YG Fans Get Wolfed, Yet Again

 

Wolfed: verb. To feel utterly let down and gypped by an idol’s lackluster and long awaited comeback.

Though not an official term, it seems very fitting when taking into account YG’s activities or lack thereof over the past few months. The most current examples of this are iKON’s first two songs in their three month long debut with “My Type” and “Rhythm Ta”. Similar to the circumstance surrounding Exo’s Wolf, iKON debuts after many many months of anticipation with a mediocre, run-of-the-mill song that leaves so much to be desired.

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Through three reality shows fans have watched the members of iKON and Winner form into the groups they are today and still I have to wonder, what did they learn during training? Since 2013, fans have been anxiously waiting for iKON to debut with the explosion of talent and amazingness that YG had been bragging about for two years but when their “warm up single” dropped in September many fans, including myself, were underwhelmed but hopeful that their “real debut” in October with half of their debut album, would be better. Unfortunately it wasn’t. There didn’t seem to be any improvement between “Climax”, the song they wrote for Who is Next, and “Rhythm Ta” and the only thing that changed was the addition of Chanwoo.

 

To add a bit more context, two summers ago YG released teaser after teaser with the line “Who is Next” leading up to his newest survival show reminiscent of Big Bang’s survival show. The initial concept was Team A and Team B would battle for the chance to debut. The winning team would debut as soon as the show ended and the losing team would be reworked and potentially not debut for another few years. Fans would get a chance to vote for the team they wanted to win and whether because of talent or age, Team A won.

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In true YG style, Winner’s debut was delayed until August of the following year with a decent, though solid album that many Inner Circles found underwhelming. Comments claimed the album was boring, it had too many ballads, or it just wasn’t what many fans had in mind. But regardless of the criticism, Winner got #1 on Inkigayo on their debut stage and sold over 80,000 copies. But then, there was silence. They fell into the habit of YG artists:  come out with a sold song, do great numbers, then disappear like ghosts for a year or longer to build up an obscene amount of anticipation (or become flat out forgotten). Winner promoted only on Inkigayo and M!Countdown for a few weeks before going to Japan for a tour, something very few idols do on their debut stage. Then after October 10th, they went back into the YG basement to work on solo projects and a sophomore album.

winner debut album

 

With their solo projects came Song Minho’s Show Me the Money appearance in season four. Already being an idol with a good sized fanbase, there was a huge target placed on his back that many contestants took advantage of. Potentially staged for higher ratings, Black Nut became the villain of the show who constantly brought up the fact that Minho is indeed a YG idol as if that immediately discredited him. This narrative was also showcased with Bobby and B.I in season three so many fans tuned it out because as Black Nut said himself “Minho’s going to win anyways.” Minho met criticism a few times during the season but one that distinctly comes to mind was his use of Taeyang in the semi-finals. Some fans thought it was unfair because Taeyang has such a huge following by himself that it tipped the scales in some way. But of course, amongst all that criticism, Minho couldn’t win because that would be too predictable, so he came in a respectable second place to placate viewers. This is of course slight different from Bobby’s win in season three.

During the previous season Bobby flew slightly under the radar with very little “idol” criticism at first, most likely because of B.I. Also, as one contestant pointed out in an interview, rappers who started drama were given more screen time and since B.I had the biggest target on his back, he got to be the center of most of the drama.  Not too differently from Seventeen‘s Vernon in season four, B.I was the targeted idol while Bobby got to slide right on by for the first few episodes. Hopefully for season five Show Me the Money writers come up with a new narrative because there are quite a few parallels and it’s getting boring.

One month after Winner’s debut, YG released his second survival show ‘Mix & Match‘, in which six trainees competed to debut with three confirmed members from the previous Team B of ‘Who Is Next?’. Fans again spent nine episodes voting and cheering and hoping for the boys they thought would compliment B.I, Bobby, and Jinhwan the best. Even with the cute “American anecdotes” YG’s staff added into the beginning of the show, I have to slightly scoff at their claims of the boys bringing something new to the table and being incredibly talented. I have to clarify that I don’t think iKON is a bad group, I just think that the level of hype that has been placed around this group and the amount of intense marketing YG has invested into them doesn’t match the product that was delivered.

“Rhythm Ta” is extremely redundant and cliche with a nice beat vaguely reminiscent of GDYB’s “Good Boy”. In short, the song is okay, their debut was okay and their video was okay if you don’t have epilepsy, but it wasn’t to the level that was expected. The song is not only unoriginal but sounds like an early Big Bang throw away. But from the group that claimed they “will climb the mountain that Big Bang couldn’t,” it seems quite fitting.

With over two million YouTube views in less than seventy-two hours and their first Inkigayo win on their debut stage, it’s easy to feel like I’m alone in not worshipping all that YG releases. In all honesty, the YG stamp and their fandom will get them farther than any amount of talent possibly could and potentially make them more arrogant than their predecessors. The quote “you can’t teach talent but you can teach confidence” comes to mind. With the amount of praise these boys are getting for mediocre quality work and receiving sixty percent of their album sales (if rumors are correct), along with them having no break-even-point to reach, I don’t see them getting better.

I’m most likely going to get in trouble for saying this but the idea behind the break-even-point is supposed to not only insure the company gets their money back on their investment but also as a carrot on a stick if you will. It’s a slight push to work harder, don’t rest on other people’s laurels, and you are man not God. So without that, these teenagers are making a whole lot of money in a short amount of time off of YG’s brand, Big Bang’s support, and a lot of fan / company worship. I would be more surprised if they weren’t arrogant and spoiled under those conditions.

 

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But thankfully they are not the only ones to receive a catapult into stardom thanks to the YG logo and Big Bang. 2ne1, or rather, CL ,has received that same hammer throw into the spotlight. From “The Leaders” with G-Dragon and Teddy all the way up until now, CL has be the undisputed princess of YG. With less than mediocre rap skills, an amazing amount of flawless makeup, and the confidence YG, Teddy, and many other individuals instilled in her she comes out as “The Baddest Female,” sort of. She’s the leader, main rapper, and lead vocalist in her four member group and stands out so far that they were introduced as CL and 2ne1 on America’s Next Top Model without many fans being surprised.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdJNtpNgA-M

A few years ago, many said she’s the female G-Dragon but GD has way too many writing credits to his name. YG also allowed the other members of Big Bang to stand proudly on their own two feet with successful solo careers, unlike 2NE1 so far, so a more accurate comparison might be that she’s the female B.I. Even with her supposed American debut that has been anticipated for over a year, there’s still no product outside of two horrendous features on “Dr. Pepper” and  Skrillex’s “Dirty Vibe.” Fans are praying this is not the image she’s debuting with but still, there seems to be more interest on YG’s part of making a name for her and G-Dragon in the fashion world and among celebrities than actually making music. I’m not sure the implication on that but the fact that CL hit American theaters through her best friend Jeremy Scott’s movie and has beem seen at a plethora of fashion shows alone speaks volumes to the state of 2NE1 and where YG’s allegiance lies with their group as well.
I want to be a fan and I want YG artists to do well but I’m not going to blindly worship a group or a company that doesn’t respect it’s fans and just throws out something every now and then to placate them. In other words, they need to step it up and not just with iKON, but I feel like that’s not possible with:

  • how well “Welcome Back” is being perceived,
  • how CL has a near religious level following,
  • VIPs having to put up with whatever season Big Bang is waiting on to debut their most likely last album before enlistment and
  • Winner’s sophomore album which will most likely still be overshadowed
  • Lee Hi, the monster rookie of 2012 being not only flat out forgotten since it’s almost been three years since “Rose” but then being used as a prop to promote iKON and,
  • this one of a kind, life-changing girl group he’s spent eons creating that no one has heard anything concrete about.

It’s understandable that through YG’s system of “delay, delay, delay…here, take this” fans will simply be happy that they’re favorite group is debuting or performing, but fans should require more, in both quality and quantity. Can iKON do better? I hope. Can they try harder? Maybe. But if YG continues to treat their idols like deities and spoiled children, there’s no room for growth and improvement. There should be a happy medium between praise and criticism but in a world that sees constructive criticism as “hating” that’s not likely to happen. iKON are going to continue to rest on the laurels that YG and more importantly Big Bang have laid for them until some says enough is enough.

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Of course Big Bang isn’t without fault with their growing gap between Alive and MADE. As the men who pretty much made YG as big of an entertainment company as they are today, I expected more. This recent MADE series is still not finished yet since there is still no album two months after it was supposed to be released and a full five months after it was announced. It’s true that marketing sells a lot more than substance ever could but that doesn’t meant it should be that way. The MADE series got worse and worse with “Loser” being the greatest of the songs released and it going down hill from there, but the sales got higher and higher then led to no album at all.

There’s no such thing as punctuality in YG’s world and fans seem to somehow be okay with that. Every debut and promotion that is announced is always “soon” or it’s “being worked on” but whenever he speaks about it, it’s never ready which is very frustrating to fans. Either YG is most intense perfectionist of all time or he has the worst time management skills of all time. I’ll let the reader decide that one. But it can not go unnoticed how he seems to work on no clock at all, under no pressure at all, and still get all-kill after all-kill and take the charts hostage at every promotion even when other idols come out with better songs. It’s completely mind-boggling.

Since Big Bang was the group that got me into kpop, I genuinely hope they come out with better stuff and I hope the same for iKON, Winner, and 2NE1 though I’m not a huge fan of theirs. No fan deserves to get wolfed. The time and energy put into waiting and hoping for a comeback by your favorite idol just to get something so plain is upsetting especially when you know they might not comeback for a long time with YG is upsetting. It, ironically enough, has no climax. The song is flaccid. Fans have been waiting for three years for the monster rookie to return and over four years for the debut of this new girl group and yet there’s still absolutely nothing. This needs to be changed, quickly.

This long rant was not meant to bash iKON or YG or any YG idols but to bring to light an issue between YG’s nepotistic and clearly undeserving special treatment of iKON along with iKON’s frustrating mini album that is merely resting on the selling power of YG’s name. If the quick increase and decrease in YG’s stock is any indication, this change might actually be on the rise. Hopefully, this will inspire YG if not his newest rookie idols to try a little harder.
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