It’s one week to the big live K-pop event in the Brixton Academy. So what can we look forward to?
Cube Entertainment, founded by a former employee of JYP Entertainment, are fairly new to the K-pop world, and are keen to get themselves heard. Despite being relatively new, they can just about claim to be putting on the UK’s first big commercial K-pop concert on 5 December, featuring all the main acts in their stable. Yes, there have been other Korean pop and rock artists perform in London before. We’ve had Yoon Do-hyun, Crying Nut, Roller Coaster among others – all of whom were brought over by small-scale event organisers to perform at independent festivals, for example the Dano Festival in Trafalgar Square (by the now-defunct Korean Cultural Promotion Agency) or in the annual London Korean Festival and Korean Film Festival (organised by an offshoot of the Korean Anglican church).
But the acts we’ve seen in the past have generally been aimed at the adult audience. 2011 is the first year in London that we’ve had the chance to see commercial idol groups – acts who tend to appeal more to the teenage market. Most recently SM Entertainment brought over SHINee in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Centre to kick off this year’s London Korean Film Festival. Judging by the fancams posted on YouTube, the audience consisted mainly of teenage girls. It will be interesting to see the sort of audience that comes to the Brixton Academy. The gig, priced at £65, will be out of the reach of many teenagers without parental support.
Cube’s headline act is BEAST, a six-member boy band – voted artist of the year in the 2011 Melon Music Awards. 4Minute is Cube’s girl band, who haven’t yet achieved the popularity of rival groups such as SM Entertainment’s Girls Generation or YG’s 2NE1, though they received a Bonsang (roughly, a runners-up) award in the 20th Seoul Music Awards (January 2011) for their 2010 EP Hit Your Heart. Cube’s main solo female artist is G.NA, though they are also promoting 4Minute’s Hyuna as a solo act.
All three main acts have brought out CDs this year, which I’m sure will provide much of the material for the gig next week. Cunningly, Cube arranged for all the latest disks to be available for sale at the Thames Festival this year: BEAST’s Fact and Fiction, 4Minute’s 4Minutes Left and G.NA’s Top Girl. BEAST undoubtedly has the strongest material, while 4Minute are probably better live. G.NA shows herself to be a versatile singer, though still waiting to be given the opportunity of a knock-out song.
I’m certainly looking forward to BEAST for the two main tracks from their 2011 Album Fact and Fiction. Fiction in particular was one of the memorable videos that was playing on the big screen at the Korean Village at the Thames Festival this year, and left me wanting more.