This will be the year the K-pop boy bands make their debuts.
By NATASHA IMAN
THIRTY days into 2012, and it has become apparent that the K-pop industry has taken on a new direction. While the output of female idol groups were the trend in 2011, the focus is now on boy bands.
Last year saw the debut of 27 female idol groups in total, bringing the average number of debuts per month to approximately two girl groups.
A handful of girl groups such as Dal Shalbet, A-Pink and Rania managed to break into the mainstream K-pop scene.
However, some girl groups such as Wind Hold Venus and Swan.B failed to emerge from that pack of debuts.
The influx did ensure that girl groups remained the “hot” topic in K-pop throughout last year. But the many girl groups making their debut distracted fans from existing groups, and no one achieved significant popularity.
Towards the end of 2011, TS Entertainment, the South Korean entertainment company behind girl-group Secret, highlighted an online list titled “Boy Idol Groups Planned for Debut in 2012”.
This list revealed members and companies that were in the midst of preparing and training boys that were to debut in 2012 under the major South Korean entertainment companies.
The non-exhaustive list included SM Entertainments project group dubbed M1 and M2, TS Entertainment’s group B.A.P, and other boy groups by companies such as YG Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, Big Hit, JYP Entertainment and also Cube.
Out of this forecast list, three male idol groups have already made their way into the K-pop scene within the span of a month and fans are eagerly awaiting the emergence of a surge of male K-pop groups.
Exo-M and Exo-K
On Jan 27 last year, SM Entertainment had announced it would be debuting a new male group. However, fans have been kept waiting since then.
After almost a year of anticipating the debut of the group, a pop-up timer was released on their official homepage featuring a logo and a 24-hour countdown timer that included the words “From. EXO PLANET”.
The timer counts down to a string of teasers showcasing snippets of songs from the group’s upcoming album. They also introduce different members that were to be part of the groups Exo-M and Exo-K respectively, with one group based in China and the other in Korea.
Exo-M and Exo-K officially released the prologue single What Is Love on Jan 30 in both Mandarin and Korean.
However, their official debut date as a complete unit remains unknown.
B.A.P, an acronym for “Best. Absolute. Perfect”, debuted its song on Jan 26, and quickly followed up with their first stage appearance the next day, and a showcase featuring all their members the day after.
Prior to the debut of B.A.P, its member Yong Guk was featured in the song of fellow label mate Song Jieun’s solo track Going Crazy, before making his official solo launch with the single I Remember.
Another fellow member, Himchan, was an emcee on MTV The Show before joining B.A.P.
Its most noted members are Zelo and Yong Guk that currently form B.A.P’s sub-unit of Bang & Zelo.
The sub-unit have also held a fan meet and sign event in Kuala Lumpur earlier last month, which attracted about 2,000 fans, highlighting their popularity amongst international fans even before their official debut.
New boy group Chaos comprising members HeeJae, DongMin, HyunSun, DuHwa and Park TaeYang have also been garnering much attention, being the first of the boy groups to debut this year.
Their first single She Is Coming was released on Jan 6, and was well received by fans in Korea and internationally.
The group made its debut through music programme SBS Inkigayo on Jan 8, pulling off an impressive dance routine while showcasing flawless vocals.
Their performance caught the attention of K-pop fans, and they have been dubbed as rivals for idol group Exo-M and Exo-K that will be also debuting in the same style as Chaos.
However, Chaos will be promoted mainly in Korea and Japan, instead of China.
While fans of K-pop around the world are rejoicing at the number of eye candy being churned out of South Korea, it has really led me to wonder whether the K-pop scene is starting to favour quality over quantity.
I am not saying the music scene is lacking talent. However, it has become increasingly common to hear about groups making their debuts one day and being on hiatus the next, simply because they are not unique enough.
Auto tune, dark concepts, cute concepts – we’ve all seen those, and are getting tired of them.
What K-pop fans want to see are not fresh faces with the same old concepts. Rather we want new artistes that bring their own personal music styles to the mix.
Coupled with talent and flair, it is no doubt that the newly debuted male idol groups will continue to grow stronger throughout the year.
Till then, we can sit back, enjoy and watch them battle it out for the 2012 rookie awards.