As someone who has been listening to K-Pop since 2013, it has been interesting to see how much the genre has grown in popularity in the United States over the past seven years. In 2013, if you asked anyone if they had heard of the term ‘K-Pop,’ they would have likely looked at you with a bewildered expression. Nowadays, however, the chances of someone recognizing (and knowing) what K-Pop is have grown significantly. While this may be the case, though, a lot of people are still not aware of the numerous talented artists located in the K-Pop sphere.
In my last Her Campus article of the fall semester, I reviewed Obsession, the seventh studio album by SM Entertainment boyband EXO. For my first article of the spring semester, I wanted to touch on another group handled by SM Entertainment. This group, though, is quite different from EXO, as well as other artists under the label.
In early 2019, rumors swirled that SM Entertainment planned to debut a “K-Pop Supergroup” consisting of members from SM Entertainment’s current boy groups. These rumors later proved to be true. On August 7, 2019 Steve Barnett (Capitol Music Group’s chairman) and Lee Soo Man (SM Entertainment’s founder) announced the formation of SuperM at the Capitol Congress 2019, a collaboration project which the companies had been planning for almost a year. While SuperM is a joint project between SM Entertainment and Capitol Music, however, it is the latter who handles the group’s activities in the United States (this includes promotional ventures, concerts, and more).
The members of SuperM are: EXO’s Kai (main dancer and lead rapper) and Baekhyun (leader and main vocalist), WayV’s Lucas (lead rapper) and Ten (main dancer and lead vocalist), NCT 127’s Taeyong (main rapper and lead dancer) and Mark (main rapper and lead dancer), and SHINee’s Taemin (main dancer and main vocalist). And thus, the “Avenger’s of K-Pop” – as Lee Soo Man calls them – were born. An appropriate title, too, according to SM A&R executive Chris Lee, who says: “Each Avenger has their own group and Iron Man has his own movie and Thor has his own, but together, they have an even greater synergy, so that the members will pursue their own careers and own groups but also join together with synergy – a positive one.” With each member of SuperM being from a talented, successful group, it is no doubt they will bring something special to the table.
Now that we have established how SuperM came to be and who is apart of the project, let’s dive into the group’s first piece of work: Super M: The 1st Mini Album, released on October 4, 2019. As stated in my review of EXO’s Obsession, I am not a certified music critic. I am simply a person that enjoys music who wishes to share the pieces of entertainment I love.
Consisting of five tracks (seven if you include two instrumental tracks), SuperM: The 1st Mini Album begins with the title track “Jopping,” a word formed by combining“jumping” and “popping.” I won’t lie, when I first heard “Jopping,” I did not know what to think. I first heard the song while watching the music video, and I think my mind blanked out on the music during the entirety of the video (which reminded me of a cinematic blockbuster film – possibly like a Marvel film?), but then again, I have always had difficulty focusing on a song while watching its accompanying music video. After listening to the track a few times on Spotify, however, the song began to grow on me. “Jopping” is a sort of hype song, one that can be fully appreciated during a live concert. The electrifying introduction, the sounds of cheers during certain points of the instrumental, and the thunderous chorus are enough to make one dance in their seat. Definitely a track you want to listen to if you want a pick me up or vigorous workout.
Next up on the album is “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” Another hype song, this happens to be my favorite song off the album, too. I’ve always been a sucker for percussion in music, and the continuous drums in the instrumental were enough to pull me in. Like “Jopping,” “I Can’t Stand the Rain” is the type of track that can be easily appreciated during a concert. “I Can’t Stand the Rain” is also a good track which highlights the members vocal abilities – especially that of main vocalists Taemin and Baekhyun. Each member definitely shines in their own way, though, and I definitely recommend this song for that reason. In my opinion, it’s the album’s stand out track – it’s not difficult to understand its mass appeal.
“2 Fast” is the third track on the album, which is performed by members Taemin, Baekhyun, Mark, and Lucas. Personally, I don’t listen to this song as much as the others, but I still enjoy it a fair amount, as I can see the appeal in it. Compared to “Jopping” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” “2 Fast” has a chill and relaxing vibe. It’s the perfect song to listen to after a long day, when you just want to wind down and fall into a sense of tranquility. Taemin and Baekhyun are definite standouts on the track, their beautiful vocals giving the song a certain “oomph” to it; however, Mark and Lucas also add their own flavor to the song as well. Mark’s rapping abilities are not hard to miss, and neither are Lucas’ deep, melodic vocals. While the song isn’t my personal favorite, I do think it will appeal to those who enjoy music with a tranquil vibe.
Fourth track on the list is “Super Car,” which is performed by Taemin, Baekhyun, Taeyong, Ten, and Mark. The last hype song on the album, “Super Car” is definitely my third favorite track on the album (you’ll soon see what’s the second!). Done with an EDM-like composition, “Super Car” highlights the vocal abilities of Taemin, Baekhyun, and Ten, as well as the rapping capabilities of Taeyong and Mark. Amongst SuperM fans, “Super Car” has become quite a fan favorite. Whenever fans discuss with one another on what the best song off the album is, I often see this one pop up, and it’s not difficult to understand why once you hear it. It’s a fun song to listen to.
Last but not least is the track “No Manners,” which is performed by Taemin, Kai, Taeyong, and Ten. Fun fact: Taeyong also participated in the lyrics and composition of this song, and he did not disappoint at all! Like “Super Car,” “No Manners” is often regarded as a favorite among Super M fans. The songs composition is both sultry and mysterious, with lyrics that hint of a relationship which has become toxic. While I previously stated that “I Can’t Stand the Rain” is my favorite track off the album, “No Manners” is a close second. The melodic introduction reminds me of a mysterious city at night, where one might not know what to expect (though honestly, that just might be the creative writer in me speaking). Taemin and Ten are fantastic vocalists on this track, Kai’s unique voice is a warm welcome, and Taeyong, wow! Words cannot describe how amazing his rap is. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite part of the song. I definitely recommend this track.
While this album is only SuperM’s first, the group has shown they have a massive amount of potential. According to Billboard’s Keith Caufield, SuperM: The 1st Mini Album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling over 168,000 album-equivalent units (164,000 of which were album sales). This made SuperM the first Korean act to achieve a number one with a debut album. The album also earned a number one spot on the Billboard World Albums Chart, and has maintained the number one spot for twelve weeks while spending a total of thirteen weeks on the chart itself. In South Korea, the album also debuted at number three on the Gaon Weekly Albums Chart, selling 153,590 albums in just one day of tracking!
SuperM have proved with their debut mini album they are a force to be reckoned with, and I am excited to see what else they have in store for the future. If you yourself have not checked out the album, I encourage you to do so! I promise you won’t be disappointed. While there are only five songs on the album, I am certain everyone will at least like one of them. Crossing my fingers for a full album in the future!