Archive for category Group Commentary

Group Commentary: Co-Ed School (Update)

Co-Ed has released a new MV. While I can’t find it with subs yet (and therefore can’t review it), it did change my opinion of the group and their future in the Korean music industry a bit.

This new MV (Bbiribom Bberibom) is extremely unique and presents a new side of the group. They no longer are copying any SM Town group’s style, and seem to finally be finding their feet. If they keep this up I can picture them sticking around in the music industry for a while, though if they put out too many cutesy songs in a row they’ll only have junior high level fans.

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Group Commentary- Co-Ed School

Ok, so before I begin let me just say that this is entirely directed at the company (Core Contents Media). I think the artists themselves are talented, this isn’t against them at all, please understand! Also, this is a VERY new group, so I won’t post the “Member Makeup” since they are still new and aren’t venturing out of their concept-shell yet.

What (Might) Make Them Popular

Co-Ed School (also just called Co-Ed) is the first ever mixed Korean “Idol” group (I put that in quotes because they are working to achieve Idol Group status, but they’re new so they don’t really have it yet). I know SpongeBand is a mixed group, but they’re indy, and only the guy sings. So far that’s the only draw I’ve seen for this group (remember, SUPER new).

How They’ll Do

I’m really not sure here. See the “Fatal Flaws” section, but it’s too early to tell…

Fatal Flaws

Remember, this is directed at the company and their stylist(s)

So far I’m thinking they’ll crash and burn pretty epically. That is unless their stylist and company wake the hell up mind you. I think the company had better watch their backs, they stole so much from other groups and companies that if they’re not outright sued they will be facing a lot of trouble from fans. Let me break it down:

The Girls:  Half the girls styles are total rip-offs of F(x) NU ABO style. Namely the member with the half green hair (an obvious copy of F(x) leader Victoria, who had half red hair in the EXACT same style) and the member with the bleached bang line. Not sure what that last one meant? Watch F(x)’s NU ABO MV, Krystal’s style is EXACTLY what that member has. It’s an extremely distinctive style developed especially for NU ABO promotions, so it’s a completely obvious rip-off. Also the girls stage clothes (the school girl uniforms) are a total rip off of T-ARA’s in “I Go Crazy Because of You”, but that’s not as scandalous since they’re from the same company.

The Boys: Their style is more original, though they still look like Beast/B2st to me…

The Song: Ok, here’s where I think they might get hit with legal action. The passage of the song “From head to toe all lies”. Actually, just the “From head to toe” part. I get that it’s a simple line and on it’s own it’s harmless, but they abruptly change pace and rythm of the music and singing so you get this background callback to 4Minute’s smash hit “Hot Issue”. If they weren’t adjusting the synthesizer to mimic the song I wouldn’t call them out on it, but they’re pretty obvious about it.

So that’s their fatal flaw: they’re a parrot group. Their song (to a lesser degree) and styles (to an epic degree) are directly copied from other groups. That’s what they’re using as their draw. They’re taking things other groups have made popular and imitating it so that fans will link the two groups on some kind of level, giving them popularity. I hope the next promotion song for this group is something original, and the styles had better be. Really I would like to see this group succeed, but I almost hope they fail just to teach their company a lesson about copying others.

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Group Commentary- Super Junior- K.R.Y.

three down one to go (this one!!)

Member Makeup

This is an unusual Super Junior sub-group. It consists of only three members. No one dances and they don’t really promote on their own as far as variety shows (they held a concert recently).

Kyuhyun- Singing

Ryeowook- Singing

Yesung- Singing

(Sungmin and Donghae of Super Junior are common singing partners in KRY songs, and Eunhyuk of Super Junior has rapped with them before)

Why They’re Popular

The answer to this is pretty simple: it’s their voices. The three members of KRY are the three lead singers of Super Junior. KRY only sings ballad songs (typically used as OST’s for dramas) and works to put more emotion and deeper meaning into their work than you usually find in dance-groups.

How They Did/How They’ll Do

KRY is very sheltered in comparison to other sub-groups. They promoted initially through talk shows (keeping that more serious image) and still appear on Super Junior albums with their serious and addicting songs. Their popularity won’t die out anytime soon, I think, because fans don’t see them much or often, so they’re still kind of unusual.

In 2007 KRY was to release their album, but a near-fatal car accident put member Kyuhyun at death’s door, so the album was scrapped and songs from it were slipped into Super Junior’s recent “Bonamana” album (that’s why there are so many solo songs and duets between KRY members). There is no work if they will release another album. KRY was formed at the same time as SJT, so since then the members of KRY have been placed in other sub-groups that keep them busy (Kyuhyun and Ryeowook in Super Junior- M and Yesung in Super Junior- H).

Fatal Flaws

Well, this isn’t really a flaw, but the members don’t really have time to release an album. Like I just said Kyuhyun and Ryeowook were placed in Super Junior- M, who is showing no signs of stopping, and while Super Junior- H may not promote anymore Yesung enjoys a very successful career as a musical actor and even sang a solo OST for “Cinderella Sister” which reached unprecedented heights on K-Pop charts (OST’s don’t usually gain such a following).

KRY isn’t going anywhere anytime soon I think. They are like Super Junior- H: not exposed enough to really show any flaws. They seem perfectly content to perform at concerts and record a few songs per Super Junior CD.

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Group Commentary- Super Junior- H

Two sub-groups down, two to go.

Member Makeup

This is why I call Super Junior- H the “Twin Brother” of Super Junior- T: There is only one member different between the two groups. Member Heechul from SJT is replaced by member Yesung (specializing in singing). That’s the only difference.

What Made Them Popular

Super Junior- H (standing for “Happy”) tackled the more lighthearted and cute songs. That’s what made them popular right there. After “Don’t Don” and “U” Super Junior’s fan base had grown massively. The charismatic, sexy and serious image the two songs hit them with was a major contrast to the cute and silly side of the sub-group, which drew in a lot of curious fans.

This was a side of SJ little children could have fun listening to, as their title songs were about Pajama Parties and girlfriends who can’t cook (to give you an idea about the nature of the songs). It was definitely a younger audience who would be drawn to the group, but I’m a college student and there are some days where you just need happy music.

How They Did

Super Junior- H seems more popular now that they don’t perform actually. Their songs were popular early on for their unusual style and upbeat pacing, earning them a pretty solid fan following.

Fatal Flaws

So here’s what killed the group: no follow through. Super Junior- H only ever released one mini-album, did many live performances, and then kind of vanished into oblivion. Their songs are still remixed and performed at SJ concerts, but the whole of SJ participates now, not just the members from the original sub-group. This is pretty much the only flaw I could see, they vanished too fast to really identify any issues.

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Group Commentary- Super Junior- T

Ok, one sub-group down, three more to go! ~~

Member Makeup

This sub-group has even less members than Super Junior-M, so I’ll break it down by person again.

Leeteuk: Leader, vocals, DJ

Heechul: Vocals, DJ

Shindong: Dancing, DJ, Rap

Kangin: Vocals, MC, Acting, DJ

Eunhyuk: Dancing, Rap

Sungmin: Singing, Dancing

What Made Them Popular

They were created back in 2006 when the market for Trot (kind of like the Korean version of country music) was at a peak.

This group was the first sub-group of Super Junior, a novelty that helped gain them great popularity along with their odd title song “Rokkugo”, which proved music doesn’t have to make sense.

How They’ll Do

I’m foregoing this category. Super Junior- T is not an active group anymore, so that tells you  how it all worked out.

Fatal Flaws

There were actually a few factors that played into the disbandment of Super Junior- T (which is the twin-brother group of Super Junior- H). However let me point out that while they were supposedly disbanded SJT and their songs are performed more often than Super Junior- H, they just haven’t released anything new and keep performing “Rokkugo”.

I think one of the big factors in this group’s disbandment was that they were the first sub-group. Super Junior, when it was formed, was a rotational group- each year 6 members would leave and 6 new ones would replace them. Before the first round of member “Graduation” SM changed the game-plan and added 13th member Kyuhyun, sealing the group. Amongst all of this they released Super Junior- T. Many fans thought it was a way to disband the core Super Junior, and so they were very unwilling to accept the group (Sub-groups were not so common in this form back then). I think that confusion was a big factor- no one wanted to see the new 13-member Super Junior disband.

Super Junior- T began to build a strong following when member Heechul was injured severely in a car accident, bringing a stop to promotions for a while. They did some other programs after the accident, but they were pretty much overshadowed by the main Super Junior (who gained immense popularity with their song “U”).

Let me say it again though- even though Super Junior- T was disbanded by SM in favor of Super Junior- H, they still perform at all concerts, I think they’ve actually performed more than SJH, whose songs are now performed by the full Super Junior.

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Group Commentary- Super Junior- M

I decided to try and keep the SJ’s together in this section, so I’m going to blast through the sub groups today.

Member Makeup

As with their parent group SJM can be broken into categories. Since there are less members I’ll just list each one and their specialty role in the group.

ZhouMi- songwriter, singer, MC, translator for Korean members

Donghae- dancer, rapper

Siwon- Actor, model

Ryeowook- Singer

Kyuhyun- Singer

Henry- Dancer, singer, English (meaning he gets the English lines in songs), violinist, translator for Korean members

Hangeng (former member)- Dancer, leader, translator for Korean members

What Makes/ Made Them Popular

Super Junior-M gained much of their early following through their relation to the main Super Junior group. They’ve made a name for themselves after this image, but they still share a lot of the same draws.

There is no defined image for Super Junior- M. They’ve tended towards the manly and strong image, but have also explored more serious songs as well as light and soft works.

This group more than any other SM Entertainment group is very self-contained when it comes to music. So far five of their songs have been written by member ZhouMi. More songs come from the members themselves in some way than for any other SM group. Previously when leader Hangeng and member Henry performed their dance or instrumental skills the music for that was also composed or mixed by maknae (youngest member) Henry, who has contributed in Super Junior’s repackaged Bonamana album as one of a writing duo for the song “All My Heart” (the other being Super Junior’s leader Leeteuk).

How They’ll Do

Right now SJM is coming out of an issue where their leader brought a sudden lawsuit against SM Entertainment to end his exclusive contract. That came in the middle of promotions for their mini-album and full album (which was not released as a result). They have announced that they are preparing an album to be released later this year or early next year, and I think they’ll have a tough time of it. Fans will continue to shout for ex-leader Hangeng to return, and I think they’ll have to work through all of that muck before they can really work on building their strength in China again. I’m not saying they can’t do it, they’re more than capable, but it’s going to be a tough road early on.

As the members Chinese improves their image and popularity is strengthened. Previously Hangeng, ZhouMi, and Siwon ruled the stage, with the others being relatively silent in the background (or in member Ryeowook’s case totally silent). During SuperGirl member Kyuhyun began to speak and maknae Henry almost totally broke out of his shell.  I think as the group becomes more comfortable with the language they’ll continue to show more charms and will grab more fans.

One of the lead draws is the sudden change in personality the members seem to undergo between China and Korea. The major indicators of this are ex-member Hangeng, Siwon and Kyuhyun. In Super Junior Hangeng was almost always silent and reserved to the point where you would think he was afraid of the camera. Siwon was always known as the “Prince” and had a very serious and gentlemanly image, and Kyuhyun was known as the “Evil Maknae” (youngest member), with a playful and sarcastic image. With Super Junior- M though Hangeng is playful and sarcastic, Siwon is goofy and cuddly with the members, and Kyuhyun is a shadow to member ZhouMi.

Recently it’s been announced that members Donghae and Siwon will co-star in a drama in Taiwan, and I believe that will help increase their popularity and Chinese abilities. Siwon has also been proposed as one of two male leads in the Chinese adaptation of “Gossip Girls”. The major news with this is that his proposed co-star is former SJM leader Hangeng, who left the group suddenly and without word to the members. The two will definitely draw a massive audience.

Fatal Flaws

Right now it’s still relatively early in Super Junior- M’s career. Yes they debuted two years ago, but between promotions they do not do much if anything in China. I think that’s their fatal flaw. It won’t necessarily end the group long-term, but it restricts them from really taking off.

Super Junior seems to always come before Super Junior-M. That’s what I think their major problem is. There needs to be balance between the two groups, since they share members. I know that SJM is a Sub-Group, but they would benefit from the members being more active in China than they have been. Recently member ZhouMi has been co-hosting a Chinese program in Korea, so that is at least a step in the right direction.

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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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