The K-pop Music Bank Festival
You won’t be able to stop. Don’t believe us? Check out the eight power acts strutting their stuff at Hong Kong’s first Music Bank Festival at AsiaWorld Arena. By Dorothy So
Also known as Dong Bang Shin Ki (meaning ‘The Rising Gods of the East’), these kings of Korea’s hallyu wave started off as a five-member boy band with the collective abs to put Chippendales to shame. Following a lawsuit against their label SM Entertainment, which is still ongoing, three of the members left in 2009 to form their own group JYJ. However, the group’s popularity hasn’t waned. In 2011, remaining members Yunho and Changmin returned with their fifth album Keep Your Head Down, which became a massive chart topper. TVXQ are also the most popular Korean group in Japan (where they are known as Tohoshinki), and became the first Korean artists to grace the cover of Rolling Stone Japan.
The girls became an international phenomenon when they released their insanely catchy ditty Nobody in 2008 but their success dates back to pre-Nobody days. The group’s first full-length album The Wonder Years was released in September 2007 and its title track Tell Me became so popular, it sparked a global dance craze known as the ‘Tell Me virus’. They’ve made several attempts to break into America, releasing an English version of Nobody in 2009 and a television movie The Wonder Girls on the TeenNick channel.
Founded in 2009 by K-pop sensation Rain, the five-member group are known to share a close relationship with their mentor. Rain has also written and produced several of MBLAQ’s most popular songs, including their debut track Oh Yeah and Y. For some reason, the group has enjoyed exceptional fame in Central and Eastern Europe and their 2011 hit, Mona Lisa, topped the charts in Germany and Bulgaria. The boys are also known for their participation in variety shows such as MBLAQ – The Art of Seduction.
Unlike most other girl groups, who are either heavily sexualised or saccharinely cute, F(x) are often perceived as the hipsters of South Korea’s music industry. Of course, two of them aren’t Korean; the group’s rapper Amber is Taiwanese-American while leader Victoria is from Qingdao. The group debuted in 2009 with the single La Cha Ta and went on to release their first mini album Nu ABO in May 2010. The girls are currently in the middle of promoting their new mini album Electric Shock.
Sometimes going by the stylised name B2ST (also pronounced ‘beast’), these six strapping lads are known to make teenage girls swoon with their good looks, powerful dance moves and velvety vocals. Despite its bizarre snippets of English (‘Every day I shock! Every night I shock!’), their 2010 single Shock sold a record number of copies across Asia. The boys released their first full-length album Fiction and Fact in 2011. Following its release, Beast was invited to perform at MTV’s World Stage in Malaysia and they embarked on their first world tour earlier this year.
Yes, there’s a lot of them (seven, in fact), which is why Infinite’s perfectly synchronised dancing is all the more impressive. The boys received widespread attention when they released the MV to Before the Dawn (BTD) and performed their famous ‘Scorpion Dance’. The group released their third mini album INFINITIZE last month and its leading track, The Chaser, went straight to the top of the charts on all major music programmes in South Korea.
CN Blue proves that there’s more to K-pop than synchronised dancing. The four-member rock outfit write (and play) their own songs – a rarity in the industry. The band’s debut mini album, Bluetory, debuted in 2010 with the title track I’m a Loner reaching number one on KBS’s Music Bank. CN Blue is big in Japan, too, and has released two full-length albums there. The band released another Korean mini album, Ear Fun, in March this year, featuring the lead track Hey You.
The doe-eyed 19-year-old is affectionately known as Korea’s little sister. Despite her petite frame, IU has pipes to kill, as she demonstrated in her award-winning song, Good Day. Her specialities are cutesy, sugar-coated tracks such as her first successful song Boo and the tween-appropriate Marshmallow, which have made her one of Korea’s most popular entertainers. Her fiercely loyal fan base comprises mostly prepubescent boys and grown-up ‘uncle fans’ (it’s less creepy than it sounds...). Fortunately for older fans, IU’s latest album Spring Of A Twenty Year Old shows her maturing as an artist and includes the dreamy, self-composed track Peach.
How to be a K-pop idol
Have flawless physical attributes
Girls, this means anime-like eyes, slender legs, a 24-inch waist and a small face. Dudes, Greek god body please and a chiselled face. Plastic surgery may help...
Dance like you just don’t care
Dancing is oh-so-important. Start with simple, synchronised shimmying but, if you want to move up the K-pop ladder, aim to dance like Justin Bieber on crack.
Recruit a lot of members
Not a solo artist? Go big. More is more, as demonstrated by Girls’ Generation (nine) and Super Junior (a whopping 13).
Change your hairstyle. Often.
At least whenever you’re about to launch anything new (album or TV drama). The more frequently you change your ‘do, the more in demand you are.
Sing in random English
This also works. Don’t believe us? Check out G-Dragon’s rendition of Maroon 5’s This Love, which opens with the semi-rapping, ‘This love in my thuggin’ G’s in. I’m tray falling, that’s right.’ Er...
K-pop Music Bank Festival is at AsiaWorld Expo on Sat Jun 23. Tickets: 3128 8288; www.hkticketing.com.