It’s probably the after-effect of the popular drama last year “Answer Me 1997” on me, that I had took notice of many recent ‘comeback’ of 1st generation artistes, and perhaps even earlier.
Somehow I got into thinking that the timing is rather apt. At a time where some are claiming that kpop is currently undergoing a revamp in terms of music genre and image (insiders are hinting that general interest in kpop is declining, hence a need to revamp), the comeback of these artistes are welcomed by the industry.
Well, at least for me, I think most of them did a pretty good comeback, in terms of music and the performance. Good thing is I don’t think you would find them outdated. In fact, many claimed No.1 in charts despite strong competitions from other young idols.
1) Cho Yong Pil
Of course you would be tempted to ask – this UNCLE?
Yes. His name is Cho Yong Pil (read more on Wiki), born in 1950. To many Koreans, he is one of the most influential figure in Kpop. A friend shared that his song was one of the first being adapted into Cantopop by Alam Tham – 《爱在深秋》. This year, he did a comeback with his 19th album, and his title track “Bounce” swept major charts. You have to listen to the song, before you judge him by his age.
Last year they did a comeback to announce Shinhwa is still alive and kicking. The comeback was welcomed by many idol groups, all hoping that they can last as long as the group. The only kpop idol group which never changed members, did a 15th anniversary concert tour, and released another full length album this year. Title song “This Love” claimed 8 No.1 titles from various Music Programs, surprising even the artistes themselves. In a recently 20s’ Choice awards organised by Mnet, they claimed two awards (mostly determined by voting), including 20’s Mwave Global Star: Shinhwa, beating Suju M and 2pm etc.
Interesting enough, a writer contributing to American Magazine – The Atlantic, drew parallel of the comeback of Shinhwa and Backstreet Boys in an article – What the Backstreet Boys Could Learn From K-Pop. I thought she did quite a nice conclusion of the success of Shinhwa’s comeback – Korea’s longest-running boy band, Shinhwa, proves that staying relevant isn’t about pretending you’re young. It’s about embracing your age.
3) Lee Hyori
Long before Hyuna or G.Na, we had Lee Hyori, Kpop icon of Sexy Diva. After going solo from Fin.K.L., she made a successful career as a solo artiste. This year after finally releasing her album again, she surprised everyone and announced her marriage plans with music composer Lee Sang Soon.
4) Lee Jung Hyun
Quipped “Techno Queen” of Kpop, she is the singer behind Wa (와, “Come”) and Bakkwo (바꿔, “Change”), both techno numbers which firmly established herself in the industry. Lee Jung Hyun has been known to try out many erm… ‘interesting’ images. You can see her transformation here (credit:allkpop).
This year, she did a comeback with a song “V” in a “Ghost Bride” image.
Many of you would be familiar with her earlier songs as both were picked up by Sammi Cheng (《眉飞色舞》、《天衣无缝》). And if you think Sammi Cheng’s images are daring and trend-setting (aka. Nike eyebrow alike), you should look at Lee Jung Hyun’s kimono-style-plus-fan look, singing into her pinky dance!
Of course there are many more artistes who’s been around for a long time, like Kim Tae Woo from 1st generation idol group G.O.D. But the fact that these established artistes are making headlines and claiming No.1 titles, are a encouraging sight for the scene. I supposed these comebacks not only give good alternatives to the kpop industry, it also shows that you can still have it if you are still good. Plus when you’re a veteran, you somewhat have more say in your production, and are more able to deviate from the mainstream market. In a way, it sends signals to the younger artistes when you are successful, and gives green light for the industry to try out new stuff, other than techno-electo pop numbers.
Everyone would agree that the replacement rate in this industry is super high, more so in kpop. Many young artistes have mentioned that 1st generation idols are a great source of encouragement. At least now they would believe that if they work hard enough, they can still perform for more years.
Perhaps soon, we will be able to see some collaboration of young and veteran artistes?