With a title like that you know you can expect some major unloading. The original article was rather short, however, so I felt a little lead-in was necessary. I hope you guys don’t mind =] Oh, and for our health-conscious readers…:
the following article may contain traces of my (plotbunny’s) personal opinion. I feel it’s also important to note that my views do not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the staff here at SNSD Korean.
With K-pop fast becoming a global phenomenon, current music standards find themselves on the chopping block. In Japan, where the Hallyu wave continues to influence musical tastes and South Korean songs have already infiltrated and, in some cases, dominated Japanese charts, idol comparisons have become common practice among fans. It goes without saying that both countries have their own collective ideas regarding pop music. Origin, musical appeal, presentation, the process by which idols are “made” – these are all elements that define the Asian pop music industry and the success of the individual artists. Almost all of the major decisions that go into making and promoting a group, such as the group’s concept and focus areas, are planned long before the group’s members even know each others names. The industry is a carefully calibrated machine. So what happens when you throw a wrench, and not just any wrench, but a completely new kind of wrench that right-minded audiences can’t possibly ignore, into the gears? Will everything that has been accepted up until this point come to a screeching halt?
Say hello to your wrench(es)!
On February 11th a tweet by Japanese composer and producer Ryosuke Imai suggesting that Japan take a few leaves out of South Korea’s pop music book appeared. The tweet said:
“I have watched AKB48′s performance on Fuji TV’s FNS Song Festival. The music, vocal projection, dance, style and everything are lacking behind SNSD. There’s nothing comparable“.
He also added,
“Composers and artists will be feeling the crisis as much as I do. It’s useless to just voice out complaints. A cooperation to remedy the situation is necessary“.
Here are the performances he’s referring to:
(J-Perf) AKB48 – Beginner 101204 FNS Music Festival 2010 (AsianMVPV)
(I don’t know why this video’s being difficult >__> Anyway, I’d recommend opening it in a new tab…after that I’m not really sure)
Ryosuke Imai is one of Japan’s top producers, having worked with some of the most well-known Korean and Japanese artists, including BoA, Rain, Crystal Kay and Ayumi Hamasaki.
Keep in mind that while he insisted the country as a whole was lacking in the area of pop music, he also only mentioned AKB48. The view would almost certainly change if he were to replace SNSD with ‘KARA’ and AKB48 with ‘Perfume’. Then again, AKB48 is considered Japan’s top girl group at the moment, the same title SNSD holds in Korea, so perhaps the comparisons were actually on the mark in terms of status? Either way, Imai wants to improve upon the market in Japan and it sounds like he’s willing to work with South Korean entertainment agencies to make it happen. More positive international relations will hopefully lead to greater musical success in the future in both countries.
I’m really interested in what you all have to say about Imai’s tweet and the outlook of the Hallyu wave in Japan. Comments are encouraged! But please, play nice everyone!
written by: plotbunny@snsdkorean
zomg ❤ the pic
hmmm….truthfully i used to be into jpop but moved into kpop cuz of the girls, but I think that AKB48 seriously have SO~ much members that its confusing who’s who in that group, ive never really seen them perform at all. but anyways back to the topic I think that it’ll be seriously interesting to see japan actually cooperate more with korea and if that happens well there will probably be a lot of changes in japan’s music industry or may be just a little bit, but for now i cant really say.
To be honest, Soshi are a phenomenon, and if they maintain their level of excellence this year as they have done since 2007, they’ll be a musical juggernaut. When The Beatles were around, I don’t think it would’ve been justified to say something like “they’re so good, we need to step up”. While I’m not saying Soshi are going to be the same cultural force as The Beatles, music is organic; it should be allowed to develop naturally. It’s pointless trying to build a Japanese SNSD, it will just come off as fake. Just make good music, the fame and popularity will follow if the artists in question are any good.
Making music isn’t like building a faster car, suggesting that the Japanese music industry come together to create better music than SNSD will be a fruitless endeavor. Not because it can’t be done, but because I don’t think anyone really has a concrete idea that “this song will be a mega-hit” during the writing process, or “this will be an awesome dance” during the choreography training. Nobody really knows who the next big thing will be, I mean Lady Gaga came out of nowhere and stomped the US scene over the last three years, but tell someone back in 2008 that possibly one of the most popular singers right now would be a meat-dress wearing bisexual pianist electro-pop firecracker-bra toting not particularly good looking woman and they’d send you to be committed.
I’m glad though that Soshi are making Japanese music bigwigs pay attention, competition on the level of SNSD does breed dedication and hard work. I’ll say good luck, I’ve always liked J-Pop but Korea has been really good the last couple years in terms of producing quality music. SNSD, 4minute, 2NE1, Big Bang, TVXQ, Secret, Kara, Sistar, After School, Brown Eyed Girls, Shinee, SuJu, f(x), Miss A, they’ve all debuted in the 21st century, and most within the last four years and they all have quality songs.
not that I’m comparing Korea’s music industry to Japan’s but I think kpop groups are better performers than the jpop groups [or maybe it’s just me]
as for AKB, I think they’re fine.. although they got too many members and some of them are just… whatever.
[I’m not in the position to judge any of them anyways]
but it’s good to know that Korea had made Japan to realize that they need to level up in terms of pop entertainment..
and yeah, SNSD’s Korean stylists also needs to take a lesson or two from their Japanese counterparts.. the girls looked way fashionable when they were promoting in Japan..
I pretty much agree what his tweet, it’s a fair assessment and it’s a consensus view. I think most industry experts on both sides of the aisle will agree with what he had to say about the merits of these two groups. In my opinion though SNSD still has a long way to go before being considered an elite J-pop group, their sunbaes BoA and TVXQ have argubly achieved that, and that’s through years and years of hard work that SNSD can take advantage of and build upon.
As with his second comment, I think coorporation and an exchange of ideas definite will help stimulate the talent in Japanese groups. Rain once said in an interview with CNN TalkAsia, that Hallyu can’t be just a unilateral flow of culture and ideas, it should be an open channel and a forum to exchange of ideas on a multilateral baiss. I think that’s exactly what Korea and Japan needs to do. Up until now, you only see Korean groups working with Japanese producers on their music, but you never see Japanese groups working with Korean producers to perhaps get some infusions of new ideas. You see Chinese trainees, American trainees, and even Thai trainees make it in the Korean music industry, but have you ever heard of a Japanese trainee in a Korean talent agency? It’s safe to say that the Korean groups are willing and have reached out to learn what it takes to succeed outside of Korea, but can the same be said about Japanese groups? So I think Ryosuke Imai is definitely right that the Japanese music industry needs to open up a little more and step up their game.
Pingback: Tweets that mention With Soshi on the Scene, Japan Urged to Step Up Their Game | So Nyuh Shi Dae Fansite -- Topsy.com
for the most part, he’s right but snsd used to have more energy during the INTW than now. Morning Musume have very powerful performances so the jpop idol industry shouldn’t be lacking too much.
hi, can i ask what CF or event is the first photo from? i’ve never seen that photo before!!
but on the note of jap vs korean groups…indeed jap idol groups need to step up..i grew up loving Speed, but after that, there isn’t any that made me take notice..then with the korean wave & SNSD, there’s no turning back for me (and i guess many many others around asia & the world). The concept, training & culture of korean idol groups are of such excellence that all others pale in comparison. Plus the fact that they are both physically attractive and talented in singing/dancing/variety sense..there’s really no stopping the koreans from conquering the music world..
I’m not sure what they were promoting when this photo was taken O.o
Semi-unrelated comment but.. just the mention of Crystal Kay brings back memories to Nodame Cantabile ending..
Aish.. Seobaby’s fav. ❤
Aww, that’s a really cute OST! When did she say she liked this??
Seobaby’s a big fan of Nodame~ I think she said she liked the anime on WGM.
i thot she was a fan of the jdrama not the anime?
Seohyun loves the
kiddieanime Sgt. Frog…
@hydrogenbum oh right, you may be correct.. i completely forgot about the j-drama. =/
my bad! either way.. nodame ❤
Oh…WOW. It just occurred to me what you two are talking about…x__x ‘Scuse me while I go stick my head in the sand
yes, japan jpop industry has never the less has its “hallyu”…
but it is not as strong as the korea’s one….
I can say that because in my country and local place
people are so into kpop..
they buy their albums, magazine about them, talk about them, learn korean language and even act like those artist….
i think this is kind of a mature type of article…..haha…
btw, AKB48 is like a big family….so many members….
SNSD, fighting! ^^
cathy j. said:
SNSD are so great.!all over theworld they are becoming popular!
Fair comment indeed by Ryosuke Imai 🙂 . Yes, AKB48 may be the top J-Pop girl group at the moment, but our “angelic 9” got to the same spot in the Korean K-pop scene by virtue of sheer hard work, sweat and tears 😉 !!! I suppose he’s just pre-empting the Japanese music “bigwigs” on the possible “negative consequences” to the 2 countries’ music industries unless some form of creative co-operation is in place between the 2 in the near future :).
By the way, I just LOVE the posted photo of our beautiful 9 “wrench(es)” 😀 !!! When was it taken; was it for a drink commercial ? It’s SO CUTE and just perfect for some Really Cool Macros 😉 😀 😀 !!!
i think i can say something since i love both snsd & akb48 so much equally! my 2 top fav groups of all times!
2011 is an important year for both snsd & akb48.
the girl group wave came on 2009 till now it still seems going strong but when it fall, how are the girl groups going to survive?
both snsd & akb48 uphold the title of “Korea Top 1 Girl Group” & “Japan Top 1 Girl Group”, so the only way to break through is to challenge and overcome their own records, and produce more quality works.
i actually agree with what Ryosuke Ima said, they are nothing comparable, i love snsd’s whole style more than akb48 but akb48 really doesnt work that way, in akb48 members mostly didnt want to be a singer, this group is just a chance for them to get known by people & their dreams are mostly different like actress,dj,manga writer,model etc. while snsd is a singer group when everyone of them loves to sing & dance on stage. the only simliar points of them is that snsd & akb48 really work their butts off to gain what they deserve today, thats why i truly adore them!
SNSD HWAITING! AKB48 GANBATTE!
(these are my thoughts about them, no offences to any)
Im a full blood SONE… but im also a full blood AKB48 fan… and please DONT COMPARE them because they are the top girl groups of there country because of different reasons…. If if you are going to look at talent SNSD would be better (I AM 100% SURE), but AKB48 also has talent… AKB48 may not be the super trained group not like korean groups but they are good in a lot of things and if you give them a chance, you’ll know how good they are… ^^
try watching “BEGINNER” by AKB48 – that is the GEE counterpart of SNSD… and try to listen to “Sakura no ki ni narou” which is there latest single which is really good…
SNSD AND AKB48!!!!!!!!!!!!! FIGHTING!!!!!
No worries, I myself am a S♥NE & AKB WOTA, so any “comparisons” you noticed were coming from someone who’s familiar with both sides’ strengths and weaknesses 😉 Let’s just say I was more than a little excited when I heard the two groups were going to do a collab for FNS Song Festival (which ended up being two seconds of sharing the stage >__>)
I didn’t really take to AKB’s recent singles; Heavy Rotation and Beginner were awesome, as was PonyShu, but the last two just seemed…forced…O.o Anyway, I agree with what you said about talent – SNSD’s won hands down, but AKB’s got their own talent too, just strictly in the ‘idols-you-can-meet’ department ^^
Loving the article! It’s good to see that the bigwigs in Japan are having their heads turned by the Kpop scene!
I feel both countries have genres of music that they each excel at better. For instance, I love the accessibiltiy of J-Rock, but find it an arduous task to find decent K-Rock that hasn’t been over-produced to the point of no longer having any soul. So when comparing the raw quality and authenticity of the rock scene, J-Rock wins hands-down for me.
On the other hand though, Korean pop is on a whole different level to J-Pop. Whilst I think J-Pop girl-groups are good at what they do, I also feel they’ve been getting a bit samey and stale. Even the male-groups are lacking in terms of the final product and are nowhere near as dynamic as male Kpop groups. So I really don’t find it a surprise that when something a bit different such as SNSD comes along and throws the scene into disarray. It’s what our girls do best, and why we love them! ^^
Now.. if only they can make inroads to the European music scene, then I might die with happiness…
Jpop is jpop and kpop is kpop! I love both cause their different in their own way and I’d hate it if these japanese producers were trying to turn jpop groups into kpop groups!
Arbitrary Greay said:
Imai’s right in that it’s not comparable, but I don’t think that they’re incomparable in a superior-inferior way, more in an apples-and-oranges way.
Music: I just wrote an overanalysis on why TMYW is awesome out the wazoo, and it’s strength lies in how everything in the melody, arrangement, and structure is geared towards promoting a very specific atmosphere.
Beginner on the other hand is awesome out the wazoo because it’s written like a piece of Romantic-Era classical music, using multiple themes and drastically different melodies, weaving them together with the arrangement that is in and of itself complex enough to be analysed on its own.
This extends to a lot of Kpop vs. Jpop music in general: Kpop is better for your running/driving playlist because they relentlessly stick to the point.(Which is to dance whooo!) Jpop numbers generally have “higher-level” songwriting and arrangements, but aren’t necessarily as immediately catchy. Jpop also covers a far wider range of genres than Kpop but when it comes to dance music Kpop is more “pure”. (And here I only mean for idol music)
Vocal projection, dance:
Undoubtedly Kpop talents are better. I think this is where the brunt of Imai’s complaint is because the “talentless” idol has been around for a while in Jpop. What’s interesting to note is that the talentless idol is a development that happens over time, as they happen in America a lot as well coughMileycough. Kpop’s idol system is barely two decades old and is only in its second incarnation. To scale, can you name a talentless idol from America’s Golden Age of Film Musicals? Give Kpop another couple decades and popularity cycles and we’ll see if they can keep up the talent level.
You also have to give credit to the J-idols that do as well as they do without ANY prior training. New Morning Musume members have to memorize over 50 songs and dances in about a month or two, learning at least 3 a day, and that doesn’t include learning the routines of other groups for the big H!P shuffle tours they do twice a year on top of their own tours. And lots of J-idols do have talent,(thanks for mentioning Perfume plotbunny!) but their groups are of course judged by their weakest link. That’s like saying SNSD’s talent is only as good as Hyoyeon’s vocals and Sunny’s dancing.
That said, I have a talent kink and I can get exasperated at the horrible singing and half-assed dancing in Jpop too. Beginner’s dance is great(at least as difficult as TMYW’s dance with the formation complexity of Suju’s It’s You plus a little tutting section a la Sorry Sorry to boot!) and I wish I could see some Kpop group cover it and/or River because the AKB48 girls just don’t quite do it justice. XD I’m pretty sure part of the reason the dance is so good is from the pressure Kpop’s been putting on Jpop to up the dance difficulties.
Jpop is definitely stylistically more creative. Haven’t seen SNSD be as gangsta as AKB48 have gotten in Beginner and River (RDR and Showx3 wasted their potential on bad outfits and questionable hair) or tackle sticky issues like in Seifuku and Keibetsu, or even have MVs as epic as…any AKB48 PV besides Aitakatta XD, besides CABI. Not to mention the cracktastic PVs to Morning Musume’s The*Peace! and Mr. Moonlight. SNSD’s concepts have been pretty tame in comparison. Why can’t we have a cross-dressing concept too, SM! ;_;
And all of this doesn’t even get into personalities, which is what REALLY drives the idol machine period.
“SNSD and AKB48 run on completely different business models. SNSD’s appeal depends on their talent and how much more polished they are. AKB48 are idols you can meet everyday. ” –Strawberryjam from MM-BBS
Very insightful analysis, thank you for providing a very thorough perspective of someone who knows both Kpop and Jpop. Many of us here only know Kpop so we are naturally biased and one-sided when it comes to topics like these (I personally did listen to Jpop a long time ago such as Utada Hikaru and Amuro Namie but never any idol groups like AKB48). There are a few points which I’d like to address, and this is really not meant to be a debate but more like a difference of opinion.
You said Jpop idols do have talent, no objections there. But instead of being judged by their weakest link, I personally think their talent is more often judged as a whole. Take AKB48 for example, they have so many members, I could hardly distinguish one from another, how would I even be able to identify who’s the “weakest link”? I think in that sense SNSD is even more vulnerable to this “weakest link” evaluation because they only have 9. When I look at groups as a whole I tend to look at the average, or the overall talent, and from that stand point Korean groups still have a considerable edge. (a little side note here I think Sunny is by far not the weakest dancer in SNSD)
The other thing I feel compelled to disagree on is the question of Style. I confess I don’t know much about AKB48, but I did Youtube their PVs before saying something stupid here. From what I saw, Beginner, River, Seifuku, and Keibetsu’s concepts are all variations of school uniforms, while SNSD’s style arguably has wider range of creativite possibilities wiht a lot more sophistication. I’d never want to see a “gangta” SNSD a la 2NE1, or even any hint of a “tuff girl” image, SNSD is at its best when they are feminine, and the stylists have put on numerous different spins around the feminine idea. You said RDR and Show*3 were bad outfits, I’d like to understand why. Because RDR has been one of the favorites and I have used it to convert many people into the fandom whom previously had no exposure to Kpop, it’s a concept that is sexy but wholesome, povocative without being slutty, and it did a fine job of showcasing fierceness with class. Show*3 on the other hand, is an underrated song, but the magician girl/broadway show girl concept works brilliantly with the tune and the overall feel of the song in my opinion, yea, hairstyle was questionable but I thought the girls looked fabulous in the outfits. As for doing sticky songs like Seifuku or Keibetsu, it will never fly in Korea’s airwaves, Seifuku is just overtly suggestive, and Keibetsu, psychologically damaging, either of which will be shut out by broadcast reviews due to the “inappropriate” nature of the context. Cultural difference, nothing we can do about, and I personally don’t want to see SNSD go down that road and sing about things like that anyway.
As for SNSD’s MVs not being epic enough, I guess I can only beg to differ, personal preference only, I really have nothing to back it up. For me, watching SNSD dancing in perfect unison already has plenty of epicness built in. Granted Heavy Rotation is a eye candy galore and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it, but SNSD should never have to do that, and I pray they never consider such concepts. I guess I’m just not all into that Moé thing, it doesn’t appeal to me as much as the polished sophistication that SNSD wears on their sleeve. After all it is all just personal preference. Apples vs Oranges, like you said.
Arbitrary Greay said:
Thanks for replying! I love a good discussion.
“But instead of being judged by their weakest link, I personally think their talent is more often judged as a whole. ”
Good point. I think in Imai’s case he’s looking at the weakest link because he’s grown up with “talentless” idols, but you’re right that most people wouldn’t know groups well enough to know their weakest link.
Honestly I have no idea who the weakest dancer is in SNSD right now because they work so hard to make up the difference and they all have their moments.(Like Tiffany during the Dream Concert RDR intro <3)
I think you and I have a difference in definition of Style. I'm looking at it from a concept point of view, not just in fashion. Therefore I see River and think of the military themes, the anti-bullying/suicide message of Keibetsu, etc.
I'll agree SNSD has more sophisticated outfits.
"I’d never want to see…"
That'll just have to be another difference in opinion between us. True, SNSD is at their best when feminine, but I'd like to see them take on the challenge of unusual images. Idolling is the one part where I break from my irl tomboy tendencies, so I get bored and sometimes irritated with all of the femininity. Besides which the girls have so much fun when they play at being gangsta or dress up in leather or as boys.
My dislike of the RDR costumes was more just my disappointment that RDR wasn't more…ghetto, as Tiffany put it? RDR was executed in a very Jpop way,(not a bad thing!) imho, with outfits that aren't really viable street clothing and the MV being dance-focussed, in contrast to Gee or even compared to f(x) and Shinee's recent concepts. But mostly I just got hyped up about RDR's potential, thinking it was going to be very RnB like Eien with the dancing to match since Lisette was the choreographer. Showx3 was mostly ruined for me by the hairstyles. XD But also that really weird high-fashion take on rugby outfits? I love Showx3 as a song.
Seifuku and Keibetsu are more than they appear though, actually being warnings against the things they portray. I think it's gutsy for them to do that, and the fact that it would never fly in Korea only supports my opinion that Jpop is more creative with their concepts, because they aren't restricted by such censors. As for SNSD doing such things, I don't have an opinion on that yet. It might help their artistic credibility for when they move on from idolling.
Actually, AKB48's epic MVs are an exception. Most idol PVs are very cheap compared to Kpop. but I more pointed out the MVs to show that Jpop isn't behind Kpop in EVERYTHING as Imai grouses.
Heavy Rotation is a travesty. I'd almost say that it's a parody of the things it portrays, except I know a lot of fans took it at face value.
I can't lie and say I wouldn't enjoy SNSD in bikinis, but I also know that it would signal their popularity having declined so much that they have to do so to appeal to a otaku hardcore fanbase that will keep the sales afloat. Plus I too prefer SNSD to AKB48(except for some of the music), but to say that they are inferior in every way like Imai does bugs me.
Thanks again for making such a reasonable reply! I hope my response doesn't come off too defensive.
Nothing like a good discussion here. I think this article has stimulated a lot of interest and I have learned a few things about JPop that I did not previously know about.
I also think Imai’s words were a little strong, even though I am wholeheartedly Kpop biased I would not agree that Jpop idols are “talentless”. Perhaps he was just frustrated with Jpop’s status quo, along with a little “grass is greener on the other side” mentality when Kpop idols presented a high level of talent proposition and production. These words may seem strong but maybe it is what it takes to be heard, perhaps he purposely wanted to create a debate and stimulate a discussions like we’re doing now.
SNSD’s worst dancer… you know I hate to start pointing fingers at anyone because I like all 9, it’s like trying to decide which girl is your least favorite, I never felt comfortable doing that. But personally I think Tiffany has had the most “moments” when it comes to dance and I don’t like the way she interprets the choreography for most of their songs, and she seem out-of-sync more often than others. But I am being overly critical, her dance “issues” are minor and she more than makes up for it with her other talents.
With regards to SNSD tackling a variety of different images, it’s interesting to note that E-Tribe just last night praised SNSD in an article for their ability to pull off a variety of styles and giving life to the song to maximize its potential. I think SNSD does have the ability to pull off an even tougher or more urban “ghetto” concept, but honestly I don’t think most SONEs are with you in wanting to see them do it, not yet at least. And SM knows that and they know SNSD’s forte is being feminine so they will continue to exploit the feminine possibilities. But I agree, down the road, I’d like to see them try different and more extreme concepts, as long as it’s done with taste without sacrificing class or becoming sexually suggestive.
AKB48 is indeed gutsy for willing to address controversial issues with their songs, but I do not agree that Kpop is less creative because of the Korean broadcasting restrictions. Granted, the Koreans are more conservative and more close-minded when it comes to topics of sexuality, it’s almost like zero-tolerance (I still can’t wrap my head around why GD&TOP’s Don’t Go Home got banned by MBC). But there are a lot of Korean music out there that challenge social norms or criticize society (Epik High anyone?), and there are always artists like YG family that ignores these social restrictions and just create whatever music they like. Of course most of them don’t make it on broadcasts and a lot of them are “underground”, but they do exist, and the creativity is there, it’s just we have to dig and find them. I can potentially see SNSD doing songs to address social issues, but not in the same manner as AKB48 due to obvious restrictions, but something like TVXQ O-Jun.Ban.Hap. would definitely be within the realm of possibilities.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I will stop supporting SNSD when they decide to clad bikinis in an effort to sell albums. If it was for a CF or drama and it’s done in a tasteful, non-sexual manner, AND as long as the girls themselves feel comfortable doing it, then I’m okay with that. But if they had to do it just to salvage a declining popularity, I would rather not support that kind of effort.
Well said RagingXL…I always look at your insight before making a comment myself :).
and about the MV thing, SM is known to go very cheap for MV production costs. the first “Gee” set cost around $50k+ to $55k+ to make, which is half the price of what other companies are willing to pay for their artist’s mv. however, even antis actually agreed on this, SNSD’s music video are very creative for all its worth. SM’s willing to spend less on their mvs because they know, those 9 girls can attract more than what they are dancing around in the background. It’s not until “Hoot” that SM gave at least $150k+ to spend on the set for the girls. Over all, SNSD’s mv are all EYE CANDY…no question about it! my cousin (whom i consider is white wash to the core), saw “Oh” by accident while i was watching it on my laptop, and ask why are they so pretty. from then on, he became a fan of the girls.
and i agree about akb48’s song lyrics and everything. those songs are just TOO suggestive for them to be singing (when most are underage too). not one of us fans would ever agree of having SNSD do any of those stuff. this is why, a lot of people in the japanese industry praised SNSD…because ultimately, its their talent that is in question here, which is why this producer used the girls as an example.
Arbitrary Greay said:
That makes sense with his second tweet about the cooperation needed.
“Honestly I don’t think most SONEs are with you in wanting to see them do it, not yet at least. ”
“as long as it’s done with taste without sacrificing class or becoming sexually suggestive.”
I agree with you here.
“I do not agree that Kpop is less creative because of the Korean broadcasting restrictions.”
And here you remind me of things I should, as well as teaching me some things I didn’t know about Kpop. I’ll definitely check out that DBSK song later. The point about YG was really good, as they might pave the way for the restrictions to relax. BEG has been pretty good about pushing the envelope too, and Abracadabra’s sexuality was more tongue-in-cheek in contrast to Heavy Rotation.
But YG really is the exception when it comes to idol groups.(since the idol soloists also tend to be more creative) When I compare the Kpop girlgroup concepts to Jpop girlgroup concepts there’s a much wider range in the latter. I preference to see that wide range seems to be not an ordinary one though, as you pointed out with regards to SNSD. I’d even tentatively say Arashi, Japan’s biggest boyband right now, has covered a wider range of concepts than DBSK, Big Bang, and 2PM combined.(Especially since 2PM just about does nothing but variations on the same concept again and again. :3)
“I will stop supporting SNSD when they decide to clad bikinis”
This is a very interesting stance. It’s also interesting to see how there are many Jpop girlgroups that have been around for such a long time dependent on a small but dedicated fanbase, whereas Kpop girlgroups that don’t make it big tend to disband, and even the big groups disband before reaching that point because their members are ambitious enough to prefer going solo/doing other work rather than to idol forever. Although I think in Jpop’s case since the market is so much more cutthroat the fans are more willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their idol’s survival, even supporting their more dubious releases.
And not to troll, but I do like to wonder: people rationalized CABI by saying the girls had no choice, it was the editors’ fault, etc. Did they still support the CABI campaign using this rationalization and doing it “for the girls’ sake”? How far does Nothing Without 9 apply in this aspect?
Arbitrary Greay said:
Yeah, SM MVs are very good at taking the standard formula (dance shot, closeups, maybe some “story” shots and maybe secondary dance and closeup shots) and making them look very, very pretty. Funny enough, despite Hoot costing more I wasn’t all that wowed by it.
The AKB48 PVs may not even cost that much. For example the Sakura no Hanabiratachi PV is pretty much its own drama XD but it’s all shot within the same school. The Iiwake Maybe PV was just them riding around on bikes and a dance shot. What makes them so good is how there’s so much story in each PV.
“SM’s willing to spend less on their mvs because they know, those 9 girls can attract more than what they are dancing around in the background.”
Yes, but like with how I’d like to see them take on more unusual concepts I’d like to see them break the MV formula as well. I LOVE how BEG’s MVs are mostly about not following the standards. That’s why I was excited to see the Bond theme for Hoot and the Black Soshi RDR teasing at the end of Oh!, but the execution of both MVs were barely anything close to achieving the potential they could have had. Black Soshi tore up the room and then were easily defeated by unplugging. Uh wut. Weak! And the Hoot MV left most of the spy-stuff to Siwon, who barely did anything himself besides walk around an look wary. I think I was especially disappointed by these two because I’ve seen them done loads better by Jpop before. TMYW’s dance shot was so excellently filmed, but DNW SNSD in a Love Motel. 😡 Especially DNW maknae jumping out of a fake cake and all of its unfortunate implications.
“because ultimately, its their talent that is in question here”
I’m not sure what suggestive lyrics have anything to do with talent. Check out SweetS, one of the most talented now-disbanded Jpop girlgroups EVAR and their lyrics are EXTREMELY suggestive, even offensively so with its implications. It’s actually a part of their appeal in a post-modern way, at the risk of sounding elitist. http://www.cultofpop.com/?p=4
It’s not like “I want you boy to give it to me” or “you’re my slave” or “jump into love core” aren’t suggestive or anything.
Kpop does have certain “formula” that the industry has been overusing for the last few years, mainly because people really like this formula and they continue to put variations and spins on it just enough to keep it interesting. But I do agree the industry has become somewhat stagnant because of that formula. I can see Jpop being more diverse because they don’t have that formula or that formula is less apparent, but right now I think the US is still the standard for having the widest range and the most variety in terms of genres but US doesn’t really emphasis “concept” as much as in Asia.
The other thing I wanted to point out about Jpop groups is their poor pronunciation of English words, most of the time the words come out so butchered it doesn’t even sound English. With the increase in the usage of English words in Asian pop music, I think it may be beneficial to hire language coaches to improve in that area. And that leads to my next point about Jpop artists lacking in the foreign language department, I honestly don’t know that many that speak decent enough English, none that speak any Chinese or Korean. It could be a serious hindrance to advancing outside of Japan, and you see very few Japanese artists have ventured outside. Korean artists, in comparison, have fairly accurate grips on their English lyrics when they sing, and a lot of them studied two or more foreign languages in their trainee days.
As for the Cabi song, I don’t have much to say about it. It’s not a huge project, although in garnered a lot of attention, the song wasn’t really meant to be a big seller or anything. It’s a decent song and the girls look great in there. I don’t think they were forced or had no choice, they obviously had to feel comfortable enough about showing some skin, if anyone would reject the idea it would be Seohyun but she participated so that must mean they had enough confidence. They’re not underaged teenagers prancing around with lollipops anymore so I think Cabi was an acceptable project for them. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy, as long as it’s done properly and without any inappropraite underlying meanings.
Arbitrary Greay said:
“The other thing I wanted to point out about Jpop groups is their poor pronunciation of English words”
As Mongrolian commented, the Japanese aren’t interested in international expansion. So if it sounds cool to them that’s all that matters. And this attitude I think extends to their talent levels as well. They aren’t trying to impress anyone so they don’t worry about if their groups are more or less talented than another group, as long as they can garner a steady fanbase and make money.
“There’s nothing wrong with being sexy, as long as it’s done properly and without any inappropraite underlying meanings.”
I mostly agree with this, although “inappropriate underlying meanings” can be done properly, such as for humor or to point out the wrongness of such things, as in AKB48’s Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, or even to push the envelope of what can and should be considered appropriate. Yuri can dance to Ciara, but would she ever be allowed emulate Ciara fully?(Not saying she should. I actually don’t really like the American brand of “push it in your face” sexuality, but this is more about the principle of being allowed to.)
Just out of curiosity, what’s your opinion of the Love Motel scenes in the TMYW MV?
😀 Some of you lurkers should comment more often. It’s great seeing new names join the discussion.
Michael Henry said:
I’ve been on this post for at least 2 hours so I’ve definetly gotta say great job and thanks for posting it!
First thoughts…AKB48 is by far a MAJOR influence and huge stars right now not only in Japan but in World…They so deserve their title as “#1 Girl Group in Japan” and I hope they continue to show more and more great music…
BUT…SNSD is a force to be reconned with!!! What they have done just in 2010 alone would make any American artist’s mouths drop on the floor and eyes bulge out…Their success can be felt and there is no stopping the K-Pop Wave because it is coming! Because before I dove into this amazing wonderland of K-Pop, I had no idea that artists even trained before deputing! They spend around 7 years training to deput for a group! American stars don’t even dance, wink, or sing live and these girls do that PLUS more! They deserve this all and so so more with all their hard work and dedication! Because it would take me over 4 years to watch all of what they have been on and done! Your lucky to see your favorite American singer sing once a month compared to 3 times a week or more! O.o
So Japan & America…You better step it up before you get Mowed down by the newest and greatest music coming your way! 😉 Because…it’s coming!!!
2 hours?? 😮
Thank you. It’s nice to know my unintentionally-yet-inevitably-controversial post is appreciated ^^
Michael Henry said:
No problem at all! ^.^
I’ve been wanting to commet on this website for a while but I was just a “lurker” lol!
But this post is one that I need to be commeting about =)
Thanks again PB 😉
kpop and jpop are completely different thing (even though both have western influence in them). jpop is known for a variety of music, which is why they are the 2nd largest music industry after the U.S. kpop is known to produce many idols that have become synonymous not only in korea but the whole of asia. but for a top japanese music producer to admit that japan’s idol(note: not soloists or bands, but idol groups) music industry is lacking in the talent department, he’s voicing his honest opinion. but its interesting that he didn’t talk about kpop as a whole, but he specifically used SNSD as an example…i think it shows that he’s very interested about the influence these girls are bringing in the japanese music scene. SNSD has a reputation in japan for being non-compromised (and j-fans love that about them), they don’t have to fit in in order to be well-like by japan. SM/UMJ’s doing an amazing job of keeping what’s korean – korean, and that’s how you will describe SNSD. the girls are not trying to forced the japanese public to like them by japanizing their image, instead they want them to be like for their korean image (that everyone has come to know and love). this person is also acknowledging the fact that SNSD aren’t your average idols, and that they came to japan well-prepared with favorable circumstances.
I hope that SNSD’s new Japanese Single is ITNW ^^…. i would really die if they release that song AGAIN… my all time favorite song/concept/dance…
BTW, to all who thinks AKB48 has no talent try watching this… it is their new single and it sold 655,000 copies in one day… (comparing the figures, japanese fans do really buy a lot) even SNSD gets 100k copies in one week in japan probably because their population is larger..
Seeing that you are on the kpop bandwagon, I think the title is very provocative. Yes kpop bands maybe more popular in the charts, but true fans don’t go around pointing that out in people’s faces. I know you are a fan of snsd, but that doesn’t mean you should start comparing kpop and jpop. You act like jpop is the one that needs improving just because they are not as popular. I can think of countless flaws about the style of kpop. Therefore, I think it’s think it’s very unfair on Jpop musicians that you have this title. I have to admit that the wrench picture is hot. Yuri is hot in that picture. damn.
The title is simply a reflection of the tweet’s message and not my personal sentiments. I knew when I was writing this post there would be some who would find fault with my approach regardless of how much I tried to remain mutual and explore both sides of the issue…C’est la vie ^^
i wanna revived what i posted a few weeks ago…Grammy award winning guitarists Tak Matsumoto (and basically the whole of B’z: legendary jrock group) have officially introduced SNSD on their website as the best idols of today. this shows you the level of respect japan’s senior artists have for SNSD…
Michael Henry said:
Oh my! ^.^
This is SO good! … I feel something…
SNSD is taking a break so they can come back HUGE…!
And I mean HUGE!!!
They have a MONSTER HIT coming and it is going to blow the world in HALF! ^.^
I just have that feeling in my gut…They are training and singing their hearts out for something that will light the K-Pop torch brighter than it’s ever been!
BE READY………………………….. 2011 is So Nyuh Shi Dae!!!
All I have to say right now is… I agree with everything that this post says. Well, most of it, since I just skimmed through it. Going to need to read again properly.
Too lazy to write currently. Forgot my reasons, don’t wanna resort to extemporaneous/impromtu statements, going to put my (protracted) response later on this expositional post anyway even though nobody cares or understands. Possibly inebriated/drunk, bye.
It appears that my view on the matter (Perhaps almost everything) and RagingXL’s are pretty akin, after reading through the comments a little. Only thing is that I’m a bit slow to write and he’s faster at constituting what he’s learnt so far into something coherent enough. Dammit, does it mean my input is rendered redundant/superfluous since my writing style is quite similar to his? Or will he think I’m copying him? Just a thought.
Just so you know. I don’t think we’re all that similar, please feel free to voice your unique opinion. Don’t let my “faster” comments stop you from expressing yourself.
I feel sad that AKB48 is Japan’s top girl group when I’m still a fan of Morning Musume.
Jpop girl groups are more focused on the cute and happy songs, while SNSD and other Kpop girl groups try for more hip hop sound. 2NE1 and 4Minute are obvious examples. SNSD is not quite as tough sounding, but their songs aren’t all super happy and cute lately. Hoot, Chocolate Love, RDR are more urban sounding.
Arbitrary Greay said:
Another MM fan! ❤
SNSD may not have all happy and cute songs, but looking at their concert album they have even less "serious" songs than MM does. *loves Shouganai Yumeoibito too much* MM might match the number of "serious" SNSD songs just on Platinum 9 Disc alone. XD
It's kind of funny though, despite what I've said about wanting SNSD to do a gangsta/boyish concept one of the things that drew me to SNSD in the first place is that they're more Jpop than their fellow girlgroups. I am completely indifferent to 4minute, mostly because in the end I prefer melodic music.
yeahaahahaha, lead by example aka, SNSD!!!!!!!!
I was actually surprised at the bluntness of Imai’s tweet lol
basically: our pop industry is sucking, we need to follow Korea and SNSD lol
SNSD FIGHTING!!!!!!! KOREA FIGHTINGG
It’s funny, reading Arbitrary Greay and RaginXL talk about the music, because when I fell into JRock in high school I eventually became almost indifferent to the lyrics of a song – even in English, I have to really try hard to pay enough attention to what’s being said, even if I can sing along.
@RagingXL I honestly thought that the reason Japanese artists and ideas don’t export well was the fact that most of the region, say, still harbors resentment over twentieth century history. I think I remember someone writing in here, who lives in Korea, tactfully alluding to as much (being true in at least Korea).
@Zukii Thank you for bringing up the respective rock scenes of either nation. *tears* It’s so true! But it’s so weird, ’cause I’m still Glay, Luna Sea and L’arc~en~ciel, sorta like fans of Van Halen or Black Sabbath when I was growing up.
It’s the big question of what one does with what one has. I’m willing to assume that every nation, every group of people has pretty close to the same proportion of people talented in any field, so the important question is how those talents are developed. Here’s what I think about what happened… is happening. But keep in mind that despite the fancy presentation, my data is incomplete, and either way I could be wrong at any time, so to say, I’m only guessing at this stuff. That said, I think I’m close enough to something interesting, at least enough to say it.
Korea has the smaller domestic market. As I understand it, the domestic sales can’t maintain high (the best) production values. So they market overseas aggressively. That means accessibility – sure Koreans themselves maintain a relatively Confucian outlook (which is accessible in the region), but I’m pretty sure they (also) purposefully target uncontroversial material. But it also means a dependence on those already with substantial capital – the entertainment companies. The KPop scene is less tolerant of flashes in the pan, and like investors anywhere, the companies want maximum returns for over as long a period as possible. The KPop answer to these needs and circumstances has been the trainee system, whereby they train many talented youths, but only choose few among them to release upon the unsuspecting public. So yes, Korean idols have a relatively superior level of polish, especially upon release – better training in everything from fitness to fashion to technique to interacting with a camera, along with, I’m sure, an indebtedness to their benefactors and a certain sense of duty to their nation and their people to succeed in their careers (it’s not just about spreading “Korean culture” – I imagine it’s difficult to cite music sales as part of a “trade deficit,” it creates scads of goodwill internationally, it can’t really be outsourced, uh…). The costs of all this are familiar – the questions of compensation and living standard have still not settled, for one thing, and given that these idols aren’t exactly shaping their own careers means that it all depends on their willingness and ability to deal with it all. But to help deal with it, Korean celebrities (also as a cultural thing) seem to belong to a “community” of performers, which means that they have a sort of mutual support in it all and a certain level of expectation that they can still have a career in the entertainment industry – but as with all communities, greater mutual support also means having to meet each other’s standards of conduct. (The system, and the culture, are also probably why Korean rock… is what it is.) So as far as AG’s comment on the sustainability of this system of talent management, it seems it will amount to finding out what is just, and then what is satisfactory in terms of compensation and living standards, and then, again, the ability of each talent to navigate the lifestyle. Of course, there is also the question of maintaining public interest in the product – I don’t expect there to be an explosion of Thai-pop in the near future or anything like that, but things will fluctuate as they will.
Whew. The Japanese seemed to start with the old idea of rounding up a bunch of cute kids (from performing schools, auditions, whatever) who liked to sing and dance and were good at it, and then trying to give it a go from there. But they also had a healthy market for independently developed talent – like rock groups that form and “train” on their own initiative, and eventually play clubs and then get signed, etc. Given that culture in the industry, it seems there is a greater openness to what I call in the above flashes in the pan – to put it more evenly, talents with a relatively unknown shelf life. But the market is different for other reasons as well … how to put it? Uh, the Japanese market is more open to challenging material – it doesn’t make the Japanese more creative or talented, but it means those abilities are given more channels of expression. For a pursuit to survive, one must not only be free to pursue it, but one must also be able to sustain a lifestyle doing it – or it has to be important to those pursuing it that they are willing to forgo other desires. But as AG mentioned, most Japanese music videos are relatively simple, meaning that in general, less attention is paid to, ah, exciting imagery. Also, as the Japanese have a larger domestic market, they have enough domestic sales to fund said simple music videos; to boot, they also have less interest in marketing their music internationally (to people who don’t speak their language) – and, as above, less reason to do so – so they don’t really have to create images as attractive as the Korean artists and videos. Anyway, it seems that, starting (apparently) with Morning Musume (I think there was an equivalent boy’s group, like Johnny’s Jump-something) they got the idea of the rotating talent group, which is apparently the preferred system in their pop scene. So they gather talents by whatever means, and release them without the lengthy training and selection process as in the Korean scene – or rather, the training and selection process continues concurrently with the actual career. It’s not exactly a training program that releases music, it’s more professional than that, but I can’t quite find another way to put it. It’s a very niche market, but again, the relative lack of international interest in Japanese music (cultural offerings) created a musical culture that is, say, content to market internally. That apparent creative complacency is tempered by the, um, creative freedom alluded to above. Another way to put it: yes, the Japanese can explore more, but it also means that they will be interested in things that don’t fly with a broader audience. I think that one of the reasons this idol system arose in Japan was that the Japanese were specifically interested in that anti-idol image – I may even remember hearing something about that when Morning Musume came out, or maybe it was Puffy – the Japanese were interested in that kooky thing as a specific response to the whole idol thing. So it looks like they’ve sorta come full circle on that. Sorta like that “grass-eating male” thing giving rise to the Japanese male response to SNSD. Lastly, somehow the following in particular feels like questionable reasoning based on an incomplete view of the picture: The Japanese scene seems to funnel their strongest pop talents towards solo careers, or perhaps, their strongest talents seem to gravitate towards solo careers, which may contribute to Mr. Imai’s unfavorable comparison.
I wanted to say something about the American scene, but the generalizations would be greater, that is worse, and more akin to complaining, so whatever.
Michael Henry said:
First i commet then read…
(30 minutes later)
Uhh … uhh…
okay now I see… great commet! =)
wow…i read all through it, but very informative nonetheless. its good that none of us actually are bashing those we deemed weak and showing off the superiority of what we think is down right talent when we see it.
btw: i still can’t believe plotbunny is an akb48 fan? i would have never thought of him/her that way, lol!
our dear plotbunny is Japanese fluent!
many kpop fans started off as jpop fans so it shouldn’t come off as that big of a surprise~ =]
Haha, yep ’tis true. I have a penchant for catchy, upbeat music and a lot of AKB’s stuff fits the bill. I also love Perfume, Scandal, and a few other J-artists/groups too (YUI♥)! Oh and you’ll find this out on the upcoming podcast anyway, but I’m a girl jsyk 😉 haha
Arbitrary Greay said:
This is great! I don’t remember to consider the economic side of things that often.
Lyrics: Lol, I actually prefer listening to foreign music because I can’t understand the lyrics and can focus on the musicality.
Panflash tolerance(XD): This is a really good point especially considering the JYJ vs. SM – Agency vs. Studio thing. People complained about how the studio system forces their stars to pay for the failed trainees, but your argument here is that Agencies can afford to pick up lots and lots self-developed talents despite the uncertain success ratio because they have more money to spend. Which system is riskier after all?
“there is also the question of maintaining public interest in the product”
I saw an article on OMNTD once about how there’s actually a growing interest in Korea for reality shows and competitions vs. the traditional celebrity-based variety, with the rise of Star King, Superstar K, etc. And this is relevant because one of the biggest reasons Jpop has all of its “talentless” idol is because the appeal is to watch an average girl/boy grow and develop into a polished idol, especially if they seem like unlikely candidates at the beginning. I’ve also seen Jpop fans say that Kpop is boring to them because the idols are too polished and perfect out of the gate and that they prefer to have girl-next-door type idols that they can relate to and watch them improve over time realistically. Jpop producers have said they’ve debuted girls despite them being talentless because they saw something in their personality that caught their eye, seeing their potential instead of talent, and many of those girls have gone on to win the hearts of many fans and become popular. Morning Musume itself was originally put together on a reality show and all of its subsequent auditions have been broadcast on TV so people get to know and root for their favorites before they even properly debut. The way Kpop fans obsess over pre-debut material is similar, and Big Bang was put together on a reality show too. This is why I think in a couple decades Kpop will not able to boast about only turning out high levels of talent. America too used to have the studio system full of very talented stars, with a celebrity based variety/talk show circuit, but now we have agency, reality show fever, and a lot of “talentless” celebrities.
“the Japanese market is more open to challenging material – it doesn’t make the Japanese more creative or talented, but it means those abilities are given more channels of expression.”
This is what I was getting at with saying they’re stylistically more “creative”, but with much much better wording.
“the rotating talent group” being a Jpop standard is actually a misconception. It’s been used in Spanish boyband Menudo and while Onyanko Club had that as its concept they disbanded after a short career. Even AKB48 has settled on a fairly stable lineup of frontgirls with the “rotating talent” being mostly unpopular girls. Morning Musume is an anomaly in that it has been able to graduate frontgirls and introduce new ones, and even then its success can be debated because their popularity has declined as the frontgirls of its Golden Age grew older and graduated.
Actually, I believe the Kpop trainee system is modelled after the Japanese boyband conglomerate Johnny’s Jimusho, which dates back to 1962, long before Seo Taiji. From an article from “The Guardian” published in 2005:
“Kitagawa recruits boys as young as 10 into a pool of talent known as Johnny’s Juniors. The Juniors debut as back-up dancers to established groups, thereby making fans familiar with their faces before they are launched as groups in their own right. Sequestered in a special school run by the talent agency, they undertake a rigorous programme of training in singing, dancing, acting and acrobatics. ”
“So it looks like they’ve sorta come full circle on that.”
This. So much.
I’d also say that Kpop itself is an anti-idol image reaction to Jpop, including Kpop fans making sure to distance themselves from the otaku image as much as possible, especially the ahjussi fans. Kpop is interested in marketting itself internationally unlike Jpop, as you said, so they took what works in Jpop – the trainee system – but turned to Western pop music for its image instead.
“The Japanese scene seems to funnel their strongest pop talents towards solo careers”
Nice comment Mongrolian.
Abg Bob said:
It’s all about the training that they received. South Korean entertainment industry has the best apprenticeship/training system in the world imho.
I wold never imagined the same system being implemented in my country as everyone here always want a shorcut to stardom.