Wonder Girls: What’s Next?


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Wonderfuls are sitting quite pretty right now. Don’t lie, I may not be
able to see those smug smiles through the panels of my computer screen,
but I sure as heck know that they’re there.

Honestly? I can’t blame you. Even anti-fans of “Korea’s little sisters” have to give the Wonder Girls
credit where credit is due. It is a significant moment for any glass
ceiling to shatter, and everyone involved should be very proud of what
they’ve accomplished. After this milestone, JYP has made it very clear
that his girls are going to remain in the States and strike while the
iron is hot (in addition to their eventual domination of China).

So, the question remaining would be – now what? JYP and his
management team have executed what is so far  a finely crafted plan to
introduce five young, Korean, female pop singers into the crowded and
competitive US music market. The girls weren’t pushed into
the spotlight within situations in which they wouldn’t be comfortable;
JYP used his connections to ease them into the music scene, pinpointing
an audience that is gaining tremendous market influence – the teens. It
was the perfect marketing plan that appears to have paid off so far.
Gaining mainstream musical popularity is a lot more difficult
for artists than it used to be, but if Miley Cyrus can become a
household name thanks to tween power, well no wonder JYP took that
route. But, if he’s serious about conquering this market, he can’t stop
here. The Wonder Girls have their first English album scheduled to drop
in soon; here’s how I think they would best be served in introducing
themselves to the American public, and become not just the first Korean
act to chart, but the first Korean act to truly “make it” in the Land
of Opportunity.

  • Make Sure Your New Material is the Best You Have to Offer

They have to be sick of “Nobody” at this point. I
can see the girls just rounding up all 500 of those dresses and having
a huge bonfire on 5th Avenue. Thank goodness the girls have been
recording new material, but it’s been so long since we’ve heard
anything new from the Wonder Girls, I have to wonder what direction
they will go in. In Korea, they’ve been purely pop up to this point,
but will that fly even with US teen consumers? They’re malleable, but
they are also jaded, and are quick to turn against what isn’t cool.
I’ve heard JYP throw the word “retro” around. That makes me nervous.
The only problem with that, is while it may be clever, their target
audience may not get the references. Or the girls could fail to execute
them properly.  I don’t want to recommend staying in line with American
mainstream radio (because it sucks), but I’ve personally seen people
get violent at the mention of those pop periods of the late
90’s and early 2000’s. I think a mix between “Irony” and “So Hot” would
be a good starting point, sound-wise.

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  • Build your brand – i.e. Promote your little tushies off

Nobody has perfected the art of media whoring more than Americans
(Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Balloon Boy’s parents). It’s that simple
adage: Do what you need to to stay in the public eye at any cost. I’m
certaintly not advocating they follow in the footsteps of La Hilton,
but for those who long to see their name in bright lights, maneuvering
the fame game is not for the weak of heart. Now, Ashe, some people will
say, true artists/musicians/people with integrity are content to just
let their music speak for itself, as opposed to holding up some facade.
I say, of course, and I would definitely attribute that to the truly
talented, but as much as I like the Wonder Girls – let’s just say this.
A good 80% of the idols in Korea’s current roster could not hold up to
the standards of the Western music market.

Wendy Williams was a good start, a chance for them to get their feet
wet. But hopefully as the album draws near, JYP will push to get them
on all the promotion staples; Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Tyra,
Ellen, The View,  Oprah(if they hit the jackpot) E! News, American Idol
(Jordin Sparks connection!).

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we’ve got shows rife for guest spots like “Glee”, pretty much anything
on The CW, and what the heck, “Family Guy”, since Yeeun is apparently a
fan (she is now officially my favorite member of the group).

The good thing is that the girls have an interesting enough angle
(they are from Korea, cute, young and pretty) that drumming up public
interest shouldn’t be a problem. CNN will even sometimes do
fluff/entertainment media stories, and I think ‘first successful Asian
music artist’ would be an attractive enough story for them. For some
reason, SM really dropped the ball here. I don’t know if it was them,
or BoA’s unwillingness to promote in too many venues, but there just
wasn’t anything significant done to drum up interest. Outside of the
Asian American community, most did not know who she was or that she was
promoting. Also, next time BoA, just break down and get Timbaland to
produce your album.

  • Bow Down to the Mouse                                       disney_ 20091024_seoulbeats

It’s not clear the specifics of JYP’s relationship with Disney, but
looking at their involvement in the Jonas Brother’s tour, we can safely
say he is on their radar. Some may consider it a deal with the devil,
but I have two words for you. Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus.

Of course, every Disney alum is not assured that level of success,
but you can’t beat the sheer influence of the House of Mouse and all
its subsidiaries. Especially concerning who they’re marketing to –
tweens, teens, and some *cough* older folks – there’s no better way to
reach them. Give these gals a tv show and they may become overnight
sensations (hopefully not locked into a slave contract)!

Verdict: As I have absolutely no experience in the music
industry to speak of, my advice should be taken at face value at best.
But, after this week, I think everyone is excited and hopeful – we’ve
got the first indication that a successful crossover can be done, and
they can only go forward from this point. There is so much potential to
be mined here. Unlike their homeland, America’s girl group scene is
depressingly bare. The girls can generate enough interest on their own,
just by virtue of being who they are, and if everything falls into
place – the right song, the right image at the right time – call me
exceedingly optimistic but we could be looking at the start of
something revolutionary.

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