Kpop’s Most Wasted Potential

The Korean pop market is simply a gold mine of young talent. Each day, it seems like someone new is getting their chance in the spotlight, and as long as the industry keeps giving us awesome new music, the trend won’t slow down anytime soon.

However, the music industry can be a cruel and unfair world. In a saturated market, we are bound to see more failures and near misses than we are to see solid hits. It seems that every now and again, we see a huge amount of potential go to waste. Weather its a issue of a mis-matched concept, a group member not getting the recognition the y deserve, or even a great group getting a lame song, it seems like there is always going to be a missed opportunity for success.
It always bothers me to see talent go to waste. Here is a list of the most wasted potential in Kpop…
Now, keep in mind, the following isn’t a list of things that are necessarily “bad,” or even “under rated.” Just songs and singers that have more potential than they were given. 

This trio debuted in late 2010, right as the girl group boom was really taking off. However, Tina, Lil J, and Yumi quickly demonstrated that they had something that other, more established girl groups didn’t: talent. Lots of it. 

Each of VNT’s live performances were top notch. Lil J was a feirce and charismatic rapper, Tina had a voice that put most of her seniors to shame, and Yumi was always a spot on vocalist as well. Additionally, they rarely relied on backtracking, and NEVER lip synced unlike most other groups. Their live voices always came out of the speakers sounding full and strong. Plus, they had a strong hip-hop vibe that not many other groups were doing, and their debut song was super catchy.
After achieving moderate success with their debut single, they promised a comeback in March of 2011. When March came and went without so much as a word from the group, fans began to wonder where VNT was? Unfortunately, their answer came from a rather angry tweet from Lil J, who confirmed that she was no longer in the group. Further research revealed that Yumi was in a new group, The Viva Girls, and was preparing to re-debut. Tina has yet to be heard from since, but it is clear that VNT is no more. 
Most fans speculate that financial issues with the record label were to blame for the group’s disbandment. It really is a shame, because these girls were incredibly talented, and could have been a huge hit.
Rania’s Pop Pop Pop

Dr. Feel Good definitely had people noticing Rania. With unashamed sexuality, attention grabbing choreography, and controversial outfits, this was one rookie group that was pushing the envelope in ways that it nobody dared to before. Luckily, they proved to have the vocal talent to back it up.

Then came their comeback. With the departure of Teddy Reilly from the group’s record label, they needed a new producer. They teamed up with hit makers, The Brave Brothers for their second single, Pop Pop Pop, and my god, what a mess it was. Its not that Pop Pop Pop was a bad song. In fact t was definitely catchy and fun to listen to. But keep in mind this is a list of “wasted potential,” and this song was a hot mess of wasted potential.
First, lets point out the obvious. The music video was cheaply produced, horribly edited, and quite frankly, boring. The outfits the girls were wearing here horrendous, the choreography was weak, and half of the time, they weren’t even in sync. However, the song’s worst offense was the vocals.
The line distribution was terribly uneven. Sure, Riko and Xia got the chance to shine, but the rest were basically glorified backup dancers. Di was given a whopping one line…just one. T-ae got it a little better with three, but her voice was so autotuned that she never even got to sing live in any of the group’s performances. Saem and Joy’s parts were also never sung live. However, there simply wasn’t an excuse for Jooyi’s treatment. The group’s most powerful vocalist was relegated to a single rap verse. What the heck Brave Bros? You’re going to take a girl who can go toe to toe with Christina Aguilera and give her a 7 second rap verse? I don’t think so….

H.A.M debuted on the premise that they would be a pop-rock group. Rock is a genre that is rarely seen within Kpop, so I was very interested to see what this group would bring. When they debuted, it was clear that they also had tons of talent to offer. Sujin and Mi Yu had stellar voices, Hyoni was a great maknae with a soft voice, and Ga Yeon was a powerful performer. Unfortunately, they’ve been given unbelievably bad songs.

They debuted with T.T Dance, which started with hard rock guitars and “we will rock you” like percussion, but quickly melted into an adorable ageyo pop song. It was such a miss match in concepts that it was obvious the group was headed down hill. Their second single, So Sexy, was a case of “too much.” They tried to push the sexiness, but it came off as being a desperate cry for attention. Luckily, the song was so catchy that it became a modest hit.
Once the group’s third single, Lower Your Sight failed to be the hit the girls needed, it was clear that they were in trouble. Since then, we’ve heard that HAM was preparing for a Japanese debut, but that has yet to happen. It really is a shame, because the group had huge potential, and would have fit the Japanese market much better.
Oh yeah….and their name sucked.
The Wonder Girls Movie

Wonderful or not, you can’t deny that this wasn’t exactly the right way to debut in the American market. After almost three years of pounding away at the American music industry, perpetually delaying an album, and sacrificing the Korean fan base, JYP gave us a one hour, cheaply produced, and completely unnecessary cheese fest that turned out to be a complete and total disaster.

When the film was announced, it seemed like it would be a great idea. What better way to introduce a new group to the US than through a 6 episode mini series? Then details began to emerge, and it became clear that JYP was putting his resources into a sure fire failure. First, it was revealed that the project would be a collaboration with Nick Cannon and the School Gyrls….because, you know. The School Gyrls movies were a total success.

What we got in the end was an hours worth of shortened musical numbers, terrible acting, cheap sets, and a story line that was nonsensical. Sure, there were some great moments in the movie, but the fake cat fighting was awkward, and the love story was rushed to the point that it didn’t even feel necessary. In fact, the same could be said about the entire movie.

In the end, this was just the wrong way to introduce yourself to America. Why not put all of that time and money into getting an album released like you said you would 3 years ago? The album couldn’t have possibly flopped harder than this movie did.

GP Basic

To this day, GP Basic remains one of my favorite girl groups. Despite getting a ridiculous amount of hate for their young age, these girls show an amazing amount of confidence, talent, and charisma on stage. Janey is definitely one of the best rappers around….which is saying something considering that shes only 13. Trinity and Leah are good vocalists with the potential to become excellent. Mui was a great addition, and Zion and Amet excel at their group positions as well. Together, this group is capable of pulling off some stellar dance routines.

Their songs have showed a side of them that is both mature and confident, while remaining young and energetic. Plus, I’ll Be There was a surprisingly deep song that had actual significance. I’ll never forget seeing Trinity tear up on stage as she delivered the final chorus, because it was a rare moment that really showed us the passion this group has.

Unfortunately, this group is stuck with a rather incompetent label. They have yet to really be promoted in the right way, and worse yet, the group has been quiet through out the past year. Plus, their name? Who wants to listen to something that’s just basic? These girls need to redebut as G-Premium, sometime soon before the market leaves them behind completely.

4minute’s other members

4minute initially gained attention for featuring former Wonder Girl, Hyuna. She was the group’s centerpiece, and has since become the “it girl” of Kpop. Unfortunately, that means that 4minute has gotten the reputation of being “Hyuna and the other ones.” This is rather unfortunate considering the talent of the other girls.

Ji Yoon is a powerful vocalist with a huge amount of on stage charisma. She has been ready for a solo debut for awhile now, but it seems that all of Cube’s focus for solo artists lies solely on Hyuna. Similarly, Ga Yoon has a voice that is perfectly suited for a ballad release, and while she makes appearances on soundtracks here and there, she never receives the promotion she deserves as well.

However, the real crime here is treatment of the group’s leader, Ji Hyun, and maknae So Hyun. These two talents are given almost no face time in 4minute’s songs, and appear as almost backup dancers rather than group members. I’m sure that these girls have talent, but they simply haven’t been given the opportunity to display it!

Co-Ed School

You can’t talk about mismanaged groups without talking about Co-Ed. They debuted with one of the best concepts around! A ten member group consisting of six guys, and four girls. It was unique, original, and highly anticipated. So…how did things go so wrong?

For one, their music flat out sucked. Too Late simply wasn’t catchy, dancable, or even interesting. Their followup song was slightly better, but it was called Bbirribbom Bberribbom. Yeah….insta-fail.

Secondly, there was a surprising lack of talent in the group. Don’t get me wrong, Changmi and Soomi were great. However, in a group of ten, there were three good singers, and one good rapper. The rest were just there to have their voices autotuned, and lipsync on stage. And yes…the group did make excellent use of autotune and lip syncing.

However, the group came crashing down when they decided to promote as two sub units. Don’t get me wrong, the girls added a member to create 5dolls, which was a moderate success. However, the guy’s unit, Speed, never even got a proper debut, and their cover of T-ara’s Lovey Dovey was just…sad.

 The group finally dies when controversies and member changed began to plague the group. First, one of the guys was sent home after he allegedly raped a girl. Another guy was added without much attention, and then they added another guy to the group, his only special talent being “his eyebrows.” No, I’m not making this shit up. Next, group leader Soomi was bullied out of the group by her fellow Dolls. She was replaced, and then Changmi was ousted from the group for being a total bitch. Are you keeping up? Don’t bother. Nobody else is. Its been almost 2 years since Co-Ed school has been seen as a cohesive unit…and we may very well never see them again.

So there, you have it. There are many instances of wasted potential in Kpop, many of which we will never get the opportunity to see. What do you think? Is there a group out there that deserves more attention? Perhaps a song that should have taken a group to the next level, but was ignored on the charts? What do you think Kpop’s most wasted potential has been?


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