Super Junior fanatic ‘Cream’ has a few things to say about Super Junior’s 2012 comeback, and they’re not all positive. Actually, most of them aren’t. Read her op-ed about why she thinks Super Junior should take it down a notch this year.
written by: Cream
I wish I could say I am excited for Super Junior’s comeback, but I’m not.
Instead, I am wishing to dear Shisus that they decide to re-think the release of their 6th album this year because I think it’s really just a last half-baked, desperate attempt at wrangling the fans for their money doing anything before they have to get shipped off to the army, one by one. But before someone calls me a hater, I want to explain my love affair with the boys.
Super Junior weren’t the group that pulled me into K-Pop, but they definitely were the ones that made me stay. If you asked me three years ago who the K-Pop kings were, I would ask you if that really was a question. They were my favourite boy band for the longest time. I used to have 5+ GB of their pictures on my hard drive! When I visited Hong Kong for two years, all I bought were magazines with Super Junior’s gorgeous faces on them. I even turned my brother into an SJ fanboy. I made my parents listen to Super Junior-M in the car during our road trips. Even my friends knew not to interrupt me in the middle of my Super Junior spazzes because any attempt would be futile. The thing is, my once insane love affair has now faded. Things aren’t exactly working out in this relationship, and I thought hard about what it was, and narrowed it down to one thing: Super Junior is trying too hard.
I’m saying this because I love them. I want the good ole’ Super Junior I fell in love with back, but I’m not holding my breath right now, and here’s why:
1. Super Junior’s latest work is outdated
As a group, I think Super Junior’s last really good run was during their 3rd album and follow-up promotions. Sorry Sorry and It’s You are two of their best hits ever, and they really helped the group spread the Korean wave (i.e, Hallyu). My being a fan is the perfect example.
Before 2009, I thought Asian pop music (with the exception of C-Pop, because I’m Chinese and have the benefit of understanding everything) was full of guys looking like wannabe super saiyans from Dragon Ball, and made an effort to shy away from it. It was just too weird for me. If I had been exposed to K-Pop when Super Junior was doing their Don’t Don promotions, I don’t think I would be listening to the genre today. Instead, I got hooked on Sorry Sorry. It was catchy, it had new sounds that even my mom could bob her head to, and the dance was (and is) legendary.
Sorry Sorry was 2009.
It’s 2012 now, and the two albums since then have been their attempts at copying that kind of success, but with the same damn formula.
Fans have expressed that they’re sick and tired of seeing SuJu dancing in oddly lit boxes. They’ve been doing so for the past three years. Their musical direction hasn’t changed much, either. Yoo Young Jin has been giving Super Junior and their fans Sorry Sorry knock-offs for two years now, and I bet the upcoming single is going to be something alone those same lines. And that’s the thing – Super Junior hasn’t given us anything new, and it’s hard to believe that that’s all SME wants to do with them. I’m not asking for an amazing, mind-blowing album because SM artists aren’t famous for their coherent and mind-blowing albums. I’m just asking for something that isn’t a different version of something that belongs in 2009.
Of course, there are some things that I have to consider. For example, it’s somewhat common knowledge that Super Junior has little artistic direction compared to, say, almost every other seasoned K-Pop group out there. While that might have been the case a while ago, I don’t think that’s true now. I know that they have more say now because, in their Bonamana repackaged album, a couple of the songs were written and produced by the members. Donghae and Eunhyuk surprised me with their song, A Short Journey. Henry, while part of the M subunit, was involved with the production of at least one of the Super Junior albums of the past couple of years. I know SM governs their musical output, but at the same time, their position in the company isn’t exactly a low one either. It’s frustrating that they aren’t making decisions that fit their position at this point.
2. They’ve been on a decline for a while
There’s something to be said about Super Junior’s resilience. For a group that’s been around for over 6 years, they’ve been through more than their fair share. First, they had to deal with being the token stragglers of SM Entertainment (something that they took and eventually used to become one of the most successful groups that SM has produced to date). And as unfortunate as the car accident was that left Kyuhyun clinging for his life, it brought the group and their fanbase closer together, and I think their solidarity really shone through in their following albums. But as you start stacking one scandal after another, and you have a beaten Super Junior that is tired and broken.
It’s sad that I can almost pinpoint the moment that SuJu started to decline, structurally. It started with their ghost member Kibum missing out on all Super Junior activities and it really got rolling when Han Geng left. A combination of speculations, bad publicity and a drunken brawl here and there has left the group worse for wear. They’ve picked themselves back up, but barely, and it makes me wonder how much more they can endure as such a massive and massively popular group before realizing that maybe they should chill out for a bit.
3. They’re not aging gracefully
Super Junior have been on the scene for over 6 years, and they still show no sign of letting up. Their oldest member (and leader), Leeteuk, is heading into his thirties and he still hasn’t gone to the army yet. Super Junior is holding on to everything they possibly can in order to stay relevant, as if they’re not everywhere already. As I see it, they don’t need a new album to put them on the map. They don’t need all the extra things to do because two different concert tours, a handful of musicals, OST recordings, radio gigs, MC gigs and a whole crapload of other things is plenty enough to deal with as a fan. They aren’t sprite rookies. They’re seasoned veterans that already have a lot going on, not to mention a national obligation placed on the back burner.
It really is time for Leeteuk to serve his military service. What is he trying to hold on to this late in the game? I thought that Bonamana was his last album. Is this album another last hurrah? Is it Kangin’s comeback album? What is it? The whole thing just reeks of desperation. It’s like Super Junior is afraid that if they don’t rope in something, anything, they’re going to end up with nothing. But what are they afraid of? ELF is the second largest fanbase in the world, after Cassies. The fans aren’t going anywhere. On the contrary, I think that if they all lay low, do their own thing, quietly serve their army service time, they might actually get more fans in the long run. Legendary groups span generations. Take Shinhwa, for example. They’ve been around for 14 years now, and I bet the girls that loved them over a decade ago are sharing their love for them with their youngsters now. My old roommate grew up with Shinhwa and she shared some of their old school hits with me after Venus, just for old times sake.
Unless the Super Junior members themselves believe that they don’t have what it takes to be a mainstay in the music industry, I don’t see why they’re releasing an album now, of all times.
So there you have it. My three reasons why Super Junior just needs to stop. I like to think I’m not a batshit insane fan anymore, and am looking at this from a constructive angle. As a fan, I think it’s the best thing I can give them. I’m not trying to bash them, or dump a whole load of unwarranted criticism on their shoulders. The thing is, I know that when they come back, their single is going to be a hit on the charts, not because of how great it sounds, but because of the sheer number of fans that are going to empty their pockets at music stores and spam Soribada and Melon music portals.
Sure, getting all-kills on the charts is pretty impressive, but to get it because of the number of blind supporters you have, and not because of your musical prowess shouldn’t really be considered a true achievement for a group as seasoned as they are. I want them to work out the issues in the group, explore different sounds, and never ask Yoo Young Jin to compose for them ever again (unless it isn’t a Sorry Sorry rehash). I know they’re trained to pull tricks out of their asses like Kai pulls teasers out of his, but by the time an artist is at their sixth album, I would hope that a bit more care and attention was put into it. If they keep going on, it’s going to turn into a train wreck, at least for me.
It really all boils down to this: If it’s real quality you’ve got, I’m willing to wait.