[★K:OP-ED] Lee Jin Ah chart “all-kill” and EXID’s “Up & Down” chart reversal

On November 23rd, 2014, a song no one was familiar with took #1 in music charts. That song was titled “Time Please Go Slow” originally released in 2013. Calling the person responsible for this, Lee Jin Ah, an overnight star would be an understatement.

This is a Korean OP-ED written by Ha Bak Guk of YoungGiftedWack.com directly translated by Koreaboo. Original article can be found here via Naver.

Within the 10 minutes she spent singing on stage and listening to the judges, she had already become a skill [a singer] who had achieved all-kill status on music charts. The judges said things like, “How can we judge someone who is better than us,” “It was the first music of its kind I’ve heard internationally,” and “Some say there is no more music to listen to, but that’s not it, we just haven’t been looking hard enough.”

How did a song that sold less than 100 copies reach all-kill status? The reason is that SBS K-Pop Star, a very popular program which aired [this performance], was sold the right to the music file. K-Pop Star even put out in captions saying, “The audio file will be available after the show, so make sure you listen.” Not everyone who listened to the audio file , however, watched the show. The mechanism involved is a bit complicated and obvious at the same time.

When a program such as K-Pop Star airs, online media sites report on the day’s result. Portal sites choose the ones they think would gather a lot of responses and put them on the main page. Those who see the news search the artist’s name to find the song or for more information. The artist’s name then appears on the live search keyword ranking and people click it out of curiosity. While this happens, videos about the person is shared on community sites and SNS, which in turn fuels the song’s popularity for awhile.

Awhile ago, EXID’s “Up & Down” became a hot topic for its chart status reversal.

A fan of EXID uploaded a fancam of an EXID member (Hani) at their military base performance. This video became extremely popular on SNS and online communities, and its popularity was such that reporters began writing articles about it. EXID quickly took advantage of this popularity and did a surprise concert in front of Hongik University. Someone filmed this and uploaded on YouTube, which was shared everywhere as well. Broadcasts called EXID even though their activities with the song was over, and put them on stage again.The video went viral again.

In short, a video of EXID went viral and the fact that it went viral went viral.

The way the two songs [became popular again], “Time Please Go Slow” and “Up & Down,” is different. “Time Please Go Slow” had the strategic help of a variety show. It was the first time that any song had been advertised as such after its first appearance. “Up & Down” gained popularity slowly and reached the top of charts. The two, however, were the same in the fact that they were advertised by a chain of broadcast: online portals, blogs, SNS, and music files.

Lee Jin Ah’s “Time Please Go Slow” wasn’t aired on a music show such as SBS Inkigayo, but a variety show called K-Pop Star. The viewer rating of the show is 10% higher than that of Inkigayo at 12.1%. K-Pop Star also allows viewers to see deeper into the person’s life and story about the song, permits them to relate to the artists on a deeper level.

There was an article called, “A society where variety shows have become all powerful.” Songs from the show Infinite Challenge fills up charts whenever they do a music episode. Artists come out on shows such as Radio Star to advertise their concerts, and the concerts sell out. Artist Kim Tae Won has said that he makes appearances in variety shows because he cannot stand by and watch while his music becomes a thing of the past. Internet news feeds off of this popularity. Celebrity news fills up around a third of all articles [released].

The main channels for internet news are portal sites where most of the traffic is. The space where news appears, however, is limited. This leads to titles that drive people to click. New policies from portal sites however, make this harder and harder. Live search keyword rankings play a large role in leading people to articles as well. It plays off people’s curiosity and leads people to articles related to the keyword. Most people click on the articles that show up first when they click the keywords. The order the articles depend on the portal sites’ algorithms. So reporters always attempt to find loopholes in algorithms by adding phrases, such as “Why?” or “Aigoo.”

EXID’s “Up & Down” was introduced by a YouTube video that recorded their member Hani. The video did not include all the members but focused on only Hani. The video also included choreography that had been banned on the three big television broadcast company of Korea. Soon GIF animation files called “Oomjjals” were made and spread all over the net. Micro-contents such as this, called “memes,” are present everywhere in SNS these days.

Social networks give ratings to contents by numbers. The better the content, the more likes, shares or re-tweets it would receive. The SNS algorithm that calls for more clicks and followers, the more shares, re-tweets, and likes it has, is perfect for making things viral. Music streaming services allow people to pay a certain amount of money every month, and allow people to listen to what they want at the touch of a button.

This service has made it possible for people to listen to music at the cheapest cost and the most efficient way. But, has it taken away the essence of listening to music? On the internet, feeding your Sims character, clicking on an article, and liking a Facebook page has become a similar process. MC Mong’s songs from Miss Me or Diss Me was clicked just like that and took first place on music charts.

An old saying says, “It doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you get there,” and like it says, maybe it doesn’t matter how you listen as long as you can listen to good music. Also, if “Time Please Go Slow” and “Up & Down” weren’t good songs, they probably would not have been able to get such good results. It is still hard to spread your music and the environment has simply changed. Perhaps I am getting a little cynic as an old fashioned producer and music mania that wished music to be judged purely as an art form.

This is a Korean OP-ED written by Ha Bak Guk of YoungGiftedWack.com directly translated by Koreaboo. Original article can be found here via Naver.