[SPECIAL FEATURE] Qualmless Idols, On Their Way to be A-dols?by Park Hyo-Jae(firstname.lastname@example.org) | Sep 26, 2013
Aged idols = Adult idols = A-dols
Aged idols, also known as the adult idols (A-dols) has recently been gaining much popularity. Idols who once competed with cuteness may have aged, but now, the fact that they are A-dols isn’t something to hide but it is used as a material for publicity. A-dols can boast their experience and sexiness, which also means more opportunities to expand their fan base.
“We are quite ripe”
The 4-member girl group Brown Eyed Girls who enraptured their fans with the song “Abracadabra” and the ‘arrogance dance,’ doesn’t hide the fact that they have been in the music scene for 8 years, safe to say, the longest-living girl group. Not only do they boldly display sexy concepts on stage, their qualmless high rated talks on entertainment programs easily creates a stir. On the cable channel tvN’s Taxi aired on Sept 16, when MCs asked, “What is Brown Eyed Girls’ deadily weapon?” member Narsha replied, “We are quite ripe.” Then, near the end of the program, Brown Eyed Girls and the two MCs, Kim Gura and Hong Eun Hee went to a club in Itaewon in Seoul to dance.
Besides the fans, junior singers also look up to A-dols as role-models. At an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun, the girl group Apink said, “We want to be a group that grows old with our fans, like Shinhwa.” Male vocal trio Honey-G who debuted recently through the audition program Superstar K4 also said, “Group Shinhwa, who’ve come this far without any changes in members, is our role model.”
The 6-member male group Shinhwa celebrated their 15th anniversary this year since their debut in March 1998. They released their 11th studio album The Classic and completed the Asia tour from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan. Shinhwa is the only case for a dance idol group to be active for 15 years still intact with its original members.
Young idol singers are emphasizing their ‘adulthood’
Perhaps ‘A-dol’s competitive edge has been recognized. Young idol singers are emphasizing their ‘adulthood’ more and more. They try out sexy concepts and emphasize their maturity. Former Wonder Girls member Sunmi is such a case. She came back as a solo dance singer after 3 years and 7 months, attempting an image that reminds us of singer Park Ji Yoon’s famous song, “Seonginsik” (“Coming of Age Ceremony”). On stage, she dances barefoot, wearing a bodysuit that almost appears as an undergarment revealing her legs in the most sensual way. Her solo debut title “24 Hours” sings, “24 hours is not enough. When I touch you and you touch me…” When you think of the lively and cute Wonder Girls, Sunmi’s transformation is unconventional.
Recently, making appearances on talk shows and on programs intended for adult viewers are a kind of a coming-of-age ceremony to the idols. The cable channel tvN’s adult comedy program SNL Korea has become a passageway to become an A-dol. For instance, the girl group 4Minute made an appearance with a sexy and comical concept, while Seungri of Big Bang presented adult humor on SNL Korea.
Entertainment management agency Sidus HQ where Park Jaebum, one of the fixed member of SNL Korea, is associated with, has even put the rookie girl group 2eyes as one of the crew as well.
On MBC talk show Radio Star, aired on Sept 4, Kang Ji-young of the girl group Kara, confessed to having watched an x-rated movie when she was still under age. She said, “I watched it alone at home, then with my family, and even with my friends.” When MCs mentioned the x-rated Korean movie My PS Partner she replied, “That’s not that erotic isn’t it?” and laughed in embarrassment.
Park Hyunsik of the boy group Children of Empire, a.k.a ZE:A, is showing a process of becoming a man through MBC’s reality-variety show A Real Man. He has been appealing his manly image by making hard efforts to adapt to various military environments without any complaint. Through the show, he caused quite a stir and raised his as well as his groups awareness in Korea.
He also appeared on the cable channel tvN’s Taxi on Sept 23. When he was asked who his ideal woman was, he immediately replied, “Amanda Seyfried is Perfect! Charming and perfect! did you see her singing and playing guitar? It’s to die for!”
”Sexy code has become a trend on its own”
The changes in fandom, the broadcast environment, etc., were considered as possible reasons to why the adult image has become such an emphasis to idols.
Kim Sun Hwa, the head of the public relations at Sidus HQ, commented, “Sexy code has become a trend on its own. In the past, public in general felt uncomfortable towards idols using adult humor or sexy concepts, but now it’s at a point where such things are acceptable to some degree.”
The decrease in the influence of the record industry and the music program with the introduction of cable channels, is one reason why the constraint on expressions have weakened. Choi Chang Hyuk, the managing director of Sidus HQ stated, “Mysterious concept doesn’t work anymore. This isn’t the era where hundred thousands to millions of albums are sold. The more the people know about us and like us, the better it is for us.”
On the other hand, there are concerns of sensationalism becoming too dominant. Ryu Jae Hyun, the manager of the agency Star Empire where ZE:A is associated with said, “Perhaps idols come out with unconventional and provocative concepts because there are not much to show on variety programs.”
“the by-product of excessive competition”
Lee Dae Hwa, the music critic stated, “It’s become harder to expect distinguished music, because the album industry has transformed into producing digital singles from producing albums.” He added, “As the circulation cycle of trends shortens, the impression that emphasizing unconventional concept is the best way to survive seem to be strong.” He also pointed out that this trend is the by-product of excessive competition in the music industry.