Gang Su-ji - Won Mi-yeon - Lee Sun-hee - Im Chang-jung
- Park Ji-yoon
Singers are making a steady comeback this year. Last year wrapped up with a harmonious mix of the young and old. Global stars Rain
and TVXQ, '90s stars Sin Seung-hun, Kim Gun-mo
and Seo Taiji
and singers Kim Jong-kook
and Kim Beom-su--after completing their military service--all came back last year.
Though not as bountiful as last year, this year's first half will also see the return of familiar faces.
The list includes Won Jun-hee, known for her hit "Love Is Like Glass", more '80-90s singers such as Gang Su-ji, Won Mi-yeon and Lee Sun-hee, Im Chang-jung
and Park Ji-yoon
returning from their acting gigs and GOD member Kim Tae-woo, who has fiinished his military duty. Their comeback will be dear to the singing scene, which was feared to lack a star presence last year.
Won Jun-hee came back with the single Return last August after 20 years. She released her second single in January and sang "Love Is Like Glass" remade by MC haNsAi into a hip hop ballad and duet this month. Close friends Gang Su-ji and Won Mi-yeon each also released digital singles in January and February.
Gang's return comes seven years after her tenth album in 2002. Her perennial partner from her debut years, composer Yun Sang, helped her return. Won also joined hands with Yun Jong-sin and returned with a new song after 13 years.
Lee Seon-hee, who went to the U.S. after remarrying in 2006, released her 14th album last month after her 2005 13th album. She will hold a concert in April.
Im and Park, who have pursued acting, have come back after six years.
Since his 10th album in 2003, Im will release his 11th album "Return To My World" on Tuesday, and Park's new acoustic ballad album coming next month is the first since her sixth album in 2003.
Kim Tae-woo, who finished his military service on Feb. 25, will introduce a two-track digital single next month and a regular album in July. Vocalist Joe Won-sun
of the band Rollercoaster, whose members agreed to go their different ways last year, will release a modern rock-based first single this month.
Music for all ages
Industry experts welcome the returns, saying, "Popular music is not about choice and concentration but diversity that satisfies fans of all age groups". Music Farm official Gang Tae-gyu said, "The return of singers of different ages and genres is itself very significant. While idol stars led the music scene last year, I'm happy to see the return of seasoned singers with both musical and popular appeal this year".
But some say the prevalence of digital singles over conventional albums is regrettably in line with the music market going digital.
One record agency chairman deplored the situation. He admitted it was inevitable due to the changing music environment, but claims people will miss the individual musical styles of singers expressed through old-fashioned albums.
Others worry about the return of the "oldie" stars of the '80s and '90s.
One 30-something singers noted, "It's great to see older singers back on the scene with new albums in the past few years. They have high expectations, but many failed to adjust to the changed environment and dropped out over sluggish album sales. I hope they will remain steady and stay with us for a long time".