It’s the Kpop Chart Update for the week of May 12th 2012! If you didn’t read that in a cheesy talk show host voice, go back and do so now.

We’ve got a lot of rookie-like bands in this update, Hello Venus, A Pink, and ULALA Session. The only exception is with IU who released a 26 minute long “music video” on May 10th which is more like a documentary, but we won’t be talking about it today, I just wanted to mention it so you know that it’s out and to take the time to watch it!

Hello Venus “Venus”Vote for them here!


First up is Hello Venus, the newest female rookie group from Pledis Entertainment, the same label that brought us After School, Orange Caramel, NU’EST, and Son Dambi.  When we saw the teaser photos, we were really excited about this group.  They had crazy coloured hair and an interesting and quirky Alice in Wonderland feel to them, but it wasn’t too over the top.  We thought – considering Orange Caramel – this group might be the middle ground between After School and Orange Caramel.  They’d be quirky and unique, but not as extreme into role playing/cosplaying as Orange Caramel, and they’d be serious and strong females like After School, but with less Pussycat Doll sexy sass.  I thought the name “Hello Venus” and the teaser photos suggested a liking to the famous Greek goddess, Venus aka Aphrodite, and she is a strong, powerful, yet beautiful woman. Then the name of the song is Venus! I’m like, “OH YEAH, here we go! Strong female band FTW!”  However, after watching their debut music video, we got the worst case scenario: yet another cutey girl band making faces at the camera.

Warning! Incoming rant!

I really really really don’t get enjoyment out of this cutey girl/boy image.  To begin with, it is really forced to me.  We can all tell that they’re acting, especially with the girl in the coffee shop uniform, and it makes me feel irritated seeing them make these forced faces at the camera.  I just don’t understand what’s wrong with letting a rookie group come out with a little strength and sass?  There are three really good examples of fabulous debuts by girl groups, 2NE1, 4Minute, and Miss A.  I feel like Miss A made the strongest debut for a rookie girl group to this day.  “Bad Girl, Good Girl” blew my mind with both the choreography and their attitudes, and they didn’t try to hook people with extreme fashion or trendy blank blank.  I was immediately drawn to them.  I’ve really loved everything they’ve done ever since.  Even their quirky and bizarre music video for “Breathe” set them apart from all the other groups. With the latest addition of new girl groups to the kpop world, and I’m talking about A Pink as well, I don’t see anything special or unique about them to set them apart from one another.

Now, of course, if you’re a dedicated fan who is following the group, there will be lots of special details you’ll know about these bands.  But people need to acknowledge that there are different levels of kpop consumers, some who are extremely steeped in the fan base culture, watch all the shows and interviews and are up-to-date on information. Then there are those that really love kpop, listen to the music and watch the music videos but aren’t interested in learning the background culture of the groups they like.  That’s where Simon and I fall in: we are very interested in the music and music videos and we take those at face value.  Hence why we can openly admit to loving 90% of one bands’ songs (for example, 2NE1) and then frankly admit to disliking another 10% (I didn’t like the song Go Away or the music video for Ugly) .  It’s possible for us to share this opinion because we aren’t steeped in the part of fan culture which dictates that we MUST LOVE EVERYTHING otherwise we’re betraying the band.

This is usually where we run into problems with people who are a part of the extreme fan culture and who can’t understand the perspective of an average kpop consumer.  The main problem occurs when an Extreme Kpop Fan feels offended that something we’ve said is disrespectful because they themselves are steeped in Kpop Culture, and they’re unable to accept that some people just like the bands for their plain old music.  When we say we don’t like a song or video, it has nothing to do with the band personally, we don’t even know them personally (and neither do the kpop fans)!

So, we come full circle to A Pink and Hello Venus.  When we say we don’t like their songs and music videos, we don’t mean for some people to take this personally.  We don’t like the image their company is giving them.  There are two forms of “sex sells” in the Korean music industry, one is obvious sexy, like how Cube is marketing Hyuna, and then there is discreet sexy, which is the cutey girl aegyo image.  Don’t be fooled, cutey overacting girls is still a sex sells method.  There is only one Korean idol out right now that I think is the right amount of non-forced cute, and that’s IU.  She doesn’t make too many faces at the camera, and she doesn’t super duper overact, she strikes me as genuinely classy cute.


Ah!  Ok, that was a long rant …sorry we didn’t talk about the Ulala Session video, we just had to get this off our chests because watching those two videos in a row killed me. KILLLLLLLEEEDDD MEEEEE!!!!!!

PS: OH! ALSO! I’ve made a scale to understand our perspective of Kpop Consumption! Thoughts? Additions? Where do you fall in?

(E-KF) Extreme Kpop Fan Culture: I follow the band as if they are Idols in a religion to be worshipped.  I respect everything they do, I don’t share any negative opinions (or else you are a “jealous hater”), I feel extreme offence when someone expresses that they don’t like my band, feels extreme offence when someone doesn’t know all the background information about their religion…I mean…band.

(EM-KF) Person in-between these two

(M-KF) Middle Kpop Fan Culture: I really respect this band, I know details about them, I might watch their TV shows, interviews and so on, but I can compare and contrast their songs and videos, and make preferences of one song over the other. For example: I don’t like this song as much as their last, I love his guy liner

(MA-KF) Person in-between these two (Martina falls in this category)

(A-KF) Average Kpop Fan Consumer: I will watch this video/listen to this song and form an opinion based on my impressions of this video, rather then with my research on this band

(AN-KC) Average-Non Kpop Consumer: not necessarily a fan of kpop, but they listen to it rarely

(N-K) Non-Kpop Consumer: WTF did I just watch, why are there so many people in this band, why are they wearing the same clothing, why is that guy wearing make up, is that a even a guy, what crappy English, haha now I will mock Asian pop music

  1. I think I am completely the M-FK type. For example Super Junior is my favorite band (and has always been and will maybe always be) and I know a lot about them. But I can honestly tell you, that I find most of their MVs more than boring. I don’t even like everything their discography has to offer. Not nearly!
    I can admit it! Yay! I am not dellusional :D I like them because they are fun and they entertain me.

    I think it’s sad when people are not able to form their own opinion anymore because they love something so much. Loving something is great. Being positive about something is also a good thing. But losing your whole ability to judge objectively is uncool. And molesting others with your hyper-biased opinion, when it’s unasked for, is uncool as well. Not everyone has to like the same things. Or otherwise live would be completely boring.

    Boring like a Super Junior-MV, I guess.^^

  2. I’m definitely M-KF but I know wayyyyyyyyy too many people who are E-KF. 
    and boy is it frustrating. 

  3. I’m happy to say I’m not insane and according to the handy chart (which I really like and it would be nice if people could identify themselves as such before I start talking to them about Kpop of any kind [that way I know to back away slowly]) I’m M-KF. I definitely know a lot about the groups that I like and usually if I like more then 5 songs I will make myself learn everyone’s name within the group. That being said I don’t like everything they do, and as I was just discussing with someone today it’s actually nice to know that I don’t like everything they do because it means they’re human and have flaws like the rest of us. Does that make sense? Anyway, I agree with the cutey image, I’ve always felt IU was really cute, but it seems very natural and nothing she’s attempting to do, she’s just cute.
    Anyway, my point was that it would be nice if people tried to be realistic with idols and idol music.

  4. Yeah, I totally agree with what you’ve wrote.
    But for me, I guess that the groups nowadays lost their freshness in what they do.
    If your a music lover like me, sometimes when you hear a song, it doesn’t sounds really good to you because you can’t really feel the enjoyment or them putting their all in the music they had. (The music nowadays start to suck too.) I don’t know if anyone of you feel that way but it just feels like their doing for the sake of it.
    You can love music and you can love singing, but it is a whole other thing for you to really feel and portray it.

  5. so I know this was a while ago, but I thought I would give my two cents anyway. first I disagree with what you said about IU, I think she uses too much aegyo, she is older than me by a few months, so to me it’s a little odd? to see someone my age act that way. Sometimes in her interviews, her videos (specially the new one) you can see her more mature side and then it gets full of aegyo again, She is too deep into the little sister image, which I think her company is reluctant of letting her grow out of …fyi I don’t hate IU.

    BUT If you listen to Hello Venus, heck don’t watch the MV, the song it’s actually not filled of aegyo. I have a hard time listening to songs, in which the singers use aegyo voices (which is why I can’t listen to A Pink or Girl’s Day). Sure HV might use cute facial expressions but at least their voices sound normal. And with all of the mature debuts, with already strong concepts, I find Hello Venus to be a breath of fresh air. Everyone is doing a strong concept SPICA, EXO, BAP, Nu’Est, She’z, EXID, etc so the stong/dance/mature concept is growing old to me already, so listening to a song that it’s more light and fluffy is quite rejuvenating and refreshing…

    Also, debuting with a innocent concept is a more traditional path for artist, it gives the groups a chance to grow. The problem with debuting with a strong image/concept or song is whether they will be able to top it.

  6. Did anyone notice they completely copied the sound of After School’s Rambling Girls in parts of their verses?

  7. snsd had a concept that was cute but not TOO cute to where martina and simon can’t stand it during kissing you and they were in their teens and their in their 20s and it is awkward when u see a idol in their 20s still holding a lollipop and dancing like a teen on stage sometimes O_O 

  8. OMG I’m laughing so hard at the last classification!!!  I’d say I’m an M-KF :) I was just thinking about it today–and mind you, with the exception of SNSD whom I’ve loved since 2009–much of my kpop liking has happened only this year. But the pattern that happens is the music and music videos will catch my attention. Then I’ll look up any interviews. Then I’ll look for more interviews. Then it’ll be likely I’ll look for reality TV shows or variety shows. Then I’ll look up from my laptop to realize my condo is a mess, the dishes haven’t been washed and my husband is passed out on the sofa**

    **I kid. He’ll likely have passed out right on the bed.

  9. Victory girls sounds like “we are a city of white girls ” :P

  10. I’m an EM-KF leaning more toward M than E. 

    What kind of monster has Kpop turned me INTO!?! *goes back to scanning bigbangupdates for pictures of TOP*

  11. you were so right that rapper girl her hair

    looked like it came out of baskin robbins Fridge XD
    love ur blog this is my first visit her but it love it 
    keep it up guys

  12. Did anyone else notice Nu’est in the party scene?? 0.o

  13. Cute song, the hellovenus song has a nice catchy tune! Yay, martina’s voice is back!
    Could you add Block B’s new song to the chartlist, please??  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR1JLFhn91o and Electroboyz got also a beautiful new song. They are both really catchy.

  14. I think I’m mostly a M-KF now. I used to be a DBSK E-KF. But now that I’m older (haha hopefully wiser) and the younger ones (ie. Shinee) are popular now. My kpop obsession is more of an observer. It just feels wrong to rob a cradle. lol.
    Well at the beginning/introduction to Kpop (Se7en), I was a MA-KF person…then I was sucked into DBSK and all hell broke lose. I got over the fact that I was listening to boybands. I blame stress from school (escapism) that sucked me into the fandom. 

  15. The older guy in the car is in Feast of the gods, I think his name is Joo Sang Wook. He is Choi Ha Ja in the drama but I’m rooting for Kim Do Yoon.

  16. Ditto to everything you wrote. Thanks for category. I wish those would be attached to people’s comments, so that I can avoid having someone rip on me if I happen to say I dislike their idol. 

  17. I think you hit the nail when talking about the cutesy kpop image. I am both a kpop and jpop fan, and I always thought Korea just never been able to pull off the cutesy image. I think one major reason is the groups like Hello Venus have girls ranging from 17 to 22.  While some jpop groups with the same image have ages ranging more from 12 to 15. Simply put, jpop singers pull off the cute image because they are young and cute. Kpop girls are just way too old to actually think it is cool to make cute hand motions to express themselves.

    Not to say there isn’t anything slightly fudged up about little girls being “sex icons.” I think it is more complicated then “guys want to sleep with 12 year olds” and more about someone that is as sexually innocent as the target audience (lets face it the guys in the Hello Venus video are all loners of some sort)

  18. According to your scale, I think I’m a E-KF but that only applies to 2NE1 and BIGBANG. I think they are the only two groups that can make it in the U.S. 
    Girl groups these days are putting way too much into the aegyo thing. I don’t hate it, but I just don’t find it… what’s that word… o well. For example, I’ve been watching hellovenus’s venus over and over again, for like 6 times already, and I still can’t separate the members apart, usually it only takes me 2 – 3 times to separate the members in other groups. I know that KPOP is very different from American-pop, but if they ever want to go worldwide, they need that change that cutie girl image.

  19. Whilst I do highly agree about the whole “aegyo” concepts being just plain ridiculously over-exaggerated these days, I must disagree about your opinion about A Pink. I myself never could stand forced “aegyo” in front of the camera. I always question why all these idols just can’t be themselves and have fun instead of puffing their cheeks and batting their eyelashes continuously.  But then I watched A Pink and B1A4 and realized that not all “aegyo” concepts can be that horrendous.  A Pink actually has a more natural type of presentation of cuteness that wouldn’t make you want to throw something at your computer screen.  Sure they may wink and puff their cheeks repeatedly throughout the video, but it doesn’t look as forced as every other girl group I see. Their “cute” is more of the refreshing and unforced kind.

  20. I’m an MA-KF.  And I think those definitions and descriptions are pretty accurate.  I’ll only bother looking into the background of a group after several of their songs/videos appeal to me and I’ve been watching to/listening to them regularly for several days (or weeks).  And that doesn’t happen often.  Only, like, four bands.  Personally, I like it when you can hold a decent discussion with other fans about the merits and not-so-good things about the songs. It bugs me when people are like “OMG, you said you didn’t like this song as much as the other song — YOU MUST BE AN ANTI!”

  21. I think I fall into the MA-KF category. Most of the time I don’t go looking into the background of a group, but merely enjoy their music, videos and what have you. When I do look into any info, I generally wiki it to get the most basic facts like their name and how old they are or perhaps see if he/she did any other musical stuff before they were in ______ group.
    I love to hear thoughts/opinions on an individual and groups, so I’m not apposed to hearing the negative. Not all “negative” criticism is bad criticism. Indeed I may really enjoy _____ group, but not like all their songs. It’s silly to think someone is an anti blah blah if they don’t like everything about a person/group.
    I would agree with you S&M about the overload of cutie groups. I don’t mind a sprinkle of aegyo here and there, but lately many groups are using it too often, too over the top and it just comes across as being forced. With so many rookie groups using the aegyo, it does make it hard to find a clear distinction between them (especially if like me you don’t often know of the members backgrounds). I’m sure if the company’s let the group members true personalities shine (Juliette Ohhh!) even a little, then we wouldn’t have this issue of “who are you again?”
    Anyhoodles, although the lady groups have started off with supreme aegyo, I’m sure their um, image will evolve and separate, so to speak, nicely. =)

  22. Thanks for giving us some classifications. I’m with Martina, I’m a MA-KF. I really only M-FK on two bands but enjoy random songs and videos by various groups. And this is just my personal taste, but I’m not much of a fan of girl groups. I love 2NE1, Brown Eyed Girls and uhm yeah that’s it. I’m a hardcore rocker/indie rocker at heart and cutesy just isn’t my personal cup of tea. Kpop is my guilty pleasure.

    NOW Ulala Session! Holy Footloose! It is the modern korean version of Footloose! It was so much fun too listen to and watch.

  23. Ok this is not for me at all. I can’t wait for YG new girls band. I agree with Martina. For me Miss A is the only girls band that made a strong debut in two years ! 

  24. I think I fall in the same category as Martina~ xD I’m interested in some bands and watch for examples shows with them. But there are also songs that I like but I have no idea what are the names of people in the band singing them. xD
    Also I feel really, really bad reading those rant sections of yours. I mean… you shouldn’t have to explain yourself like that. Kpop fandom can be so sick with extreme fans. What you do is only normal and you shouldn’t explain yourself every time you don’t like something. You have the right to don’t like it! Simple as that. 
    De gustibus non disputandum est. ;)

  25. Simon and Martina i agree with your rant… 
    I feel extremely awkward looking at cutesy girl and boy groups, i just cnt stand it >.<

  26. MK-F!!!!! only bc i really enjoy guyliner.. lol

  27. Thank god someone sees this. 
    All these new rookie girl groups just seem to blur by me. Once you’ve seen one, you can say you’ve seen them all.
    Miss A, 2NE1 and 4minute are all super popular, and because they did something different, they are respected and well known.
    Girl’s Generation and 2NE1 are considered to be the biggest female idols in Korea at this time. While GG started out with a sort of cutie concept, they matured and developed in to classy ladies. Besides, GG’s ‘cutie’ style only added to their vocal/ dance talent, rather than making up of the lack of it. For them, cute seemed fairly natural, and not super comma enduing. And 2NE1, of course, did something completely freaking different. Unlike most female idol groups, whose main fan base is males, 2NE1 have stated that most of their fans are females. What’s wrong with a girl group appealing not just with their sexy/cutie image? 2NE1 have done things differently, stood up for women in their songs, and become one of the most powerful groups in Korea.
    Seriously. Where are producers getting the idea that cute is the only way to go? 

  28. Wouldn’t you guys agree that the Ulalasession song is just a cover of Footloose? The dance too is quite similar.

  29. I am M-KF and all my friends are N-K. I am the outcast when it comes to music. WEHHH! T.T

  30. At least the girls looks cute with their forced aegyo.. Whenever I try to be cute it ends up looking like this….

  31. On A-pink: I agree the video was dead boring, but I think the song deserved something better? Imagine it done properly disco and sung by T-ara. Could have been great.

  32. I actually quite enjoy cutesy concepts every once in a while. It gives k-pop a little variety. I will agree, that when don badly, it’s very bad. One of the biggest pitfalls, I think, is using cuteness as a means to prop up a bad song, which I think was the case in both these videos. Yes, cute expressions get a little repetitive, but so do sexy ones. How many times have you seen an idol rub their lips or stare seductively into the camera? bad sexiness is just as bad  as bad aegyo. But when aegyo is done well, it’s quite entertaining. A few people have mentioned SNSD as belonging to this category, but there are a lot of other bands- even ones that are normally serious/sexy that have done it. Might I point you in the direction of lollipop, tell me, beautiful, chu, shampoo…. 

    Oh, and I think the reason B1A4 might be your exception is that they don’t seem to take themselves (or their cuteness) too seriously.

  33. I am most definitely an M-KF. I feel it’s the perfect balance for me! ^_^

  34. I’m in between AN-KC and N-K….more leaning toward N-K
    I rarely listen to kpop, but I like a couple songs:
    Miss A-Touch
    John Park-Falling
    Clazzi-how we feel
    that’s pretty much it! But I can appreciate kpop even so. 
    But, I have a similar taste with simon and martina in non-kpop songs! I love some crystal castles songs, beach house, architecture in helsinki, and i think they listen to robyn…and more! :D

  35. OMG martina i couldnt believe you were accatuallt talking in this video its really good to se your getting your voice back and your starting to get better

  36. After School has a strong/sexy/sassy debut too. 

  37. I agree with the rant though I think some groups like A-Pink can get away with it. Girls’ Generation are good too but I think that’s cos they can pull off the ‘sexy’ concept as well, as in 소원을 말해봐 and The Boys. What annoys me is when a group keeps on doing ‘cutesey’ songs. Like Girl’s Day for example, after their member change they released Nothing Lasts Forever which is a brilliant song. After that they released 반짝 반짝 which is also an awesome song but now all they seem to do is ‘cutesey’ sounding songs. Which is a shame cos there’s one singer (I think her name is Minha?) that has an amazing voice however in their latest song it doesn’t sound like she’s singing to her full potential. The same with T-ara, I feel like they restrict their singing voices. A ‘cutesey’ song once in a while ain’t bad but all the time? @_@ Also I fall in the M-KF category when it comes to 2NE1 and A-KF for all the other bands.   

  38. AN-KC.  I fully admit to not really listening to kpop, but yet I really enjoy Simon and Martina’s reviews of songs and groups I don’t know.  Their entertaining reviews get me to listen to the songs and watch the videos that I wouldn’t seek out myself.  However, with the exception of Clazzi’s “How We Feel, I still haven’t loved a kpop song enough to buy it (and does that song really qualify as kpop?).  Of course except for scattered songs here and there, I don’t love North American pop enough to buy it either, so at the very least I’m consistent.  It’s the kpop fandom subculture that I love learning about.
    Kdramas on the other hand, I will consume the hell out of.  Crack!  Crack I tell you! 

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