SM Entertainment is planning a new multinational group next year. This is a major project that has been in the works for a year and a half.
Previously, SM has launched idol groups such as TVXQ and EXO, but with plans to assimilate professional hip hop and EDM labels in the coming year, the new group will likely have a very different sound. The agency is also working on cultivating more ballad singers, an interesting choice considering their history of choreography-centred idol dance genres (sometimes referred to as “SMP” or SM Performance).
Lee Sung Soo, production team leader at SM Entertainment, recently spoke about the agency’s music in the past two years. “It’s true that ‘Red Light’ by f(x) was criticizing the Sewol ferry disaster,” he said. “Using words such as ‘sink’ were all decisions made internally at the company.”
“It can be said that the past few years have been a time to ‘find ourselves’ at SM,” he continued. “The agency needed to think about the music we were good at and the music that people want to hear.”
Lee Sung Soo is the nephew of President Lee Soo Man and first worked at SM as an intern in college analyzing fan trends. He is now the head of A&R (artists and repertoire), the department of a record label responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of its artists and songwriters. Prior to his appointment at A&R he studied music arrangement. “I thought that to be good at A&R, you have to know how to make music.”
This year, SM has put together a few new projects such as the SM COEX Atrium and the “SM Rookies Show,” where trainees can showcase their talent before their official debut. The new “THE AGIT” concerts at the COEX Atrium showed that even though singers like Taeyeon, Jonghyun, and Kyuhyun were members of idol groups, they were capable ballad singers.
Recently, the production team leader went to a combined conference and DJ show in the world’s greatest such festival, the Amsterdam Dance Event, to scope out the worldwide EDM scene and understand the trends. SM has so far sampled the deep house genre in tracks such as “Rise as God” (TVXQ), “View” (SHINee), “4 Walls” (f(x)), as well as adding rappers such as Verbal Jint and Zico to Taeyeon and f(x)’s music.
“The mothers who grew up listening to H.O.T.’s music are now raising daughters who are EXO fans,” Lee Sung Soo said. “Our goal is to make songs that mothers and daughters can enjoy together. Every year we gather the most popular 100 pop songs and analyze the lyrics, observing trend changes in theme and style.”
“We are definitely going to use the know-how we’ve piled up over the years,” he concluded. “The new group will be an extension of EXO. After H.O.T., TVXQ, and EXO, we are trying to continue the trend of producing a hit male group every five years or so. In addition, the Chinese market is opening. We are learning from old mistakes. I predict SM’s sales will increase tenfold in the next three years.”