Nov 9, 2015
Fall Boy Group Debuts: Up10tion & iKon
Now here are two groups I was debating over even mentioning at all on this blog, but still decided to write shortly about in case it will be relevant in the future. Boy debuts in general have been fewer this year, and it's definitely been the girls that has dominated (much to my satisfaction) but there have been some memorable boy group debuts as well. I'm not sure however that at the end of the year Up10tion and iKon's debuts will be included in those.
Both hail from companies that have already produced other idol groups, which is probably why I've even heard of these debuts because it's really hard to get your name out there otherwise. Up10tion is backed up by T.O.P Media, mostly known for managing Teen Top (who I don't like at all really), and iKon is very famously a YG product. The later one has had a lot more hype because of said background, but both of them are in my opinion starting at the same level anyhow.
Up10tion released their debut MV for "So, Dangerous" on September 10, and to this day I cannot understand the comma in that title. Seriously confusing. Anyhow their debut in general leaves me both underwhelmed in intrigued. I personally don't think the song is that amazing, but it's pretty serviceable at has some nice vocals in it. There isn't much rapping, which for a boy groups is quite incredible, but the parts that are are nicely incorporated and sound good as well.
The video leaves me with an unsatisfied taste in my mouth as well, mostly because it's just so boring. I've seen plenty of K-pop box videos in my life and while I thought they were quite cool at first the boredom came quickly, and I especially have a hard time enjoying ones like this one. It's basically a performance video with some solo shots here and there, but the sets are generic and severely underutilized as well.
There's definitely a dark theme with a sexier flare, but for the most part I'm actually confused as to why the locations used were picked for the video because they add nothing. Additionally I feel like more could have been done with the camera work and shooting technique, because although the teleportation editing of the members in and out of the screen is an added effect it looks corny and cheap instead of cool, which I think was that was intended.
Styling-wise I'm also a bit disappointed, mainly because I think the members are quite good looking and deserve to be put in more flattering outfits than the ones they're in. They don't stand out much and only add to overall bad visual theme of the MV, with the sets and all. I will say though that I think that this group has talent and shouldn't be overlooked, but they will need a much better MV and song for their comeback to truly win me over.
Only 20 days later iKon made their long awaited debut, two years after the fans first were introduced to the members of the group on "YG's WIN: Who Is Next?". After Team B's (as they were known back then) loss is was unknown whether the boys would stay in the company or not as well as when they would debut if they decided to stay. Another reality show came along in the form of "Mix & Match" where all the positions in the group were up for grab, and along with the six original members three more were introduced as possible candidates. In the end the original six: Bobby, B.I, Jinhwan, Junhoe, Donghyuk and Yunhyeong, were chosen as well as newcomer Chanwoo.
It's fair to say that iKon's debut has been hyped to the max, even more so than their labelmates Winner last year, and there have been all sorts of comparisons flying around about them being the next Big Bang, most of them coming from mister YG himself. It's a heavy burden to carry to say the least, and the excessive media play has made many people irritated, me included. It sucks because it's not actually the members as much as it is their company, but still. Pre-release single "My Type" is not going to be included in this post because two MV's are more than enough to cover their debut, and I didn't find the song anything special either.
Their two actual title tracks are "Airplane" and "Rhythm Ta", and display two different sides of the group. It was obvious from the start that unlike Winner's classy, mature image these boys would be going down the other route, and by that I mean exactly what you think; the "swag hip-hop" trend hasn't quite died on us yet.
I cannot express with words how tired I am of this trope, and although it's faded a bit lately it still hasn't vanished yet, but I'm eagerly waiting for the day it does. Unfortunately this gives me another reason not like care for iKon, because they are by all means keeping it alive. "Rhythm Ta" and its video is pretty much exactly everything I don't like about it, from the typical generic EDM hip-hop sound that YG has taken up during the recent years to the stereotypical styling and try-hard acting. It makes me cringe so bad, and just can't take them seriously. Lyrics like "We don't try to act cool like idols these days" only make it worse, and my image of them doesn't exactly improve with them showing that kind of attitude.
"Airplane" is much better, thankfully, both in terms of song and video. It leaves many of the overused tropes and cliches that made up the MV for "Rhythm Ta" aside, which is nice, and shows a more grounded side of the group. I personally find the song very sweet and calming, but I feel like the line distribution within the group to be a bit concerning. Bobby and B.I take up over 50% of the song, and they make up less than a third of the group. Poor Chanwoo barely gets any lines at all, and although I know that they're a rap-based group it still seems unfair. BTS for example has three rappers and are, too, rap-oriented yet the line distribution in their songs is way more even. I feel like this could become a problem for iKon, unless they want to be known as Bobby, B.I and the rest.
I do have quite a lot more to say about iKon (mostly complaints, admittedly) but I have to end it here because otherwise this post would be unbearable to read. My final thought though would be that overall I feel like this debut could have been executed a whole lot smoother on YG's part. Not only has he managed to create somewhat of a negative image due to media play and hype (like what happened to EXO) which means that people like me will be repulsed instead of intrigued. Additionally I want to know what happened with the budget for their debut because none of these videos are especially high quality, and for such a comprehensive debut the videos feel oddly low-budget. I can't say much now about how this group will fare in the future but at this point in time I do not consider myself a fan.
Up10tion and iKon have debuted within the span of a month this fall, but neither of them has managed to turn me into a supporter. I know that with some groups it can take several comebacks before I gain interest, and I'm curious to see how these two will turn out. Now I'm curious as to what you may think. Did you enjoy Up10tion's and iKon's debuts?