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[YEAR-END REVIEW (5) : MUSIC] New idol bands put fresh spin on pop industry

2007/12/27 | 335 views | Permalink | Source

Throughout 2006, many former boy band and girl band members went solo, and a brand-new lineup of male and female idol groups replaced them this year.

One of the most conspicuous phenomenon on this year's pop music scene was the popularity of two girl bands: Wonder Girls and Girls' Generation (Sonyeosidae).

Wonder Girls, the quintet produced by Park Jin-young, a popular singer-songwriter who runs JYP Entertainment, dominated the pop music world with "Tell Me", a somewhat outdated disco-themed number from their first album, "The Wonder Year".

Other new girl groups such as Cats, Kara, and Baby Vox Re.V., also competed for the throne that had been left empty since the first generation of Korean girl groups including S.E.S. and Fin.K.L were disbanded a few years ago. Except for Girls' Generation, however, none of them was good enough to rival Wonder Girls in popularity.

The simple and highly addictive melody and rhythm of "Tell Me", combined with fun, easy-to-follow dance movements, which were also created by Park, made Wonder Girls and the song one of the biggest hits of the year.

Girls' Generation, comprised of nine pretty-faced teenage girls who won this year's Golden Disk Rookie of the Year award, was a little bit outshined by the wondrous fivesome group.

Among boy bands, two new quintets, FT Island and Big Bang, were conspicuous, while the heart-throbbing boys of SS501 and TVXQ were focusing on their overseas schedules.

Despite the popularity of the new boy and girl groups, the ever-diminishing album sales in the local pop music industry have remained unchanged. Even Wonder Girls have sold only about 50,000 copies of their "The Wonder Year" album.

Veteran singer Lee Seung-chul, whose previous albums were hot-selling items, recently shocked his fans as he said in an interview that only 40,000 units of his new album, titled "A Secret of Color 2", have been released for the first edition. More than 80 percent of the offline music market has vanished since 2000, while the download and streaming market has grown almost three-fold during the same time.

For a few pop stars, this year may have been the worst one in their lives. Singer Psy, 30, was recently drafted into military service for the second time after it was revealed that his uncle bribed the head of a software company into letting the singer work at his firm, as a substitute for the country's mandatory military service.

Sexy pop diva Ivy was blackmailed by her ex-boyfriend who claimed that he has steamy video clips showing the two in bed. The guy was put into jail, but her public image has been seriously tarnished, not because of the sex video, the existence of which has yet to be formally confirmed, but because many of her fans now believe that she is not as naive and pure as she "pretended" to be.

Last summer, Korean superstar Rain's performance in Los Angeles was canceled less than two hours before its opening. The shows in other U.S. cities, scheduled as part of his "World Tour", were also canceled because of a suit filed by a Nevada-based audio disc producer, Rain Corporation, to ban the Korean pop star's use of his artistic name Rain in the United States.

The year 2007 will also be remembered as the time when some of the world's top pop stars/groups, including Beyonce Knowles, Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas and Linkin Park, visited the country to give concerts.

By Lee Yong-sung

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