Got7 go back to K-pop’s basics

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Got7 go back to K-pop’s basics


Multicultural K-pop boy band Got7, from left, are BamBam, Mark, Jr., JB, Jackson, Young-jae and Yu-gyeom. Provided by JYP Entertainment

Korean pop has risen to be the hottest genre in Asia, and every year, young and talented would-be stars flock here to train at leading music labels before they debut.

Seven-member K-pop boy band Got7 represents K-pop in the 21st century. What first started with a strong “Korean” color has now transformed into a cosmopolitan genre.

Just like the audience that consumes the music, producers are from different parts of the world, and entertainers are no longer typical Korean boys.

Got7’s first EP “Got It?” had a strong debut in January, topping some major online music charts with the lead-off title “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Just like their diverse nationalities - American, Thai, Chinese and Korean - the music was also foreign to K-pop idol fans.

Rather than kicking off their career with a sugary-sounding love song, Got7 members tried to prove their identity as JYP Entertainment’s first hip-hop unit with their strong beats. But at the same time, their music was too “new,” and it alienated some teenage listeners.

As if to respond to this reality, Got7 came back with “Got Heart,” hinting that there will be some love in the coming season, perhaps of a cheesy nature.

On Wednesday at Ax Hall in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, the seven boys showed a glimpse of their latest album in their live performances. In the lead-off single “A,” the seven sing about how to approach a girl they begin to have feelings for.

“Well, when we first listened to the song, we weren’t sure if it matched our color since we’ve focused more on hip-hop tunes over time,” said 19-year-old member Jr., whose real name, Park Jin-young, is the same as his producer.

“But as we started recording the track, we came to think that it would be a good choice for late-teen guys like us to sing.”

The upcoming album has six tracks, and some of Got7 took part in writing the lyrics and coming up with the raps. While JB wrote the third track “Bad Thing,” Jackson Wang penned the rap for the first track “U Got Me.”

Wang, 20, was known as Hong Kong’s top junior fencer before turning into a K-pop idol. He even represented Hong Kong at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.

But it seems like the competition in the local pop music market is fiercer than ever, as another leading K-pop powerhouse, YG Entertainment, is readying for its new boy band’s debut.

While it took JYP six years to come up with a new all-boy group after 2PM’s 2008 debut, it took eight years for YG to introduce a new male ensemble after Big Bang, now a legendary figure of the genre. Five-member group Winner recently issued some teaser images to spark the attention of the market.

Got7, nonetheless, was rather confident and cool about the situation.

“We think each team has its own strengths, so we’ll pick up some of the things that they do great,” said JB, “and hope that can happen vice versa.”

When the Korea JoongAng Daily asked the group how it would feel to snatch the No. 1 spot on the weekly music shows with their new single, the seven members, who mostly seemed uneasy during the press interview, burst into wide smiles.

“Oh my?... Thinking about it just thrills us!” said JB, followed by a comment from Thai-born BamBam saying that they would be more than happy to perform the song on the streets of downtown Seoul for their fans.

Today, some people say that the Korean pop market is oversaturated already, in part due to the endless, seemingly identical pop bands being churned out.

But contrary to such a prevalent belief, each and every group has their own unique style, and Got7 is surely a reminder that top-notch music quality still has the potential to take a group to the next level.

BY KIM HEE-EUN, contributing writer
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