On January 2, AOA made a comeback with its new album. Well, as the album is the popular k-pop girl group's first ever full album, much attention has been given to it. However, the result was below expectations. Both of the girl group's double title tracks, "Excuse me" and "Bing Bing" ranked very low on Korean online music charts, while it seems like many of music fans are not interested in the songs at all. You know, AOA's popularity grew very sharply with "Miniskirt," "Short Hair," "Like a Cat," and "Heart Attack" in four consecutive hits, and no doubt, AOA became one of the most popular k-pop girl groups. That's why many people in the k-pop world think the failure of AOA's comeback is quite outrageous. So, what do you think is the reason for AOA's failure?
Too Much Reliance on Brave Brothers
Big and famous k-pop agencies such as SM, YG, JYP have very systematic production system, while their own music producers like YG's Teddy and JYP's Park Jin Young play leading roles in producing music albums. That's why the agencies can release numerous hits again and again. However, FNC doesn't have such a competitive music producer and has been entirely depending on Brave Brothers about AOA's title tracks. Since AOA achieved a great success with its hit "Miniskirt," which was written by Brave Brothers, the title track of the girl group's new album always has been the famous music producer's song. AOA's new song "Excuse Me" is written by him too.
But the problem is that Brave Brothers is going downhill as a music producer. He still is one of the most famous k-pop producers, but he's rusty these days, frankly speaking. He's still living off his songwriting formula he created 10 years ago, and that's why people in the k-pop world say there has been no improvement about his songwriting skill and he always plagiarizes himself. Well, "Excuse Me" is not fresh and catchy, while the conception of the song doesn't fit AOA at all. It seems like it's time for AOA to part with Brave Brothers if the girl group hopes for a rebound.
AOA's Seolhyun and Jimin have embroiled in a controversy due to their lack of knowledge of history in May 2016. In their reality program, "Channel AOA," the two idol stars tried a history quiz but couldn't recognize Ahn Jung Geun, who was a famous Korean independence fighter. After the broadcast, a firestorm of criticism was directed at them.
Well, the public's outrage toward Seolhyun and Jimin was not just because they're ignorant about history. Ahn Jung Geun was a Korean independence fighter and was a leader of the Korean independence movement against the Japanese occupation of Korea. He was executed by the Japanese government in 1909 for assassinating Ito Hirobumi, the Japanese administrator of power in Korea. You know, Japan’s colonial rule and wartime aggression aren’t appreciated by any Asian nation, and everything about Japan is always a very sensitive issue for Koreans. In the program, Jimin even addressed Ahn Jun Geun as "Kin To Kang," the Japanese way of pronouncing Korean name "Kim Doo Han," who is another historical figure, while it seemed that Seolhyun has never heard of Ahn Jung Geun even though she is the ambassador of 2016-2018 Visit Korea Year.
Unfortunately, there still are many Korean people who think ill of them due to the incident. And it's true that their tarnished image had an adverse effect on the result of AOA's comeback.
A Generational Switch in the K-pop World
What do you think was the reason for AOA's success in 2014 and 2015? There were many reasons for it, but basically, yeah, the members were very young and pretty. Of course, they're still young and pretty, but the problem is that so many rookie girl groups who are younger than AOA debuted for the past three years. We have TWICE, GFriend, Red Velvet, BLACKPINK, OH MY GIRL, LABOUM and more now. The k-pop world is very rapidly changing.
Basically, k-pop girl groups' biggest fans are male fans in their 30s and 40s. But they're not usually very loyal to their girl groups, which means their favorite girl groups are always changing. And yeah, they prefer younger and prettier girl group.
So, sadly, it's true that AOA is not as competitive as in the past, and that is one of the reasons why AOA's comeback was a huge failure. Even though there are a few k-pop girl groups who stay popular for a very long time such as Girls' Generation and Wonder Girls, it is really hard for senior girl groups to outrival younger girl groups.