Every week, kpop (foreigner) fans camp in front of their computer either to stream the weekly live music programmes’ broadcasts -mainly Mnet, MusicBank (MuBank), Inkigayo (Inki)- or to wait for some other fan to post a video of the live performance on Youtube. (guilty as charged) And i’m sure Korean fans do something of the same routine, just because as good fans, we all have to put our idols’ MV or live performances on repeat in Youtube.
Because kpop idols’ -and artistes- pretty much use the weekly music programmes for promotion of their songs, the live performance become a key factor to their success. Many a times, fans will go through the steps of checking out a new group, and if they like what they see, they move on to the live performances before finally proclaiming themselves a B2uty, Baby, Sones (all fan club names) or whatever. Due to these weekly music programmes, kpop artistes can no longer hide behind the perfect MV or perfect sound engineered audio to win the hearts’ of kpop fans. Today, i look at the criteria that a kpop idol or idol group need to have or do to fulfill a (almost) Perfect Live Performance.
1. Performance Outfits
No matter the style of the band; whether hip hop, rock, manly, outfits chosen for idol groups can go terribly wrong if not picked properly. From wardrobe malfunction to ugly clothes (that make even the most good looking guy look bad), colour scheme has got to be one of the most important factor that decides it.
My recent outrage over performance outfits has got to be B.A.P’s first week of comeback for their song ‘Power’. Did you see the pants they wore for their first comeback stage? What.the.hell (pun intended) was their stylist (nicknamed chocolate if you’ve watched Tadah! It’s bap) when she gave them those overly torn pants that were revealing a bit too much of their thighs. The black jackets over a shirt did not do anything to savage their situation but only made it worst. For that whole week, I dreaded their outfits. Everything about them shouted ‘budget’, the boys were literally dressed in rags. Given that their choreography was already so complex, having them wore simpler outfits would have made it better to watch.
Another horror outfit (or lack of) would be Sistar’s (always) ultra short skin-tight dresses. In this case, it’s not the atrocity of the clothes but more the things they had to do with those kind of clothing on. Oh Gawd.
Someone call the fashion police! Ass.needs.cover.now
We know that B.A.P suffers from bad enough fashion when there’s a whole article on that: http://seoulbeats.com/2012/06/bad-fashion-b-a-p/
Why can’t we just have the simple but nice clothing like what INFINITE has on.
With countless performances every week, it’s no wonder idol groups suffer from bad clothing because their stylists run out of ideas or alternatives just to ensure they do not repeat clothings. Seriously, i rather you repeat GOOD clothing then take out the bad ones to make up for lack of variety.
Now this lies more on the broadcast stations than the idol groups, so it’s pretty much left to luck (or lack of). However, how the idols handle it is entirely up to them, especially mid-way through their performances. From dropping microphones to the microphone pack (they clip to their clothes) flinging around because of their dancing, but the most common would be problems with the microphone. As of today, fans have the most confident in Music Bank’s microphones because this broadcast station is known amongst fans for not allowing artistes to lipsync. So, as long as we have artistes that have no problems performing live, we know that as long as all goes well, their live would be close to perfect.
Choreography can be first split into two groups: girls’ vs. boys’ (not forgetting good vs. bad). For females’ choreography, the main concept would usually be cute, sexy or just…. In-between? The same usually applies for guys except without the sexy, which could be replaced by powerful? Either way, choreography can make or break the performance. Compared to MVs, we get to see whole choreographies during live performances, thus they play a pretty big part in determining its success. One of the recent ‘new’ problem of a recent choreography would be B.A.P’s Power. The choreography is cool, fierce and unique, but using it for a live performance just seems a tad too much. I’m not sure if it’s because the stage is too small or the setting of the stage doesn’t work, or it’s just their outfits. Either way, it was the first time i thought a choreography was too intense.
Other more recent cringe-worthy choreography could be f(x)’s recent release ‘Jet’. Those flying movements could be scrapped.
4. Lip sync/Singing
Yes, this is the biggest problem i have with. In the past, when the Hallyu Wave as strong as it is now, it was pretty common and expected for idols to lip sync during live performances. Now, because of the past criticisms against lip syncing, most idol groups have chose to (or don’t have a choice but to) sing ‘live’. Because of the huge amount of groups in the kpop market, it is almost a given that idol groups who can’t sing live automatically falls under the category of ‘lousy’. Why listen to lousy singers when there are better ones is the most common mindset, and i cannot agree more. Sadly, due to certain reasons, it seems as if the trend of lip syncing has came back especially for a certain entertainment company (you know who you are). Apparently, this company thinks that because they have amazing promotional skills, their idols can get away with lip syncing during some live performances, but i doubt that’s a good idea to stick to. Sooner or later, people may give up on that group and move on to better groups. Anyway, lip syncing was and still is a major turn-off for me. It’s true that idols are still humans and we can’t expect them to be at their best condition all the time, but i do appreciate the effort, and lip syncing is just a no-no for live performances.
Lip sync for your debut? Not. Cool.
5. Stage Presence
This factor is essentially one of the most difficult to attain 100% success. Why so? Because it’s not just about hard work. When thinking of normal non-idol human beings, some people just have charisma and some just function as wall flowers. Stage Presence, or charisma, is probably one of the most important thing an idol needs to have. What is an idol going to do if he just blends into the crowd when he needs to stand out. I think this probably contributes to this factor but somewhere along the evolution of the kpop industry, it seems a must to have the skill of looking at the right camera at the right time because it is a television broadcast after all, and i guess idols are suppose to try to connect with the television viewers through the camera lens? Exo-k can be seen attempting to do that in the above video. It seems kind of funny when you see them trying a bit too hard to do that.
All in all, perfecting a live performance is a feat that can’t be done by everyone. A few groups that come to mind when you say ‘perfect live’ would have to be groups like BEAST, Big Bang, Infinite, 2am and other more older groups.
The above criteria is in no order of ranking and is purely just my opinion.