Best Music Label of 2010? An All-Out K-Pop Brawl!

By David Yi
As we have written before, there has been a smorgasbord of awesomely good musical acts throughout the past decade–one with too many instances of gayo goodness, graciously sprinkled with enough saccharine pop to give even Fat Tiffany the biggest of hypoglycemic comas. And that’s saying something.

But with so many hit tracks that came out of the small Asian peninsula comes the age-old adage of whether Korean music has evolved into something fantastic or something really elastic (er, bad). [Warning: long-winded sentence ahead!]Since there’s no way to really gauge if it has gotten better, as we can’t look to album sales for any type of indication (Korea’s top selling album of 2009, Super Junior’s ‘Sorry, Sorry,’ barely missed the 120k mark, the equivalent of general first week album sales in the U.S.), and being that musical taste is highly subjective, what we can do is look at this past year alone (one that’s labeled the ‘golden year for Korean music’) to determine just how K-Pop fared.

To do so, we’ll allocate points accordingly to Korea’s big three labels: JYP, SM, and YG, as to how well they performed in the last year of the decade. And since 2009 had so many successful musical acts who debuted outside of these behemoths, we’ll lump all of them in a separate category as ‘other.’ Below, we highlight the good, the bad, and the mot nan (fugly) of the past year. At the end of the report, we’ll give you a final grade on how well each fared and what the future holds for Korean pop in 2010!

In 2009:

The Wondergirls officially sign under the Jonas Brothers’ music group after touring with them across the country. Young girls across the nation are still puzzled by their unbeweavably retro bobs. +10

-A report comes out ranking The Wondergirls #1 on their year end chart– which probably means zilch when singles like Mimi’s awful “Obsessed” is right behind at #3 and the equally absurd “Stanky Legg” at a solid #5. You do the math. -2

-2PM rises to the top of the K-Pop charts with club-banging jams like “Tired of Waiting” and “Again and Again” setting off a “beast” craze turning ajummas everywhere into salivating beasts themselves. +8

2AM’s fab-you-lous *snap* if not campy Jo Kwon becomes a national sensation for his vibrating badonk, gyrating chicken legs, and super stripper-envy-worthy hair tosses bringing flamboyant-sexy back to Seoul. Move over Brian–you’re an old lady. +7


Beloved 2PM shortie, Jae Bum Park, ousts himself from the group after calling South Koreans ‘gay’ in a past Myspace comment. The media then outs him as being a tire repairman. Oh, cruel world. -9

2PM sweeps 2009 awards shows. +10

-The only publicity that that one girl who sorta was supposed to debut in the U.S. a long time ago is on this here KoreAm blog post.  -7


-With one of the strongest members of the group, Sunmi, suddenly quitting the band, we wonder just how The Wondergirls are going to recuperate from this tragedy. Yeah, they have a replacement, but with that other girl who also quit and joined girl band 4 Minute and then went onto launch her own solo career, we’re really thinking this band has the potential is the next Destiny’s Child — without the fierce juice of Sasha Fierce, of course.     -9

Along with 2PM being way 2 over exposed, with 2 many ads, 2 many singles, 2 many group members doing 2 many activities, it’s not 2 early to say that they 2 will succumb a 2 good 2 be true K-Pop band story that faded in2 oblivion way 2 soon.  -4


-Though the slightly more limber version of Choi Ji Woo was blocked from MBC, 2AM‘s latest #1 single, “Can’t Let You Go,” won’t fade into the K-Pop abyss like this single here.+8


Future Outlook? With so many dysfunctions happening over at JYP with Jin Young Park himself stepping down as CEO to concentrate on his own career, The Wondergirls’ situation becoming much like a revolving door, 2PM and 2AM overworking like the slaves stars they are, with many artists still on the back burner, the company’s 2010 outlook looks as promising as Nickhun’s vocal ability. Not very.


To be continued…

Check out the continuation of this three-part story tomorrow and Thursday!