We have a few choice (respectful) words for you and your business empire. Your stars have so much potential, and your agency has so much at stake, that our major concern is that some are bound to get lost in the shuffle. While SNSD has become more of a Korean institution than a pop sensation, and Exo has become so popular so quickly that you can no longer control them or, more importantly, their fandom, there is one group that is steady as a rock. f(x). You might remember them from their recent release, "Red Light?" (No, we're not here to talk about Taeyeon and Baekhyun)
f(x) is killing it right now. "Slaying it," as they say (we personally don't say that, we're just saying some fans say that, it's a thing, trust us, okay?). Five million views in five days. That's a million views a day. That's impressive. But it's not surprising, at least it shouldn't be. You've done the numbers, we're sure. f(x) has, since NU ABO, consistently hit in the ballpark of 20 million views on YouTube, and they've topped just about every music chart in Korea, and their biggest hit, Electric Shock, even scored 60 million views, won nine music shows, and topped electronic music charts in the coveted western markets (America and Canada).
And then it took a year for f(x) to come back with Pink Tape and "Rum Pum Pum Pum." The album was a hit, but a lot of that momentum was lost. "Electric Shock" was f(x)'s "Gee," not an aberration, and what did Girls' Generation do after their mega hit? They took just five months to come out with "Genie." Sorry, that's on you.
And here's the thing, Red Light? The entire album, really, is already getting love, and that's a lot to do with your teases. See, we're not saying that everything you've done with f(x) is bad. Talented as they are, f(x) wouldn't be where they are today without your sophisticated marketing or your seasoned producers.
And we like that f(x) comes out with these killer studio albums. But you may want to look at your closest competitor, YG, and what they've done with 2NE1's Crush. While "Come Back Home" was the main promotional song, they also scored big with "Gotta Be You" and even "Happy." 2NE1 has stayed in the spotlight, remained relevant, bracketed by these singles for nearly half the year (and no, we're not here to talk about Park Bom's ridiculous scandal either). Why can't f(x) mine Red Light with such efficiency? We think they can. And excuse us for being bold, we think they must.
This once-a-year cycle just isn't going to work long-term. Not for any of your idols. Even the untouchable Girls' Generation had a drop off between annual hits. Kpop fans have so many more options to devote their time to with each passing year. We're not saying that f(x) needs to be active the whole year, we're saying that instead of promoting one single from a full album, they can promote, say two? Our friendly suggestion: How about "Milk?"
Or how about give Amber a solo project? Or Victoria? Because why not?
There's so much these girls can do. We're not even sure if you're trying to reach American shores anymore (we assume nothing), but if you still are, f(x) would be ideal. They made an impression at SXSW last year in Austin, Texas. They even had time to film a decent "Funny or Die" sketch with Anna Kendrick. And with a significant push, they could do so much more.
f(x) has English speakers (Amber and Krystal were born in America), which is essential if you're going to promote in America. But f(x) is also far less daunting than SNSD with their nine members that look like supermodels. While we think an Exo-E would make a fun concept, we're not so sure America is ready for another boy group invasion, at least not yet (sorry, Shinee, we're not sure you'd make an impression either). Like it or not, f(x) is the most accessible group that you have.
Which is to say, and this goes back to our main point, f(x) deserves better from you. Deserves more. Kpop fans love them already. We understand that it must be hard to balance all of these icons. We are sympathetic, truly. But f(x) is on the cusp here. Look at your two biggest groups. SNSD? Their star is fading, slowly, but still. Exo? Who knows if scandals will catch up to them? f(x) is right here. You hold the keys to their future, and that future, more than you think, will mirror your own.
Don't blow it (please).
Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.