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Get ready for unpredictable K-pop charts in 2014
By Park Si-soo
Next year’s K-pop scene is expected to feature quite a battle for the top of the charts as Psy, Seo Taiji and other top stars are set to return with new albums, posing a challenge to the likes of Girls’ Generation, G-Dragon and EXO.
In addition, new groups with game-changing potential are expected to debut after going through long and rigorous apprentice programs, adding to the competition.
Psy Vs. Seo Taiji
Having maintained a low profile for months, Psy spoke about his new song during his year-end concert in Seoul on Dec. 23.
“Frankly speaking, ‘Gentleman’ was not the kind of music I can fully show myself with,” the 36-year-old K-pop sensation said during the concert. “I’ll set everything anew in order to play music of my style, which is playful and hilarious.” He said a new song is in the works in collaboration with prominent foreign musicians. “I will do my best next year to live up to the expectations of my fans. To make it real, I need your support,” he shouted.
According to YG Entertainment, the upcoming project will be a complete studio album, rather than a single like “Gentleman,” Psy’s follow-up to the global smash “Gangnam Style.” It said Psy has already completed recording all of the tracks for the new album and is currently involved in the pre-production of music videos.
Seo Taiji, arguably one of Korea’s most influential musicians, will make a comeback in 2014 with his ninth full-length album, ending a five-year hiatus.
“If things go smoothly, I will be able to return with a new album in the middle or later part of next year,” the 41-year-old singer and songwriter wrote on his homepage on Christmas Eve. “Although recording takes several months, and I need more time to finish the work, I feel light-hearted and optimistic because I have already finished the hardest parts of the process for the new album.”
His management agency said Seo is extremely deliberate when it comes to work so it’s hard to predict when the work will be completed.
Having been called the “president of culture” for his exceptional musical talent, Seo has maintained a low profile since 2008. The agency said he has since spent time traveling around a number of countries and creating new songs. In June, he married Lee Eun-sung, an actress 16 years younger than him. The couple currently lives in an upscale villa in Pyeongchang-dong, Seoul, with Seo’s parents.
Rain Vs. TVXQ
By coincidence or not, the two K-pop stars — Rain and TVXQ — will return with new albums to be released on the same day — Jan. 6.
With his sixth album “Rain Effect,” the former, whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, is seeking to regain the huge popularity he enjoyed before beginning his compulsory military service in October 2011.
In 2006, Rain was included in a list of the“100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World,” as selected by TIME Magazine. The following year, he topped the American magazine’s online user poll. He also made it onto People Magazine’s 2007 list of “Most Beautiful People” in the world.
The 31-year-old was discharged from duty in July, but soon found his fame tarnished due to unsavory scandals he had been embroiled in while in uniform. Last week, he was cleared of suspicions that he violated the military code of conduct during his mandatory service in a high-profile investigation by prosecutors, one of the scandals that have swirled around him.
He currently travels back and forth between the United States and Korea to appear in a Hollywood action thriller. “The Prince,” co-starring with Bruce Willis, John Cusack and Jason Patric.
K-pop duo TVXQ’s seventh full-length album, titled “Tense,” is scheduled to come out as the group celebrates its 10th anniversary on stage.
The boy band made its debut with five members on Dec. 26, 2003, but later three of them — Park Yu-chun, Kim Jun-su and Kim Jae-joong — left the band and launched JYJ in 2010 after legal disputes with SM Entertainment.
The duo showed the teaser video for their new album during a year-end concert on Thursday.
U-Know, one of the members, hinted that fans will see them performing more with wires, as seen in the video. Max Changmin, the other member, said, “Ten years ago today, we debuted as five member K-pop band. Thinking of this concert, my heart was racing all day with anticipation, like a little boy on his 10th birthday.”
Since the debut, the band has sold nearly 12.2 million copies of album around the world, including 7.8 million in Japan.
There are more to come with game-changing potential. A promising girl group, Dal Shabet, will release what it called a “mini album” on Jan. 8. Two other girl bands — Girls’ Day and Apink — and soloist Lee Min-woo, also known as M, will also release new albums in January.
Korea’s longest-running boy band, Shinhwa, will make public its 12th album in March to celebrate the 16th anniversary of its debut. Shinhwa took a break from group activities since its last concert in 2008, as members fulfilled their mandatory service in the military. While on hiatus, the individual members have worked as television and musical actors, solo vocalists and television entertainers.
Crooner Sung Si-kyung, ballad singer Park Hyo-shin, K. will, idol musician IU, Brown Eyed Girls and Sistar are set to return in the first half of next year with new albums.
Early this month, the country’s No.1 entertainment agency, SM Entertainment, released pictures and video clips of three young artists who are expected to make debuts next year. The new faces discovered through the firm’s new star incubating project “S.M.ROOKIES” are Lami, 10, Jae-hyun, 16 and Irene, 22. They will take part in various activities, including concerts and TV shows, prior to their formal debuts, the agency said.
The second-biggest agency, YG, has already prepared a new five-member boy band, “WINNER.” It already has lots of support as seen by the fans who voted for it during the survival battle program “WIN: Who Is Next.” It will debut early in 2014. The group’s members include “Superstar K2” champion Kang Seung-yoon, as well as “K-Pop Star” season 1’s Top 4 survivor Lee Seung-hoon. The other members are skilled YG trainees Song Min-ho, Nam Tae-hyun, and Kim Jin-woo.
The country’s third-biggest entertainment agency, JYP, also has a seven-member boy group going public next month, its first major male band launch since 2PM in 2008. JYP is planning to debut two more groups next year.
Meanwhile, the country’s second-biggest broadcaster, MBC, will resume hosting a time-honored music contest for college students in a dramatic policy shift. The “MBC College Music Festival” was first aired in 1977 and has been credited with launching the careers of many influential musicians, such as Sim Soo-bong, Shin Hae-chul and Kim Dong-ryul. The broadcaster cancelled the show this year, citing poor ratings in previous years.