[April 14, 2012] MBC Music Core Highlights + Commentary

And we move on to today's episode of Music Core. Music shows are getting more and more enjoyable these days, which is really good! And, surprise, surprise, MBC's sound system seems to be getting better as well. Or, they put someone better behind the system. Today's show features EXO's debut, and comebacks from 4Minute and SISTAR.

Video credit goes to shu35151224@YouTube.

EXO-K - "History" + "MAMA"
Looks like someone took my comment on them singing together too seriously, because now it's 80 percent backing track, 10 percent random mumbling in the background, and another 10 percent belting out unnecessary notes. However, the parts which weren't drowned out by the backing track were much, much, better today. There are still so many major problems with their performance though. First off, the six of them are still singing and moving for themselves rather than for EXO as a whole, and so the performance is so robotic. I believe I said this before, but they don't look like they're happy to be on stage, like it's a privilege -- they look like they were pushed on stage against their will. You don't need to smile to show joy, or prance around not caring about anything to show effortlessness, but their performance has no emotion whatsoever. Which leads me to believe that these guys aren't in it for the music, but for the popularity. And I'm extremely disturbed by that. And secondly, I was telling Ree just a while ago that pretty much all of the SM bands have a very obvious "lead singer" figure from the very beginning. While that figure can change through time (like Junsu and Jaejoong in DBSK), it is always present, and very obvious, even to the untrained ear. I don't see that with EXO. In fact, listening to them now, if I didn't know any better I wouldn't think they were an SM group. They don't move like one, they don't act like one, and they don't even sing like one either. All of this is very strange.

BTOB - "Insane"
I never thought I'd say this, but honestly, BTOB sound much better than EXO, because for one thing, at least they, or some of them, can sing their own song. Yeah sure they murdered DBSK's Love In The Ice, but EXO murdered their own song.

NU'EST fulfill one of the most important traits in a new group -- if you don't have good material, if you don't have amazing voices, at least pull of what you have, so much that you keep people's attention on you until the day you do get good material and you do become brilliant singers. And really, they pull this song off so well, that I had to do a double-take to see if they were lip-synching, which they were not. I have my eyes on you, NU'EST, you better not disappoint.

Spica - "Painkiller"
Another strong performance, however, again, I'm more concerned with what they're going to release next than I am the song they're currently promoting. These girls need an explosion of a song to show off their vocals!

Seriously, B1A4, after a disastrous singles last year, you're quickly turning into a band I'm keeping my eye on for quite a long time! They all look like they genuinely enjoy being on stage, on top of consistently pulling off a strong performance. The song matches their vocals, and they all know how to perform it as well. Pretty good, B1A4!

SISTAR - "Lead Me" + "Alone"
To answer the reactions to my comment on their performance yesterday, there are three other members in SISTAR, are there not? Hyorin is not the only member of SISTAR. But, I'm glad they didn't lip-sync Alone today. My problem with SISTAR has always been the combination of their performances and their material, and how they can never seem to pull them off with a sense of finesse. The same goes for today's performance.

4Minute - "Dream Racer" + "Volume Up"
So far, 4Minute are creaming SISTAR in terms of live performances -- from song selection to stage presence and the consistency of their vocals. The middle 8 of Dream Racer was really sloppily done, but the rest of it was pretty good. And for a second there I was really surprised at HyunA's not painful vocals, then I realized that this performance was overdubbed and double-tracked, very badly may I add. Which is suspicious because this could possibly mean that they can't pull this song off for three days straight, which will ultimately make them lose to SISTAR, who we know can pull their single off. Hmmm. We'll see.

SHINee - "Sherlock"
Strong, consistent performance today. Very effortless but accurate and snappy at the same time. Everyone sounds good, Taemin and Onew in particular. But then again, I expect nothing less from SHINee.

Shinhwa - "Venus"
A lot more stable than yesterday, but of course, performance-wise they're still consistently effortless, as individuals and as a group. They look not only like they belong on stage, but like they love being on it, they love performing. That's something new groups have to learn and take to heart, because it's one of the most important aspects of a live performance -- if you can't sell what you have, no matter how good you are people won't be convinced.


  1. I'm glad your back to doing your Music Show commentaries! :D

    In regards to EXO-Planet (in this case EXO-K), I can't say I hate them nor like them. I'm still feeling very neutral about them (I was more on "Team B.A.P" ahaaa.) I agree that, yes, they did murder their on song and really, they should be able to at least pull off their song. Choreography is no excuse because if the boys can't sing and dance yet, then minimize the dancing. Not down to nothing, but less of it so they can work on their vocals live. Trust me, its actually harder then it looks to dance and sing at the same time. Kudos to them for trying, but on the same token, they need to start on what works for them.

    Now, in regards to them not looking like a group, I have to disagree with some of your comments to that. Yes they look stiff, robotic, and distant, but despite all the teasers and what not, they're still a very new group. Some groups can debut and they actually look like a group. With others, it takes some time. With EXO, it might take some time for them to come together and trust each other on stage. Training together and performing together are two different things. Its like a basketball team. In practice they may be passing to each other and running all the plays, but when it comes to the game, they're all over the place. The plays aren't being run, the guards want to hog the ball, and posts keep kicking it out. With EXO, I would give it some time.

    Also, in regards to them not looking happy, they could either be nervous as hell or they might not like the material that they are being given. Or you might be right, they could be in it for the popularity and fame.

    I am not ready to give up on EXO just yet for some reason. Something tells me to be patient with them because they are talented, they just need a song that defines them. Not a song that could easily be sung by their seniors. I definitely like the 'alien' theme that they are trying to go for (my inner nerd.) Oh, and SM needs to stop sticking KAI everywhere. The poor kid will get so much hate, and plus, its really annoying. SM is one of those companies who love to capitalize the face -___- (I am looking at you YoonA.)

    Now on to the other acts! :D

    BTOB: They seem really scrappy, like they had no training and that CUBE just debuted them for the hell of it.

    NU'EST: Despite the weird name, you can tell that they're working hard and I do sense some talent in the group. I'll be sure to keep my eyes peeled.

    SPICA: Hands down, one of the best rookie girl groups, if not, the best so far. They have gorgeous vocals and I'm glad they're not doing ageyo. It seems like their company though is still having trouble on what image these girls should go with. Personally I liked Russian Roulette better, it was more spunkier.

    Sistar: Seriously, the need a new stylist, I practically hate most of their outfits. The outfits look more cheap then their performance. But personally, I like their energy on stage. The girls are really energetic! But Hyorin needs a solo career, I swear her talents are being wasted in SISTAR. Mind you, Alone is a step up from their previous single, but its still bland for me.

  2. Tbh, I was just waiting for Suho of EXO to do his thing since he's the only who seemed to connect with the audience.

  3. I think the reason EXO-K don't look like a group is because they aren't a group yet. The other half of their group is EXO-M, and they haven't figured out how perform without them yet.
    They're basically promoting as a sub-group . . . but they're rookies who have never been on stage before. So it's all new to them. Which was stupid of SME, but there you have it.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Your review on Exo makes me laugh, really. Before I address your post, I'd just like to say that you should do your research on the condition of these boys before you critique ever little thing about their performance. :) Now moving on to the actual details of your post.
    Firstly, go listen to a mr removed of this performance and then come back here and tell me that '80% of it was backing and the other 10 was mumbling'.
    Secondly, can you not see the sweat pouring off of these boys? They are giving it their all for these performances, every one of them for every debut performance they've done this week have been sweating like there's no tomorrow and you can still sit there and type that you don't think they're in it to perform but rather in it for the popularity and fame? I really don't understand your logic here. And I definitely dont thing you have any right to judge and assume that they're not passionate about performing after what? 1 week of performing live? This also tells me that you really haven't done your research on each of the individual members because I can tell you now that every single one of them are more than 100% passionate about what they do best whether it be singing, rapping or dancing.
    And thirdly, if you do take the time to watch the mr removed you can entirely change that part about not having a prominent singer in the group, baek hyun was almost flawless during his solo parts and d.o despite being nervous has a very strong voice.

    Addressing the 'dancing issue' where are these problems that you see with their dancing? Please be more specific when critiquing.

    And I guess that is all I have to say, if you don't agree in the slightest with even just one thing I have said above then all I can say is, haters gonna hate. :)

  6. Blunix: What qualifies me? Who am I? I spent eight years performing in one of the most prestigious children's' choirs, I grew up seeing my dad work with some of the biggest acts in popular music. My parents are art theory professors at the country's premiere university, I grew up with music. So don't you dare question my validity. And second, this is a critique of their performance. Yes, I know that behind the scenes they probably like what they're doing and they want to be in music, but I said that they don't LOOK like it. They don't give off the impression that it's what they want to do, and that's where I see the problem. It's as if they're hiding their enthusiasm, which I don't like.

    And please, stop telling me to listen to MR removed performances, because I have perfectly fine ears.

  7. I don't get it why people is attacking Nicole here --v

    HEY, this is her review and if you don't like the way she thought you should make the review yourself. Yeah, her review are sometimes too strong or harsh, but that's the fact. Can't Exo fans accept it? Gosh, she knows about music and not just commenting without thinking with her head.

    And I'm pretty much agree with her review. Not that they don't have passion, but they don't seem like they have passion for music but for popularity. Since the first time, I thought that EXO is a little bit overrated (but they do have talents) when Nu'est is really underrated.

    Go Nicole!

  8. Eh, where did my comments go? sorry if I posted it twice

    I really don't get it why people are attacking Nicole :O This is her review and if you don't like her way of thinking then go make the review yourself.

    This review is written by someone who knows music, not someone who just saying rubbish things about a group. And I believe that she doesn't have a hearing problem.

    Pretty much, I agree with her review. EXO do have talents, but they can't show it yet through that song. And the facts that they're a little bit overrated while Nu'est is really underrated are true.

  9. Lol a few EXO fans are a little butthurt.

    I partially agree with a few of your opinions regarding EXO, and some of it I disagree. If we take off the fact that they are overhyped with their 23 teasers and a showcase, and if my expectations weren't so high, they are still practically a new group. Group dynamic isn't something that can be worked overnight. Right now the problem that we see in their lives is that they're more focused on trying to hit the notes rather than trying to balance each others' weaknesses on stage. And I personally find their lives no better than yesterday. The one thing that caught me off guard about the Music Bank performance were their efforts. Sure they were bad, I mean REALLY bad, in fact it was probably the worst performance I've seen out of the SM artists that have debuted to this day. But most rookie groups, even veterans, don't sing the chorus of their song and add harmonization, and I thought their efforts as such were commendable (I was particularly impressed with Suho who sang the harmonization during the chorus). It was a failed attempt, but they tried. I thought the only reason their Music Core performance looked a little better was that they didn't use handheld mics this time, and so it was easier for them to execute their choreography on stage.

    I still think there's hope and improvement since it's very apparent some of them are very talented. They just need to get their act together.

  10. @People who say I'm 'hating' on her. I'm not hating on her, I'm simply stating that she is in fact being ignorant about the boys.

    You say you're critiquing the performance when you're clearly critiquing the group as a whole. For example, saying that you wouldn't think that they're a SM group etc. And no I don't think your hearing is fine, you're not hearing how well the three main singers are singing in these performances.

    TBH, I don't really care about your background in music, I didn't ask you to tell me what qualifies you, I asked you tell me what right you have to judge the real motifs behind why they perform. Its totally different to what kind of qualifications you have in music. And honestly it doesn't matter if you have a heavy musical background, you still have no right to question whether they enjoy what their doing because you don't know them and you certainly don't know what they've been through to get to where they are today. It's just plain rude.
    Please, I never questioned your 'validity'.

    @ Yoochun
    I'm simply stating my opinion on her review and trying to make her see that she has nothing to back up some of the things she has said so telling me accept it or go make my own review is stupid.

    I know how I feel about the group and instead of judging a nervous, rookie group that has performed live twice by those two performances I'm going to keep my mind open and hold back on what I really think about them until they have had time getting use to being in the spotlight and on stage

  11. I agree with nikki’s review regarding the exo-k performances. What we see on stage is what we get. Even if we sweat, if we sweat wrong, then it is still wrong. Idol group’s rehearsals should result to excellent performance or at least somewhere near the target level of performance. But if the outcome is cringing, the group members should know about it or at least have a feel that something is not right. Then practice again until you see the semblance of what you want to achieve. Sm should above all see that exo is not achieving what it was bragging about in their teasers and media print promos & help the boys how to fix the stage performance-related problems. Let’s not forget, boybands have practiced &/or rehearsed months before debut so instead of offering many excuses, just practice and come up on stage again but better this time. What is so hard about that, if you are truly a musically talented group? That is why in kpop, I have very few favorite bands (shinhwa, dbsk, the boss, beast, shinee, b.e.g, spica)
    Actually, I downloaded the exo showcase & perf videos but I don’t know, I can not finish them, I get bored; even though I like the songs. I would rather play the songs than watch them performing the songs. Isn’t it weird? So when I read nikki’s review of the exo boys, I was surprised because I felt & perceived exactly the same. I was sooooo excited and truly waited for their debut but…… **sigh**
    Nikki’s reviews may sometimes be too forward (not for fanatic fans to read) but this is the same reason why I come here everyday to read her articles (liked Blush a lot, thanks for introducing them here) because nikki goes for QUALITY and not “oppa! Oppa! you’re handsome, I love you” kind of thing. That’s the kind of comments you see on youtube 99% of the time. And just like Nikki, I too was a member of a singing group so i also have fine ears. Actually my ears are a bit sensitive, even half a note, if it’s off, I can tell. So yes, I cringed on “that” exo high note. (nikki, you may want to watch x-5 performance on 111209 dangerous at 00:36, it will make your day, he he he. But haewon redeemed himself quite a bit on 111210 @ 00:44 I guess)
    Sistar – sounds only Hyorin with her 3 or 2 backup dancers, he he he. I hope the other girls will practice more to sing well live. Like the song though. Thank you for the space. Go go go!


  12. At the anonymous above me.
    You do realize, you've unintentionally insulted '99%' of korean pop music fans? Every single fan has moments where they simply want to express and show that they find their idols attractive. But let me tell you now. Those idols didn't just 'get' fans because they are physically attractive. They earn their fans through showcasing their talent, charms, personality etc. 'Handsome' is a word that not only means attractive physically, it means attractive full stop. Do you only find people handsome if they are good looking?
    Just because you were a member of a singing group it doesn't give you any more right to say that the group's rehearsals did not pay off, or that they're cringe worthy. There are plenty more factors involved in performing and since you were part of a singing group, you should know that more than anyone. Singing on its own is completely different to singing while dancing, with the pressure of representing one of the leading entertainment companies in South Korea and also with hundreds of thousands of fans watching your every move, oh and also add on the potential haters and criticism that is magnified that much more just because they're an idol.

    After browsing your blog a bit, its funny how arrogant you are just because of your background in music. It's almost like your background is what gives you the right to criticize music how you like. If your background is so great, why not go somewhere bigger and better with it instead of sitting behind a computer screen criticizing those who chased their dreams. There are more talented people in the world with heavier backgrounds in what they love and are passionate about and they most certainly don't criticize others in their own field like this. Seriously, it makes me sick reading some of the things you write.


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