have way too many members as vocals. Unless they want to make choirs?? I do have to admit most of the members debuting have great potential but are quickly placed in the back burner.