In 2007, our country was still recovering from the Yee Hyori and Bi syndrome. We had high regards for solo singers as they ruled our society’s entertainment. As TVXQ’s fan base among female youths strengthened, Yee Hyori and Bi were embraced by other demographics outside the female gender and the teen age. Epik High was making waves among music lovers as they offered hip hop genre to mainstream light. Ivy was creating a national syndrome with Sonata of Temptation. Super Junior and SS501 were trying really, really, really, and I mean really hard. There’s just no room for a male idol group for the public. No room at all.
But as we waited outside YG Entertainment for almost all the nights of April – July 2007, we still gave our utmost support and loyalty to Big Bang. We cheered them on, even if the odds were against them. There’s very little of us female teenagers, because most female teens were already at the mercy of TVXQ. Our fan cafe was only in the 50,000 number, and as they ended Dirty Cash promotion, that number decreased by the day. Dae Sung would always joke around saying, “Don’t leave us girls! So many have left and went to FT Island, stay with us please!” And Seung Ri would often tease us, “Is it because Jun Su hyung and TVXQ are in Japan that’s why you’re here?” They played with jokes, but I knew that in the heart of these boys, they were really worried because there’s very few of us taking them seriously.
We stayed through the fall, the rain, the heat. Our movement stayed by the boys’ side as they prepared for their album. We were expecting another single from them, and there were press released about how Ji Yong and Seung Hyun helped in the album production. If you looked at the Internet responses to these news, people were so cruel! No one believed YG when he said Ji Yong and Seung Hyun oppa wrote the songs. Everyone was crucifying the group. Hormonal girls call them “TVXQ wannabes,” “Ugly dogs,” “Short and wannabe idols,” “Lying try-hards,” “Almost idols,” and that’s almost because according to many, they were “too ugly to be an idol.” Most of the Daum articles were flooded with these negative comments. It made our heart ache, and there’s nothing we could do but camp outside their doors and show them that even if the Internet is infested with evil haters, we, the VIPS were here. For every single press release for the “Always” album, there were 800 cruel taunts, and 200 positive remarks. We didn’t even have the energy to defend and protect them from those cruel netizens.
And as the D-Day neared, YG began spreading words that this next album from Big Bang would be a mini-album, the first of it’s kind. It was sold in a unique price that was unheard of(10,000 won compared to an 8,000 won single and a 13,000 won album). It also contained just six songs, a first of its kind (compared to a single’s 3 tracks, and an album’s 10 tracks or up). YG gave us big words such as “this will be a trend setter,” “We will create a new beginning to Korean music,” “Big Bang will revolutionize idol music,” blah blah blah. We, the fans, were so hyped up and at the same time, worried. YG was bringing promises again — promises that baited the haters! “You told us before you would bring us Seo Taiji, but instead this is a lifeless dragon!” “YG with his try-hard promises again.” Only a very tiny little portion of this society, and a tiny little portion of that tiny little portion being the teenage female fans, believed in Big Bang. What was their future? We, along with Big Bang and YG Entertainment, hoped for the best.
The D-DAY came. August 17, 10 am, the entire mini-album was released digitally in all major music sites, and the albums dropped in the retail stores. What would have been history wasn’t felt during the first few days of release. Lies entered the top 15 on its first 3 days, and that was already a big achievement for a male group. TVXQ or SS501 couldn’t even maintain the top 20, and for Big Bang to penetrate the top 15, we celebrated like crazy! Top 15 in 3 days! VIPS rejoiced, because that meant the people liked the song!
That was the first sign of what would become a life-changing success for Big Bang. When they peaked at #14 in MelOn, and #15 in Mnet, we thought that was the best it could go. But no, because critics and online reviews became the catalyst of this overwhelming success.
Reviews came in as early as day 2, and none of the critics had anything bad to say about it. None at all. Kim Jiho, a noted music critic from The Seoul Times said “Surprisingly, leader-penned tracks Lies and Oh Ma Baby are the strongest track of the newly rebirth form mini album. Always album is a blend of pop, rock, with hip hop undertones that is uniquely Big Bang’s and has never been heard before.” Chosun Ilbo called G-Dragon the future of idol music, Korea Herald coined the album “a surprising twist that branches out from the predictable music for this generation of sloppy boy band songs — if you call that music at all.” The traditional and online print media was suddenly infested with critical rave and universal praise for ALWAYS. During the next weeks, at least 2 newspapers or magazines would review the album and praise its title song, Lies. When Big Bang came back in Inkigayo and Music Core, online query for search terms related to Big Bang jumped 2000% according to Daum news. The hater-infested Internet was suddenly filled with casual netizens who just merely commented about how wonderful and how fantastic Lies, and the album, was. By the time Big Bang performed in Music Bank for their come back on the 26th of August, Lies was already an all-kill in Korean charts on its 6th day of release. Music Bank told VIPS the next week that Big Bang stage on 08/26 increased the ratings by 6%, the highest or all six music shows that time for that year! Only on its 2nd week of release, Big Bang, the song Lies, and the album Always, has already reigned supreme among the critics and the online society.
No one would have thouht that these nobodies could rise to the top with such an experimental form of album. Big Bang did what Super Junior or SS501 miserably failed to do, and not even TVXQ could — bring a male idol group song at the top of the charts and make the general public actually know and sing the song. Suddenly, the nobodies became the break out stars of the moment. Big Bang was very much celebrated the entire month of September. YG staged guerilla concerts in malls and universities. YG reached out to the people and established the fandom of teenagers! By the middle of September, Nate, Daum, Naver, Google, Cyworld, and all search engines were filled with Big Bang. THIS ALL WITHOUT A TV PROGRAM APPEARANCE OUTSIDE OF MUSIC SHOWS. On the 7th of September, Big Bang won their first ever mutizen and celebrated with all of us in YGE! A month ago, we were crying because nobody believed YG’s press releases, and one month forward our group had no rest with all the special fan seats in all kinds of festivals, concerts, guerilla performances, and music shows. Suddenly, Big Bang had 14 high school and university appearances in 2 months! It was not just Big Bang who was busy, VIPS were going to events to support them left and right.
The next three months was a roller coaster ride. For 7 weeks, Lies was the #1 song in the entire country, it received huge airplay in radio and television, broadcast shows, dramas, variety and talk shows used Lies as their background music. Television and the Internet catapulted the song to instant fame. By middle of September, students and professors, vendors and buyers, lawyers and criminals, mother and child, fishermen, bus drivers, little kids and old men and women sang “I’m so sorry but I love you dageojitmal, iyamorasseo ijeya arasseo naega pirhyohae!” South Korea caught the Lies syndrome. And above all, pop culture critics and bloggers took notice of the group’s fashion. It was early September when online posts about Ji Yong’s scarves collection and the boys ever hanging high top sneakers populated all sorts of boards. Dae Sung’s open chest top, TOP’s shades, Seung Ri’s sleeveless top and Tae Yang’s hats were featured in all sorts of magazine articles. By October, if you walk through Seoul subway and the malls, you will encounter at least two teenage boys every minute wearing a Big Bang look. Walking in the malls would tell you easily that Big Bang did not just affect teenage girls, but boys too! What’s more interesting was, Big Bang suddenly populated the background music of Korean online role playing games, which further connected Big Bang’s music to the young men. Young girls wanted Big Bang to be their boyfriend, but young boys wanted to be LIKE Big Bang. The music video and the music performances were repeatedly aired in public places, popularizing not just the song but the group’s fashion too. In a span of two months, without overly appearing in broadcast shows, only doing live performances and television performances for the public, South Korea took interest in the music and career of G-Dragon, Tae Yan, T.O.P, Dae Sung, and Seung Ri.
Big Bang was only dethroned by the arrival of Tell me, which took the number 1 spot by early October and stayed there for eight weeks.
Which really catapulted the group to sudden celebrity status? Upon the release of Lies and the album, online tonality and content about Big Bang changed, and the haters-filled sites was then ruled by new armies of VIPS. IT WAS AMAZING. Was it airplay or mutizens? Was it the number 1 song? No. It all started with the music’s quality. Upon release, critics review flooded on the first two weeks, which resulted to numerous print and online articles that led to people’s curiosity about critic’s rave. Good music, great reviews, people’s ciriosity which was then answered by good music resulted to the song getting number 1. A good image and forward fashion resulted to attraction from teenage fans, which then resulted to online posts and raves about Big Bang fashion, which then resulted to magazine articles and online spaces about Big Bang’s image, which then resulted to more fans and more male and female teens idol-izing their music and fashion, which then resulted to multiple air plays, which then resulted to public recognition, which then resulted to parents and grandparents taking interest in the music their kids are listening to, which then resulted to BIG BANG reaching out to the ENTIRE COUNTRY. Their music show performances and guerilla events only furthered their reliability to the public. Everything stemmed out of Big Bang themselves, with their music and their image and fashion, and critics and fans only took notice. Big Bang was the real star of 2007, thanks to the unbeatable and long unheard of alignment of the critics, the fans, and the general public. Above all, Big Bang had the media’s backing. Even of YG did not send them to broadcast shows, the broadcast shows made sure to include Big Bang in their scripts, extras, or BGM.
Just as sudden as the success, so are the hurdles. By middle of October, female groups took over again with the rise of SNSD and Wonder Girls. Tell Me stole the spot light from Lies and created another syndrome – a syndrome arguably bigger than Lies. Tell Me became a national song, and suddenly allegations about Big Bang’s plagiarism of Lies took over. Just when they wrapped up their promotion for Always, controversies about plagiarism occurred, and Tell Me further rose to the chart. Will Big Bang be a one hit wonder? And again, our hearts filled with agony and worry. Our 50 thousand group suddenly increased to 150, then more than how much Super Junior had, and more of us got worried.
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Reblogged by Eunchan@pitchezta.wordpress.com