Happy New Year! Here at Critical Kpop, we may be ringing in the new year a full fifteen hours behind our Korean neighbors, but this gives us the opportunity to our editors to make predictions about Kpop in 2015. We consulted the oracles, now let’s see what they have to say – will 2015 be gloomy or bright? What does the new year have in store for us?
Personally, I could not be more excited for 2015. I’ve heard Auld Lang Syne so many times over the last few days that I’m ready to believe it. Let old acquaintances be forgot, and never, never brought to mind. In this metaphor, acquaintances are scandals. That’s right, I’m ready to move on and start focusing on music again. The only problem is, the media has grown fat suckling the teat of scandal. 2015 will, if anything, be more scandal-ridden than 2014 was. Prepare yourself for more paparazzi photos, more insider sources, and more rumor-mongering. But look, it’s not all doom and gloom. All you need to survive 2015 is a pair of limited-time only, Common Sense Goggles ™, yours for three easy payments of $19.95. These innovative Common Sense Goggles ™ work by averting your eyes any time scandal is detected. Cash only, no refunds.
Seriously, though, Kpop music is set to reach new heights this year. It’s no longer just the big boys that can afford quality production. Kpop in 2015 will be defined by the B-list, by the nugus, by anyone willing to take a risk to make beautiful music. And there will be plenty of them out there willing to do just that. 2015 will be great. So long as you keep your head down, ignore the media, and remember that first and foremost, Kpop is music. Listen. That’s my advice.
Like Zander, I'm ready to move on from a scandalous 2014 - though I'm not so sure that 2015 will be defined by the B-list. What's really going to be interesting here is what happens to the established groups at or near the top, many of them in the midst of dramatic change. What will the 10-member EXO look like? The 8-member SNSD? Will f(x) come back without Sulli (or at all next year?)? Now that Kara's gotten their new member acclimated, how are they going to redefine themselves? What's MBLAQ really going to consist of? Will Nine Muses have nine members? Many of these groups (besides EXO) are at or beyond their predicted pop life cycles, and what's really going to be interesting, for me, is seeing how these groups will face their latter days - with a bang or a whimper. I'm going to be optimistic here and say that the old guard isn't done yet. There's going to be some big surprises from our favorites. 2015 will prove that old can be new once again.
'L' 's Prediction:
Since I started describing myself as a Kpop fan several years ago, I never expected the drama that this year brought. Since 2014 closed among scandals, I think that 2015 will bring a healthy dose of realism and self-critique to Kpop. This could be the year that we begin to see idols taking the reins of their own destinies, so to speak, and determining what they want from their companies. Idols will probably be less likely to lay down their entire lives now that they have started to rebel and know they can get somewhere with it. I think 2015 will also be the year that the facade of a perfect industry will truly shatter - I predict that idols will start beefs with each other and show us that they are capable of more emotions than just complacency and apology. More groups that challenge the status quo will emerge a la Bangtan Boys and Block B, and as a result we will see way more friction. However, overall I think 2015 will be progressive and take a huge leap forward for Kpop, more in terms of the inner workings of the genres, rather than music styles.