KPop Idols vs. Singers (an important distinction)

KPop Idols vs. Singers (an important distinction)

In my time of following and listening to K-Pop, I’ve often heard the refrain: “[Inserts Name] can’t even sing, why is he/she even an idol” or “[Inserts Name] is in the group literally only because of his/her looks” used as insults for certain idols in certain groups. Here’s the thing though: even if these “insults’ were true, one can still be a valid and needed member of an idol group. As JYP puts it in the final episode of “Sixteen” (the show to choose Twice’s members), there is a distinction between idols and singers: “…singers, they have the freedom to unfold their music in serious subtle way. But idols, they need to quickly grab the audience’s attention.” In other words, a singer’s job is to sing, but an idol’s job is to entertain the audience. It’s a subtle but distinct difference. This is why there are different roles and different “personalities” in an idol group, because there are many different ways to entertain an audience, from dancing, to having good looks, to interacting with the audience, to singing, etc. Thus, there are many ways an idol can fulfill his or her job and bring success to the group. Entertaining an audience using singing skills is worth no more or less than entertaining an audience by being funny on a variety show. Even simply having good looks can be entertaining to an audience, as everyone likes to look upon good-looking people. In fact, one can argue that having variety show skills or other types of skills are more important than having singing skills for a singer. If the audience wanted to be entertained by singing, they would have gone and listen to an actual professional singer, not an idol group. They follow and watch an idol group to be entertained. That is not to say that singing ability is completely irrelevant to the life of an idol, but that there are many aspects to an idol’s jobs, and a member whose variety show skills is strong but whose singing skills are lacking is just as much an idol as another member who’s delivering pitch-perfect notes in a performance. A member who gives the group a better visual package is no less important than someone who’s in charge of choreography. An idol group depends on many things for success, not just singing skills, and this fact is often overlooked by many fans. It’s time to appreciate that there are many different types of talents an idol can bring to the table other than just “singing and dancing”.


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