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Comparing The 3rd Generation Boy Band Debuts Of 'The Big 3'

By Erin K. | August 27, 2014 07:59 AM EDT

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The second generation of the K-Pop era, known to many as the "Golden Age of K-Pop," is beginning to fade. Members of the Golden Era are moving on with their lives and careers.  Wonder Girls' Sunye is married and has a daughter; Super Junior members are serving in and out of the military; Nicole and Jiyoung have left KARA, just to name a few.

It is obvious to any K-Pop fan that an era is ending, and in its place, a new one must rise. Hence, the 'Big Three' Korean entertainment companies (SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment) have debuted their third generation boy groups, each with striking similarities towards first and second generation boy groups from their respective companies, but with their own individual flavors and nuances as well.

The first third generation boy band to debut from the Big Three was SM Entertainment's EXO. Split into two groups, EXO-K (Korean) and EXO-M (Mandarin), EXO garnered ridiculous amounts of attention even before debut. SM released twenty-three teasers for the group in a span of three months, until finally debuting the twelve-member boy group with "MAMA," in respective Korean and Mandarin.

EXO's concept seemed to stem from a formula SM had finally perfected--the members were beautiful, "aliens" meant to spark interest with their flower-boy looks and mysterious auras. Each member with startling haunting eyes, and "super powers" in their first official music video, EXO seemed to be a combination of style in the vein of labelmates TVXQ during their Mirotic days and Super Junior with their number of members. EXO, upon debut, were even called "the second Super Junior" as SM's new super boy band,

"MAMA" emphasized what it meant to be human. The lyrics of the song depict someone who is torn and confused about the nature of humanity, about love and the corruptness of society as a whole--tying into EXO's "alien concept".

EXO's debut roused the international scene perhaps more than in their homeland of South Korea, with EXO-M winning number one on various Chinese charts. However, EXO from the start gained many, many fans, and with their follow-up releases "Wolf" and "Growl", it was clear that EXO was here to stay.

The next third generation boy group to debut was none other than JYP Entertainment's GOT7. After teasing themselves on YG's reality show "WIN: WHO IS NEXT," GOT7 debuted with "Girls Girls Girls" early 2014. They were immediately compared to senior labelmates 2PM, for their rowdy, laid-back and acrobatic dance concept. Even their debut song "Girls Girls Girls" was reminiscent of 2PM's earlier days with songs such as "10 out of 10."

If EXO was the cool, mysterious boy group, GOT7 appealed to a slightly different demographic with rascal-like, goofy behavior. They sang in "Girls Girls Girls" about how cool they were and how much girls adored them, with member Mark performing acrobatic tricks. The blatant egotistical message from the song turned off some, though GOT7 still succeeded in creating a fanbase.

The comparisons with 2PM increased after learning more about the members: like 2PM, GOT7 debuted with seven members, complete with a Thai member, a charismatic non-Korean rapper, an American b-boy, a strong vocalist--it was clear that JYP was working the "2PM formula."

Although GOT7's promotions for "Girls Girls Girls" were cut short by illness, the boys quickly gained more public recognition with their follow-up summer release "A".

And last but not least, the long-awaited debut of WINNER occured with the release of two music videos, "Empty" and "Color Ring." Nearly a year before their debut, WINNER competed with another group of YG trainees on a reality show called "WIN: WHO IS NEXT" for the chance to make their debut. Team A won, but didn't leave the other trainees in the lurch - two members of Team B, B.I. and Bobby, participated in the composition of the lyrics of "Empty."

Many were concerned that WINNER would be a carbon copy of senior labelmates Big Bang--however, upon the actual debut of WINNER many were pleasantly surprised. "Empty" and "Color Ring" were both mid-tempo ballads, both mellow and more reminiscent of Big Bang's "Blue" than of their more notorious hits such as "Lies" or "Fantastic Baby."

In "Empty," WINNER lamented the loneliness and emptiness they felt inside. They describe going through daily tasks such as looking in a reflection and feeling absolutely nothing after their lover leaves them. Additionally, "Color Ring" (although some have argued it is meant to be "Caller Ring") speaks of calling a lover after a break up and thinking about all the things they could have done to make the lover stay.

WINNER achieved an all-kill on various Korean music charts, and surpassed one million YouTube views on "Empty" in less than 24 hours.

Each debuting with extremely different songs, with different themes and genre of pop, it will be interesting to see which group comes out on top. Although EXO had a head start in comparison to the other two, GOT7 and WINNER are both catching up to EXO's popularity. Only time will tell who reigns as champion of the third generation of Korean boy bands.

What do you think of these third generation boy bands?  Which one is your favorite?  Sound off in the comments section below!

Tagged :  SM, yg, JYP, SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment, winner, EXO, EXO-M, EXO-K, EXO-M, EXO-K, GOT7

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