BH Discuss: Are sexy girl group concepts really getting ‘worse’?
K-pop news media seems to have been taken over lately with articles detailing the concerns of the Korean public and K-pop fans that girl group concepts are becoming too provocative. But are sexy girl group concepts really getting ‘worse’?
One of the big disadvantages girl groups have in comparison to their male counterparts is that (with a couple of notable exceptions) they find it more difficult to build up large and supportive fanbases. Female fans of boy groups tend to be more loyal than fans of girl groups. As a result they usually try to work harder to get mainstream popularity by getting high rankings in the digital singles charts.
The problem with this is that while being high in the charts might mean more people are listening to your music, it doesn’t necessarily mean more cash (especially given how unprofitable Korean digital music sales are). It also doesn’t give groups guarantees for future sales as there aren’t as many loyal fans that they can rely on to buy albums and merchandise.
This creates an atmosphere of fierce competition between girl groups who are all seeking the same (fleeting) attention from the general public and leads companies and groups to do anything they can to catch their eyes.
And it works.
On an episode of Chungdamdong 111, FNC Entertainment’s ‘reality show’, members of AOA explicitly stated that ditching their idol rock band image in favour of a sexy girl group image had meant they could take part in many more events and made them more popular with the army.
Having said that, is it really all that new? Girl’s Day’s current hit ‘Something’ has been coming under fire for its provocative choreography but it has also been a big hit in Korea. While at first the choreography was fine for broadcast, all of a sudden it’s has been deemed too racy and edited (with accompanying news articles). This, of course, has nothing to do it being exactly around the time when the song might start to lose steam.
If you remember back to 2011, this exact same sequence of events occurred with 4Minute’s ‘Mirror Mirror’ and the ‘spread leg dance’ which then became one of the biggest songs of the summer.
This is not all that new.
What might be new is the numbers of groups competing for the same kind of attention as other kinds of concepts fall out of favour. Perhaps as a result, music videos seem to be becoming more clinical, almost, in their relentless and detailed close inspection of the performers’ bodies.
The outrage over the way women are being treated in K-pop may be justified but often that is not how the argument is framed. The idea that is sexy concepts are somehow cheapening K-pop or something similar is just kind of silly and more than a little sexist. And anyhow, ridiculously over the top aegyo concepts still use (and perhaps exploit) sexuality in very similar ways.
Honestly, the search for the raunchiest, most headline-grabbing dance move is just… kind of dull at this point. It has become just another hackneyed gimmick.
Perhaps there are positives about the shift in the industry. At least its more exploitative elements are no longer being hidden behind a wink and the pretence of childish unknowingness. That’s a good thing, right?
Arguments about girl group concepts on the internet seem to go round and round in circles never reaching a satisfying conclusion but let us know what you think. Are girl group concepts getting worse? Do you prefer the way they are now are miss the aegyo concepts of the past? What does the future look like for K-pop girl groups? Maybe it’s just not a big deal at all and everyone is overreacting. Leave us a comment with your thoughts!