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WBW: Idols Still in the Game

on March 13, 2013

From: miketastic
Posted At: Thursday, March 07, 2013 2:17 AM
Posted To: 5.koreamusica
Conversation: music@korea
Subject: WBW: Idols Still in the Game


I’ve sometimes used this column as a forum to lament the fact that I’m getting older and writing about past K-poppers might be “way back” to some of you, but for me, all of this seems like it was only yesterday. Just the other day I had an epiphany; instead of being sad that I’m getting fatter and wrinklier, I should be excited about the future as I get wiser and more distinguished and have the chance to take that next step in life. In that spirit, today’s Way Back Wednesday will feature old school idols who took that next step in their career and are still a major influence on this generation of K-pop. Whether they’re running their own company or producing our favorite tunes, they are still influencing what we listen to and are still very much in the game.


Chances are that if you’re a fan of any of the artists of YG Entertainment then at some point you’ve heard a song that was either written or produced by YG’s main producer, Teddy. His work with Big Bang, Se7en, 2NE1, and more recently Lee Hi have been hugely popular and his music has been instrumental in K-pop’s growth internationally. While Teddy initially gained eternal K-pop glory as the leader of legendary 1TYM, his second career as a music creator has been very low key with little public face time. I for one would love to see more of him but let’s just hope the hits keep on coming.


Rain/Tony An/Andy Lee/Eric Mun

While each of the members of this group are still active in the music industry, it’s their roles as producers and company heads that have them on this distinguished list. Rain formed J.Tune Entertainment in 2007 and helped create MBLAQ (J.Tunes has now merged with JYP Entertainment). Tony An created TN Entertainment and while his boy band Smash weren’t so smashing, the company is home to some of Korea’s most popular stars. Andy, under the roof of T.O.P Entertainment produced the successful group Teen Top, and Eric tried his hand at the world of girl groups with Stellar under his Top Class Entertainment and is also co-CEO of Shinhwa Company with Lee Min Woo. There are so many small labels in Korea fighting it out for a small piece of the pie but it’s good to see past idols leveraging their experiences to help the current crop of K-pop stars.



BoA might not run her own company but she has just as much, if not more influence on today’s K-pop scene than any other former teen idol talent. Ask any current K-pop girl group member (and probably some boy band members as well) and I’ll bet that at least 4 out of 5 will tell you that BoA was a huge inspiration and one of the reasons they wanted to become a singer. She’s only 26 years old but her career has already spanned thirteen years and she’s now the 3rd longest tenured member at SM Entertainment. She broke new ground in Japan and Asia, she’s a fashion leader and trendsetter, and these days she’s molding the next generation of idols on the popular show ‘K-pop Star 2′. She is still a major part of K-pop and I don’t think she’s anywhere near done yet.



Since we just mentioned the 3rd longest tenured member of SM Entertainment, we might as well mention the 2nd and that would be former H.O.T lead singer and current ‘The Voice Korea’ judge, Kangta. Like Boa, I’m sure that his impact on today’s K-pop industry probably started about seventeen years ago as the lead singer of the ever popular H.O.T. Who knows how many singers began their dream while watching Kangta on TV, hoping one day to be on that stage. Kangta also holds a director position at SM Entertainment and while that may or may not be a formality, there’s no question that his influence is still being felt and that his role as a mentor to the younger generation can only be a good thing.



The princess Lee Hyori. While she has started her own company, Hyori is on this list as a pure entertainer. She is still pushing the boundaries and is always on the leading edge of what’s hot in K-pop. Ever since she dropped her solo album back in 2003 she helped set the bar for all performers, both male and female alike. Her time as a member of Fin.K.L. made her supremely popular but it was her foray as a solo artist that made her a true icon. She became one of the most sought after TV hosts and celebrity spokesperson (sorry HyunA, Hyorin, and Hara… you guys just don’t cut it) and her private life became more interesting than the actual news. While times are changing and there’s a new crop of stars in K-pop, there is no question that Lee Hyori isn’t just in the game, she still is the game.


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