allkpop has this wonderful thought piece on background idols – that is, the idols who support the more popular front idols that hog most of the attention. Instead of asking what the appeal of these supporting cast members are, though, Goni asks a different, far more intriguing question: when did certain Kpop idols step out of the background and become the spotlight stars in their own right? Specific moments are chosen – particular concerts, certain TV show appearances – which speak of each idol being given a CHANCE to shine, and not just stand behind someone else and look pretty.
SNSD’s Hyoyeon is said to have stepped forward during the SM Town Paris concert, showing how overseas fans appreciate her and her talents. Personally, she and Sooyoung (another great example!) have always been my favorites, Hyoyeon winning me over immediately with the dance solo for the “Into the New World” MV. It was a great, jaw-drop, “I wonder what else she can do” kind of performance that earned undying loyalty for me and, I’m sure, many others.
Stepping from Kpop to Jpop, the recent release of Nakajima Saki’s new photobook may be her own watershed moment into the spotlight. C-ute has always emphasized Airi and Maimi, but as of late the other remaining members have matured and received greater wota love. Chisato did it with her dance videos and, from Hello! SayuNii’s take on the matter, “W” could make a whole lot more Nakky fans out there as well.
I have to say, I’m growing increasingly impressed with Hello! SayuNii as a place for solid reviews of H!P products. It’s probably been this way all along and I haven’t noticed beccause I go to them primarily for news and not opinions, but Ado and Ayuchii do a great job here of explaining some of the themes and motifs that make W more interesting than your run-of-the-mill H!P photobook.
What both of them dance around but never state, though, is how many of these pictures involve Saki trying to show off her rack as much as possible in various “Don’t I look fuckable? (But not too fuckable.)” poses. It’s not subtle – but goddamn, it works like a charm. The dualism the photobook employs helps leaven the matter, but those of us with a voracious taste for eyecandy know where the bread is truly buttered.
Of course, there are other questions about background idols that could be addressed. What separates them from those who are pushed to the front? Are there any particular qualities or criteria they don’t meet, or is it a case of management choosing to push somebody and these girls (and boys) simply aren’t it? AKB48 has strong feelings on this because the imbalance is particularly obvious when you have a handful of front girls and several dozen ladies in waiting. Why do fans latch onto these lesser known idols – does it say something about the particular idol, something about the wota, or both?
And are there background idols who should always remain in the background? We joke a lot at IW about the Hitoes and the Mutous of the idol world (a.k.a., “the idol U-Gods”), but is it fair to say that some idols are just lucky to share a bit of spotlight at all and shouldn’t ever consider taking center stage? The world is an unfair place, the idol industry even moreso – just because some wannabes get to hit a home run doesn’t mean everyone can be Sadaharu Oh.