This function has progressively shifted from a December to a November custom, leaving more room for subsequent month’s sprawling end-of-year countdowns. Over the following few weeks, I’ll be taking a look at a lot of Ok-pop’s largest companies and providing my ideas about how their 2022 went. First up is SM Leisure.
As regular, the ideas are my very own and aren’t aware about any insider data. The aim of those articles is to find out how nicely Ok-pop companies are serving their artists and followers. Due to the timing of this publish, I’ll be together with the previous couple of weeks of 2021 as a part of my evaluation.
With common acts like NCT and aespa, SM Leisure continues to be a frontrunner within the Ok-pop business. At the same time as behind-the-scenes shifts have altered the framework of the company, their gross sales and affect stay top-tier. They could not have the direct western infiltration of teams like BTS or BLACKPINK, however they’ve made large inroads internationally and finished so largely on their very own phrases.
With regards to sure acts, it seems like SM has discovered their profitable components and realized to keep it up. Although I’m now not an enormous fan of the NCT sound, there’s no denying that its consistency has constructed a big and dependable fanbase that exhibits as much as purchase thousands and thousands of copies of their albums every time they make a comeback. Even with simply three massive NCT tasks this 12 months (Universe in December, Dream within the spring and 127 within the fall), the model has dominated many gross sales charts. If it ain’t broke, why repair it?
Talking of issues that aren’t damaged, aespa have shortly emerged because the company’s brightest star. They could not have had a Subsequent Stage–sort viral hit this 12 months, however their mini album offered extremely nicely and so they stay an enormous affect on the business. In addition they really feel well-positioned for sustained worldwide fame.
One of many facets I’ve at all times liked about SM Leisure is how they honor the legacy of their older artists. The company did particularly nicely by these basic acts in 2022, crafting nice albums for Ladies’ Technology and Key and giving alternatives for soloists like Taeyeon, Changmin, Onew, Suho, Seulgi and Xiumin to shine. No different main company leverages the power of their soloists this nicely. The reliably-great Tremendous Junior and Purple Velvet additionally had alternatives to make comebacks inside the company’s busy schedule.
Lastly, I’ve been loving the company’s YouTube uploads of remastered music movies from its legacy artists. I’m nonetheless ready for Rising Solar, however I’m positive we’ll get there finally!
Whereas SM continues to promote tons of bodily albums, I worry they’re not as aggressive digitally. Ladies’ Technology’s Perpetually 1 and Purple Velvet’s Really feel My Rhythm did nicely, however the influence of aespa’s Ladies paled compared to final 12 months’s Subsequent Stage and the boy teams can’t appear to get a streaming/digital hit. This method tends to be par for the course, as teams like NCT focus extra on their current fanbase as an alternative of ushering in new, informal listeners. However in comparison with essentially the most hyped acts of 2022, SM’s roster felt barely much less dominant than in years previous. Followers are at all times speaking about “public pleasant” songs, and I believe the company would do nicely to provide a extra equal mixture of “experimental” and populist.
Absent of a newly-debuted group, SM Leisure launched just a few new tasks this 12 months. However, they principally fizzled. Their “Ladies on High” supergroup got here and went with out a lot fanfare, releasing one challenge single and by no means returning. I’m undecided if this challenge remains to be ongoing, but it surely’s honest to say it’s misplaced all momentum at this level. Equally, the NCT Lab collection (suppose SM Station for NCT members) appears to cease and begin with none actual imaginative and prescient. Not one of the songs did a lot to face out, making this really feel extra like an arrogance challenge than an thrilling look into the variety of the NCT universe.
Talking of NCT, I’m a kind of individuals who needs they’d convey extra selection to their musical fashion. I’ve been complaining about this for years, however in 2022 the entire NCT challenge actually misplaced me. As somebody who’s been an enormous fan (and client) of SM’s boy group releases for over a decade now, it seems like there’s little left for me inside the company that isn’t tied to the NCT model. With no new boy group outdoors the NCT universe, SM is staking all their fortunes on this one slim sound. And with this particular template being copied by many imitators inside the Ok-pop business, I fear about sustainability.
Whereas aespa stay a vibrant spot inside the company, I can’t assist however really feel they’re being underutilized. One mini album a 12 months appears slight for a rookie group, irrespective of how common they’re. I’d hate to see them turn out to be one other BLACKPINK, reliant on their aura and affect quite than a sturdy discography. It could make monetary sense, but it surely’s not very enjoyable for followers.
Although we haven’t but seen the fallout from Lee Sooman‘s exit from the company (his place as chief producer concludes on the finish of 2022), I’m involved that SM has misplaced its unique visionary. This will likely end up for the perfect and usher in a brand new imaginative and prescient for the company. However, it’s an enormous loss both method.
Lastly, I want SM would enhance their musical ambition. I bear in mind a time when their materials felt out-of-this-world, actually shifting the Ok-pop market on its axis. Too usually, their present output feels tame – particularly relating to soloists. I’m undecided if they should reshuffle their A&R staff or develop their steady of producers/composers, however I miss the bombastic SMP fashion the company made their identify on. Their 2022 launch slate had too many uninteresting, subdued and trend-chasing title tracks for my style.
What I’d prefer to see in 2023:
The debut of a brand new boy group, outdoors the NCT universe
A full-length album from aespa
TVXQ Korean comeback
A brand new sound (or unit?) for NCT
Earlier years: 2021 // 2020 // 2019 // 2018 // 2017 // 2016
Leave a Reply