2015 in review . . . sort of


So, Block B International translated part of a Gaon article on how male idol groups did in 2015 (Block B did pretty well), and there have been many other year-in-review articles that haven’t been translated that are saying basically the same thing: Block B sure did well in 2015!

For example, here’s a chart from a News Tomato article (I’ve highlighted Block B), that ranks the group sixth when looking at things like music sales, YouTube views, and music-show votes.


And that’s all pretty remarkable considering that, you know, Block B didn’t actually release music in Korea in 2015. These results are a compilation of the Bastarz, Taeil, Park Kyung, and Zico releases–some of which were never even released as CDs, and most of which never got fully promoted.

So, you know, rah for them. But honestly, I feel like these articles obscure more than they illuminate.


Because they’re all about idol groups. Male idol groups to be specific, although a lot of time you also get a separate article about female idol groups. But then that’s it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to keep the Wikipedia articles up to date, which means looking up sales figures on Gaon whenever something comes out. Because these releases have been staggered over months, plus Zico did songs for Show Me the Money (“Fear” is still on Gaon) and featured on songs like Crush’s “Oasis” (which was also on the charts forever–I mean, good for them, but that’s more work for me), I’ve been looking up sales numbers every week for–oh, Jesus Christ–the last six months or so.

What I’ve noticed is that there’s a hell of a lot on the charts from artists who aren’t in the idol category. Obviously I’m interested in hip-hop, so I always notice those artists, but non-idol ballads and soundtrack songs are also big performers.

It would be nice if, say, Gaon would pull out their graphic software and enormous databases to examine these other trends in the Korean music industry. (Is hip-hop the big craze? Or has it gotten a bit passé?) Especially because the trends outside the idol sector seem to be driving significant business moves (CJ E&M acquired Hi-Lite and now AOMG). That kind of change strikes me as maybe being more important than, I dunno, which idol group’s fan café has the most members or whatever.

Even if you are talking about idols, can’t you put them in some kind of context? Isn’t the fact that, say, Block B did so well in 2015 primarily significant to non-fans because they so consistently half-assed promotions? (IU pretty much did the same thing, and it didn’t hurt her sales either.)

Unfortunately I think this is another thing that boils down to the K-Pop press being focused on click bait rather than on actual news. Idol groups have rabid teen fanbases who actually give a crap about things like which fanbase voted themselves a meaningless award. (I think they should call that the Congratulations! You Have No Life! Award.) Since they’ll click on stories about idols, stories about idols are what get written–meanwhile big shifts in the industry get short shrift.


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