Topic Tuesdays: Music

My Thoughts on SM’s New Global Kpop Group, SuperM.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

A little disclaimer before we begin: I know I’m a couple of weeks late and my opinion on this boy group probably doesn’t count at this point, but I really wanted to share my thoughts regarding one of the most highly anticipated debuts in the Kpop industry this year.

So, for all of my non-Kpop viewers, let me give you some background on how the Kpop industry works.

The music industry in South Korea is definitely different than how American music industries work. For starters, American artists are usually signed under a record label are guaranteed some sort of exposure or music being made; Kpop idols take years to build up. KPop artists before they debut are trainees within entertainment agencies, and just because they get accepted into an agency doesn’t mean they will get the chance to debut right away. Some trainees are just luckier than others, but some trainees don’t get the chance to debut until years after they became trainees. For example, TWICE’s Jihyo was a trainee under JYP Entertainment for 10 years before she got the chance to debut. Of course, then there are situations when you finally get your chance to debut, but the turnout of your debut isn’t as successful as your company expected it to be. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of already debuted idols (i.e Victon’s Seungwoo & Byungchan, UNIQ’s Seungyoun, IM’s Hangyul, UP10TION’s Wooseok & Jinhyuk, Fromis_9’s Gyuri and many others that I cannot think of right now) go on popular survival shows as trainees: it’s their second chance at success as idols.

Although there are dozens of Korean entertainment agencies and although many of them are well-known for creating successful Kpop groups and soloists, the top three entertainment agencies that are guaranteed success no matter what comes out of there are SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment. SM Entertainment homes groups like Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, EXO, NCT (U, Dream, 127, and all the other sub-units), SHINee, and f(x). JYP Entertainment homes groups such as TWICE, ITZY, GOT7, Wonder Girls, Miss A, DAY6, 2AM & 2PM. Lastly, YG Entertainment holds groups like BlackPink, iKON, 2NE1, BigBang, WINNER, and even soloist PSY, famous for “Gangnam Style” (He actually now runs his own agency called P Nation).

Now that you have a good idea on some of the background behind some of Kpop’s biggest names, let’s get to the meat and potatoes, shall we?

SuperM. Man, do I have a lot to say about this new boy group. 

SuperM debuted earlier this month after being announced last summer as SM Entertainment’s new Kpop project group. The purpose of this new “supergroup” was to pretty much create the next big thing in western culture; with BTS’ huge success in the United States and opening the door for third-generation Kpop internationally, many other agencies are now trying to mimic that success with groups of their own. For example: TWICE went on a four-stop North American World Tour during the summer, Blackpink has been on various daytime & nighttime talk shows to promote their music and United States appearances (like Coachella), and many other boy groups from other companies are traveling to the United States in hopes of exposure.

SM Entertainment is known as one of Kpop’s biggest successes within the second generation of the genre, and although their groups are still successful within third generation Kpop, the competition is just becoming too real, and they are slowly becoming the third biggest company out of the big 3; like seriously, TWICE is breaking records left and right and are possibly the biggest and most successful girl group of all time, which used to be SM Entertainment’s very own Girls’ Generation about a decade ago.

So, with that being said, I’m not surprised that SM made a decision like this one.

Again, I’m not blaming any of the members of SuperM, and quite frankly they are doing this because they follow what their company wants them to do; I’m pretty much exposing the fact that SM Entertainment took the easiest route of success and “debuted” well-known Kpop idols in a group together in order to target the American audience.

SuperM is a seven-member boy group consisting of members within three other SM groups: SHINee’s Taemin, EXO’s Kai and Baekhyun, and NCT’s (127 & WayV) Taeyong, Mark, Ten, and Lucas. If you’re a Kpop fan, you’ve probably heard of these groups, and these members of their respected groups; these three boy groups are wildly popular and have a huge following in South Korea, and even internationally. 

So, of course, it would make sense that SM Entertainment would put together a group of all famous well-established idols and target the American audience for just a quick success-rate.

This is where I have a problem:

There are thousands of trainees in Korean entertainment agencies that are fresh, young, and talented. They work hard and they train hard in hopes of their agencies seeing their potential to debut in new projects, and it really does sadden me that SM Entertainment doesn’t have faith in their trainees to debut a new group all-together or promote their already successful boy groups internationally. It also pisses me off that SM Entertainment only gave this opportunity of expansion to male idols when really it’s a female Kpop group we need in the United States to blow up. Maybe the American music industry isn’t so accepting of girl groups due to their cutesy image & the US really only acknowledges “girl-crush” groups, but still – SM Entertainment could’ve easily debuted a badass vocal Kpop girl group that could shut the American music industry down. 

But nope: try to recreate the success of BTS with already famous idols because it’s an easier way to success.

I probably wouldn’t have been so salty if their debut single wasn’t so… awful. First of all, it’s barely considered Kpop anymore when the entire song is pretty much an English song with four or five Korean lyrics sprinkled in there. Again, I know it’s targeting international audiences, but it still is a Kpop group; native English speakers in America didn’t fuck with Kpop because it was cool; it was because of the music!

The debut single is called “Jopping“, which is the words “jumping” and “popping” put together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s catchy and I think it slaps, but for an anticipated supergroup like SuperM, a concept in Kpop that hasn’t been done before might I add, it was just underwhelming for a lot of people.

This is why I believe this group was put together for a guaranteed success that required no actual work on the company’s part.

What SM should’ve done was to either push their existing groups (it’s not like they are failing anyway) to transition them overseas, or create a Kpop group with trainees that fit this overall concept; get some Korean trainees who could be the face of the group when promoting in Korea, get some foreign trainees (Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Korean-American) that can represent the group in their respective countries, and definitely have some of these members cater to English speaking audiences by having some fluent English speaking members in the group.

What I’m saying is that talent is talent, and I can only imagine how much work it truly is being a trainee to potentially an idol in South Korea. It looks difficult, it looks exhausting, and I bet you that many of these trainees who are still young as fuck are sacrificing being away from their families in order to follow their dream of becoming a Kpop idol.

BTS didn’t have any special members to make them famous in the US.

So in conclusion, in my opinion, I probably wouldn’t care to follow this group and their activities because here’s my very unpopular Kpop opinion: I don’t really like nor know these guys or the groups they come from. Of course, I’m a nobody, and if you want to “stan” them, go right ahead – these idols deserve the love they get from their fans! I just hate that the company decided to make a move like this in order to obtain more success and money from international fans, especially in the United States. I mean, how does a Kpop group from South Korea under a South Korean entertainment agency doesn’t promote, perform, or tour in South Korea? If anything, it’s immensely important to become a big deal in Korea first: if you blow up in Korea, you then blow up in all of the East Asian countries (and China) surrounding Korea – it’s happened for every single Kpop group I’ve been following. 

But hey, what do I know? I’m just Kpop trash.

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