2011 was an extremely busy year in K-Pop, full of long-awaited comebacks, debuts, scandals and fashion, with plenty of hits and misses. Here’s our sum up of the entire year.
For the entirety of 2011 a plethora of music videos came out through the means of, not only major comebacks (such as those of TVXQ, Big Bang, Super Junior, B.E.G, SNSD, 2ne1, and Wonder Girls), but also through a god-awful amount of both male and female debuts.
As per comebacks, some were great, some were good, and others were awful. As just a “summary overview”, for the sake of space, here we will only be reviewing who we felt dominated in terms of comebacks, out of the Big 3.
In terms of quality and quantity, YG Entertainment was clearly the victor.
With 14 music videos from just 2 groups and 1 solo artist, they really worked it out:
- Knock Out- GD&TOP (January 3)
- VVIP- V.I. (January 20)
- What Can I Do- V.I. (January 20)
- Baby Good Night- GD&TOP (January 31)
- Tonight- Big Bang (February 28)
- Love Song- Big Bang (April 13)
- Don’t Cry- Bom (April 21)
- Lonely- 2ne1 (May 12)
- I Am the Best- 2ne1 (June 24)
- Don’t Go Home- GD&TOP (June 29)
- Hate You- 2ne1 (July 21)
- Ugly- 2ne1 (July 27)
- Bad – Tablo (October 23)
- Tomorrow – Tablo (October 31)
All of these videos were amazing quality and lived up to the high standard that YG has set for itself. YG completely, without a shadow of a doubt, annihilated its competition for 2011, with the best fashion of the year, the most extravagant sets, and, in a time where there are almost no fresh, original compositions, some soon-to-be-part-of K-Pop’s greatest hits.
While 2ne1, Big Bang, and Tablo were able to maintain and even surpass the benchmark of excellence YG has previously set, neither SM nor JYP lived up to YG‘s excellent standards, and their own group comebacks were certainly not worth the great hype.
Quite frankly, SM’s products of 2011 were pretty much shit.
- Keep Your Head Down- TVXQ (January 4)
- Before U Go- TVXQ (March 14)
- Hot Summer – F(x) (June 17)
- Mr. Simple- Super Junior (August 3)
- A-CHA- Super Junior (September 26)
- The Boys- SNSD (October 18)
We get the whole artistic image for “Keep Your Head Down”, but what the hell was the intended message. The outfits were offensively bad, and one would think, that with the hundreds of millions of dollars SM Entertainment is worth, they could at the very minimum afford a simple shirt for Yunho and Changmin to put under their jackets. The song was somehow comical and unpleasant. “Before U Go” was a much more mature concept, but one can’t help but wonder just how exceedingly better the song would have been with the addition of JYJ’s vocals. Not that Changmin or Yunho can’t sing, but JYJ does have Junsu, who would have really benefited the vocalizing aspect of this particular song.
Super Junior showed absolutely no growth or development in concept this year. “Mr. Simple” was not awful, but coming from Super Junior, whom we expected so much from, it was definitely the biggest letdown of the entire year. The product of all the suspense, over a year of waiting, and the endless buildup including teaser pictures and amazing teaser videos was just another dancing-in-a-box video, except this time, it had some incredibly cheesy special effects. “Sorry, Sorry” was the leading song of the Hallyu Wave and “Bonamana” was an excellent follow up; both were unbelievably chic and very age appropriate: they gave off a sophisticated MAN aura, while not being too pretentious. Then we get “Mr. Simple”, which was just lame in comparison. It was too immature. It was the type of video you expect a group like Teen Top or U-Kiss to make, and it’s sad that some of Super Junior’s members, like Leetuek or Heechul, are practically twice Teen Top’s ages, and are still trying to pull their teen concepts off. At this point, some of the members of Super Junior are old enough to be fathers; if they want to continue in this industry, they need to cut the shit and grow up, and start giving their fans some real maturity.
Never again will we talk about A-CHA again, in our Week 38/39’s PV review we said all there was to say about that garbage.
JYP was not really a huge player this year. We’re not really sure what they were doing, but it wasn’t making music videos:
- Hands Up – 2pm (June 20)
- Goodbye Baby – Miss A (July 17)
- Be My Baby – Wonder Girls (November 5)
Oh dear, do we wish that we could forget “Hands Up”. This is most likely one of the worst songs either of us has ever heard. The song itself was not that bad but the singing was horrendous; we will never doubt 2pm’s dancing abilities, but they do have their limitations vocal-wise. “Hands Up” just so happened to be a song that was much beyond their “skills”. In truth, the song made our ears very sad. At first, the singing was amusing and entertaining, but once we got past the entertainment value, we realized just how grotesque the singing was. We, in no way, blame 2pm; after all, someone must have approved of releasing the song in the first place.
The best thing that may have come out this year from JYP was probably Wonder Girls’ comeback. Unlike the other long awaited comebacks of the year, which resulted in huge let-downs, “Be My Baby” was actually great. True, it wasn’t the comeback that JYP promised; Wonder Girls did not change their style like he claimed, but this time, the “retro” image Wonder Girls beholds was a tad more mature. The song was really pleasing, and the vocals were astounding- not necessarily in that they were fantastic, but you could really tell how hard the girls have been working on improving themselves. And improvement is always welcomed.
As for who had the best year in terms of videos, it was definitely YG.
In addition to the monsters of the industry, there were a few notable newcomers, in no particular order:
Notable Male Debuts
B1A4 out of the gates was questionable: their debut track, “Let’s Fly”, was a bit of a flop, but their second single, “Beautiful Target”, really helped to concrete them as a legitimate group with promising prospects. B1A4 has a sweetness and naivety that, unlike most new groups, appears genuine and youthful. What we like about B1A4 is that they’re not trying too hard; they’re not trying to mature fast and foolishly adapt to adult concepts. Instead, they’re selling their age: in their performances and videos, they act just as children their age should. As a wonderfully refreshing change of pace they have the makings of an amazing vocalist; Sandeul may have quite the ridiculous name but his talent is undeniable. We ourselves are sick of these “vocalists” with ugly voices, no control and no power. Sandeul is one of the few singers in K-Pop that can really belt, and we have no issues with his live singing either.
While Block B may not have the young and pretty appeal that B1A4 has, as individuals, they are most definitely the talented bunch of the new rookie generation. Unlike the inevitable problem we see in most groups nowadays, each Block B member has proven to be worth something. Block B’s leader, Zico, is already being considered one of the best rappers K-Pop has to offer, and after his duet performance with Hyuna for “Follow Me”, we can completely see why. He’s not perfect, but taking the few months he’s actually been debuted into consideration, the boy is definitely something to look forward to. We also really applaud Block B for their concept, and for not trying to fit in to the typical pretty boy image so many other boy groups have. Block B debuted strong; in a way, many compare the rookies to Big Bang, however in our opinion, Block B is a little more mainstream than Big Bang. We doubt Block B intends to go as ghetto as Big Bang, as their first priority is probably to continue with their “hip-hop” image.
Boyfriend made quite the impact with their debut song “Boyfriend”, but while catchy, it was indeed also extremely irritating. The repetition of their own name was mind numbing. While “Don’t Touch My Girl” was less annoying than their debut song, it lost the only thing that garnered any attention to the group. With the missing annoying-ness, they became forgettable. Moreover they are just too young to really make any opinions about them; we can not really judge their vocal abilities or their appearances because they are still maturing and will no doubt change.
And by the way, these boys should be in school not performing for pedophiles.
Notable Female Debuts
As they are a young group, their choreography and outfits from “Dr. Feel Good” were in no way appropriate. Being that risque for a debut is courageous but at the same time extremely questionable: if they begin with “Dr. Feel Good”, what kinds of things could this group escalate to? Thankfully though, after “Pop Pop Pop”, our minds were eased a bit. We love that Rania debuted with an image that was sexy rather than cute, and we love the heavy Western influences in their sound. Their songs so far have been catchy and K-Pop fresh. It’s also great that these girls aren’t talentless; they’re vocals, from what we can hear, aren’t horrid and the girls are obviously capable dancers. We look forward to a more talent-centered performance that won’t include tight hot pants and raunchy pelvic thrusting.
In stark contrast to Rania, A Pink has the whole sweet innocent girl look. The girls act cute and delicate, and have earned themselves a considerable amount of followers full of idols. Their popularity is impressive, but we can’t help but wonder whether it’s because they are, after all, with Cube Entertainment, a company that is slowly proving themselves worthy of competing with the Big 3. With a cheery and merry sound to all of their songs, the girls are definitely trying to appeal to the nurturing aspect of men.
Out of all female debuts this year, Dal Shabet successfully presented themselves with a distinct feel that belongs to them now. The group has an overall retro-spunky feel. They’re not necessarily as cute as A Pink or as sexy as Rania, but somewhere in between with a good balance. They don’t have the sassiness Miss A has, or the swag 2ne1 owns. Rather, they present themselves in a funky, unique way. This is especially evident in “Supa Dupa Diva” and “Bling Bling”. Their songs so far have been, frankly, slightly annoying, but it is this factor that makes them catchy and even memorable.
Daesung’s Car Accident – May 31, 2011
The accident was, to say the least, absolutely tragic. We of course, give our condolences to the victim, his family, Daesung, and all those involved. Something that really upset us was the fact that it had to be poor Daesung. Daesung, of all people, does not deserve such a horrible scar in his past. He is one of the truly happy, joyous and kind people in Big Bang, and even all of K-Pop. When the accident happened, we were just shockingly heartbroken.
Han Ye Seul dropping Spy Myungwol – August 2011
At first, to be honest, Han Ye Seul just seemed like a typical overreacting diva. And then the poor girl ran away to the U.S., and we knew something more serious was brewing. Though the scandal itself was juicy, and a literal drama was playing out before our eyes, this was the story of an overworked, exhausted human being responding to the horrible working conditions that exist in the idol world, and protesting against them. Even with such a good reason however, we must say that her actions were unprofessional, but what’s done is done.
Heechul enlists in the army – September 1 2011
Heechul, as well as other idols this year, joining the army was indeed sad, but mandatory and eventual. This year was almost a reminder of the multitude of idols that will begin enlisting soon, and make way for the new generation of K-Pop. About Heechul’s case, we couldn’t help but feel a tad betrayed. Previously, Heechul had publicly declared that he would be taking his leave in 2012, and then he suddenly, with less than a month’s notice, sets his day for September 1. Kind of a jerk move.
Kang Ho Dong Tax Evasion Scandal – September 2011
Kang Ho Dong’s tax evasion scandal was extremely unfortunate. A poor, innocent human being’s life is laid out for the public’s ridicule and condemning. This was a very private situation, and the issue itself proved how scary and powerful fans really are when they begin toying with an idol’s life. We miss Kang Ho Dong, and it is incredibly unfortunate that he retired. He was, though this should go unsaid, an amazing MC, and we hope he comes back soon, when he’s ready.
G-Dragon Marijuana Scandal – October 2011
The public statement was ridiculous and YG’s attempt at masking the situation was valiant but an obvious rouse. Though we wish that they could’ve just come out and told their fans the truth, in actuality, their statement of G-Dragon only taking a “few puffs” was probably the most legitimate thing they could publicly announce without getting into more trouble. Therefore, we don’t hold their dishonesty against them too much. The most upsetting aspect of this whole scandal was not G-Dragon’s actions but the public’s reactions to the scandal. It is ludicrous that so many people were angry and quick to point their angry fingers at him. People make mistakes, and it’s not like a saint was caught smoking, G-Dragon was.
Miss Korea’s Sex Scandal – December 2011
We may be bad people for thinking so, but Miss Korea’s sex scandal was almost amusing. It would suck to be in her position, but the details her ex-boyfriend claimed were hilarious. The guy accused this woman of urinating on her boyfriend’s laptop. Truthfully, we actually believe him: Why would anyone make that up? Everything about the situation was hysterical and predictable.