Korean Entertainment companies take on several idols, some in groups some as soloists and promote them. Even though each promotion has a different concept, it is easy to pick out the role that each idol plays in the group. As with any company, the last thing you want is consumers to be unable to differentiate your product from your competitors or from the rest of your product line.
For example, in S.M Entertainment, f(x) is their ‘experimental’ girl-group, EXO their panty dropping boyband. Super Junior used to fill that role, but they’re much older now and that means so are their fans, so SM has been pushing them into other Asian Markets with subunits like Super Junior M. They have Girl’s Generation who are considered the Queens of K-Pop testing the waters in other markets as they know that they are getting older like Super Junior and their tried and tested ‘cute sex appeal’ won’t last forever with all the younger groups rising. I’m only a mildly interested K-Pop fan, but the planning is obvious with companies like S.M, they aren’t just throwing things haphazardly into the market. I guess with their big budgets and large pool of artists they can afford to.
But then you have companies like CCM who have no idea what they are doing and seem to be unable to back up the ideas that they do have. 5Dolls started life as a group who I think had amazing potential, but had their talents wasted due to mismanagement, Co-Ed School. They were such a novel idea, mixing genders never really happens within an idol group.
Their promotions however were just terrible, performances had audio dropping in parts and it was clear that some of the idols were just more advanced in their choreography and vocal skills than others. To salvage the group CCM split the idols into two groups by gender and tried to promote them as 5Dolls and Speed, it did not go well. OuKpop has done a wonderful editorial on the situation. Now with most of the original members gone, CCM seems to have run out of ideas of what to do with 5Dolls and seems to be treating them like T-ara rejects.
5Dolls are currently promoting their new song, ‘Soulmate #1’ and the similarities to T-ara’s Roly Poly aren’t just from the concept but the song itself. What’s worse is that because of T-ara’s controversy and it’s member reshuffle casual listeners could be forgiven for thinking this is either a T-ara subunit or T-ara with newer members. You don’t make two groups you’re promoting interchangeable! Soulmate #1 isn’t even that great of a song, it’s okay at best. Feels very much like just a rehash of an old concept.
Above all I feel sorry for 5Dolls, maybe in another company they can shine, but right now CCM just has no idea what to do with them.