Back when 5 member boy group MBLAQ where about to debut in 2009, there was much excitement. This was a group created by the one and only Rain – who is often dubbed the ‘King of K-Pop’. Many people were curious to see what sort of group would come out from someone who has enjoyed so much success in the industry himself.
The group made their official debut at Rain’s ‘Legend of Rainism ‘ concert in October of that year and they were received well. A lot of their earlier singles and mini album tracks were written, composed and choreographed by Rain himself and enjoyed a good reception. As time went on though, it seemed that MBLAQ spent more time talking about Rain than they did about themselves.
Of course, this is somewhat to be expected. Rain is indeed a very famous individual, and many would be curious as to how he acts behind closed doors with the group he mentors and as to what kind of boss he would make. MBLAQ themselves have always seemed happy to discuss their relationship with Rain too, frequently dancing to his songs and telling of how he helped them out with their problems.
As time passed, and MBLAQ became more solid as a group, Rain appeared to scale back his involvement in their career (at least, on a public level). MBLAQ continued to do fairly well, and went on to win many awards including two entertainment Daesangs and the Best Korean Artist Award at the 2012 Asia Song Festival. They have also won one domestic music show award with their single “This is War”.
Of course, much support for the group still exists and MBLAQ’s fandom (known as A+) are, as ever, strongly behind their favourite group. The MBLAQ members also have very successful solo careers involving acting roles, sub-units and variety programme appearances to name a few. Personally though, I can’t help but feel that the fierce marketing of their group as the ‘creation of Rain’ did more damage to their brand than good.
From the start, much of what people wanted to know about the group consisted of what their boss Rain did rather than what the members themselves were concerned with. As Rain started to pull away from the group more and more on a public level, it seemed that the boys of MBLAQ were left working with a bit of a deficit. People had learned much of what they wanted to know about the boss, so now the guys had to work harder to keep themselves in the limelight without the help of their Rain-shaped springboard.
Obviously, a famous boss is not always damaging to a group. Shinhwa member Andy founded the group Teen Top back in 2010 and they are an example of group that has almost always stood alone on the public platform, with their founder barely mentioned in interviews. In fact, it seems that Andy mentions Teen Top more than vice versa!
Overall, the opinion I am trying to make clear is that idols who wish to create idol groups should carefully consider what public role they wish to play for their group. Having an idol boss can be a big plus for the group as they have an existing fan base that will probably be automatically open to exploring the rookie group, not to mention a boss that is savvy to and experienced in the world in which their mentee will be entering.
Of course, one could argue that every group has a certain background to benefit or suffer from, especially for those coming from the big three Korean entertainment companies – SM, JYP and YG Entertainment. Although, I definitely think that a direct association with an individual idol boss can potentially be more damaging than any association with a major company. If it gets to the point that the general public cannot think of talk about a group without thinking or talking about their idol boss, I think you have a problem. First and foremost, a group should always be able to stand alone and be appreciated for their talents and personalities over anything else.
What are your opinions on this topic?
Do you agree/disagree with those expressed in this piece?
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