Korea is obsessed with random rankings, surveys, and polls. Most of it’s just inane shit that isn’t worth reading (“So-and-so voted the celebrity people most likely want to read a bedtime story to”), but I get a kick out of popularity rankings. The downside is that most of them are usually biased or uninformed, like the new 2014 Girl Group Popularity Ranking that Sports Chosun published today.
Check it out below (or above if you can read hangul), with English translation from Kashigasa.
1. SNSD, SISTAR, 2NE1
2. f(x), Girl’s Day
3. Miss A, 4minute, Secret, A-pink
4. Brown Eyed Girls, After School, Dal Shabet, Crayon Pop, Nine Muses, KARA
5. Hello Venus, Rainbow, AOA, Ladies’ Code, T-ara, Wonder Girls and more
Whoever authored this mess is clearly on the propofol because this shit is so topsy-turvy that it makes me want to take a dump at the front door of Sports Chosun’s main office. Okay, so it’s actually not that bad, but I felt like being dramatic because some of my faves were unjustly slighted by the flop that put this thing together.
Anyway, the first and most glaring error here is putting SISTAR and 2NE1 on the same level as Girls’ Generation. Last time I checked, SNSD was a GREAT WALL OF CHINA that none of these other bitches could ever dream of crawling over. In fact, all other girl groups aren’t even allowed to look at this wall, let alone attempt to climb it.
The other main fuck up is putting T-ara on level five. Okay, I get that they’re damaged goods who fell spectacularly from grace and hit every branch on the way down, but they’re still not low enough to be on fucking Hello Venus’ and Rainbow’s level. When was the last time any of the flops on this level had a top five hit or sold close to T-ara’s physical sales? Mmhmm. Also, fun fact: T-ara N4’s “Countryside Life” was a bigger hit overall than 2NE1’s No. 1 single, “Falling In Love.” Ha!
To fix this trash, I’ve decided to make a much more accurate ranking of my own. I’m in a good position to do so since I’m obsessed with Korean girl groups and follow them all, and I’ve watched the K-pop charts every week for the past couple of years.
I’m including domestic success only, but will take into account popularity of individual members and their solo activities as long as it’s in Korea and not overseas. I’m also factoring in physical sales, since it’s not easy for groups outside of SM and YG to sell albums, so anyone that does should be recognized for it. And chart longevity is a big factor, which is why I consulted the yearly chart quite a bit to weed out artists that have had bigger hits than some of you might realize.
This is also primarily based on current popularity. For example, Brown Eyed Girls are obviously a bigger group than Girl’s Day in the grand scheme of things, but Girl’s Day happen to be bigger at this very moment.
Oh, and I’m not including Wonder Girls because they’re on indefinite hiatus. I’m sure the only reason Sports Chosun listed them is so netizens could whine about Sunye’s pregnancy and marriage some more in the comments section. Anybody else that wasn’t included is because they’re simply too irrelevant to mention, like GP Basic, STELLAR, the flawless Blady, and so on.
Tier 1: Girls’ Generation
SNSD are at the top of everything. Digital monsters, physical sales that rival and surpass most boy bands, more lucrative endorsements and drama offers than they can handle, and an overwhelmingly positive image in the eyes of the public. Even “I Got a Boy,” which most Koreans hated, still outsold basically everybody last year. Who else but the Divine Nine?
Tier 2: SISTAR
SISTAR are superstars in almost every area other than physical sales, but their digital sales are so ridiculously high that it almost doesn’t matter. Outside of the group, Hyorin’s one of the biggest stars in K-pop with six top three solo hits under her belt, while Soyu’s also slaying the charts with her various collaboration singles. And then there’s Dasom, who’s starting to do well as an actress now. SISTAR just needs to work on building up their fanbase a bit more so they can sell more albums and concert tickets, since that seems to be their only real weakness right now.
Tier 3: 2NE1, Davichi
2NE1’s fallen far due to mismanagement from YG Entertainment, and out of the three singles they released last year, only one was a real hit (“Missing You”). Still, they’ve got a fiercely loyal fanbase and are loved by the public, and could probably move back up a tier if their upcoming album does well (which I’m sure it will if YG ever decides to release it).
As for Davichi, they’ve been one of K-pop’s biggest digital sellers since they debuted, and are only getting bigger and bigger with each passing year. All five singles they released last year made it into the 2013 year-end chart, with two of them (“Turtle” and “Be Warmed”) in the top ten. They were also the most streamed and most downloaded female artist of last year, and won three music program awards despite not being a typical idol act.
Tier 4: Girl’s Day, f(x), 4minute
Girl’s Day had an incredible 2013, scoring their first music program win and placing two singles in the 2013 year-end chart. 2014 looks set to offer more of the same, with their latest single, “Something,” already being the biggest hit of 2014 so far. They’re also doing extremely well when it comes to big endorsement deals, not to mention Minah’s success as an MC and Yura’s various acting roles.
4minute have mediocre physical sales when Cube aren’t doing their usual shady buy backs, but “What’s Your Name?” was the sixth biggest single of 2013, and HyunA’s a humongous star in her own right. The group’s 2YOON subunit also managed to get a top ten single last year with “24/7,” while 4minute’s new digital single, “Only Gained Weight,” just debuted at No. 5 on the Gaon chart without an MV or any promo.
As for f(x), they only just scraped into tier 4 thanks to their strong physical sales and catalogue of past hits. Their last single, “Rum Pum Pum Pum,” had huge first-week sales, but sunk shortly after and failed to make the top 100 of the yearly chart. Right now, f(x) is the kind of group that appears to be more popular than they actually are, and this is SM Entertainment’s fault. SM’s had f(x) making just one comeback a year, and promo for their last album was pulled after a couple of weeks to make way for EXO. But if SM gets behind the group again, I’m confident that they can move up a tier and get back to where they were during the Pinocchio/Hot Summer era.
Tier 5: miss A, Brown Eyed Girls, A Pink, SECRET, T-ara, KARA, Crayon Pop
Both miss A and Brown Eyed Girls peaked a few years ago, but they can still snag top five hits and they both benefit from having huge solo stars in their respective groups with Suzy and Ga-In. T-ara and KARA both damaged their popularity with scandals, but they can also still make the top five and their physical sales are higher than most other girl groups outside of YG and SM.
A Pink are on the way up and should be in a higher tier by next year. They had the third highest-selling album from a female artist last year (behind f(x) and SNSD) and 13th highest-selling song with “NoNoNo.” Not to mention Eunji and Naeun’s individual careers, with both girls successfully crossing over into acting and variety.
People think SECRET are total flops now, but that’s not entirely true. While their popularity has severely diminished, “YooHoo” still managed to make No. 30 on the yearly chart, and Jieun had a solo top ten single with “Tortured Hope.” Meanwhile, Sunhwa’s still acting and doing variety, and Hyosung just scored a role in a drama series. I do wonder if they’d be doing even better if it hadn’t been for Hyosung’s ilbe scandal, though…
As for Crayon Pop, their breakout single, “Bar Bar Bar,” is now one of the biggest and most iconic girl group hits in K-pop history, and their special Christmas single, “Lonely Christmas,” showed some surprising longevity on the charts despite only peaking at No. 12. They’ve definitely earned their place in this tier, but they’ll need another big hit this year if they want to stay here.
Tier 6: After School, Rainbow, Nine Muses, Dal Shabet, Sunny Hill, Ladies’ Code
The biggest thing about After School these days is Orange Caramel (who haven’t had a comeback since 2012), while Rainbow hasn’t been able to crack the top ten since 2011. Dal Shabet aren’t exactly big, but they’re consistently solid, with only one of their eight singles ever missing the top twenty, while Nine Muses were finally able to establish themselves with four back-to-back comebacks of varying success last year.
Ladies’ Code have made a rapid rise for a rookie group outside of the big three, already scoring two top twenty hits and having two singles (“Bad Girl” and “Pretty Pretty”) that managed to hang around on the charts for a surprisingly long time.
Last but not least is Sunny Hill, who are much more successful than most people realize. They’ve had five top ten hits overall, and made the yearly chart in both 2012 and 2013. Their latest single is actually the only flop they’ve had since relaunching in 2011, and it still managed to make the top 40.
Tier 7: SPICA, AOA, The SEEYA, Hello Venus, Jewelry
AOA’s going to climb up a tier soon thanks to the success of “Miniskirt,” but they’re stuck here for now until the song’s chart run is over. Most people know SPICA thanks to Lee Hyori, but the group’s still struggling to take things to the next level on their own, while The SEEYA’s been performing solidly since they debuted, but aren’t even close to becoming real stars yet. Jewelry somehow manages to hang around and even made the top twenty last year with “Hot & Cold,” while Hello Venus are known to people and seem to have a small but strong fanbase, but they still haven’t had a hit yet.
Tier 8: FIESTAR, GLAM, EXID, RaNia, Chocolat, F-ve Dolls, BESTie, Wa$$up.
I feel like this last tier is pretty self-explanatory. I do want to single out EXID, though, who looked like they were on their way up after the epic “Every Night,” but then vanished into thin air and haven’t made a full group comeback since. BESTie haven’t had a hit but there seems to be some buzz behind them right now, while Wa$$up managed to get a lot of media attention for their trashy twerk concept. I think we’ll see either GLAM or BESTie breakout this year and rise higher, so keep an eye on those two.
Anyway, here’s a BLADY MV. Let’s all watch it and think positive thoughts so maybe Kween BLADY can crack tier 8 next year.