Group Commentary: Super Junior

Whenever I do something new I like to use this group as an example ^^ I’ll be separating the Super Junior’s, just FYI. It makes the “Member Makeup” category easier to describe as each sub-group has their own thing going.

Member Makeup
When Super Junior was first formed they had a pretty uniform breakdown, but with the inclusion of member Kyuhyun the numbers changed a little.

Super Junior can be broken up into 4 main groups. While members have, since debut, expanded their spheres into other groups I will try to include them there, but their names will appear in \\ // brackets unless they were initially a part of that unit.

The Singers: Yesung, Ryeowook, Kyuhyun, \\Donghae//, \\Sungmin//

The Dancers: Shindong, Hangeng (Former Member), Eunhyuk, Donghae, \\Kyuhyun//

The Actors: Siwon, Sungmin, Kibum, Heechul, \\Yesung//

The MCs: Leeteuk, Kangin, \\Shindong//, \\Heechul//, \\Eunhyuk//

The Rappers (this group formed on their own, they are not one of the main groups of the Super Junior makeup): Shindong, Kibum, Eunhyuk, \\Donghae//

What Made/Makes Them Popular

Ok, first the obvious answer: it’s the world’s largest boy band with 13 hot guys, what’s not to like?

Super Junior’s main draw comes from the fact that they have no defined image. They’ve done rock, punk, ballad, dance and pop songs successfully. There doesn’t seem to be a style this group can’t tackle.

With members specializing in various fields they are able to be EVERYWHERE at once. They can hit any music and variety program no trouble, and talk shows don’t slow them down in the slightest. They are able to promote across all fields (including dramas), drawing a massive fan base.

How They’ll Do

Right now they are facing some trouble from fans with members missing. Member Kibum is ending year 2 of a hiatus from SJ activities to pursue acting, member Hangeng left the group over human rights violations by SM Entertainment, and member Kangin is currently serving 2 years in the Korean military, a mandatory service all males must eventually complete. The group is working hard to fill the voids without completely erasing the missing members presence, and they should make it though this period without too much difficulty, unless the fans continue to protest the missing members.

The life of an Idol Group is said to be 5 years. I think that won’t be the case for SJ though. An Idol Group falls when they become predictable, and no one knows what style of music Super Junior will do next. Since the group is so fluid I think they have the potential to last many times the usual lifespan.

This is something to listen for: Super Junior members revealed recently a superstition shared by the group and SM Entertainment, their parent organization. They believe any song which starts with a solo by member Siwon will become a hit. See for yourself the reality of this superstition. Title songs (songs with Music Videos) released by Super Junior featuring a beginning Siwon solo (in chronological order) are: “Twins (Knock Out)”, “U”, “Sorry, Sorry”, “Minah (Bonamana)” and “No Other”. The members said the superstition began with “Sorry, Sorry”, so keep an eye out for future songs.

Fatal Flaws

It’s kind of hard to pick out flaws that could eventually lead the group to loose popularity or such. Since Super Junior is so flexible in image and talents they keep the fans entertained, but I did find a couple of areas where they might find difficulty if they haven’t already.

One major concern I have is their fanbase. Not the fans themselves, it is important for groups to have fans (that’s a no-brainer) and Super Junior’s EverLastingFriends (E.L.F.) are one of the most organized fanclubs out there. It’s the sheer numbers I’d worry about. Asian groups tend to be very open with their fans when compared to Western groups. They sing live, dance at request, answer questions not related to their album promotions, and are even chided if they act differently off stage vs on stage. Recently Super Junior members were given a week of vacation time during which they can travel. Five members chose to travel in secret to Italy. Last year they managed to take individual vacations without the fans noticing (for the most part, one member in France was found by E.L.F. members). This year though they were found out nearly a week in advance. Through twitter they expressed their regret at being “Found out”.

When Super Junior first formed leader Leeteuk said that he intended for the group to “Continue until sapphire blue balloons cover the world”, sapphire blue being the official fan-colors of the group. When a group is encouraged to be more open on stage and more involved in program filming a vacation from all the pressures of fans seems like a god-send. With the groups massive popularity which shows no sign of decreasing that will become more and more difficult. My concern is that the members will eventually burn out entirely with packed schedules and not much of a chance to escape stardom.

Another concern is their appearance on so many shows. Again, it’s good to promote the album and get more fans, but over-exposure can be just as harmful. Super Junior members hold three radio programs, two regular spots on variety programs, drama contracts, and participate in numerous other activities during and between albums. People might get tired with this much exposure to the group and begin to ignore them. I think they could do better by doing less in these fields, at least in variety show participation, and try to gain back some mystery. They manage to surprise the fans constantly and seem to have no shortage of tricks up their sleeves, but there is still that concern with exhausting not just the members will to perform but also the fans desire to watch (not that I’m anywhere near that point! ^^).

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