Top 5 Up and Coming Gag-Idols


In the Kpop industry, idols need to have a special talent in order to stay relevant. Whether it is acting or presenting, nothing beats the charm and the likeability of a ‘gag-idol’. These members are always the ones who are confident on TV programmes and are not afraid to let out their inner ‘4D’ silliness. Many long running variety shows including Running Man and Infinity Challenge often invite idols to feature on their shows as guests. Some of the presenters are very experienced and are often comedians or celebrities who have established themselves as entertainment trump cards. These entertainment professionals make the comedic atmosphere rather than the idol guest.

Many other programmes are actually based around our kpop idols whom we truly love seeing on TV; Invincible Youth and many other reality TV shows like the ‘MTV Diary’ or the ‘Showtime’ seasons really show us what our idols are like behind closed doors. The producers of these shows really love idol variety ‘blue-chips’. This name is an alternative name for gag-idols who are naturally talented entertainers. Past idols who shone brightly in the entertainment world include: 2AM’s Jokwon, Lee Hyori, Daesung and Seungri from Big Bang as well as Shinhwa. Anyone who has watched Shinhwa’s variety programmes will know how talented they are at presenting. Many say that they are an example of a perfect all round entertainer.

Below, I have listed ‘The Top 5 Up and Coming Gag Idols’ who have stood out over the last year.

  1. Eunkwang from BTOB

Eunkwang is the leader of BTOB. BTOB are in a company called CUBE Entertainment. Eunkwang is unafraid of damaging his idol image which is often something that hinders many idols on variety shows. The faces Eunkwang pulls are so extreme that you cannot help laughing at him with a slight hint of embarrassment.  Famously, he pretended to be a gorilla at an event’s red carpet; he actually got down on all-fours and started crawling whilst pulling a gorilla face. Ladies and gentlemen, this guy has no shame. I think he is very likeable which is why he is appreciated by many of the more experienced entertainers.  Many say he is able to pull these things off as his visuals are not like your average kpop idols. However, I think he is able to do what he does because he is keen to make a mark in the presenting and comedy industry. Eunkwang oozes charm which goes beyond most other idols.

In past BTOB reality programmes, you can evidently see he is one of the main atmosphere makers of the group. There was one moment in BTOB’s TV show, ‘Real Men’, which set into fits of laughter. The members were trying to fit as many hard boiled sweets into their mouth. Eunkwang started drooling and saliva actually dripped onto the floor… Check it out! You either will be laughing or frowning in absolute disgust. Skip to 8:34 for the drooling readers!

  1. 15&’s Jimin

Jimin is only 17 years old and has already started a career in show business. She used to live Thailand and learnt English whilst she was there. Calling her 4D is an understatement. This girl is 8D! Jimin exaggerates her actions and is hyper most of the time on TV. Whilst going crazy, she is still able to keep a straight face. I have sincere respect for her; on many shows comedians may underestimate her. However, when asked to show her wild personality and comedic sense, the presenters are so astonished yet amused by her funny outbursts. She is indeed a very rare ‘blue chip’.

Her quirky personality was first noticed by many fans of KPOPSTAR. After she debuted, like many other idols, 15& were invited onto many music programmes to promote their songs. On ‘Show Champion’, Jimin was selected by the 2 presenters to express a colour though the art of dance. Many people are saying she is the 3rd generation of ‘Kkap Idols’.  ‘Kkap Idols’ are idols who dance in a very exaggerated way with a very straight face. Previous ‘Kkap Idols’ include 2AM’s Jokwon and Miss A’s Min. The reaction of fellow idols, including Block B and Girls Day, are priceless!

  1. Winner’s Seunghoon

Winner debuted this year with their song ‘Empty’. Ever since then, netizens have labelled them the ‘New Monster Rookies’. In every new group who debuts, I normally look for someone who is the next idol variety blue chip. When I saw Winner’s variety TV show, ‘Winner TV’, I instantly recognised Seunghoon from his KPOPSTAR days and also spotted his knack of making people laugh. I think people who tuned in to KPOPSTAR Season 1 remember him most for his dance skills. In the clip below, when Seunghoon dances with the KPOPSTAR sign on the floor, was noted as one of the moments where YG saw the potential in him. Not only did he do this spontaneously but also was being judged by YG himself and other YG artists.

Recently, Winner was invited onto ‘Yoo Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook’ where artists are invited to sing live on a stage with a live audience. Not only kpop artists, but also many Korean trot singers, song writer and other bands like ‘Rose Motel’ are invited. It is considered as a great platform for artists to promote their new songs. In the video below, Seunghoon was asked to do freestyle dances to random songs. The outcome was hilarious!

Many people actually find Mino, another rapper from Winner, as having more variety potential than Seunghoon. I find that Mino is much funnier than Seunghoon at reality TV programmes but Seunghoon has the cheekiness to go ahead with whatever he wants to say or do.

  1. Jackson from Got7

Jackson, a Chinese member from the JYP boy group GOT7 is in at number 2. Jackson caught my attention during WIN (a competition to see which YG trainee boy group would be the first to debut). In one episode, there was a battle between the YG trainees and JYP trainees. I was extremely impressed with with Jackson’s confident smirk and English skills. Stating that he is ‘Mr Wild and Sexy’ himself, he has an arrogant yet likeable personality. It’s obvious that he exaggerates his actions and way of speech a lot but one can’t help thinking that maybe he is as weird and random in real life.

There are so many Jackson moments that are variety gold. He has been invited on to so many variety programmes like ‘Star King’ and the new season of ‘Roommate’. Many netizens have said that Jackson was one of the celebrities who saved the programme ‘Roommate’ from being an absolute flop. Since Korean is Jackson’s 4th language, he does find expressing himself a challenge. His actions and amusing way of expressing things compensate for this. One moment which stood out for me was when Jackson was a guest on a celebrity panel on a programme called ‘Star king’.  A lady came out claiming she could eat 16 plates of curry in one sitting. Jackson, being the 4D clown that he is, asked whether it all comes out at the other end straight after eating! In Korean culture, many of you may know that their way of living is very conservative. It was a hilarious moment because no one was expecting Jackson’s comment.

Here are some moments below which made me chuckle.

  1. Bomi from Apink

It was very tight race for 1st and 2nd place. I have put Bomi from Apink as the ‘Top Up and Coming Gag-Idol’ because of her care free personality. Ever since Apink debuted, Bomi was known as the gorilla girl because of her impression of the said animal. In the link below, Bomi was invited onto a show called ‘Oh My School’ or ‘100 Points out of 100’. The other reaction of the famous comedians and other kpop artists are hilarious. They seem so taken aback by Bomi. Ever since then, she has been climbing the ladder of success proving that female rookies can make it in the comedy entertainment industry.

Apink have had many of their own reality TV with ‘Apink Showtime’ as the most recent one. Bomi is also a regular co-presenter on a show called ‘Weekly Idol’. In every reality TV show, we always see Bomi’s dorky side. She is the ‘atmosphere maker’ of Apink. I love her hilarious laugh and her love of food. Many kpop fans may know that girl group members are often pushed to go a diet in order to slim down. In most TV shows I have seen her in, there is always one frame where Bomi is wolfing down food. In the video below, we see just that!

In the ‘Weekly Idol’, where Apink were guests, Bomi showed the presenters and viewers her ‘exaggerated’ dance. Seriously, it’s a dance where you only do it in the privacy of your own bedroom or when you’re drunk. Skip to 10:09 to see her dance in the clip below!

I think Bomi’s random outbursts are variety gold. It shows she has the guts to do what she does. In my opinion, she is one of the best female variety idols. I sincerely hope she continues her career in the entertainment industry for many years to come.

Please comment below on the Kpop who you think also deserved to be on this list.

The Apricot

*New* Top 5 Underrated Kpop Groups


I have complied a new and fuller version of the article ‘Top 3 Underrated Kpop Groups’. After doing more research, I have added more opinions to each group. Happy reading and please get involved. Comment on any groups you think should have been in the Top 5 or should get more attention for their talent as a whole.

The Kpop industry is dominated by many Kpop greats; with the likes of Super Junior, Big Bang, SNSD and 2ne1, it is extremely hard to find a gap in the kpop market and fill it with that particular image the audience, you guys out there, want. In the last few years, we have seen so many girl groups and boy groups debut one after the other to the point where the kpop industry is overflowing with rookie groups. Some may argue that rookie groups from the ‘Big 3’ are highly anticipated and already acknowledged by many fans. However, some groups who debut are not just that lucky. They are only popular with a small percentage of the Kpop fandom and having been hidden behind many of the industry’s rising newcomers, they are practically invisible.

So, I thought it was time to bring more attention to these artists who may be just as good-looking and maybe even more talented than your average popular idol group. These are the hidden gems who can actually sing live without going out of tune; the people who are actually funny and deserve to be recognised.

5. GLAM

I came across this girl group from a show called ‘All the Kpop’ hosted by Boom. The programme involved inviting many kpop rookies onto the show to demonstrate their variety skills; some of the games included the ‘Tracing Paper Challenge’ and the ‘Pocky Chocolate Kiss’. One of the members in GLAM, Zinni, was a regular on it and often showcased her dancing skills, dare I say a little too often. But why wouldn’t you if had a body and dancing skills like that.

I chose their ‘I Like That’ dance video to showcase their dancing skills and also because their MV was so so painful to watch.  This dance practice video definitely shows the fierce aura GLAM has which just needs to be showcased in a music video. They are so in sync with each other and also perform even the smallest moves with the power used in street dance.

Their recent song released in 2014 was called Give It 2 U. I was extremely shocked at the drastic image and song-style change. Nevertheless, I do admit it is extremely catchy, sweet with a simple pop rhythm. It is an image that would appeal to many male kpoppers but also an image taken up by many current successful girl groups like Apink.

4.LEDApple

My friend introduced this band to me and just said, “You’ll like them. At least, when they sing English lyrics, you don’t cringe” and thus I was sold. I did a bit of research and found that some were born in English speaking countries like Australia. The fact that they were nominated for the ‘Most Anticipated Super Rookies for 2012’ by Wave K shows at least there was some recognition for LEDApple but I guess their popularity didn’t really escalate to the height they, nor we, expected. One of the lead vocals called Hanbyul, seems to be doing most of the work and seems to be the front man of the band. The other members of the band are less known to the average kpop fan (unless they are a LEDApple maniac for which I don’t blame them).   LEDApple are not your average idol group so maybe that is why they don’t as appeal as much to the majority of the kpop fandom; they do clever arrangements and covers of current pop songs which make up the awful packaging their company gives them. Check out their covers at Offical Ledapple on YouTube.

3. Royal Pirates

Having just discovered this band, I find it hard to believe that they have quite a small following. Girls-and guys- my mouth dropped open when I saw the members. Forgive my shallowness for the time being but Royal Pirates really have some talent not just in the composing and music area. James, Moon and Soo Yoon are extremely good looking but not in the classic ‘flower boy’ way which appeal to many Koreans. These guys would definitely appeal to many girls in the western countries like England, USA, Canada and so on with their much more manly and relaxed boy-next-door vibe. All members speak English without a Korean accent which, in my opinion, makes them even more attractive.

Their latest release which I listened to, ‘Drawing the Line’ was extremely catchy because it had a good rhythm and a simple yet effective melody. Hours later I found myself humming the song absent-mindedly.  What’s more, the English version had some very cute lyrics which I found very endearing and sweet. I definitely can see people covering this song with a ukulele doing a cute, gentler version of ‘Drawing the Line’.

Although their music video to ‘Drawing the Line’ was lacking in many ways including the number of decent shots of ALL the members, these three guys have it all; I think they just need suitable packaging and then would shoot to the top instantly.

Check out Royal Pirate on After School Club (hosted by Eric Nam and Kevin from Ukiss)

Check out their English version of drawing the line.

2. 15&

This duo is so talented and have voices of angels. Park Jimin, one half of the duo, was the winner of Kpop Star the year where Lee Hi was the runner up. Lee Hi has caused a huge sensation on the music scene considering how young she actually was with ‘1,2,3,4’ and ‘Rose’. Her success is so different to the ‘success’- if you can even call it that- achieved by Jimin. Jimin is more talented than Lee Hi not just in her vocal abilities but also her comedic abilities too which makes it hard for me to come to the terms with the lack of chart hits and appreciation people have given 15&. Jimin has a very natural comedic timing and there is something that is very warm and likable about her; being very young,all the other comedians in Korean find her hilarious so I am confident that if all things fail she will be able to do something down the comedy route.

This is a  video of Park Jimin (15&) and Lee Hi during their Kpop Star days

Yerin is the other member of 15&, although she is quiet and the complete opposite of Jimin, she has such a clear yet strong voice. I think her voice is much more polished than Jimin’s and has a larger range thus is much more comfortable to listen to. Although I am not too keen on her TV personality, her voice makes up for it. Considering she is 17 (18 Korean age), she has one precious voice. If Yerin can become more lively and can talk a bit more, these girls will be invited on endless variety shows.

I have seen many netizen comments saying that JYP Entertainment’s lack of new ideas and dull songs have caused the flop of this duo; I completely agree with what most of the netizens are saying. By comparing them to Akdong Musician, 15& are practically nothing when I looked at the number of fans and chart hits which is really disappointing. JYP entertainment need to step up their game!

This is their cover of the Alicia Keys song, ‘If I Ain’t Got You

This cover of Jessie J’s Domino is seriously impressive!

1. SPICA

These girls are in the same company as the ‘Kpop Goddess’ – Lee Hyori. Without a doubt, these girls are so talented and I cannot emphasise how talented they are. They are gorgeous, amazing at singing and just ooze with raw emotion when performing.

I was seriously blown away when I saw this video. How can this group be so strong in their vocal ability? The leader, Kim Bo Ah, stood out for me the most; interestingly, she used to be Infinite’s vocal coach. Her voice is, undeniably, one of the best voices in the kpop industry. It is very husky and not the usual sweet, innocent voices heard in kpop girl groups. In fact, all of their voices, I think, would be more popular in countries like the UK or America.

Recently, they went on a variety show called ‘X-unnie’ which was hosted by Lee Hyori. The aim of the programme was to improve the variety skills of the members in SPICA. Looking at some of the videos of the shows, I think the girls did loosen up eventually. It is a shame they haven’t really found that ‘special something’ to catapult themselves amongst the rising rookies like EXO and Apink.

Conclusion

I do feel sympathetic towards the rookie groups who have trained so hard but have not made a huge impact in the kpop industry. Eventually, I hope their raw talent will be recognised but for the time being, the kpop music industry is just too full and too diverse that finding a special place in a fan’s heart is almost impossible

The Apricot

Top 10 Look-A-Likes


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These are in no particular order.

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Overall Review of 2012: K-Pop


2012 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.

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