There has been a lot of hype surrounding the debut of another Produce 101 organically-formed group JBJ, which stands for Just Be Joyful. The six members of the group all fell within the top 20 and 30 spots for the final rankings. JBJ is one of the many acts that has emerged from Produce 101 besides the top 11 candidates that now form Wanna One. These acts include the solo debuts of popular contestants Kim Samuel and Jung Sewoon, and other independently formed groups such as MXM and Rainz. With these groups competing against so many other former contestants for media attention, how do they aim to distinguish themselves, especially when going up against the rookie behemoth Wanna One?
A Standout Concept, Different from Produce 101 Alumni
Being your resident K-Pop noona, I must say that as time goes by I become more and more weary of debuting groups as, more often than not, they tend to be fetuses in my mind. This is truly the case with alumni Kim Samuel and Jung Sewoon, who, in my eyes, might as well be infants who just learned to crawl. The age range of Produce 101 trainees extended from contestants far into their mid-twenties to those as young as 15 years of age, which, if you ask me, gets dangerously close to breaking child labor laws. As such, I’ve been wary of getting attached to these emerging groups and the young schoolboy concepts that many companies tend to have them embody upon debut. They make me feel like a creepy old lady.
JBJ has one advantage when it comes to us older members of the fandom: every member is legally an adult, both domestically and internationally. Because of that, they are able to get away with debuting with a sexy concept. I do not believe any other group has ever come out of the gate with a straight-up sexy angle concept-wise, at least within recent memory. Speaking from my perspective, I think this was a clever move on Fave Entertainment’s part (and as for sexy concepts in general, who isn’t here for those?).
In my opinion, this is the best JBJ could possibly do to differentiate themselves from their fellow Produce 101 trainees. Plus, the concept is likely to attract older audiences like me (yes, JBJ, feed the old ladies what they want), which is definitely a different market than what Wanna One has been going for thus far.
On the opposite side of the coin, I could also argue that not targeting the mass appeal of as many demographics as possible could hurt their chances for success. I also do not claim to be a fan of Produce 101 nor any of its contestants, so my knowledge of what super fans were expecting from this debut is very limited. I personally thought that it was a very solid release in all aspects, and I enjoyed it very much, but there have been mixed reviews from others that were likely anticipating more from the group’s debut.
Nevertheless, JBJ is still doing quite well as newbies, and they’re certainly making a name for themselves. Hopefully the group will give both new fans like me and veteran fans (like my lovely Haley) more to look forward to as the group continues to grow.