A REPOST FROM HELLOKPOP, because this article is really well-written 🙂 This was written in June 2011, when Shinhwa started their preparation for comeback by establishing Shinhwa Company.
That’s what I saw one netizen post in response to the recent rumors of a Shinhwa comeback. For shame! While I am ecstatic about the possibility of a Shinhwa comeback, there are skeptics, and worse, those who don’t even know about Shinhwa. Let me tell you something right now: a Shinhwa comeback is an earth-shattering event that would transform the Kpop world forever.
soompi.com’s fan club for Shinhwa describes them as having “been around for 100 years,” and that’s not too far from the truth. It’s not just that Shinhwa is just some old idol group. Shinhwa is THE first-generation idol group. absolutshinhwa.wordpress.com reminds us they are the only Hallyu idol group to keep it together with original members for over a decade. These three rappers and three singers together achieved a ridiculous level of success in the wake of their debut in 1998, and for good reason. I love many of the current idol groups, but before the mad popularity of BigBang and the record-setting fandom of TVXQ!, there was Shinhwa, producing songs that offered something for everyone, ranging from solid dance music like Thanks! to classical/hard rock/rap compilations like All Your Dreams. They pioneered things we take for granted in our current crop of idol groups. Attractive men? A given! Range of talent in the group? Check! Attention to detail and style? Done! Ability to rock a stage with killer dance moves and groovy songs? YES! Back in the day, Shinhwa was floating in a wide orange sea full of Changjos, and it was glorious.
In truth, Shinhwa never really left us. They did not enter the witness protection program following the release of their last album in 2008, never to be heard from again. Insisting that they are on an extended hiatus and NOT disbanded, the men of Shinhwa have been active. As single artists, they’ve made appearances in kdramas and videos, released solo albums and embarked on tours. The giddiness generated by this year’s 13th anniversary also shows that their beloved Changjos remain right by their side. Several stories were posted on major Kpop sites, and soompi.com did a full-scale, week-long retrospective that devoted a day to each member. If that’s not love, what is?
Hmmm…..You look skeptical. I can see you thinking, “You know, that was great back in the day, but Shinhwa is old school and has nothing to do with Kpop now. Who cares if some Changjos get together and swapped stories about Andy and Hyesung. Give me my SHINee.” Ok, you need to get with the program because even SHINee and other idols show the proper respect to the legends, and nothing shows this better than the variety of idol groups that have taken their turn doing Shinhwa’s Wild Eyes, complete with its hallmark chair dance. A young SHINee does the song and dance true justice in their live version.
MBLAQ’s Lee Joon has clearly been doing his Kpop homework here.
Not content to leave it to the boys, the ladies of After School do Shinhwa proud in their rendition.
Those moves don’t just fall out the sky. These current idol groups recognize the legacy and learn it well. Yes…..I see you are now coming around to the idea that Shinhwa is important. But you still look skeptical about the possibility of a Shinhwa comeback. You are thinking, “That’s never gonna happen. Dream on.” Ok, so I am a mere mortal. I can’t say for sure when or if a Shinhwa comeback will happen, but I can assure you that it should happen.
A Shinhwa comeback represents something completely unprecedented in Hallyu Kpop: the return an intact group after mandatory military service. Military service is seen as a career killer for male idol groups. It’s the reason why such groups are featuring younger and younger members who work longer and harder to develop a strong fanbase as quickly as they can. At a certain age, all members of a male group will do military service, and when they do, agencies assume that the ride is over. But what if there was life after military service for the male idol group? What if a group came back from the great beyond, with all of their members, to resume their music careers and reclaim their glory? Shinhwa can beat the odds and be that group. Due to the youth of Hallyu, we haven’t seen this yet. There hasn’t been a group that has survived the bogeyman of mandatory military service. Until now.
If Shinhwa actually achieves this with a successful comeback, it would set a new precedent. Their triumphant return would mean longer careers for more male idol groups, and who doesn’t want that?. We’ve already seen the effects of Shinhwa’s 13-year career with the rejection of the so-called five-year rule for idol groups, where idols and agencies assumed that groups only had a five-year shelf life. In a story on musicasia.net, an industry representative explains, “Those in the industry often say that no matter how popular a group is, there’s a sort of ‘change in tide’ every five years.” This means that agencies constantly debut new idol groups to replace older idol groups in what sometime seems to be a never-ending cycle. But, if idol groups have careers that go beyond five years, then agencies can get more bang for their buck by nurturing the successful groups they already have. If you really want to be mercenary about it, longer careers for idol groups mean more money for the agencies that make huge investments in their futures on the front end. Groups and the companies they work for can pace their careers over a long period of time, making the most of the loyal fanbases they take so much care in creating by keeping old fans and making new ones.
We’ve already seen this trend with successful idol groups like Big Bang, Super Junior, TVXQ! (even before the JYJ drama), and SS501 (also not disbanded!) having celebrated anniversaries beyond five years. A Shinhwa comeback means a career as an idol, not just fun job that lasts for a few years. It’s time for Hallyu to grow up and look to its future and its fans need to recognize the first generation of Hallyu groups. Ultimately, Shinhwa needs to come back to show them how its done. And who better to do it? They don’t call them legend for nothing.
soompi.com fan clubs, soompi.com
Shinhwa Celebrates Their 13th Anniversary, absoluteshinhwa.wordpress.com
What Is The Risk And Reward That Companies Have When Developing Idols, musicasia.net
SHINee, Wild Eyes, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sy059hnkUo
Lee Joon (MBLAQ), Wild Eyes, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvUz3I9tIco
After School, Wild Eyes, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVWLvQRtAO0