Korean website 100Beat is receiving a lot of attention for their recent article on the “5 Best and Worst Idols over the past 10 years”, and we’re bringing it straight to you.
The hottest topic of the Korean music industry over the past few years has been none other than the ‘idol fever’ sweeping the market. With previous years being taken over by boy bands, the past 10 years of the music market have been dominated by both group and soloist idols.
Which idols are the best? Which idols are the worst? With the emergence of H.O.T as the initial marking point of the trend, five individual teams were chosen to compile entries for both the best and the worst categories.
Those that participated in the survey include 20 professional critics, such as music magazine editor-in-chiefs, journalists, and broadcast writers. All of them participated in a discussion meeting with ‘100 BEAT‘ in order to come up with the following list.
3. Big Bang
5. TVXQ / DBSK
BoA has topped the list, having debuted 10 years ago at the age of 14. She’s become the model of detailed planning and success. Maybe it’s because she was produced with the foresight and future planning of penetrating the overseas market, but her music itself was trendy with very little flaws. Her agency created a system that worked positively in BoA’s case, making her first footsteps the standard planning of all subsequent idols. She was also one of the first female idols to blow away the image of being a ‘passive’ woman, making sexist phrases like, “The right and wrong of women are covered behind men,” a thing of the past.
SNSD, who is now regarded as a cultural phenomenon, has taken second. SNSD was able to make those that turned away from the TV screens return with anticipation for their next stunt. Kim Jungwee mentioned, “They’ve even made ‘rock kids’ be able to confidently say that they like idols.”
Big Bang was able to garner attention as well, considering they’re a fresh group and unlike any other idol before them; consequently they’ve gathered a strong fanbase (VIP’s). If SNSD possess the ‘uncle fans,’ Big Bang has the ‘older sister fans.’ One such older sister, Lee Hoyoung, commented, “Their strength lies in the fact that each individual member came together to make a harmonious team, despite having their own talents and interests. Not only that, but they are also strong on their own as well.”
And despite much time having been passed since the era of S.E.S, they are still remembered as ‘the’ model for girl groups, earning their place in fourth. Critic Kim Bonghyun stated, “S.E.S is one of the first idols that successfully accomplished both image and music.” Their competition with Fin.K.L showed the market the effects of competition between stars – much like how the competition between the Wonder Girls and SNSD opened doors for yet a newer generation of girl groups.
In the fifth spot is none other than TVXQ / DBSK. Choi Jisun elaborated on TVXQ’s ranking by stating, “TVXQ works in correspondence with the needs of each new generation. They’re an example of a successful entrance into the Japanese market and a group that has made the Hallyu wave something meaningful.”
3. Super Junior
At the head of the list stands CNBlue. The group is regarded as an idol group imitating a band, and many critics have stepped forward claiming that it’s a problem when their plagiarism controversies have had no effect on their promotions at all. Their reasoning lies within the fact that there are definitely clear lines between singing and being a singer, respecting the rights of composers and selfishly using their work for personal gain; the music industry itself needs to understand the differences in genres. Kim Kwanghyun mentioned, “Just because they’re performing ‘band music’ does not mean that they are a rock band.”
Many critics were put off by idol groups pretending to be a ‘band,’ with other groups like FT Island and Click B earning cold reviews as well.
Lee Kyungjoon commented, “ZE:A is an example of the previous three reasons being applied in a roundabout way.” This statement coupled with their song title, ‘Break Up Adlib,’ is nothing short of being the cherry on top of the absolute worst.
Super Junior has also managed to make the list by dividing listeners into those that can memorize their names, and those that cannot. Critics regarded Super Junior as being nothing other than a bandwagon-type group with skills that fall short of the rising level of expectations. Ironically, there are qualifications to even becoming the worst, though the true worst is yet to be revealed. Critics concluded that Super Junior is an unfortunate group that just isn’t able to live up to the level of their popularity.
H.O.T, the first idols to ever succeed, also became an icon of failure in their eyes. Although full responsibility cannot be placed on H.O.T, they are, however, one of the reasons for the distortion behind the music market and biased planning.
Critics that chose Rain as the worst revealed their reasons to be his excessive media exposure, constantly bombarding the press with news of his ‘world expansion’ and being a ‘world star.’ Although being an all-around player is one of the points of idol promotions, critics have stated that once the details of Rain’s accomplishments are actually investigated, nothing can be found other than the skinny reality behind his impressive body.
With SM Entertainment artists dominating both the best and the worst lists, the list reveals that the company has been the leader of the idol market thus far. These results also demonstrate that groups are more popular than solo artists. No group made both lists, proving that there is a universal standard dividing a clear ‘like and dislike’ with each idol. Idols are immediately separated into ‘likable’ and ‘not likable’ – a standard that only looks at the absolute basics of each idol. Whether or not such a phenomenon will work in the advantage of idols requires more time to see.
Kim Hyunjoon concluded, “I was not able to participate in this survey under three reasons. The first is because I do not know enough about the idols mentioned in this list. The second is because I’m becoming old. It’s difficult for me to hear their songs. And the third is because there is still an endless amount of music to be heard in this world. Even if I am able to live 3x the average lifespan, I will never have the extra time to spend listening to idol music.”
Netizens commented on DAUM’s BBS board with comments such as , “I agree overall with the list,” “Maybe the journalist is a male, there are no girl groups in the worst list,” “I don’t care that they chose those groups as the worst, but I think a better explanation is needed,” and “Where is 2PM in the worst?”