[August 24-30, 2014] Gaon Chart Commentary

There's still a lot of movement on the Gaon Digital chart this week which is normal, so I've come to see. I talked about how this fickleness is possibly detrimental to the industry and the acts themselves, but from a consumer's point of view this rapid changes in charts is possibly more of a good thing -- it's not fickleness, it's dynamism. Lots of movement on the chart means that people are buying, people are consuming, and that tastes are not static. There are markets for all sorts of music, and the chart needs to be fast-paced, always changing, in order to reflect all those consumers.

This also gives us insight into the kinds of material that agencies can and should be releasing. I've always been frustrated by major agencies' very limited sonic repertoires, but now I have even more reason to be frustrated. Sure, idols like SISTAR and Block B sell like hotcakes and can sustain those sales, but consumers also jump at acts like Jang Beom June or Yoon Mi Rae -- as seen by their #1 debuts last week and this week. Why not capitalize on that? This is something to think about because it basically refutes agencies' claims that non-idols or musically-outstanding songs "don't sell." They do, if their chart statistics are anything to go by. You could say that these acts are "exceptions" or special cases, but not all idol groups sell well either -- there are so, so many b or c-list idol groups that just coast along and never really hit it big. But my point is that a dynamic chart may be bad because it lacks depth, as I mentioned last week, but we also have to remember that it's a reflection of consumer tastes based on what they are given.

Four new tracks enter the top ten this week, including two entries from the lower parts of the chart -- "A Real Man" by Ailee and Swings which jumps up 19 places to #5 and "L4L" by BOBBY of "Show Me The Money" which rose 21 spots. This week's Top 2 is completely new, with SISTAR's "I Swear" and Yoon Mi Rae's "너를 사랑해" debuting on the Gaon chart at #2 and #1 respectively. Jang Beom June, who dominated last week's top ten, only keeps two of his three entries in the top ten with last week's #1 "Difficult Woman" dropping five places.

#10 Jang Beom June - "사랑이란 말이 어울리는 사람(사말어사)" (-6)

#9 SISTAR - "Touch My Body" (-1)
It seems the entrance of "I Swear" had a negative effect on "Touch My Body," pushing it one step down and closer to the "danger zone." That said, "Touch My Body" has had a comparatively outstanding chart run next to other idol releases that have followed -- it's one of the few songs in the top ten on my first chart commentary that's still here. Which inevitably leads to the conclusion that yes, sex indeed sells. I'll be very surprised though if "Touch My Body" manages to hold on for another week!

#8 Block B - "Her" (-1)

#7 BOBBY - "L4L (Lookin' For Luv)" (feat. Dok2 and The Quiett) (+21)
A comment pointed out a few weeks back that B.I.'s jump into the top 10 could have possibly been due to his elimination -- which is probably more valid than mine! I started watching "Show Me The Money" during the audition stages (because of Tablo more than anything), but by the showdown/battle stage I stopped so I didn't know that the show was at the finals already! But anyway, it's also more plausible to pin BOBBY's entrance into the top 10 on his win -- if he won during the August 24-30 week. He didn't, he won just this last week and this track was released August 21st. What we can be sure of though is that it's definitely "Show Me The Money" that prompted his entry -- another example of packaging and linking music to another form of entertainment. But I'm curious to see if he stays on the chart next week, and how his win will affect his chart position.

#6 Jang Beom June - "Difficult Woman" (-5)
Sinking five places is no joke, but I guess amidst competition from SISTAR and an OST track Jang Beom June didn't have strong enough sales to compensate. Last week I touched on Busker Busker's chart success in the past, that I've heard of yet never seen, but what made them infamous to a certain extent was the fact that they stayed on the chart for so long. I remember watching Music Bank before (when I still used to write commentaries) and seeing them week after week after week. I hope some of that chart longevity will rub off on Jang Beom June -- if he has a similar fan base, which I think he does considering his sound, then they're definitely stable enough to keep him here for a while longer.

#5 Swings and Ailee - "A Real Man" (+19)
What I've noticed over these past few weeks is that there are two extremes that can push a single into the top ten -- either it zooms straight in like a lot of major idol releases, or it makes a big, two-digit jump. Rarely has there been a song that made baby steps towards #1, or even just the top ten. "A Real Man" is one of those big jumps but one which I'm glad finally made possible its entrance into the top ten, and at a comfortable position as well -- right smack in the middle. "A Real Man" is a great song (I talked about it last week), and out of the entire top ten this week, I think it's the strongest musically. #1 isn't that far off, so I have my fingers crossed!

#4 Park Bo Ram - "Beautiful" (feat. Zico of Block B) (-1)

#3 Winner - "Empty" (-1)
I was talking about chart entrances earlier, and how they're two extremes, but the same also applies to chart descents. Some tracks, like Taemin's "Danger," completely disappear from the top 10 after the first week, and apart from chart heavyweights #1s descend to the lower parts of the chart quickly after -- or the opposite happens, a slow descent one place at a time like Block B or this WINNER track. I think this is the closest they'll get to a semblance of chart longevity -- it's not very stable but this mobility and dynamism on the chart means that while they are going down, there is a bigger possibility of rising in the chart if they manage to boost sales. It's been three weeks and WINNER are still in the top 3, that's a feat in itself and even more because they're technically a rookie group. Notice also that "Empty" is the only Big 3 entry on the chart at the moment.

#2 SISTAR - "I Swear" (new)
SISTAR at #2 isn't really a surprise, and I guess one other thing I've learned from these commentaries is the extent of SISTAR's chart power. I've always known that they were popular, but "Touch My Body"'s chart statistics are through the roof, and "I Swear" isn't doing so bad either. One possible issue that can impact "I Swear"'s chart trajectory though is the plagiarism claims over the MV, and the criticism towards SISTAR for not addressing them. (I find the "but it's a homage" reasoning extremely stupid and naive, but that's another matter all together.) That's probably going to reflect in their performance next week though, so I'll have my eye on them.

#1 Yoon Mi Rae - "너를 사랑해" (new)
When I first got into K-Pop one of the first few observations I had about the industry was that ballads are the big money-makers. There is this assumption that "if it's a ballad it must be good," possibly because of the notion that ballads are more difficult to sing and to lay ears the higher the notes you hit, the better you are. There's a lot I want to tackle with regards to this Yoon Mi Rae track, so I hope it stays on the chart for longer! But just to skim the surface -- first off, Yoon Mi Rae is primarily a rapper or a hip-hop singer. She has a gorgeous timbre, but rap and vocals, but most of the material I've heard from her has been strong, intense rap tracks. So to see her tackle a more vulnerable track, slightly cheesy even, is surprising. And I guess that's part of what has sold the song, aside from being packaged with a high-profile, hit drama. But also, I actually like the song -- I'm definitely going to listen to this again. What I'd like to see over the next few weeks though is if it can hold on to the #1 spot, or how it's going to go about a descent -- fast as in it'll be gone next week, or slow, one place at a time?


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