Currently, Korea’s music scene is mainly dominated by idols. Like it or not, it’s an undeniable fact. Because boy bands and girl groups are driving Korea’s digital music sales, album sales, concert sales, and they are also at the centre of the rapidly expanding K-pop wave.
And at this point in time, a somewhat unique group has returned to their fans. Seeing how the members have all passed the age of 30, this group can’t really be included into the ‘normal’ category of idols as we know it. But because they began as an idol group 14 years ago, placing the term ‘idol group’ in front of their group name doesn’t seem as awkward. The group in question is Shinhwa, made up of Eric, Lee Minwoo, Shin Hyesung, Kim Dongwan, Junjin and Andy. Of course the title of ‘longest-running’ will always follow them.
6-member Shinhwa debuted in March 1998, and after a 4-year hiatus, will be staging their comeback concert on 24th and 25th March at one of Korea’s largest indoor concert venues, the Olympic Park Gymnastics Arena. With the concert, they will also be resuming their group activities. The Shinhwa members couldn’t help but had to leave their fans for the past 4 years due to military obligations.
In the world of idol groups where groups blossom and fade fast, Shinhwa holds a special place. Because Shinhwa, celebrating their 14th anniversary this year, is Korea’s longest-running idol group. The fact that they haven’t had any change of members already places them at a very lofty position in the music industry.
Now, Shinhwa’s every step will all be firsts for not just the idol world, but the music industry. Because up until now, Korea has never seen an idol group that has lasted longer than Shinhwa has. This is also one of the reasons why the music industry is so interested in Shinhwa’s next steps.
Although Shinhwa is already attracting attention in every way, the one thing that cannot be overlooked is public opinion. What people call ‘selling memories’, which is to emphasize past glories and popularity, is exactly what shouldn’t be done.
Actually, the truth is, when singers or groups popular in the 80s and 90s make their comeback, most of them rely on their past fame, rather than to get in touch with current trends or to undergo a thorough transformation. Of course the outcome is obvious. They are welcomed only by the few hardcore fans they have left, while the general masses do not pay too much attention.
This can be applicable to Shinhwa too. So what Shinhwa has to face now is to make music that cater to the teens and the early 20s, who form the largest consumer demographics in today’s music industry, and to embark on ‘-ing’* type of activities. (*note: I take it to mean activities that are relevant for this day and age)
At this point, the outlook for them is bright.
In the past 4 years, not only has the popularity of the members remained high, they have also been improving their music and performance skills, which they will be using to take on new challenges for their upcoming 10th album.
Lee Minwoo is proficient as a songwriter and a producer, Eric has demonstrated excellent rap-making skills, while Shin Hyesung, Kim Dongwan, Junjin and Andy have also released solo albums, further broadening their musical spectrum.
Based on such potential, for the title track of their 10th album, Shinhwa has chosen ‘Venus’, which is in the genre of electronica, a genre that Shinhwa has yet to try before. Electronica is currently very popular around the world, and ‘Venus’ has a melody written by foreign songwriters and lyrics penned by Lee Minwoo.
Shinhwa’s 10th album features the participation of several songwriters with distinctive personalities, including Yoon Il Sang, Kim Do Hyun who also wrote Lee Hyori’s ’10 Minutes’, Jae Chong, and Andrew Jackson who has worked with Aziatix, Britney Spears and Leona Lewis. It’s clear that Shinhwa has paid a lot of attention to the quality and popular appeal for the album.
Shinhwa has also spent 200 million won on producing the music video for ‘Venus’, putting their heart and soul into servicing the fans.
The comeback concert will also be an opportunity to reaffirm Shinhwa’s potential and development, and anticipation is high for this reason.
In the past 14 years, Shinhwa has held more domestic and overseas concerts than any other idol group, and the members would feel more at ease on stage.
Unlike other idol groups, Shinhwa’s concerts are not bound to a specific framework and enjoy greater freedom. Once the members get in the mood, they would have endless impromptu performances. It’s very common for a concert that was supposed to last 2 hours to go on close to 4 hours. This is why Shinhwa has often been said to be a group that shines even more at concerts. Based on this, Shinhwa will be able to fully demonstrate their worth at their comeback concert.
Shinhwa, who has been receiving attention in so many ways, every step they take from now on will be a first step for the music industry. Not just for their own musical development, but also for their junior idols, they have to keep evolving.
Credits: Star News + Absolut Shinhwa