[April 15, 2012] SBS Inkigayo Highlights + Commentary

Is this real life? Have I actually finished an entire weekend's worth of music show recaps for the first time since last year? Yes! Comeback week for SISTAR and 4Minute come to and end, and EXO are on to regular promotions (as in one song only) today.

Before we start though, there's something I'd like to clarify. I, personally and "professionally", do not believe in the concept of "MR Removed" videos as a basis for vocal talent and outstanding live performance. The reason why live performances can be used as a measure of ability is because anything can happen in those five minutes, and everything does happen. Compared to a studio where almost everything can be controlled, live performances are unpredictable, and it's an act's ability to perform along with, and over, those unpredictable events, that I critique on my music show recaps. The minute you tamper with any part of that performance, or any music or video file for that matter, so much can happen, and you lose a part of the original performance. And besides, I also judge performances based on the amount of variables in a given time frame. Take them away, and no considerations, and less complaints, will be made.

Now, if you watch them and personally see merit in them, I have no problem with that -- you are entitled to a choice, and you should take it. I respect you and your decision, however, when you comment on these recaps, please also take my stand into consideration, the same way I take yours in writing my recaps.

And I see we're back to lip-syncing, EXO. Before you all crawl out and correct me again, I know that this was pre-recorded last week. And yes, I have yet another complaint. EXO are a new group. We're all at the edge of our seats trying to calculate how good they are, and more importantly, how fast and how much they improve. How are we supposed to do that when the people upstairs insist on one, hiding their real, live vocals, two, keeping them in controlled environments, and three, pre-recording performances weeks before airing? Yes, we've seen them sing live. Twice. But at this stage the most important thing is that we are able to track their progress. This performance is one week old. So much has happened between then and now -- they could have improved, or not. But, nevertheless, my general comments on their performances still stand. They look robotic, and they don't look enthusiastic.

BTOB - "Insane"
The best way to improve is to keep performing, and that's what I like about BTOB -- always singing live, always trying. Though they have so many things to iron out, and their group dynamic isn't that obvious, what's obvious though is that they're trying, and if you remember, it's that same effort that made BEAST into what they are today. We'll see.

NU'EST is another group who shows effort and has managed to impress me in the process. My standards have definitely dropped over time, but honestly, all these new groups have to show me is one, consistent, actual, live vocals, and they also have to show me that they want to be on stage, that standing there is a privilege they want. It's one thing to feel that way, and I understand that everyone probably feels that way, but it's another thing to actually show it on stage. A little crack there from the guy who sang before the bridge, which also gave away the fact that this is live, but other than that, another strong performance.

Spica - "Painkiller"
Strong vocals like this really need better material, because again, while they can carry the song perfectly fine, the song still does nothing for them in return.

SISTAR - "Lead Me" + "Alone"
Judging by today's performance of "Lead Me", which was actually pretty good, I get the impression that SISTAR not only need more classy choreography, but they should move less. The set was actually really quaint, and the entire performance is much better when they just walk here and there and occasionally dance. As usual, Hyorin sounded great on both songs, and actually, "Alone" sounds a lot better live than it does recorded -- it has just that much more character and punch. Not bad, SISTAR, not bad.

4Minute - "Dream Racer" + "Volume Up"
Compared to these 4Minute performances, SISTAR's are so boring, to be honest. "Dream Racer" may not be brilliant, but it's upbeat, and the girls carry it with conviction -- you know they're enjoying it, and the smiles are genuine. And I adored the set of "Volume Up" today. Classy with attitude, like the rest of the performance. And, this is one of the few performances today, and in a long time, that actually gave me actual goosebumps, despite Hyun A's sad attempts at singing. I know, I can't believe it either, but it did.

Big Bang - "Fantastic Baby" + "Bad Boy"
Very few groups can give me goosebumps by just walking, but Big Bang are one of them. They are the definition of holding the audience in the palm of your hand, and they do it with such grace, so little effort, but so much enthusiasm. I don't even particularly like "Bad Boy", but their performance managed to make me genuinely smile for the first time since I started watching Inki today. It's so obvious that they not only show they're happy to be on stage, but they really make it look like it's such a privilege, even if they've stood on much bigger stages before. A true performer should be able to connect with an audience, even through a computer screen. I'm reminded of why I have such immense respect for Big Bang, because they really are performers in the truest sense of the word.

SHINee - "Sherlock"(WINNER)
SHINee's wins have been well-deserved, despite my neutrality towards "Sherlock" as a song. Strong, consistent, vocals, a strong performance, and so much attitude. SHINee have come to that stage where the song doesn't carry them, they carry the song, and they do it well.


  1. Lmfao.
    And the ignorance continues. You really didn't 'read' a thing I wrote in my previous posts.

    I'm sure your comment on the mr removed is to some extent in response to me so I'd like to make a few comments on it. A mr removed video is in fact removing that 'control' that a studio gives. It shows exactly how they sound at that exact moment in those 'five minutes' and the raw power of their voices. So your comment is a contradiction in itself. If a group sounds crap mr removed, the simple fact is they can't sing live. Every successful group/solo artist out there has decent to amazing mr removed performances. ie Beast, DBSK, SHINee, CN Blue.

    I can't even stand reading your reviews now, so I'm just going to stop. And I'm not just talking about your reviews on Exo. I'm talking about your reviews as a whole.

    I hope you enjoy sharing your opinions that are so narrow minded and arrogant.

  2. @Blunix - What's your deal? There are plenty of people who do not believe in the concept of MR Removed videos, and for good reasons. It's not the only thing to judge a person's live performance. It doesn't matter if you have good live vocals, if you failed to connect to the audience with little to no stage presence, then everything else falls flat. Even without it, you can still tell whether a person is lip-syncing or relying too much on the backing track.

    In the case of EXO, I've determined that they try, try to hit the bullseye but for some reason they try too hard and the arrow just simply went over the supposed target. They're focusing so much on the choreography itself that they don't even look like they're enjoying it. Ugh. Maybe I'll do a review of my own to determine my already jumbled up thoughts regarding the group.

    SISTAR - To be honest I think the reason why SISTAR don't really have much finesse on stage is that a) their choreography is really, really cheap and b) they try too hard to command the audience. People might disagree with me, but with the exception of Hyorin, the rest don't really have much stage presence. Otherwise they're quite competent.

    NU'EST - I don't really like their song, but their performance was more interesting than EXO's pre-recorded live. At least they look like they're enjoying the stage.

    BTOB - I still think they're another B2ST that Cube is shelling out of their trainees, but I like the song, and especially their live performance.

    That's the only thing I could say, I supposed since 4Minute, Big Bang and Shinee are solid performers. I expect nothing less from them.

  3. Blunix, Nicki has no obligation to you or any of this site's audience to listen to MR removed vocals. In fact, she has no obligation to respond to you or any of us. If she's so inclined, she can turn off comments here at any time and let us not speak our minds, so be glad at least that she actually bothered to answer to your butt hurt bitching. At this point, in the case of EXO, it doesn't matter if they sing live or not. You can sing pitch perfect to heaven and hell and back or you can sound a hot mess, but if you lack stage presence - or in EXO's case, you can't at least pretend that you like what you're doing - any vocal perfections or imperfections you have will be a moot point. If I wanted perfection, I'll listen to the official release on the CD. If you have imperfections on stage, then you need to both improve them and hide them through your better qualities until you master those flaws individually and as a group. EXO does neither and they make it even worse when they lack the ability to show (or at least fake) enthusiasm. I'll take a performance where they're pitchy and all over the place as long as they don't look like their faces weren't oiled to show expression before being taken off the assembly line.

    We watch lives to see live humans. How does taking the background music out make them any more credible when you can't hear how they interact with the music, the audience, or each other? How does taking the music out show us their improvements or lack thereof when MRs butcher the quality of their vocals? MRs prove nothing other than whether they're live or not -if even that- for some people. Get over it or write your own blog where you can stan your biases and not listen to anyone's opinions that differ from your own.

    Getting off the topic of EXO (who I could honestly give 2 craps about anyway), I'll talk about the perfs I did watch: 4Minute... I agree with you Nicki, they pulled it off well. My only problem is that their vocals lack power, or maybe it's my less than stellar earphones or the Inki sound system. My computer is at the highest it can go and it's hard to hear them 100%. They don't have the vocal strength to pull this song off with a lackluster sound system.

    NU'EST: Minhyun was the one who cracked :). I won't look for absolute flawlessness and effortlessness just yet from them since all but Aron are 15 and still have a while for puberty to finish widening their vocal chords. It's not like they're singing like cats being skinned and are cracking 4Minute's mirrors, lol. That said, otherwise strong performance. No complaints here. I liked them from the start and I see a good future for them as long as Pledis sticks to what they've presented them thus far and builds it stronger as they grow up.

    Big Bang: Jesus jumping on a pogo stick... Newbs: take notes. At least I got to see it once before SBS removed it. T_T *sigh*

    SHINee: To be honest, this is my first time hearing Sherlock. Once again Newbs: take notes. I have yet to hear the official, but if this is a sign of their vocals in the official, I might have to dig through my hard drive and give it an honest listen.

    SHINee and Big Bang brought their A-game. NU'EST are growing week by week. They still have some growing up to do, but they're growing into themselves well as far as this performance shows us. They don't look like Bambi in the headlights and that's a good sign already. I like how they integrate choreography from the MV to the live. It forces them to bounce off each other, which is what a group is supposed to do.

  4. @bravesierra
    I never said mr removed videos are the only things to judge a performance. And yes it doesn't matter if your vocals are good and you can't connect with audience, but what if your vocals are crap but you can connect with the audience? It works either way.
    I'm not even saying that EXO's vocals are amazing, I'm saying that a few of them, Baekhyun and D.O need to be given more credit by the reviewer because she is simply bashing the groups live singing.
    Your post to me is meaningless because you didn't clearly read and understand the points I was trying to get across. None of the points that you brought up in response to my post are relevant.

  5. Sigh. @LaurenLCD
    You again did not read my post. I couldn't care less whether she reads these or not. I simply want to voicing my opinion in response to her review. And if she were to remove these comments I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
    I repeat, I did not state anywhere in any of my posts that she was obliged to listen to a mr removed performance and I did not state anywhere that a good mr removed is the only important thing about a performance. You people really need to read and learn to understand what people are trying to get across because you're just making yourself look blatantly ignorant.

    Why don't all the people judging exo so quickly and early on in their debut ask yourselves why you are doing so? Just because they're SM artists the expectations from them are that much higher? The boys from exo are exactly the same as any other rookie from any other company. They get nervous, the feel pressured, they get tired, they need time to bond as a group, and they need time to get comfortable with being on stage and singing live. When they do get comfortable enough or at least have some time to get comfortable enough then you have more crap backing up your opinions but as of now, not you, not me, not anyone has enough knowledge about how they perform to criticize them as harshly as they are being in these reviews.

  6. Bleh, ignore that tool (sorry). You're entitled to your opinion just as much as he(?) is and your only crime was stating yours! Don't let it get you down.

    I was just reading through your old posts and was wondering if you plan to write a quarterly reports for the first quarter of 2012 like you did for 2011? I love reading write-ups like that :) also, it's old-ish now, but could you let me know your thoughts (or preferably write a review) on IU's Last Fantasy?

    Smile, you're awesome! :D

  7. You really struck a sensitive chord there, Nicole. Haha XD I honestly don't know how SM trained EXO to become the robots that they are now. Sure they have good choreo/dance skills, strong voices but there's really no charisma coming from them. No soul, no feelings, nothing. And don't even start by telling me that I don't know how they feel blah blah blah because I'm sure as hell that the only thing I can feel from their performance is disappointment.

  8. @Blunix
    Regarding MR removed videos, I think they're mostly unnecessary. If you're really listening, then you should be able to hear the voices well enough anyway. Even with a backtrack, if someone isn't singing or can't sing well, most of the time you're going to be able to tell anyway. That's what I've been able to determine from my own experience.

    Personally, I don't like listening to them because the sound is completely warped and I don't get how people can judge vocal capability from them. But, to each his or her own.

    As for EXO, sure, I don't doubt that at least some of them have talent, and yes, they're rookies, so they're probably nervous and still learning how to be on stage and perform well together. But of the performances I watched, theirs were lackluster and robotic. I'll give them some time to prove themselves, sure, but for now, it's just meh.

    And off that topic...I guess SBS is blocking everything so I haven't been able to watch most of the performances. Sad life.

  9. Blunix:
    I think you are just extremely EXO biased. You have a right to voice you own opinions and decide on what you want to believe in, however, this isn't your blog and it certainly isn't your opinion that everyone else who comes on to this site to read. We all are entitled to what we think. There are going to be things that I agree and don't agree with but I'm not going to attack Nicole because I think her opinions are crap.

    Overall, EXO is over hyped and they aren't worth a lot of people's time until they can learn to be more alive during performances. They bore me and even if some of they guys, as you claim, are doing a great job of performing live, that's about it. There isn't anything to their performance that makes them stick in my mind.

    To Nicole:
    I'm really glad that you are back to writing your recaps. You're doing a great job!

  10. Love what you are doing with the blog man!

  11. oh nicole just ignore that troll -- srsly, you doing a great job! i would like to know more abt you :)

  12. I love reading your recaps and look forward to it every week! I agree with what you've said about EXO! Even as a neutral like me, I have to say I'm not impressed at all with EXO! As a SMTOWN fan, I was actually quite excited about their debut but when I was watching their performance for the first time....I felt nothing! And I agree with you that they don't look like a group from SM - except for their materials. I remember when f(x) had their debut stage, it wasn't perfect but they did their thing! The word I have for EXO in terms of everything : DISAPPOINTING!

    Please don't let those "butthurt" comments get to you. You're brilliant! Hwaiting

  13. EXO - The problem with EXO is the song. Like how you said SHINee is carrying the song, I think MAMA is carrying EXO. It's like they're trying to keep up with the song but fall short.

  14. Nikki, you are a genius. Love your reviews; all of it. Since you are back recapping music shows, aha, my summer will be fantastic! I always make it a point during work break to read your posts, even when you were not doing the weekly shows, I missed them. Thank you.
    Exo is on hot seat, ha ha ha, whose fault? SM! It’s the producer of exo. Sm tried to market exo as such & such therefore they should have prepared them well. If sm felt before that the boys are not yet ready to debut, then by all means sm should have delayed exo’s debut. Even the high expectations of audience, that was induced by sm themselves because of the number of teasers, the 2 songs released before their official debut, one would really think that “ah, is this another shinee?”
    Being an idol is a job, a career, a professional career. You are paid for what you do. Therefore the best is expected even if sometimes mistakes are made. If what you produced is not right or not what it should be, then go back to the drawing board but NEVER keep on doing the same mistake just because you are new. In the corporate world that’s how we climb the ladder (well, that’s my opinion &/or experience).
    I remember when you criticized hyunmin (of the boss) for belting out & chopping the note the wrong way, I thought “waaaa, that was so true, hyunmin that was wrong, what are you trying to show off?” though I cheer for them, I do that with a critical ear. I don’t like mediocrity. It’s up to the boss if they want to be appreciated or ridiculed. And hyunmin, after that, performed well, up until their “lady” promotion is done. Maybe mika corrected him. Btw, when the boss debuted, they sang live & all the way up to their japan activites. I wonder when are they (BOSS) going to perform NOT live. Agh, I miss them.
    Generally, I think the boy bands (performing this week) are more interesting to watch. I see the improvements with the newer ones, happy for that. It’s just that The Boss’ comeback is delayed due to their CEO’s…… Also, glad that 4minute is doing well, hope their promotion for this album will end well, too. I miss shinhwa every inkigayo. I will miss dbsk forever.


  15. over the past few years the kpop industry has become increasingly saturated and exo giving this kind of standard i doubt they will make it and if they do it is prob because they are under sm. but still they probably would not go far either way. anyway i really like reading your reviews...just ignore those butthurt comments(= hwaiting!!!

  16. dear nikki, don't care what those butthurt ppl say..you are doing a good job!!! fighting!!!^.^

  17. i think exo-k need to relax a bit, and above all: enjoy the stage more. i'm not a vocal expert so imo exo-k vocals are pretty decent on stage for rookie standard, and i'd give credits to d.o for being the loudest and the most stable. but anyway, after watching the dance practice for "history", i can see a very big gap between them and exo-m for the dance. while exo-k movements are on spot, they're very stiff and limited while exo-m is more fluid and dynamic. not to mention that "put kai in the centre" is already too much that it sometimes ruined the flow. mix them more. enjoy the stage more. maybe they can't help for lipsynch or relying too much on backtrack, and though i hate it, i won't just go and judge them as pathetic. after all, idols are here to ENTERTAIN us with their stages, not to give us a top-notch amazing vocal work all the time -- though it'd better if they can do this at the same time. but if they can't even enjoy their own stages, look stiff and all, forget about entertain people.



Want to share any of your thoughts on the above post? Drop a comment here! I read all comments and reply occasionally, especially if you have specific questions for me. :D

Note that comments are moderated. Spam, self-advertising (K-Pop-related and otherwise) and overly vulgar submissions will NOT be accepted. If you want me to promote/endorse/follow/link to your site, please e-mail me at popreviewsnow@gmail.com instead.


Recent Tweets

Like Pop Reviews Now on Facebook!

Statistics (Since May 2009)

Music - Top Blogs Philippines Follow on Bloglovin

Blog Archive

You're reading an award-winning blog

The K-Pop Writers' Workshop

A workshop for writers of critical pieces on Korean entertainment -- formal reviews, expository essays/Op-eds, and personal essays/Creative Non-Fiction.
Learn from the best in K-Ent writing