[August 31-September 6, 2014] Gaon Chart Commentary

Before anything else, notice anything new with a blog? Yes, I finally have a .com domain -- you can now access Pop Reviews Now via popreviewsnow.com! It's long overdue I know, and I really have to thank Cody, a friend and long-time reader for all her help! I guess now's the right time to move forward even more, now that I've figured out how I'm going to blog more or less full-time again.

This week's Gaon digital top ten features new entries from Jay Park, Gary and Jung In, Iron of Show Me The Money 3, Ladies' Code, and Adam Levine, the only foreign artist in the top ten. WINNER and Park Boram sink lower to numbers 7 and 8, while Block B and SISTAR's "Touch My Body" drop off the top 10 completely. This week's #1 single is Yoon Mirae's "I Love You," and a correction to last week's Gaon chart was made -- SISTAR's "I Swear" was #1, goes down one place to #2 this week.

#10 Adam Levine - "Lost Stars" (+14)
Adam Levine's entrance pushed me to make a decision -- whether to stick with recaps of the over-all chart, or shift to the domestic chart. I think the fact that I'm talking about this makes my choice clear. It's common knowledge to anyone who has seen a Korean music chart like Gaon, at any given time, that domestic releases dominate -- I was told by an industry insider once that it's normal to have only two or three foreign acts on the chart. This is very telling of the strength of Korean music and maybe even the industry model (which still has its flaws) -- or possibly the strength of the relationship between charts such as Gaon and the producers. But back to Adam Levine. It's even more interesting because from what I hear, Maroon 5 is extremely popular in Korea (subject to correction, but that's what I've heard!). Add the fact that this is for a movie soundtrack, and it's not really surprising that it's the first and only foreign act on the top 10 since I started writing these commentaries. What's slightly surprising though is that "Begin Again" premiered in Korea on August 13th -- and it took this long for the single to climb. Usually I attribute "fast promo" methods like movie tie-ins to equally fast chart trajectories -- go in high,  sink after the first week. Long-term promotions are more like music shows or sixteen/eighteen-episode dramas.

#9 Jay Park - "So Good" (new)
It's very telling of the fact that I didn't used to pay attention to charts that I always thought Jay Park kind of just laid low on them. But apparently, I was wrong. I hardly follow Jay Park either, save for a few singles and some tracks my friends recommended, but I really liked "So Good" when I first heard it -- it's another one of those songs that I can't remember why I checked out. So it's nice to see it on the chart, debuting at a comfortable, albeit a bit precarious, place. Let's hope it stays on a bit longer than my other favorites from the last few weeks. (Ailee and Swings T_T)

#8 Winner - "Empty" (-5)

#7 Park Bo Ram - "Beautiful" (feat. Zico of Block B) (-2)

#6 Jeong In and Gary - "Bicycle" (new)
Either a lot of rapper-singer collaborations are making their way into the Gaon top 10, or there are just a lot of them to begin with. It's easy to see why they're successful though -- combining two fan bases (regardless of whether they're idol-level dedicated or not) means selling double, and there will also be people who are interested in the actual combination/collaboration. The rule of thumb is, for practically everything, the more markets you can appeal to the more you can sell.

#5 Iron - "독기" (new)
Show Me The Money 3 has really been making its presence felt, hasn't it? I understand entries by BOBBY and B.I., and attribute it not so much to the show as to them, but Iron's entry means that Show Me The Money has enough clout on its own to send in entries other than the YG "delegates."

#4 BOBBY - "연결고리#힙합" (+16)

#3 Ladies' Code - "I'm Fine Thank You" (new)
It feels wrong to talk about the industry and economics behind Ladies' Code's appearance on the Gaon digital chart. What happened to the group, the entire group, is something that should never happen to anyone, idol or otherwise. But I will point out that this is yet another flaw of the commercialization, of anything honestly -- that for groups like Ladies' Code even if they've had talented, strong singles in the past, without strong marketing arms or industry clout it takes a horrible tragedy to sell their music and get them on the chart. That this is the only way for them to get this much success. And that's just wrong.

#2 SISTAR - "I Swear" (-1)
I don't know if it was an error on Gaon's part or something, but apparently SISTAR's "I Swear" was number one last week? I checked my screenshot of the Top 5 and they were #2, so it must've been corrected sometime during the week. In any case, that means "I Swear" doesn't quite measure up to the success of "Touch My Body." (Which is no longer on the top 10) Of course it's impossible to be certain because Gaon doesn't supply exact figures and it could've been a matter of bettering the competition or being pit against less-successful competition, but that's just another possibility. Now the question is, how long will "I Swear" stay on the chart?

#1 Yoon Mi Rae - "너를 사랑해" (+1)
Last week's mix-up aside, the fact that this Yoon Mi Rae track has managed to stay in the top 2 for the second week in a row, and hit number one during whichever of the two, is a success nevertheless. While I admit that she's had much more musically-strong tracks in the past, pop is more about striking that very crucial balance between good music and what will potentially sell -- the keyword being balance. The drama OST took her to the top, but what is on top is a well-sung, competent song.


  1. I've heard the same about Maroon5's popularity! Around the time Taeyang's Eyes, Nose, Lips was out, Maroon5's Maps managed second place for at least a week or two on iChart. I'm not sure exactly what the Instiz iChart rankings go by, but it's definitely a feat in the Korean industry.


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