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 Odd (Wo)Man Out

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Number of posts : 2141
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Registration date : 2009-05-16

PostSubject: Odd (Wo)Man Out   Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:53 am

With so many idol groups these days forgoeing the old five member formula and increasing their group numbers to six, nine and even thirteen, it seems inevitable that in a group of that magnitude, certain performers will stand out and some will be shunted to the side. Before I even first properly ventured into the world of k-pop, I had heard mention of Super Junior, and I just couldn’t believe it; thirteen boy band members just seemed like gross overkill. How do you even keep track of who’s who? …Very well, if the multitude of ELFs are anything to vouch for. But of course any devoted fan can roll off the names of not only every member, but their birthday, favorite color and what they wear to bed at night (boxers or briefs). No one expects the casual listener to know all the particulars. However, as a group obtains more and more fame, Diana Ross (or Beyonce for youngins’) syndrome almost inevitably sets in. Though with an idol group of epic proportions it is more than easy to overlook the ones left in the shadows.

What initiated this navel-gazing mini-essay you may ask? Talk amongst T-ara fans has recently turned to oft-overshadowed member Boram.

Discussion was ignited upon the appearance of this article:

Singer Jeon Youngrok makes a statement about daughter T-ara group member Boram’s activities.

On the broadcast of KBS2TV’s Yeoyoomanman Jeong Youngrok confessed to ‘being opposed to [his] daughter’s singing career immensely’.

Jeon Boram is currently an active member of the popular 6-member girl group T-ara. Before debuting into the group, Boram participated in magazine modelling and appearing in various CFs. Last year, a single album for the ‘Lucifer Project’ was even released.

Jeon Youngrok said that ‘Even though I opposed to it, she still pursued her singing and debuted as a singer. However, since their activities get piled up, it becomes a lot harder. She would come to me and tell me that ‘I never knew that this was so difficult’.’.

Jeon Youngrok also added that ‘I would just tell her that I experienced that same thing, and it is true that you get frustrated a lot, but along the way, you still learn a lot,’ to cheer her up. ‘We tell her that we cannot do more than what she does right now, our shadow isn’t as dark as she thinks it is’, he jokes.

Written by: Park Jungmin
Translated by: Elly@diadem


After the appearance of this piece, many fans voiced how they felt sorry for her as she has been having difficult times ever since she joined T-ara, and her parents are making the situation worse, as they are very critical of her. There are concerns that her apparent cloud of unhappiness is bringing down the entire group. Also, while the young lady does seem tough on herself (but what idol isn’t?) Boram’s parents play a significant role in her acclimation. Her parents have been a part of the industry, and are fairly strict as well; reportedly her father said in an interview that she wasn’t allowed to do “sexy dances” which extended to the other girls as well. Though with the song “Bo Peep Bo Peep” Boram finally gets some face time, and utilizes it pretty well. Perhaps the chance to prove her mettle is all that she needs to open up to the experience. T-ara are rookies, and with their group size, the girls may just need time to adjust to their rightful roles within the group.

That led me to consider the other idol groups, both rookie and established, and who is often presented (other than th leader) in the forefront of group activities – and not just in interviews, as some people are just shy, but performances and albums- are their talents adequately showcased?

So Nyeo Shi Dae and Super Junior are both special cases; it’s interesting that with the mere size of these groups you almost expect that certain members are given more attention than others (remember the stick figure diagram?), which is true- but there is an almost rotation-like process in how SM promotes the groups and promotes the different members. It is as if with each image change, you notice a different member that may not have struck your fancy before, and suddenly Jessica is getting all the Soshi love when it used to be Yoona (though she continues to get plenty). Some of that can be contributed to the members themselves; taking the initiative to indulge in your own projects away from the group is a proactive way of increasing name recognition with masses. Still, there are members of idol groups that while widely known, may not receive all the respect they deserve.

Sunmi(Wonder Girls): Debateable; some lump her in with Sohee in terms of singing ability, but on the right song, she has a low smoky voice that you wouldn’t expect from such a tiny girl.

Hyoyeon (SNSD): Remember when I mentioned the rotation? Other than the occasional brief dance break, this girl starts each round blending in the back of the pack.

JiHyun (4Minute): This girl is the leader. The leader of the group. Yet HyunA and Jiyoon have both surpassed her in terms of recognizability and are releasing solo albums soon. What?

MBLAQ: That guy with the mustache

Kang Jiyoung (Kara): I knew there was a fifth member! Thanks Wikipedia!

Everyone in SS501 except Hyunjoong: This is more due to the fact that Hyunjoong was given a prime acting opportunity and ran with it, but the group in general gets less recognition than others.

Luna f(x): *Jan Brady rant* Why is it always about Amber, Amber, Amber? The real vocalist of the group, and as the songs mature, will hopefully obtain a chance to show off her skills.

This is just scraping the surface, but I would like to point out a few notable exceptions:
Dong Bang Shin Ki/TVXQ: Only because their nation of fans would not bear to favor one guy over the other (at least not publicly)

Big Bang: These guys came out of the gate as just so likeable, and they all have such distinct strengths and styles it seems – you’re a VIP for one you’re a VIP for all.

2NE1: This group has many of the strengths of their sibling group in that each girl is so distinct in her appearance and musical style; it is ingrained in your memory. Plus, there are only four of them.

I am surprised that there are not more companies going off of YG's approach with his groups; the member individuality appears to be a huge factor as to why the groups are so popular, and as the Spice Girls have proven, a brilliant marketing strategy. Nonetheless, change doesn’t happen overnight, and to be honest, since the reign of the Supremes, there is something magical, almost ethereal about a group of talented women singing in dancing perfectly in sync from their hair down to the tips of their toes. It’s an old Motown bias I know, but you know what they say: sometimes the oldies are the goodies.

Are there any k-pop idols you think are overshadowed in their groups?

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