Nicole of Pop Reviews Now
Salima of The One Shots
Danice of Inwardly Fangirling
La Shauna of Asia 24/7
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What Will It Take For JYP to Get Back On Top?
In recent years, JYP Entertainment has been on a slow, but steady spiral down the Korean entertainment ladder and out of the ranks of the ‘Big 3.’ Thanks to its failures to force an American cross over, artist scandals and departures, and an overall decrease in song quality, JYP has just about become an industry joke. Does JYP have any chance of earning its reputation back or maintaining its title as one of Korean entertainment’s ‘Big 3’ agencies? What do you think this ‘comeback’ will entail?
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SO. MANY. OPINIONS!
As you may have guessed I think JYP is the poster child of hot messes right now, but I also think there IS a way to save them!! First, they need to keep Mr. CEO’s fingers as far away from the cookie jar as possible! As we saw with his American pipe dreams he nearly bankrupted the whole company with his spending. Second, and most importantly, a complete overhaul needs to take place in their Music department. I mean, a complete refresh/makeover for 2am, 2pm, Miss A, and Wonder Girls (If they’re still trying to hold onto that). They need to take page from the SM Big Book of Management, and keep their artists out the lyric writing/composing chairs, and leave that song writing biz to house master, The Asian Soul….also, it wouldn’t hurt to bring back the whisper.
JYP’s recent decline hurts me in ways I’m too embarrassed to describe. I once salivated for 2PM comebacks, Miss A performances, 2AM music videos. Now, if 2PM goes on a variety show? It’s like, meh, I’ll watch it when I have nothing else to do.
La Shauna, you said everything that needs to be said, but for one point: JYP is doing one thing right, and that’s with Got7. They are new, fresh, and they fit the trend of new K-pop acts ie: BTS and B.A.P. Got7 is not trying to be hardcore; they’re hardcore in the sense that they’re JYP’s most ragtag group of idols. But they’re not corny and they don’t feel contrived. I loved JJ Project, but the argument can be made that they were contrived. If JYP continues to go this way and put his Asian Soul flavor to it, I think he’ll have something.
From a musical standpoint, the reason for JYP’s decline is the fact that he’s no longer innovating. It’s not a matter of incompetence — JYP is very much musically proficient as shown by his extensive back catalogue as well as his ability to capture and re-interpret Western sounds in his compositions. But mastery will only take you so far, and it has already taken JYP as far as it can. He has ran ‘the JYP sound’ to the ground, so to say — especially with material for his idol groups such as the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody.” Even his flagship boy bands 2pm and now Got7 bear similar musical approaches. And as far as I know, JYP’s more “innovative” and “fresh” material these days are usually not JYP compositions.
To answer the question of how JYPE can earn back its reputation, the next logical step after mastery will of course be innovation. To use new sounds in and approaches to JYP’s productions. It’s a lot easier said than done though because of the many other factors a pop package entails and more importantly the risk factor involved in innovation, especially because JYP is an established agency with a very much established musical direction. (Further, the notion of “innovation” in Kpop is extremely problematic as it is because of a lack of solid conceptual foundation — but that’s a whole other problem in itself.) On a less abstract note, I agree with Salima that Got7 is definitely JYP’s most plausible venue for change and improvement as of now. They’re new, they’re fresh and they’re also very pliable as artists and as “commodities.” But a blank slate can either be manipulated correctly or destroyed, and so JYP’s challenge now is to continue paving the right road for them — which in this case is one of the innovative nature.
So I guess the question is: Why is it that SM doesn’t have to be innovative but they can still prosper? Those box MVs? That monotonous dubstep? That sweet image? And Lord knows a few kids in the YG camp have overdone this whole ‘cool kid’ concept. I’m almost close to proving that “Gizibe,” “One of a Kind,” and “Ringa Linga” are long lost siblings.
What are SM and YG (and a number of other camps) doing that JYP isn’t?
Maybe JYP needs a brand refresh, but were they even that distinct a brand to begin with?
Music-wise, the stuff they put out sounds super dated, like it came from the 90’s, so I get where Nicole is coming from when she points out that JYP has stopped innovating. The Got7 album sounded a lot different in that it didn’t sound like it came from JYP.
I don’t understand JYP as a company, I guess. What type of talents do they have? What is their strongest suit? Is it hip-hop? Is it pop? Is it dance? Do their groups have a distinct look, or behavior? Do their music videos have a trademark style? When I look at 2pm, 2am – do I see common characteristics? Do their talents even acknowledge each other the way YG Family or SM idols support each other’s output?
Back in the early 2000’s, the only Kpop acts I was aware of were BoA, Super Junior and Rain and I somehow I became aware of “The Big Three” – SM, YG and JYP. Fast track to the present day and wow – have things changed! Big Bang was my gateway into Kpop, so I felt the impact of the YG Family off the bat. Their stable of talents had a distinct hip-hop/street vibe, and the music had more of a “global pop” sound. They sounded the most Western/American to my ears at the time. It didn’t take long for SM Entertainment to get me, and they got me in a huge and irrevocable way that makes me question my critical thinking skills. SM Entertainment is very good when it comes to bubble gum pop and producing glossy idols. Sometimes I think SMe is like the Disney of Kpop because the appeal of their idols cuts across many demographics – kids 8-12, teens 13-19, adults 20-29, and yes, even far beyond their target audience. At some point into my K-pop indoctrination, I got into Jay Park in a huge way, which got me checking out 2pm. While I liked them well enough, I wasn’t grabbed the way YG or SM grabbed me. YG got me to take Kpop seriously. SM just refuses to let go. So where does that leave JYP? Maybe they need to fill a need that YG and SM isn’t satisfying at the moment, and latch onto that.
It’s interesting that you guys (Salima & Nicole) seem to be looking at Got7 as JYP’s “saving grace” almost. As it was pointed out Got7 has a sound a style VERY similar to that of 2pm. And, contrary to Danice’s opinion, Got7’s album actually sounds very familiar to my ears. I heard bits of Wonder Girls, and 2pm. As is, Got7 is not nearly sufficient enough to be this agency’s back bone. In my eyes, they are not a form of competition for Bangtan Boys (an interesting case, since they’re signed to a JYP sub label) or ESPECIALLY EXO.
In response to Danice, as for branding, JYP has branding down pat, in fact they’re pioneers. Let’s not forget, they are responsible for the ‘beastly idol,’ bless them, and they were legendary, at least in my eyes, for their choreography. Also, I actually liked JYP’s music, I appreciate music that has a flare of that throwback sound, that’s part of JYP’s uniqueness.
In response to Salima, the reason JYP can’t be generic, and repetitive is because they were absent. While he had his biggest, most popular group overseas chasing his American Dreams everyone else was building their strong and dedicated, fan bases. Wonder Girls wasn’t here dropping hit after hit, like SNSD was, 2pm had to leave because of Nichkhun’s scandal, Miss A was on hiatus because of Suzy’s solo career, and when they all finally did comeback…the music was EH. However, even with that reasoning, when I think about it Big Bang was away in Japan for 2 years, then when they finally returned to Korea, they had to leave for an additional year and half due to GD and Dae Sung’s scandals, but in 2012 they still had one of, if not the, biggest album of the year.
I think it also hurt them big time, that they took the WG’s biggest hit, “Nobody,” and shoved it down our throats for 2 years.
Pioneers JYP may be, but the industry has changed so much in the last five or so years that so many smaller companies have cropped up and grabbed onto their pieces of the Hallyu pie. I came into Kpop at a time when ‘The Big Three’ were no longer the only K-pop media companies producing talents and groups, and I must say – the JYP groups got swallowed up among the younger and hungrier agencies who were more interesting to my ears because I see them taking musical as well as stylistic risks. Loen, for example, was far more interesting to me to me than JYP. Respect to JYP being pioneers in the biz, but that does not mean that their business model is fool proof. In fact, it only puts more pressure on JYP to keep innovating and stepping up their game because so many younger and hungrier companies keep getting born.
Maybe JYP got complacent along the way. As far as beastly idols go, JYP could have followed that up, or at least strengthened the reputation for producing this distinct type of idol. After all, they are the originators. A lot of newer fans (myself included) seem to overlook this fact precisely because of this complacency.
Artist management and development is another weak spot for JYP, I think. Wonder Girls seems to be the strongest case building this argument. An example of weak artist/talent management and development is the fact that some JYP trainees transferred to CUBE (G.NA &HyunA) JJ Project started out very promising, but didn’t have a proper follow-up. Good thing Got7 were formed.
Got7 are very strong now, and I hope to be proven wrong when I say that as far as talent management goes, JYP is pretty weak. For a while after their mini-album debuted, things got pretty quiet. Lately Got7 are all over the place again. I think JYP could do a lot of good for their talents to step up the marketing and publicity arm, as well as to keep paying attention to social media trends. Right now though, JYP seems to be responding to this need quite well. Releasing those practice videos of Got7 were very smart – they don’t cost the company as much as it would take to produce a full-production MV, but the practice videos go viral in mere minutes and are fantastic vehicles for getting audiences to know their talents as well as to engage new fans. I know this is true because I just watched the practice video for Got7’s “I Like You” Version 2 (Boyfriend Version) and I cannot stop thinking about it. In fact, I’m gonna go watch it again…!
As for JJ Project, I never saw them as a promising group for JYP to hang their name on. And I totally agree with what you said about management. As I said JYP ruined it for themselves with Wonder Girls’ management. However, if I had to pin JYP’s future on anyone, it would 100% be on Sunmi. She has made an impeccable, and impressive return to music, so much so, that I don’t even miss her as a Wonder Girls member anymore.
But, back to Salima’s point about JYP not being able to pump out subpar music like the other BIG agencies, I think that’s a sign that JYP has lost their edge, lost their name sake. If they can’t act like a ‘Big 3’ agency, they aren’t a ‘Big 3’ agency.
Are you kidding about Got7?! Look at how cute they are! How can JYP not succeed with them!?
Seriously though, the “Big 3” is over. There’s no such thing. And that’s okay. You look at a group like Block B, who probably would have never thrived under any of the ‘Big 3’ because they don’t “fit” into any of them. They left their old company and started their own rinky dink company, and they’re still killing it. So, in some respects, for the industry, it would be good for all the Big 3 to lose the strongholds they have. Now, the question is, is JYP’s descent a natural part of the industry or is it just his fault? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I agree with you about the Big 3. It was fine back in 2007 when it was just Big Bang, Wonder Girls, and DBSK, but now that there are SO many new groups, some of which are a big deal, the Big 3 isn’t necessary, and not inclusive enough.
Come to think of it, Salima’s right — the divide (both commercially and artistically) between the big 3 and other agencies isn’t as clear as it used to be. But it’s not so much because all the ‘Big 3’ agencies are declining, but because acts from the periphery have managed to see success. While their success is still not as consistent or assured as, say SM or YG (and to a certain extent JYP), the playing field has been leveled. And I think because of this, it’s not so much about JYP “regaining” their ‘Big 3‘ status — it’s about them being able to strike that balance between artistry and commercial success.
Honestly, I disagree with La Shauna on Sunmi — I find her material far too pretentious. There’s this aura of JYP trying too hard to be “legit” “art” through her, but he’s banking more on style than actual substance. He’s not using substance to achieve style, he’s just piling on all the style he can get. And to me, this makes Sunmi “unreachable” commercially. If anything, an artist’s “sound” is a vital part of their commercial package which, like Danice, I think is what JYP needs to work on — that’s what SM and YG are doing that JYP isn’t. There is an SM sound, there is a YG sound, and while individual acts from both agencies do have their own selling points, kpop fans who’ve been around enough can distinguish between the two just by listening to the material. I think over the course of the panel we’ve kind of come to the conclusion that JYP, sonically, are all over the place — Got7 and Sunmi don’t exactly sound like they’re from the same agency, and that’s the problem. I know I said that JYP has run his “retro” sound to the ground and I stand by that, but he needs to find another, more innovative sound and then find an equally new way to package and market it — maybe through Got7?
The game has been changed by so many new media agencies and companies that there is almost a palpable pressure for JYP to keep up with everyone else, but as a company, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get their thunder back. What they’re doing right now with Got7 is a step in the right direction! JYP is using resources to maximize their talent without adding too much cost for promotions. The group is also very pro-active in marketing themselves across all available platforms so they’re able to engage fans and get new ones. It’s very refreshing and exciting to watch them pulling off stunts that their SM counterparts could only dream of doing. JYP has more confidence in their talents than other companies, and we like that the group has some balls! Hopefully, JYP develops this group more so they stay with JYP, and I hope that the company takes care not to keep their other talents in the dungeon for too long that they would want to leave.
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