boy band mania
December 13, 2008 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Singing, dancing, rapping, looking hot - boy bands from Korea and Japan. From Korea: DBSK (or TVXQ outside of Korea), SS501, Big Bang. From Japan: KAT-TUN, Arashi, NEWS. But wait - Tohoshinki (as TVXQ is known in Japan) singing in Japanese, as do SS501.

Japan's much larger music market is the motivation for various Korean musical acts to establish Japanese presences. Making these decisions are the entertainment agencies that have manufactured these groups, signing on trainees at a young age for years of lessons in singing, dancing, and acting. What is this process like for trainees in the Big 3 Korean agencies? SM Entertainment (home of DBSK), YG Entertainment (home of Big Bang), JYP Entertainment. SS501 are part of Daesung Entertainment, a much smaller agency. (If you want to audition, the Big 3 have all set up U.S. operations.)

KAT-TUN, Arashi, and NEWS are all signed to Johnny & Associates, a Japanese male idol star factory. Whether in Japan or Korea, the treatment of trainees is controversial - Johnny Kitagawa, head of Johnny's, allegedly sexually harassed and raped young trainees over the years. And of course, many trainees never see the limelight despite years of talent training at the expense of schoolwork.
posted by needled (21 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This was the Arashi link I meant to post ...
posted by needled at 6:52 PM on December 13, 2008

DBSK's latest album was produced by Kim Jong il.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 7:15 PM on December 13, 2008

I am almost certain this is what hell looks like.
posted by The Whelk at 7:16 PM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Thanks. Now that I know that J-Pop and boy bands have been brought together at last, there is no reason for me not to smash my face repeatedly into this bed of nails here.


posted by greenie2600 at 7:48 PM on December 13, 2008

Boys to sing and dance
Are needed, shyly smile and
try on these new shoes
posted by longsleeves at 8:07 PM on December 13, 2008

Thanks needled that was super interesting! And yeah only a few out of hundreds make it no mater how many groups they pump out - it's all on the whim of the fans.
posted by gomichild at 8:55 PM on December 13, 2008

Oh good, you changed the Arashi pv to truth. Another good example of what Arashi is would be the pv for Happiness.

Johnny's Entertainment has a pretty good hold on the music/entertainment industry in Japan. It's hard to turn on the tv and not see one of their talents. Along with the above-mentioned Arashi, NEWS, and KAT-TUN, JE has created SMAP, TOKIO, V6, KinKi Kids, Tackey & Tsubasa, KanJani∞, and Hey! Say! Jump.

And those are just the currently active debuted units. Semi-retired units and singers include Shonen Tai, Kondo Masahiko, and Sato Atsuhiro.

Go Hiromi used to be a member of Johnny's, but he broke with the company years ago and is the only performer to do so and remain in the entertainment industry. I believe he had to sue the company in order to retain the use of his own name.

Then you have Johnny's Juniors, the non-debuted talents and units who perform as back dancers to the debuted groups, have concerts of their own, star in plays, tv dramas and variety shows, and in commercials.

The talents all build their fan bases through appearances in tv shows and movies, as well as on weekly radio shows. There are also at least five different magazines every month that are devoted solely to talents from JE. Despite many of the Juniors having a strong fan base, however, most of them will never debut. And the most recent debuted group (Hey! Say! Jump) was formed out of two or three different extremely popular Juniors units - actually splitting up some groups that had been formed years ago (and had even released some singles as Juniors) in order to debut only half of the members (including a kid who hadn't even finished elementary school yet).

Many of the debuted groups have talked about their lack of education - the three oldest members of KanJani were pulled out of high school and moved to Tokyo because they were popular, but when the company decided to push another unit (Tackey & Tsubasa) instead of them, they were sent back home and never completed high school. A member of Arashi (who did go on to graduate from Keio) has said that when he chose to skip a photo shoot for a magazine in order to study for a test, he was moved from his position in the top of Juniors into the lower ranks as punishment.
posted by emmling at 9:32 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

My inner teen totally loves them! DBSK (or TVXQ outside of Korea) are awesome. Amazing dancers and all sooo cute!
posted by nickyskye at 9:36 PM on December 13, 2008

I suppose I'm a total newb as far as J-Pop (and... I'll probably stay that way. USA-Pop s plenty pop for me)

But to the point: is it typical in J-Pop to have English choruses? Is it typical in any other non-English music? I found it pretty striking in the DBSK vid.
posted by tmcw at 10:18 PM on December 13, 2008

is it typical in J-Pop to have English choruses?

Yeah, that's pretty common. And then there songs like Darling that use English words and phrases to sound like Japanese - "いい Just night" to sound like "いいじゃない" or Heavenly Psycho, where they use "Psycho" as a stand-in for the Japanese "最高" meaning "most, highest"
posted by emmling at 10:50 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sometimes they sing in English, Miso Soup. It's two of the guys from NEWS, however, unlike their other videos, they don't dance under any rainbows.

Anyway, I can't believe no one linked to this. Spanish + white pants = incredible j-pop.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:22 PM on December 13, 2008

But to the point: is it typical in J-Pop to have English choruses?

Halcali are pretty well known for this, and they mix pop and rap. So in the midst of a long stream of Japanese you'll suddenly hear, "Everybody say yeah!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:11 AM on December 14, 2008

betweenthebars, I see your Shuuji to Akira, and I raise with Toraji Haiji. (^_^)v
posted by emmling at 12:27 AM on December 14, 2008

Wah, just as I got over a boy band phase a few months ago..... These are good links. I've learned about the horrors of the industry from fellow English speaking fans.

At least check out TOKIO's do!do!do! Hee!
posted by one teak forest at 2:08 AM on December 14, 2008

Wow. Shuuji to Akira is like some apotheosis of j-pop: high school uniforms, "Spanish + white pants", Kame and Yamapi.

emmling, I see your Toraji Haiji and I raise with ... Arashi on rainbows.
posted by needled at 5:26 AM on December 14, 2008

The allegations against Kitagawa sound unfortunately familiar.
posted by scruss at 5:39 AM on December 14, 2008

Zukkoke Otkoko Michi

Ahhhh, The Kitto Daijoubu pv brings back memories..... of crazy crazy livejournal-based fangirls complaining that "Noooooooooooooooo that PV with all the rainbows makes them look GAY!"

Apparently they were unaware of the song from the Iza Now album with the line Together together oh/Happy on the rainbow!

Oh, and for good measure, here are some Kansai Johnny's Jrs performing from a tv show:

BAD - Magnetic
(as an aside, BAD stands for Beautiful American Dream)

BOYS - Give Me
(and BOYS stands for Bokutachi Osaka Yankii Shonen ("we are osaka punks" basically))

All Kansai Jrs - Sempai Medley
posted by emmling at 6:44 AM on December 14, 2008

I find interesting the image makeover SS501 went through to market themselves in Japan: compare their early Korean single, Snow Prince, to Kokoro, their Japanese debut. As an aside, the group came about when their entertainment agency decided to create a group composed of 5 characters from shoujo manga (or 순정 만화 in Korean).

SHINee from SM Entertainment is the latest Korean boy band sensation - Noona is too pretty ("noona" - literally translated as "older sister" - is a Korean term used by males to refer to a woman older than themselves, mostly by boys or young men when referring to a woman they perceive to be not too much older than themselves) and Ah.Mi.Go. Judging from blogs like K-Popped, they already seem quite popular outside of Korea.

I'll let somebody else handle Super Junior.
posted by needled at 8:00 AM on December 14, 2008

I'm totally obsessing over DBSK now
posted by geekigirl at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2008

I think what makes these boy bands stand out is the homoerotic fanservice. Oh, and the costumes.
posted by xo at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2008

Johnny Kitagawa, head of Johnny's, allegedly sexually harassed and raped young trainees over the years.

I couldn't possibly have been the first one to immediately think of Lou Pearlman.
posted by deusdiabolus at 4:49 AM on December 15, 2008

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