Retrospect: February/March

So hindsight is 20/20, and the further we are from an event the more objectively and accurately we can assess it. The same holds true for Kpop. Many people’s heady predictions about, say, 2pm’s impending failure post-Jay Park, was mostly false in the long run. As much as I disliked Without U, it still won lots of awards and Triple Crowned.

Thus I decided I’ll analyze music news that have had some months of buffering. I won’t go so far back as to be irrelevant. Let’s say, 2 to 6 months. This way the news will still be interesting and somewhat recent, but far back enough so I feel I can objectively report on it without expecting new development.

To start off, I’ll start with the battle of black, Kara’s Lupin (EP) and SNSD’s Run Devil Run.

2010 first half was full of “dark concept” transformation, mostly from Kara, SNSD, and T-ara. Lupin burned up real time and weekly charts upon release, and became the most successful single for Kara, with 2 M! Countdown wins, 3 Mubank K-Chart, and 1 Mutizen. I argue that this was also the best “dark” concept out of the bunch, due to the quality of the song, the stage performance, and their unexpected and very positively received change in image. Compared to Pretty Girl or even Honey, Kara has come a long way.

However, Lupin was no Gee. Recently it was the #3 song of the first half of 2010 according to Mubank and #5 according to Melon, but it’s all next to forgotten by now. Plus, T-ara’s re-packaged album and Promotion for I Go Crazy Because of You definitely stole some of its thunder. The song had potential to be a megahit, but the MV–no, more like the cheap looking background–kinda killed it. I blame DSP. It was a good song, a big stepping stone for the group, a big hit for a few weeks, and then died down. A solid part of Kara history, though, for sure.

SNSD’s RDR does not receive such hot reviews. It was ranked #9 on Melon from the same chart and #5 on Mubank. The results definitely aren’t bad, but the major problem was that, compared to Oh! it wasn’t nearly as successful. 2 Mutizens, but weak digital sales. RDR was largely boosted by their album sales. Like T-ara and Kara, SNSD tried their hand at changing their concept, but the hype died down a lot quicker than it did for the previous two groups. This, I predict, will determine the fate of SNSD’s future music release. Oh! was successful despite criticism that it was a (n even more) candy-popped Gee. RDR was not as hot despite more hype about its release. SNSD has been locked by listeners as a group that should/has to stick to more or less cutesy songs to be commercially successful.

However, SNSD (and Kara) are headed for Japan, where the market is open for foreign girl groups. It’s a blank slate, so SNSD breaks free from their almost cemented style expectation in Korea. Let’s hope these groups take advantage of their final tabula rasa.

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