Dear Mel, it's been more than 5 posts since you last mentioned a KPOP artist. What gives? Love, KPOP Fandom
My apologies, fam. But if I'm being truly honest with you -- the current KPOP scene just isn't cutting the grease for me. None of my faves are out promoting and doing their their thing (anyone else getting sick and tired of waiting around for a 2NE1 comeback? I feel so "lonely".). Sure, I think cutiepie Lee Hi is a fab singer, but am I a stan for her? "1, 2, 3, 4" was pretty promising, but "Rose" I could take or leave. In terms of boy bands, Teen Top and Infinite seem to be the machos in charge, and as much as I loved the laters early singles, their current material isn't starting a fire within me. I was plenty ready to pack up my red shirt, kitty headband and red & blue lightsticks and wait for this supposed Eunhae (Donghae + Eunhyuk) duet comeback, until I realized I've never truly extrapolated on the Redheaded KPOP Stepchildren Boy Band that is U-Kiss.
For those of you who remember around the time when MBLAQ's "Mona Lisa" came out, I was quite stunned I found myself falling for the boy band. U-Kiss, a quote/unquote "indie" boyband with no large company to back them like the majority of my faves, made their big debut back in 2008 but broke through in 2009 with the robotic, Brave Brothers produced "Man Man Ha Ni (Am I That Easy?)" right around the time that MBLAQ was breaking with "Oh Yeah". Being new to KPOP at that point (but being pre-disposed to liking boy bands), I found both groups quite cringy when compared to the polished pop of TVXQ! or an arguable competition act in SHINee (crazy to believe, ya'll, but U-Kiss & SHINee debuted right around the same exact time).
I think it's fair to say 2009 KPOP was even more costume-y than it is now, right?
Forever the last place boy band when placed in the KPOP Pantheon, U-Kiss continued to churn out decent singles that, although good, didn't quite break the soundbarrier to supreme popularity (at least where Korea was concerned). 2011's "Neverland" was a pretty good (but still largely under-appreciated) try but to this day, U-Kiss's popularity in Korea is largely niche oriented. MBLAQ and another contemporary boy band B2ST (especially so) have basically eclipsed them, despite the fact that at their core, all three bands are somewhat similar.
Now, I'm gonna come out and say something that might be a little controversial. Obviously, I like to root for the underdog, especially when it comes to boy bands and when it comes to KPOP, no one is more of an underdog than U-Kiss -- at least in Korea. And as time has gone on, their underdog status is really undeserved. In 2011, a revamped version of the group made their debut in Japan (remember, Japan is the #2 music market in the world) and since then all of their singles have gone Top 10 in the Oricon charts. The group embarked on a sold out tour of Japan and was also one of the first KPOP acts to play sold out shows in South America. You wanna talk hallyu? You gotta give these boys some credit.
Not to mention the fact that all of the members come off incredibly sweet and humble in all of their interviews -- and are very smart. The majority of the members are multilingual and one member was admitted to Columbia University. With their worldwide popularity, I'm sure North American promotions are a goal.
Back in March, the group released their third full length album in Korea on the back of the single "Standing Still", a great boy band jam because it: 1) shows off their vocals, 2) has arguably exciting choreography, 3) features an overall handsome image of all members. The album bowed at #1 on the Korean Hanteo Charts despite the song underperforming in the lower echelons of the Top 100.
Basically - while I don't stan them, "Standing Still" is a fun little summer ditty and for all the haters, I just wanna say: Leave U-Kiss alone!