Yes, they do look a little young, don't they? This new group, Sweety, has a average age of 10.5. As this article tells us, there's a seven year old, two eleven year-olds, a 12 year-old, a 13 year-old, and three 14 year-olds. Oh, and one boy, a 10 year-old 'rapper'. The article also mentions that this group (created by Basic Entertainment, about whom nothing turns up when you search their name using Naver) may be part of a trend moving towards performers debuting at younger ages. Most of them had appeared on TV (like Star King) or were models already. Of course, what you really want to see is the video, right? Well, maybe not, but it's like a car crash - it's so very, very hard to look away.
Of course, if you gaze into the abyss, etc, etc. There are many ways to respond to this. Some might fear that the apocalypse is upon us, others might give in and embrace it and make the image on this page their new blog banner, others might worry (as Lester Bangs did in his article "James Taylor Marked for Death") that they may end up on television covered in the blood of the producers responsible for this and, staring wild-eyed into the camera, repeating the words, "We did it. We won," over and over again, while some might opt for a Kurtz-ish cry in a whisper at those images, at that vision, 'The horror! The horror!' Not me, though. My (rather cathartic, I think) response was to open Aphex Twin's "Come To Daddy" in a new window (the music starts at 1:15 or so) and play the music over the Sweety video. Trust me, it really does take the edge off, and is probably a much more appropriate accompaniment to the images above.
So, okay, it's crap aimed at kids. Which is why the pubescent girls are showing off their legs and (in the video) shoulders, I suppose. I've looked at how much more sexualized the images of the Wondergirls are than previous teen singing groups. In this post I mentioned their newest video, which, with a little editing, may make clearer certain aspects of the video:
Obviously, Sweety is not quite near the level of sexualization we see above, and the video is sickeningly, insipidly cute. Still, the image below goes a little bit beyond being simply 'cute', what with the school uniform-style costumes and rather short skirts, suggesting that, perhaps, the producers might be hoping to have the age crossover potential of the Wondergirls. The marketing aspect of this is interesting, and probably applies to a lot of the manufactured pop groups here. If a group has a large number of performers, hopefully at least one of them will appeal to consumers, in effect making the bullseye much larger. This seems to apply to the music as well, with the mix of pop and rap seemingly designed to draw in fans of both. Note what the kids are doing with their hands in the photos below:
Every possible 'cute' pose appears in these promotional photos, from the hearts to the fingers pointed at their cheek in an 'eoljjang' style to...
...to the 'hip-hop pose' of the boy to the... saluting? It would seem James is right about the degree to which Korean society is influenced by militarism.
Above we have the 'oh my!' pose, blowing kisses and a-ok poses, while below we see a pose more at home in a facial cream advertisement:
The girl above is the pint-sized female rapper, who constantly winks and points at the camera, but in this picture is mixing it up by making a heart.
A - Okay!
The only boy in the group seems to be a pint-sized pimp.
The girl above looks ready to ddong-chim someone, while the other clasps her hand all purity-of-essence style.
Sure, I'm poking fun, but it's worth noting that not only do they have numerous performers of different 'styles', hoping to appeal to as many tastes as possible, they also are sporting as many gestures as possible. Drawn from commercials, eoljjang websites, music videos, and tv shows, they're essentially the visual catchphrases of the moment, and by employing as many of them as possible, the producers are essentially throwing everything that is seen as 'cool' at the wall to see what sticks (and they're not alone in doing this, of course).
In this, the video and promotional photos remind me of Poochie. In the 1997 Simpsons episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", the makers of Itchy and Scratchy decide to add a new character to improve ratings, and end up combining every popular fashion, visual cue, and catchphrase in an attempt to create a popular character.
The clothes and accessories (fanny pack, surfboard, backward baseball cap) mix styles, which is also displayed in the music (the rap can be heard here), while the catchphrases are easily found in the script:
(rapping) The name's Poochie D, And I rock the telly, I'm half Joe Camel, And a third Fonzarelli. I'm the kung fu hippie, From gangsta city, I'm a rappin' surfer, You the fool I pity.
Ooh, Poochie is one outrageous dude.
He's totally in my face.
(playing guitar) Wiggity wiggity, Word up? Rock on party! Catch you on the flip side, dudemeisters. Not!! Hey kids, always recycle... to the extreme!! Bust it!
Viewers hate Poochie, and as Lisa puts it, "Poochie was a soulless by-product of committee thinking. You can't be cool just by spouting off a bunch of worn-out buzzwords."
WACK SLACKS: Old ripped jeans
FUZZ: Heavy wool sweaters
PLATS: Platform shoes
KICKERS: Heavy boots
SWINGIN' ON THE FLIPPITY-FLOP: Hanging out
BOUND-AND-HAGGED: Staying home on Friday or Saturday night
HARSH REALM: Bummer
COB NOBBLER: Loser
DISH: Desirable guy
BLOATED, BIG BAG OF BLOATATION: Drunk
LAMESTAIN: Uncool person
TOM-TOM CLUB: Uncool outsiders
ROCK ON: A happy goodbye
As it turns out, Jasper had made it all up. As this site reveals,
When The Baffler revealed the hoax, the Times demanded an apology from Frank and his fellow editors, but received instead a surly response which read "(W)hen The Newspaper of Record goes searching for the Next Big Thing and the Next Big Thing piddles on its leg, we think that's funny."If that happened to one of the big three papers here, I'm sure they'd get the GNP to pass a law preventing the Baffler from publishing in some way, much as they're doing to the portals at the moment.
At any rate, if music and its marketing are to be nothing but visual, verbal and musical catchphrases, I don't see a lot of hope for the musical side of the Korea Wave having much long term success with anyone other than the built-in audience of teenage girls that seems to exist for such idol groups.