Get ready for the onslaught that is the comeback season! As summer is coming to an end, many groups are quickly preparing and releasing their final tropical blasts just until the cooler concepts of autumn roll in. Since there are many newer fans now in the K-Pop community, some may be wondering, why is the comeback season so important, and how can I support my favorite artists? If you’re looking for the answers to those questions, then you’ve come to the right place!
The Eve Before The Comeback
Fans must be alert as soon as the first rumor or announcement of a comeback is made. The success of a comeback depends first and foremost on its timing. This means that as a fan, you must be up to date on all the latest and future releases, or as I call it, being generally “K-Pop Aware.” No, it doesn’t mean that you have to watch every single music video that is released, but make sure that you’re on top of the bigger names. You must be able to gauge how your favorite group will do against other groups who may have released their albums at the same time. Even if you stan only one group, being knowledgeable of the other comebacks gives you a greater appreciation for all K-Pop artists. So gear up by grabbing your lightsticks, and get ready to endure the storm that is the comeback era!
The response to teasers can make or break a comeback. Meant to rouse excitement in fans and curiosity in the general public, teasers can range from something as simple as a photo shoot and clips of the music video to something as complicated as a multidimensional concept-driven scavenger hunt.
The mark of a well-made teaser is made visible when practically all K-Pop fans are talking about it. A unique example is shown in the EXO “Pathcode” teasers for their EXODUS album in 2015. Released in video form, one for each member, each teaser was about a minute long, cinematically filmed in different cities and with obscure clues that hinted at the next teasers. These clues were also used as a sort of password on their official website, allowing access to special concept photos.
Boy group SEVENTEEN also used a similar idea two years after EXO, except in the form of tweets, asking fans to enter what each member’s prime number was. Entering these passwords into the website also revealed more concept photos for fans to feast their eyes upon. By turning into a real-life Sherlock Holmes or simply watching and reading up on the theories as they unfolded, all fans were able to enjoy the suspense and complexity of an intense era. Such high-quality and well-thought-out teasers not only allowed fans to be fully involved in the comeback era, but also communicated to their audience that the final release wouldn’t be holding anything back in terms of quality.
The Comeback Begins
When purchasing physical albums, international fans may have a tough time, as some online vendors may not coordinate with the Hanteo charts, where the physical album sales are officially counted. If you don’t want to shop online, try finding reliable group orders to take part in! Even if you don’t have any money to support your favorites with, there’s still oh so much you can do!
The Music Video
As we are in a rapidly advancing technological era, the production and reception of music videos has shaped the K-Pop industry in a way we may have never predicted. Views have been reaching greater heights than ever before, with what seems to be the constant breaking of records. In order to see the increasing success of artists and the growth of their fans, people look to YouTube views. Fans must pounce as soon as the official music video is released, with endless streaming and sharing, both necessary in making a name for a title track. This is no time to be a closet fan—share the music video with family, friends, and even coworkers! Especially in this era of social media-based fan culture, many K-Pop fans have taken to making reaction videos about artists’ title tracks. Whether a hardcore fan or simply an interested listener, this is certainly a way to spread the name!
Nothing signifies a comeback like artist appearances on music shows! Usually the first time to witness a song’s full choreography, it is the chance for a group or artist to showcase their performance skills, including their vocal strength during the dance. It is also an opportunity for the company to show off how lavish of a stage they can create. Especially for groups with themed comebacks, it provides them with the full opportunity to make use of a creative license, surprising viewers with unique uses for props and colors throughout their concept. A recent example of a concept’s strong delivery lies in GFRIEND’s latest release with “Love Whisper.” Performed on Show Champion, their stage is a simple one, imitating a garden full of greenery. The center stage, however, is focused on their choreography and most surprisingly includes a shallow pool of water in which the girls dance and sing. Although some groups are able to make a loud splash in the water as soon as they debut, others are considered breakout artists, usually with a clip of the idols going viral. While GFRIEND was once known for slipping on wet stages due to the weather conditions on top of their energetic choreography, this stage takes things to another level, showing off their mastery and professionalism even in a watery situation.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the “real” side of a celebrity, commonly hidden behind the facade of eye-opening makeup, intense choreography, and pre-made concept images. Although we are able to see glimpses of their true personalities through behind-the-scenes footage or V App livestreams, reality TV shows often highlight idols’ hidden characteristics and share their untold stories. Whether it’s Weekly Idol in which our favorites can be as silly as they please, or Law of the Jungle where all possible makeup and coverage is stripped away, we’re able to see a new side to these stars. Part of the comeback schedule usually includes idol appearances on such shows, and it is a fan’s duty to promote their beloved artists by sharing clips, creating memes, and tuning into the live broadcast if possible.
Fanmeets and Fan Projects
Idols like to show their thanks to their fans by being up close and personal with them. As very special events, fanmeets allow idols to interact directly with their fans, exchanging jokes, presents, skinship, and more! While many international fans will rarely get the chance to participate in such an event, they are more than able to help with fan projects. Varied in size and caliber, fans will get together to show their support for their artists. Especially during comebacks, fans often work together and use the various aspects of social media to share numerous tips on how to effectively stream videos and music to make the biggest impact on sales and view counts.
Although as fans we try to get the best for our beloved artists, make sure that it is done only by elevating your favored artists, and not by trying to bring down others. Fan wars give a bad name to fandoms and their idols, and that time spent uselessly arguing on Twitter is time that can be spent streaming the released work. Ultimately, the comeback era is a celebratory time for both the artists and their fans, a time in which both parties are working hard for each other. As more than half of the year is already over, it may seem that it is evident who has been great winners of 2017 so far. However don’t despair, the second half of the year is chock full with big comebacks, so pull out your lightsticks and get ready to cheer on your biases!
If there are any burning questions you want to see covered in depth or simply want to share your thoughts on this subject, feel free to comment below and open up a discussion!