When K-Pop Lineups Change – 9 Muses

Since their debut in 2010 Nine Muses have gone through eleven changes to their lineup. Only three original members remain to this day and yet they continue to promote. The group’s latest single Drama is actually their most successful to date. Changes to group lineups are not uncommon in K-pop and have had varying effects on each group that have had to deal with it. The effects of these changes do not only affect the group though, as fans see their favourite group being dismantled and rebuilt within a short time. This can change their perception as they feel a loss of essence in the group.

First and foremost, losing a group member is always hard. Whether it’s the most important or least important member, their loss will be felt immediately in the live performances. K-pop performances are built around perfectly synchronized choreography where each person has their part to play. When one of these people is taken out, the system must be broken down and built up again with other members taking over. Whether the group leaves a gap in their dance like 2PM post-Jay Park or reboots it like EXO after Luhan and Kris left, the difference is palpable.

Fans watch their favorites perform but notice new movements or gaps in the dance. What was once one of the most fluid things known to pop music becomes jarring. The K-pop dance changes.

Of course, the majority of groups move towards replacing their lost member before they even have to think about rejigging their choreography or line distribution. Most companies have floods of trainees desperate for their chance to shine in the company’s flagship group. Each of these trainees will be as talented, beautiful and charming as the members that were chosen to debut in this group. Despite their readiness, plugging the trainees into an already established group has difficulties that have nothing to do with talent.

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The longer a group has been together the more they come closer and the more fans grow to know each member and their personalities. The group dynamic becomes important on and off stage. When one member is plucked from or dropped into the group out of nowhere, this dynamic changes for the fans and the group itself. The most obvious example of this is T-ara and the trouble they had with former member Hwayoung. Ignoring the allegations of bullying and their various likeliness of truth, the members did seem to be more awkward with Hwayoung since she joined. The fans didn’t take to her too much as she hadn’t been given any good parts until Day By Day. It all culminated in a messy scandal which has essentially ruined T-ara’s career in Korea (but not China).

Something like what happened with T-ara was bound to happen with a group that was unlucky enough. The apparent bullying isn’t really the issue but one of a changing group dynamic is, a loss of the original essence of the group. This feeling, which groups like Girls’ Generation were built off, of a family performing together, is a powerful one for a fan. They can feel part of it as they cheer them on as a group and as individuals. Along with this fans can also feel protective of their family. So when it is changed, such as when Jessica left or was removed from Girls’ Generation, fans feel personally wronged. They may not stop supporting their group but the energy they had will start to simmer.

I know this because 9 Muses have been my favourite K-pop group for the past year or so. When Sera and Lee Sem left, however, I felt my love for them slip. How could I continue enjoying their music when my two favourite members have left? Forgetting my biased opinion of them, replacing the incredible, individual voice of Sera and the domineering rap and visual of Lee Sem would be seriously difficult. Even if they could be replaced adequately, it would be even harder for fans like me to forget the importance of these two members to the group.

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Once Drama was released, all was forgiven. Despite new members Sojin and Keumjo not fitting the Nine Muses image. Despite having only eight members. Despite this being their first single since Figaro not produced by Sweetune. Despite all this Drama is an absolute Nine Muses smash hit. The song sounds like a trip to the carnival at hyper speed, which bursts and drops unexpectedly. All this while keeping the signature Nine Muses sound and feel, thanks in most part probably to Erin’s rap which like, Sera’s voice, stands out amongst many similar sounding voices all over K-pop.

Drama made me realise that ultimately we’re all in this for the music. Individual members’ personalities may entice us to particular groups but without good songs we won’t really ever love that group. It also made me think that change isn’t so bad when it comes to pop music. Without the hindering ideals of authenticity pop music can deliver whatever it wants by whoever it wants. So new members can help a group grow and change to suit however this growth affects them. New voices, faces, and dancers can reinterpret older songs in their allowing a group to constantly reinvent itself.

One last thing. If you plan on making your very own K-pop group anytime soon, do not put the number of members in the name of your group. You don’t want to end up like Eight Muses.

How did you feel when your favourite group lost a member? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

5 replies
  1. Lauren Connolly says:

    “If you plan on making your very own K-pop group anytime soon, do not put
    the number of members in the name of your group. You don’t want to end
    up like Eight Muses.”

    Have you never heard of the Nine Muses of Greek Mythology? Additionally, 9MUSES promoted a long time without 9 members, prior to dolls we had no Sungah and prior to News there was no Kyungri.

    Lee Sam hasn’t really rapped since Ticket anyway and despite being your favourite group, you’ve failed to mention Eunji who had essentially swapped roles with Lee Sam to provide as the 2nd rapper throughout 2013’s releases.

    Line Up changes aren’t always as dramatic as you’re playing them out to be, many groups have gone through lineup changes without the need for lawsuits or scandals. It’s the mindset that SONES had about OT9 that’s unhealthy and causes this unnecessary discussion around changes. Wondergirls went through various lineup changes and remained a popular group for a fair while afterwards.

    Reply
    • CaptainJoeHook
      CaptainJoeHook says:

      I know they didn’t always have nine that last line was a joke. I didn’t mention Eunji because she sucks. No it’s not always this dramatic but I thought it warranted a look anyway and my ending explains how I feel about it which covers Wonder Girls and other groups like them

      Reply
      • MuZik Man says:

        I feel you, CaptainJoeHook. It may not have to be dramatic all the time, but I’m finding out that Kpop fans are some of the most ‘hard’ and unfogiving fans there are. Take like what happened with AOA and two of them messing up on some Korean history. Maybe they should have known more than they did, but to denounce a whole group over something like that to me is ridiculous. It already hurts that Nine Muses is going through what they are going through, but it would devastate me more is even one member of AOA left the group. To Lauren’s point, yes, it does happen all the time that members of groups leave; that is no surprise. I think what really hurts is when it’s a group that has been together for a long time and has seemed to always get along with each other and the management company. Like with Girls’ Generation. I’ve gotten over the fact that Jessica is not there anymore, but when this all first happened, I got to tell you that my heart was broken. I almost broke down in tears. Why? Because every since I have been following Girls’ Generation, they have always been ten strong. So, when one of the left (or got released- whichever it was), it hurt…..it really hurt. I think they were right not to try and replace her, but I guess life goes on. I hate what my Muses are now down to six members with no real plan of what’s going to happen with them. But as I said, life goes on and we have to adjust. My favorite Kpop group, Girls’ Generation, will one day come to an end, as all groups will. It saddens me to think about it, but it’s true, as a lot of the individuals in these groups want to settle down, get married and have children. So ultimately, one day our favorite group(s) will call it quits and we will just have to enjoy them as they were. The 2013 year was the best for Nine Muses and they had the best lineup then as well, in my opinion.

        Reply

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