Editorial

2013: Kpop wishes for the new year

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2013 is finally here. I hadn’t thought the year 2012 would be over so quickly. A lot has happened, in the real world and the world of Kpop, both good and bad (and sometimes a bit questionable). 2013 is a new year and so a blank slate. A lot can happen in the next 12 months. I myself have created a bucket list and hope to cross off a few more things this year. What will you be doing in the new year? What wishes do you have for the future? Here are my Kpop wishes for 2013:

1. JYJ performs on music shows again/getting the entire story of the rift between DBSK and JYJ

Now that the lawsuit battle with SM Entertainment is finally over, the members of JYJ are free to appear on music shows again. And I must say I’m very anxious and excited to see them perform again. They have had concerts of course – and trust me those were amazing – but it’s still not the same. Performing on music shows is a kind of promotion, which they haven’t had for three years.

And though I loved to see them in dramas and commercials, I am ready for them to take to the stage again and fire it up. (Maybe there will even be a new album in the making). Also a few variety show appearances wouldn’t hurt. I remember the people from Come to Play being enticed by Jaejoong‘s humor, right after their Mirotic comeback.

But what I’m wishing for the most right now, is some kind of recap from the boys themselves about all that has happened during and before the lawsuit. I’m really curious to what caused the rift between the five members of DBSK and why Yunho and Changmin chose to stay with SM. And I’d like to know if that beautiful brotherly bond they all had, will be able to mend now. Seeing how hurt all five of them were about being on opposite sides, I wish for them to heal their wounds and become friends once again. Whether or not that will actually happen, I can’t tell. A lot has happened and a lot of things have been said – and not just by the five involved.

2. Global recognition of Kpop – but not entering the mainstream

Now that Psy has unintentionally but successfully broken through all the different culture barriers in the world and united everyone with his hilarious horse dance in Gangnam Style, people are becoming more interested in Kpop. And that is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because that means Kpop might become a bit more accepted by the global community, which means no more annoying side-eyes for Kpop fans. Kpop might even get recognition for its perks: no drugs, rock ‘n roll, catchy tunes, and often fun synchronized choreographies.

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But with global acceptation and recognition, it will be harder to hide the uglier side of Kpop. The suicide petitions, Black Oceans, sasaeng fans, slave contracts and sometimes ignorant and hurtful remarks by people from the Korean entertainment scene. Think of the instances when Blackface was used quite innocently (at least so it seemed to the Korean population) that got international fans upset and hurt. If the eyes of the world are now tuned to Kpop, Kpop will have to think about the cultures of the world. And that means the Korean public and its entertainers will have to get more educated about the rest of the world.

And let me be honest here: I want global recognition for Kpop, but I don’t want it to become mainstream. It might be a bit selfish of me, of course, but I feel that if Kpop becomes mainstream in the rest of the world, it will lose that special something – that ‘X’ factor if you will – and it will become normal. It’ll be just like liking Beyoncé or Coldplay or Britney Spears. There’s nothing special about that. And let’s not forget that the people who are now interested in Kpop because of Psy will be in for one hell of a shock. Because as Kpop fans know: Psy isn’t Kpop and Kpop certainly isn’t Psy. And people are now led to believe that.

3. 2NE1‘s Minzy finally gets a solo

I’m still waiting for Minzy to have a kick-ass solo single or album. This girl has it all: amazing vocals, good rapping voice, dancing abilities one just has to respect and the attitude of a pro. The maknae of 2NE1 hasn’t gotten as many opportunities to show off her skills as the other girls have and I think that’s a shame. She is very talented and I think she’d do great on her own. I can see her being the new Taeyang or GD&TOP of 2NE1 – if she were to team up with Bom perhaps – and her material would sell like hot cakes. If she were to have a solo project, I’d love for it to be R&B or hiphop. She’s very suited for those genres of music. She could even tackle a mournful ballad without breaking a sweat.

I don’t really care what kind of music it is, as long as Minzy gets a solo project of quality. It’s about time, YG Entertainment! Let the maknae be more than just the maknae.

4. A stop to the enormous rookie group debuts

I know I’m probably not the only one who is getting a bit tired of all these new rookie groups entering the South Korean music market. There seems to be a new amount of them debuting every year! And it just won’t stop. So now I’m saying STOP. Just stop. Enough is enough. Even if I were a very dedicated Kpop idol not wanting to miss out on any new groups, it would just be too much. I could never keep up! Instead of providing Kpop fans with more and more new shiny stuff, how about labels and entertainment companies just let the groups and solo acts they already have on the market establish themselves?

Let the rookies become veterans of the Kpop scene, before debuting another group. Give them a chance. So they might not get the record sales you’d wished for when you put them together. Give them time. If they have actual talent and the will to go on (dramatic turn of phrase, I know) then they will eventually become that stellar group or solo act you were hoping for. Give their fan bases time to grow and time to get to know each member as an individual. This might mean you can’t give them all the same outfits and hair color – B.A.P. I’m looking at you! – and you might have to spend more time letting them be themselves than having them conform to the image you want, but it’ll be for the better.

So please, labels and entertainment companies, give your idols some slack and let them become who they were meant to be in their own time. This way everyone gets what they want. No more rookies. More time to establish themselves. More money. How does that sound?

5. More expanding of idols’ skill sets when it comes to lyrics and composing

I’ve always liked it when artists write and compose their own songs, mainly because I get the feeling I can glimpse into their unconscious. To know how an artists or idol really feels about something, it’s always interesting to listen to the songs they’ve created themselves. And make no mistake: there already are idols who have been writing and composing their own songs, and some have been elevated to ‘artist status’ because of that.

I’m not saying every idol has it in him or her to compose and write masterpieces, that’s absurd. Not everyone is skilled in that area. But some are and I’d like to hear their songs and their thoughts. Taking JYJ as an example, I’ve come to realize that many of the songs th members have written and/or composed  themselves are my favourite songs of all time. Think of Pierrot, Nine or In Heaven. Those songs have meaning, because the artists themselves have poured their hearts and souls into them.

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Some rookie groups have already gotten the opportunity to present their own work, like Block B and B.A.P. I’d love to see more idols develop their writing and composing skills, if they have any.

6. 2NE1/Miss A collaboration

Doesn’t the picture really say it all? These two groups have always been putting themselves forward to empower women. Though both groups do it in different ways: 2NE1 has developed a more in-your-face kind of style, while Miss A keeps it a bit more sophisticated and ladylike, both groups are very successful in what they do. Whenever I think about female empowerment I think of those two groups (and the Brown Eyed Girls, of course).

JYP and YG would probably have a blast with trying to mix the groups’ styles, not just musically but in terms of wardrobe as well, and the end result would be amazing. All the members of Miss A and 2NE1 are vocally talented (some maybe less than others) and I think they could really make a collaboration work. They might even set a trend of similar groups collaborating!

If it were up to me, I’d have a 2NE1/Miss A collaboration album, filled with all kinds of songs: from up-tempo beats, to electric pop, to soulful ballad and perhaps even a bit of opera. We know Suzy can sing opera, as she showcased in Dream High 1.

7. Less pop, more hip hop and R&B

Now I know it’s called Kpop, but I must say I sometimes miss some nice R&B and hip hop thrown in the mix. It’s out there, of course, but it’s never very much in the limelight. And that’s a shame. Because these two genres have so much to offer, as well as the artists who make the music. Take BIGBANG‘s Taeyang for example, he’s dabbled in those two genres – especially R&B – and look at his international fan base now!

If you are talking to people who aren’t Kpop fans, the one name they might now is Taeyang. Both R&B and hip hop are very popular genres and if tackled right, idols and artists could really put out some amazing and quality work. It might even help establish or build international fan bases, because as a fan of hip hop and R&B before I was one of pop, I can tell you that it doesn’t matter what language it’s in. If the beats makes you want to dance or bounce and if the artists have great timing and rhymes, I’m going to listen to it.

With Tablo under YG right now, it might make hip hop a more popular genre in Korea. YG Entertainment is the go-to-label for all things hip hop (though what BIGBANG and 2NE1 have been putting out isn’t really considered hip hop any more) and they might be able to create some sort of comeback for the hip hop and R&B genres. There are a lot of underground artists; they might want to collaborate and make that happen.

8. SPICA goes big

Say what you want about the last two comebacks of SPICA, you can’t deny that this is one talented group. Every woman in this group has vocal talent and some of them have the most powerful vocals I’ve ever heard in the world of Kpop. Boa, Jiwon, Juhyun, Narae and Bohyung deserve a lot more recognition and praise than they have gotten so far. In my opinion idols need to able to sing and boy, can these ladies sing!

I can see these five young women going places, while kicking ass and taking names. They have it in them to become one of the biggest groups in Korea and if they were managed properly, maybe even of the Eastern hemisphere. Because we all know you don’t have to be able to understand a song to be touched by it. SPICA is very good at bringing out emotions in people, by providing the emotions with their voices. I have not once looked up the lyrics for Painkiller, and I don’t have to. I know what they are singing about, because of the emotions these girls portray.

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And that is a very special ability that not just anyone has or can utilize. But the members of SPICA can, and I’d love to see them capture hearts from all over the world with it.

What are your Kpop wishes for the year 2013? Sound off in the comments below!

Sources: Photos – colorguard.org, seoulbeats, all-about-korea18.blogspot.com, confessyourkpop.tumblr.com, allkpop, unfinishedman.com, en.korea.com, cellobello.com, koreaboo; Videos: officialpsy, LOENENT, s3adolphin

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