Category Archives: popularity & success

Many random things

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There’s a lot going on, isn’t there? Like, Zico’s guesting on a song by Millic, and I’m probably not going to even be able to put it on BlockB.com because it’s coming out at almost the same time as Zico’s solo album (which has some interesting teasers, too).

Of course, the best Zico video out right now is this one here:

Zico bet his watch on that speed-reading contest, and then lost it. His expression is priceless!

And his watches ain’t cheap, either.

KHipHopSubs is translating Show Me the Money again, so yay! And Jaehyo & B-Bomb’s travel show is being translated here, so double-yay!

And Seven Seasons put out a fairly vague schedule that seems to be exciting everyone else much more than it does me. I mean, it’s gotten press coverage, so that in itself makes it worthwhile, but…I do hope people know that the plan pretty much every year has been to do two full-group comebacks–a small one in the spring and a big one in the fall–and the only year that has actually happened was 2014. (And even then, “Jackpot” promotions were cancelled because of the Sewol ferry tragedy.)

When a song doesn’t work out, or somebody blows a knee, or somebody’s mother dies–or maybe the news is great and somebody gets a really wonderful opportunity–it affects the schedule. That’s good, in my book–the group is more likely to stay together if consideration is shown to the members’ needs.

People are also saying that this proposed schedule will calm the crazy fans. OK, I’m just going to say it: Nothing will calm the crazy fans. When everything is fine, they just make shit up to get upset about. I’m already seeing “translations” that seriously up the number of “promised” activities, and of course should one of them fail to happen, the crazy fans will scream BETRAYAL!!!! Honestly, there is no point in tying yourself in knots trying to cater to people who will never be happy.

Speaking of people tying themselves in knots for no good reason, folks actually give a fuck about this?

Yes, five or six random Koreans could not identify Block B from a photograph! Wow.

I’ll tell you a true story: I’ve been hearing a lot about this group called the Chainsmokers. I’d never heard of them before, but they kept coming up–Chainsmokers over here, Chainsmokers over there, Chainsmokers everywhere!

Fuck! I said to myself. I’d better figure out who these guys are!

I went on YouTube, picked a random Chainsmokers song–and recognized it instantly.

I still couldn’t identify them from a photo, I didn’t even know who the Chainsmokers were–but I knew their music.

I’m guessing that’s the way it is for a lot of people in Korea when it comes to Block B. Maybe if they’d used a recent photo, people might have recognized Zico as “that Cass beer guy,” but maybe not. Play two seconds of “H.E.R,” however….

This, in contrast, I do feel is a cause for concern: U-Kwon has discovered fidget spinners.

Well, there goes all his time. And watch out for Sabellianism!

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The first six months of 2017

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Gaon has its first six months of 2017 chart out now–the Greater Block B Musical Complex hasn’t actually put out all that much music during this period, so it’s fewer songs than last year, but still not bad:

Singles
#19 “Yesterday”
#54 “She’s a Baby”
#83 “Flower Road”
#99 “Bermuda Triangle”

Albums
#88 Notebook

“Flower Road” and “Bermuda Triangle” actually came out in November 2016, so they rank lower because their sales were split between two years. On the six month download chart, “Flower Road” is listed as having 505,620 downloads, but if you add in the numbers for November and December 2016, it’s 976,110 downloads, so yeah–that one did really well. That was the song that was written live on television and released with almost no promotions.

Download-wise, “Yesterday” (with 911,984 downloads) at the six-month mark is just about even with “Toy” (913,927) for April-December 2016. So if you’re wondering why Block B doesn’t do full comebacks for every single release, there’s your answer. A handful of fun videos (with puppies!) vs. weeks of the music-show grind–what would you rather be doing? (And yes: “Yesterday” was written by Park Kyung. Happy Birthday, Kyungie!)

Since I’m blathering on about download numbers, I’ll note that “She’s a Baby” sold 563,467 in the first six months of 2017. Apparently that makes it a flop in some people’s minds? I suppose that’s the hazard of doing so well with so little apparent effort–the bar for what people are willing to consider success gets exceedingly high.

For some historical perspective: Remember “Very Good”? Remember how it was such a hit that it successfully relaunched the group following their lawsuit and move to Seven Seasons? 535,031 downloads.

ETA: Should we count “I Luv It”? I’m of two minds on that one, because Psy is such an established hit-maker. It’s #29 if you want it there.

Let’s lighten things up here….

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Zico is a spazz:

“It doesn’t smell like poo.” I reiterate: Korea’s #1 male CF model.

Kyung is also a spazz: He’s been posting things like “Buzz Buzz” and “Honeybees” on his Twitter for the past week or so. Today we found out why–he’s producing Taeil’s song. And Taeil is singing with Kim Sejeong, who sang “Flower Way” for Zico. I did a quick count of Gaon downloads for that song a couple of days ago, and it’s in the 800,000+ range, so yeah–it did really well.

And I’m pretty optimistic about Taeil’s upcoming release. I mean, you can’t ever predict these things with certainty, but I’ve been seeing consistently elevated traffic as news has come out about it, and hopefully it’s not all from people trying to make Taeil out to be a cokehead. Taeil is simply in a much better position than he was two years ago: At that point he hadn’t appeared much as a singer on Korean television, and when he did show up on things like Immortal Song 2 or King of Masked Singer after the release, the narrative was always, “Taeil from Block B can sing? I had no idea!”

These days, though, when he makes a television appearance he’s presented much more as someone people already know to be a good singer. So, he’s a celebrity you duet with on Duet Song Festival, or he’s a hidden card (i.e. celebrity ringer) on Singing Battle.

Anyway, fingers crossed. And at least this time if it doesn’t do well, he won’t be the only one to have had something flop.

Just tallying this up

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So, it’s just May? And so far P.O has been cast or re-cast as a recurring member of five different variety shows–well, one’s just a pilot, but considering how it did, I’d be surprised if it didn’t get picked up. (Most recently he’s become an MC for The Show–he did that five years ago, but the difference this time is that his label isn’t going to steal his salary….) Plus he’s been cast on a drama, and his theater group is doing another show!

Not bad!

So, there’s that, there’s Zico on the upcoming season of Show Me the Money, Park Kyung on Problematic Men (which is doing so well that the network is sending the cast to Thailand for what Google Translate calls “a reward vacation”–as in, it’s not being filmed for an episode, it’s an actual vacay), and Jaehyo continuing to prove that his hobbies are surprisingly bankable on Game Show. Plus Jaehyo and B-Bomb filmed some kind of travel show together–I’m doubly excited about that because it puts things one step closer to my dream Block B edition of The Amazing Race (which, for the record, would be combined with a world concert tour)!

Anyway, I’m glad to see all that. It’s another income stream, shows make lucrative endorsements more likely, and…it’s about time, really. This is a group that first made its mark with a television show, and their shows have always done well (and been very funny) despite all the bullshit.

And just because it IS in English….

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Asian Junkie did a good piece that basically contrasts significant news about BTS (selling 200,000+ CDs in Japan) vs. what fans are getting their panties in a twist about (a Billboard award that fans vote for).

I’d like to extend that point by noting that BTS’ much-heralded popularity in the U.S. market resulted in them selling: 24,000 copies of Wings.

I’m not knocking that accomplishment–at the moment, BTS is doing far better than any other K-Pop group in the United States. (I also think it’s fine to hype this kind of thing up–nothing succeeds like success!)

But the important words there are “better than any other K-Pop group in the United States.”

K-Pop groups don’t do well here–that’s simply the fact of the matter. Twenty-odd thousand copies not only means that United States is not a big market for BTS, it also means that BTS is not a big group in the United States. They do fine, and compared to most other K-Pop groups, who sell only a few thousand copies at best, they’re doing really well. But nothing BTS has done has a been a bona-fide hit here the way, say, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was.

Or even a minor hit. Let’s put it this way–just to get a gold record in the United States, you have to sell 500,000 copies. Not 24,000 copies; 500,000 copies.

This is why I’m always happy to see Block B get stories outside the K-Pop press. There’s a way bigger (like, waaaaaay bigger) Western market out there–and no K-Pop group has really plugged into it.

Where we are now

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Since yesterday/today (depending on where you live) was/is Block B’s sixth anniversary, I thought I’d do a bit on where Block B is now.

Some things I hope are obvious: “Yesterday” did very well in Korea and remains on Gaon. The members still seem to be quite busy, and more stuff is coming up. “She’s a Baby” is doing great.

It seems like Block B is mainstreaming (or at least attempting to mainstream) in Japan, which is nice. I did a recent post on their reception in Taiwan (TL;DR: like the Second Coming); I want to point out that the Music Fun Party there three years ago got a little press (and attracted maybe a thousand people, if memory serves?), but nowhere near the level of coverage their recent concert did. So definitely a lot of progress has been made in that market (and although it’s harder to measure, I think a lot of progress has been made in China as well, even if monetizing those fans remains a challenge).

What other measures can we look at?

This is the past year’s traffic stats from BlockB.com–they’re a little screwy because I did some search-engine optimization in December 2016, which boosted views. Still, you can see that, even including only two weeks’ worth of data for April, the average number of unique visitors is more than 4,000 a month–and even before December, there are only two months where there were fewer than 4,000 visitors. Compare that to earlier years, where most months BlockB.com did not reach the 4,000-visitor mark. So that’s a nice upward trend from the English-speaking crowd.

Another thing to look at is YouTube views–those can also be a bit screwy because fans will campaign to increase them. Presumably all the videos have been campaigned upon, though, so hopefully the campaigns cancel each other out, and the YouTube view count gives us an idea of actual audience size.

Back in the day, both “H.E.R” and “Jackpot” took four days to get to one million views on the CJ E&M and Seven Seasons channels. “She’s a Baby,” in contrast, is past two million views in two-and-a-half days. “H.E.R” has been up for two years and has 20.9 million views; “Toy” has been up for one year and has 21.6 million views; “Yesterday” has been up for two months and has 11.5 million views. (For some historical perspective, in its first six months, “Very Good” only got to 5.6 million views.)

So, you know, again the trend seems to be that the audience is getting bigger and bigger, and it sort of doesn’t matter where you look. That’s all good. And I’m going to point out that just because BTS does well abroad doesn’t mean that no one outside Korea is listening to Block B–it’s not a zero-sum game!