Thursday July 26, 2012
Boy band 2PM has firm grip on K-Pop scene
By KWAAK JE-YUP
Singing sensation 2PM maintains its status in the K-Pop scene well.
DANCING boy bands are a common feature in K-Pop, but when it comes to fan loyalty, 2PM has few rivals.
Catchy dance pop singles produced by the group’s agency head producer JYP, intricate choreography that often takes its cue from acrobatics, handsome mugs with slick hairstyles and chiselled torsos, have driven quite a few fans around the world crazy.
2PM’s first Asian tour, which ran from September to March, was held at eight venues, attracting nearly 160,000 fans. Venues were packed to the rafters every night.
In May, they sold out six consecutive dates at Tokyo’s iconic Nippon Budokan arena, where all tickets were snapped up, under a minute after going on sale, amassing an additional 60,000 people.
The six members’ regular meetings with their official fan club, The Hottest, come across like a rock-infused church service, women let go of their inhibitions and find (momentary) salvation. They sigh, scream, cry, swoon and of course, sway with the massive group.
Non-Korean fans visit the group’s home country and have pictures taken in front of their agency, JYP Entertainment, in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, as well as billboards with their faces on it, like a pilgrimage.
And when controversy arises, the group elicits scorn and fury like no other. Beginning as a seven-member act – with Junsu, Nickhun, Taecyeon, Wooyoung, Junho, Chansung and Jaebeom – the 2009 announcement of the last person’s removal from the group led to demonstrations by angry fans for weeks.
What is behind this ardent emotional connection? Even the members themselves want to know.
“I’d guess that it’s the 2PM identity,” says Wooyoung, 23. “Each of us has our own identity. I don’t think we can be called a global group yet, but when we had our first Asian tour ... we couldn’t believe the love that all the Korean and non-Korean fans were showering on us. They sang along to our songs in groups.”
“I can’t exactly describe the feeling on stage when the ‘cool ray’ (lighting device aimed toward the audience) at the Nippon Budokan was turned on, which only happens at sold-out performances,” says Taecyeon, 23.
“Someone told me that it’s really difficult to have the cool ray up. When it happens, you can see every face in the hall, all the way up to the third floor. It made me unbelievably happy to see the 60,000 fans (over six nights).”
If they were best-known for their precision and synchronised dance moves five years ago, 2PM now seems more at ease, enjoying themselves.
“Compared to our debut stage performance, we are definitely more relaxed now,” said Taecyeon. “And we really know each other like family now. We can improvise a little because of that.”
“There was one performance where we initially agreed not to rip off our shirts,” says Junho, 22, referring to one of their signature attractions. “But as we were coming off stage, we noticed that Taecyeon’s abs were showing. He explained it as an in-the-moment thing, he said he was high on the fans’ love.”
Taecyeon added that he and Junsu, one year his senior, are now more involved in the creative process – lyrics, music and the overall concept, among other things.
“We are, however, saddened by the fact that our overseas activities prevent us from spending more time at home and seeing our fans more,” says Chansung, 22. “Look out for our next Korean album, which should be released around this fall. It will be better than what we’ve done before.”
Even in this path of evolution, some things will remain the same – especially their internationally famous physique.
“All of us are really active and we love sports. We like that jimseungdol nickname that fans have coined for us,” says Nickhun, the sole American member of Thai and Chinese descent who recently turned 23, referring to the Korean portmanteau between beast and idol.
“Instead of a drastic change in image, we want to explore different staging styles and performances. We are constantly thinking of new ideas and concepts,” says Nickhun, adding that there are more to just their great bodies.
“If you listen more closely to our music, you will discover that we offer more soft, sentimental tracks now.” – Article courtesy of Korea Times, KF and CJ E&M
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