Shinhwa’s emotional comeback – what are the 3 secrets to Shinhwa’s longevity?
People usually turn their eyes to instant glory rather than pure honesty. Just like how we go crazy over home runs rather than stolen bases and base hits.
But rather than a brilliant play of the moment, what truly touches our hearts is steadfast persistence. Like the sense of awe that Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds made the fans feel with his record 3,562nd game appearance. In this aspect, there are no idol groups in Korea with such moving persistence and honesty. Firstly they can’t be sustained for long.
Groundbreaking singing abilities for that day and age; the originator of Big Bang’s rotation system
In this sense, the comeback of ‘longevity idols’ Shinhwa, celebrating their 14th anniversary this year, is moving in itself. Because in Korea’s music scene, where countless idol groups have come and gone within short periods of time, they have demonstrated that ‘sustainable idols’ are a possibility. Given that idol groups like g.o.d, S.E.S, Fin.K.L – who made their debut around the same period – have already disbanded, one can tell by the long period of time that they have existed and the amount of love they have received from fans.
The reasons for their consistent popularity lie in the individual members’ excellent singing abilities and star qualities. One can say that these are basic or that these are generalizations but that’s not the case.
The fact that the members have solo-worthy singing abilities was something very groundbreaking back in those days. At that time, idol groups mostly passed musical duties to the lead vocalist with the singing ability. The member who could sing became the lead vocalist, while the member who couldn’t would become the rapper and sub-vocalist – it was a period when this was the norm.
As such, it was possible for Shinhwa to market themselves differently from other typical groups. The members individually released solo albums and participated in unit activities and eventually regrouped to release group albums. The rotation system in soccer was in implementation. Just like Big Bang now.
Their rotation strategy broke the longstanding industry standard of going on hiatus after album promotions concluded. Capitalizing on the voids left by other singers who were on hiatus, they began to gather more popularity. In fact the members all have released at least two solo albums. (note: not ALL actually – Eric hasn’t released anything remotely resembling an album yet 😦 ) Especially Shin Hyesung and Lee Minwoo who have released at least 6 albums each and have received much love.
At the same time, they made use of their variety skills and acting skills in their time outside of music activities to gain more popularity. Junjin became the 7th member of ‘Infinity Challenge’; Andy received rave reviews for ‘We Got Married’; Eric took on acting with a successful debut in 2004’s ‘Phoenix’, and went on to be the leading man of dramas such as ‘Super Rookie’ and ‘Spy Myungwol’.
Change of thinking in overcoming the disbandment crisis and ‘fandom’
If innovative marketing and the members’ outstanding abilities made Shinhwa what they are today, then the strong trust between Shinhwa and their fans is the secret to their longevity.
When their contract with their management company ended in 2003, the conflict between members who received renewal offers and members who didn’t, resulted in a disbandment crisis. In the moment of crisis, rather than to get hung up over the contents of the contraact, the 6 members all chose to move to a new management company.
After that they set up Shinhwa Company to continue Shinhwa’s group activities. This is a company set up to prevent the possible disbandment of the group when members sign up with different management companies after their contract with Good Entertainment ran out. Through this decision, they lived up to the promise they made to the fans who said that they’ll watch over Shinhwa. And they’ve earned the infinite trust from the fans, that no amount of money can buy.
Looking at Shinhwa returning after 4 years, attention will naturally fall on one area – the idol groups that have ambiguously halted their activities and are technically disbanded. The members all belong to different companies and are unlikely to reunite or show no signs of reuniting, but they refuse to officially declare their disbandment and refuse to let go of their fans.
The important basic of not playing with the fans’ hearts
Even though it may not be as many people as before, but there are still fans who love the group as a group. For the fans who love the group, watching the members in their individual activities can make them feel the cruel wait even more. To the fans who like the group and not the individual members, hope can be a torture.
In this sense, the implication of Shinhwa’s comeback is huge. Because it shows us how much stronger the relationship between the singer and the fans will become when a promise made with the fans is realized. Like how the food industry doesn’t mess with food, in the music industry it must be reminded that it’s a basic not to play games with fans’ hearts.
Credits: OhmyStar + Absolut Shinhwa