This is kind of a weird thing

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I’ve made a tag called “popularity & success”–I feel odd about it, because it seems like such a Tony Robbins-esque thing to do, but “Is Block B REALLY popular?” keeps coming up from various sources.

I have seen the “Block B is not REALLY popular!” thing out and about ever since I discovered the group–which was a little over three years ago, after the release of the very popular songs “Nalina” and “Nillili Mambo.” The group and its members have only done better since then, but the notion that they aren’t REALLY popular–I mean, not REALLY and TRULY popular–just endures like stone. They can’t go to a frickin’ amusement park without getting mobbed these days, but–no, no, popular they are not. Got it.

In case you didn’t know: Typically when you see comments like that, they’re from people who either don’t know what they’re talking about (me and my little group of friends don’t like them, ergo no one does) or have an axe to grind (because they’re trolls or asshole fans of another group or whatever). Obviously, fake stories in the K-Pop press don’t help any, and even the ones that are factually accurate can be focused on absolutely worthless measures of success.

I’ve talked about some of the inaccurate ways people evaluate success before, but I’ll throw out a few more strategies I’ve noticed recently:

Just say it’s a failure. I’ve seen “Conduct Zero” called a failure a bazillion times. Um, you know, when both the song and the album were in the Top 100 for the year, I think it’s fair to categorize them as successful.

Say it’s a comparative failure. Did you know that there have been, throughout time, various other musicians who have sold better in certain markets at certain times than Block B has? Oh my God, that must mean that Block B’s a failure!

Or, you know, maybe it means that the pie is big enough for more than one act to be a success!

I don’t like the horse-race mentality in general, ever, but I specifically don’t like it because I think it makes people ask the wrong questions. For example, if you notice that Block B isn’t doing as well as BTS in the U.S. market, the question shouldn’t be, “Why is Block B a failure?” Nobody is doing anywhere near as well as BTS in the United States–Block B is doing fine for a K-Pop group, but BTS is leaving everyone else in the dust. The question should be, “What is BTS doing right in the U.S. market, and can Block B do it too?” (And if the answer is, No, Block B would rather spend its time focused on the Asian market, then that’s OK. There’s plenty to go around.)

Create this bizarre internal competitionPeople get so committed to the idea that Block B must be failing that they compare Block B to Block B and then say that Block B is a failure. You know: Zico is popular but Block B is not. Park Kyung is popular but Block B is not. Block B is popular but Bastarz is not. On it goes….

But with the except of Taeil’s solo (and I think he could have done better had he not just stopped after one song–all those television appearances should have helped another release), there’s not this huge discrepancy among rankings. If you look at Gaon weekly rankings of title songs since 2013:

Block B “Very Good” ranked #6

Block B “Jackpot” ranked #5

Block B “H.E.R” ranked #2

Zico “Tough Cookie” ranked #13

Zico “Well Done” ranked #9

Taeil “Shaking” ranked #59

Bastarz “Conduct Zero” ranked #6

Park Kyung “Ordinary Love” ranked #3

Zico “Say Yes or No” ranked #3

Zico “Boys and Girls” ranked #1

Zico “Eureka” ranked #1

Zico “I Am You, You Are Me” ranked #1

Block B “A Few Years Later” ranked #3

Block B “Toy” ranked #2

Park Kyung “Inferiority Complex” ranked #3

Zico had a real hot run there, of course, but I don’t really see the point getting in a lather because one release was #1 and another was #2 or #3 or even (sacreblue!) a lowly #6. Everyone (except for poor Taeil) sold well, too–it’s not like these songs popped onto the Gaon top 10 for one week and then vanished the next.

(I know right now people are looking at 4Minute and Hyuna and going, hmmm, but 4Minute has been seeing sales slump in recent years, and I would assume that there have been problems on the endorsements front as well.)

Anyway, I obviously don’t expect these types of (now easier to find!) posts to put an end to the claims of failure, but hopefully they will help people better evaluate their legitimacy. Remember, there are an awful lot of people out there who are too insecure to say that they, personally, do not like something–they have to say that NOBODY likes it. Otherwise they have to grapple with the fact that–gasp!–tastes differ!! There is no objective measure of what makes a good song!!! The world is chaos and confusion!!!!

* * *

Here’s something more exciting–I’m getting more searches and queries from Chinese fans! I think they’re coming to BlockB.com because Block B’s official Weibo is pretty weak–don’t expect that to get better guys, they’re not really even keeping up the Seven Seasons Web site at the moment. But it sounds like some fans are trying to set up more robust Chinese-language sites for people in China, which is excellent! Go C-BBCs!

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20 responses »

  1. Get that Chinese market, boys!

    Taeil’s Shaking might’ve done better if he’d gone the traditional route and put himself in the MV. More streams, more interest, better charting.

      • Yeah, he should have been in the MV (and shown some skin, honestly–could you imagine the reaction if the video had just been him singing the song shirtless? If he had cried as he sang it as well, that would have been, like, a million views right there) and just generally done more promotional stuff leading up to the single instead of just releasing it out of nowhere on very short notice. I mean, his solo songs on Block B albums have all done much better than his solo-solo, and I think all the promotion around each album is a big reason why.

        Honestly, Taeil reminds me of some newbie self-published writers, who just put something out with no promotion, and then when it doesn’t sell, don’t put anything out ever again. You can’t do that: You have to keep pushing and putting out new product if you want sales. It’s just the nature of the beast. Even Zico had to build–he wasn’t charting at #1 with his very first song, it took him a while to get there.

          • I think he does OK with Block B (I’m also guessing that he isn’t the main support for his family), so he’s more ambivalent. Like, he’d like people to appreciate his singing, but then again REALLY pushing a solo career is a lot of work and kind of a pain, so…eh, might as well spend the day with the fish again, right?

            • He has that Hummer and a fancy bike. And I expect those fish aren’t cheap, either. Plus, he’s copped to a shopping addiction. Honestly, both him and Jaehyo seem like they shouldn’t earn much but they’re spending like they earn a lot.

              • That’s the magic of not having the label take 90 cents out of every dollar (or maybe $1.50–you never know with the accounting). I’ve seen that with writers, too–I never knew a traditionally-published book author who could afford to quit their day job (and I knew quite a few book authors in NYC), but here I’ve met several self-published novelists who quit their jobs inside a year and are making six figures. It’s shocking, really.

                  • The one who is the most open about her finances and how she got there is Lindsay Buroker–a very nice lady with an excellent blog (lindsayburoker.com). As for the others–I can’t really blab about people’s personal finances in public, but they write in a variety of genres (obviously romance is always the big seller, but I know people doing it in horror, fantasy, and of course sci-fi), and they write fiction, which is far less lucrative than nonfiction.

                  • I don’t know him personally, but the horror writer Joe Konrath has also been VERY open about his finances. If you’re curious about how much a change disintermediation can make to someone’s income, give his blog a read.

    • I do feel a little odd giving advice to the fans though–it’s like talking to someone who wants to adopt a puppy. On the one hand, puppies are great. On the other hand, it’s a lot of work, and you’re probably going to lose some shoes in the process….

        • Well, I was thinking of Block B/Seven Seasons (did you know that the calendar page on their Web site has been down since the end of May?), but I suppose the fans can sometimes qualify as well….

          • I did notice a couple of weeks ago that their calendar page wasn’t working. But it was a quick check amongst checking various web pages, so it didn’t really register with me except as an urgh.

            They should update it. Jaehyo and PO promised us a plan and hinted at Law of the Jungle.

            • Woahhh what! Jaehyo and p.o in law of the jungle? All my dreams coming true XD, I can so imagine p.o that monkey getting up to no good in the jungle. Now here’s to hoping this is true.

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