About The One Shots:
The One Shots commentary proves K-Pop and snark can go hand in hand.
What’s up with you and comebacks? I’ve known you for two years now and I’ve been open to learning all the strange things about you – your obsession with aegyo, your affixation with false perfection, your infatuation with selcas – but I’ve never understood the whole comeback thing.
The first time I ever experienced a comeback was when SS501 “came back” with the 2010 masterpiece (yes, masterpiece) “Love Ya.” As a young and naive K-Pop noob, I thought, “Wow, SS501 must have been gone for years! What a great thing to be able to come back.” In those days, I didn’t realize that “coming back” meant they’d only been gone for a couple of months touring. Hell, their previous mini-album, Rebirth, had only been released a few months prior. How is that considered a comeback?
Okay, maybe that’s not extreme enough. Let me get even more ridiculous by citing the careers of the comeback kings, B.A.P. Since B.A.P debuted in January of 2012, they’ve had five comebacks! Four of those comebacks were in 2012 alone. That’s the equivalent of a comeback every three months. But how can you come back when you never left?
Alright K-Pop, let’s drop everything and get really analytical about the term “comeback” for a second here. According to our dear friend Webster here’s what “comeback” means:
1 a return by a well-known person, esp. an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful : the heavyweight champion is set to make his comeback | [as adj. ] his career died after a couple of comeback attempts.
• a return to fashion of an item, activity, or style : stirrup pants have made a comeback.
Aside from the fact that we hope stirrup pants never make a comeback, I think the above says it all. You have to actually be gone for it to be a comeback. Furthermore, I would argue that you have to be gone for some time for a comeback to have more of an effect on the audience. Because if you don’t spend time away, you’re just always…there.
But groups like B.A.P are part of a new era. Rookie groups have flooded the market faster than Kim Kardashian collects husbands – and the marketing strategy has changed. Now, groups don’t have the opportunity to take a break from the industry for extended periods of time. There are too many other groups vying to fill up that void and hoping to make audiences forget you exist.
The comeback strategy gives entertainment companies the ability to revamp their groups’ image every few months. One day SNSD can be wearing new-age princess dresses and talking about their hold on the boys, and the next day, they can be wearing cutesy psuedo-gangster wear and be talking about finally having a boy. Or T-ara can be lovey dovey one cycle, and the next cycle, they can look like D-Unit. While this is great for entertainment companies because it gives their groups the flexibility to do more with their image, it also makes it difficult for audience to grasp the groups’ identities. Just look at how angry fans were when Beast went from “Fiction“ to “Beautiful Night.” Fans argued that “Beautiful Night” wasn’t who they really were as artists. But how can we know that if every few months, they come out with a new concept?
As LL Cool J would say, “Don’t call it a comeback.” Shinhwa returning after 3 years to celebrate their 14-year anniversary? That’s a comeback. The Wonder Girls returning to Korea after a difficult stretch in America? That’s a comeback. The New Kids on the Block joining forces with the Backstreet Boys to put on a super-tour after years of inactivity? That’s a comeback. B.A.P taking a month off to do homework and then appearing on Inkigayo when TS Entertainment gets bored? Not a comeback.
So, K-Pop, I ask that you re-think this whole comeback notion. Instead of calling these comebacks “comebacks,” let’s instead call them, “returning with a new single after taking a quick break.” Thanks.
The One Shots