K-Pop Unmuted: Jazz & K-Pop

On Episode 28 of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight is joined by musician and podcaster Rhodri Thomas to discuss Jazz and Kpop. We talk about the influence of jazz on a dozen Kpop songs. We also discuss our K-pop Unmuted picks, The Snowman by Jung Seung Hwan, and Bboom Bboom by Momoland.

You can listen to this episode, and previous ones, of KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted on Soundcloud, iTunes, and Stitcher.

Let us know what you think of K-pop in 2017’s latest and KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted 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.

Playlist Sunday: Roaring Twenties

kpop songs playlist 1920s 20s

2016 is less than a month away, which means that the roaring twenties will be closer to us than the 2010’s. KultScene’s staff is always excited when it comes to throwback elements in K-pop songs, and you can hardly get more retro than the 1920’s jazz and swing music. This week’s Playlist Sunday is dedicated to the roaring twenties, and to all the brassy jazz songs we can’t but help to love.

Every other K-pop song nowadays incorporates soul and funk into their hybrids, but TVXQ mixed in jazz and a swing elements to their 2014 single “Spellbound.” And while the choreography is meant to seem as a magic show to fit with the song’s theme of love as a spell, it’s the ‘20s style of it all that stood out most to me. The dancers wearing what a “Sexy Mobster” Halloween costume would look like and the modern art deco-lite casino room made me think of the Prohibition era in the US, when citizens were constitutionally barred from drinking alcohol and Al Capone and the likes terrorized cities like Chicago over bootleg alcohol and drugs. Not to mention the music video starts out in grayscale and eventually changes to color, even though the palette remains mainly black and white, hinting at when subtractive color in film was first introduced (which was also in the 1920’s). But of course, “Spellbound” isn’t that deep. Regardless, it’s a gem of a song and choreography and should be recognized.

— Alexis

Also on KultScene: 6 K-Drama Girl Friendship Goals

Brown Eyed Girls are the purveyors of jazz in K-pop. In particular, their album “Sixth Sense” is full of jazz tracks that burst with retro excitement. Each one is single worthy but right now my favorite is “Vendetta.” It is, naturally, about a girl out for violent revenge against a boy. Ferocious acid jazz accompanies the passionate vocals of Brown Eyed Girls who bite and snarl every line to great effect. Drums roll at lightening speeds and horns blow loudly in a song that updates the ‘20s jazz as a soundtrack for bitter women. Also the way Miryo says ‘vendetta’ at the end of her rap is the coolest.

— Joe

Most people’s first impression when they hear Lee Hi sing for the first time is “wait, how is that voice coming out of a little girl like her?” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel that same shock the first time I heard her voice. How can one possess as much pizazz and soul at her age? A number of Lee Hi songs contain a jazz element but “Rose” in particular is a beautiful blend of jazz and R&B, both genres in which she excels at. It’s always refreshing to hear a K-pop song that isn’t under the influence of dubstep and auto tune. It’d be great to see more musicians who were able to apply their great vocals and deep emotions like Lee Hi towards all their songs in order to improve it metaphorically. Like many others, I’m just waiting for a Lee Hi come back because it’s been way too long!


Also on KultScene: OWOL’s ‘Dream On You’ Music Video & Song Review

You can’t get more jazzy than the princess of K-pop, IU herself. Recent scandals aside, IU’s voice was practically built for jazzy, all-over-the-place numbers and she does it the best in “The Red Shoes.” The song is technically (at least according to its official information) a bit more like the big band swing of the 30’s than the roaring 20’s, but the brass elements and tapping beat would have any flapper getting her game on. IU’s voice goes all over the place in accompaniment to the spiraling, twisting and turning elements of the song and music video, and throws in some nice onomatopoeia elements for good measure. If Gatsby was Korean, he’d probably be as in love with this song as I am.


What’s your favorite 1920’s themed K-pop song? Or maybe any of the other cities? 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.

SM Entertainment: The ‘Brand’

sm entertainment smtown sm artists idols groups

A few weeks back I wrote about the idea of authenticity that YG Entertainment uses to sell its artists. While I stand by most of my opinions, I feel it comes across as too one sided. I was ready to slam YG and I didn’t stop to consider the ideals of other companies. By other companies I really mean SM Entertainment. They are the yang to YG’s yin. My YG article clearly misses that yang, there is a sense that I prefer a different approach to the YG one, but don’t touch on it. I don’t know if I prefer the approach, but I do prefer SM’s music, so that probably influenced my opinion.

The Asian idol system is a thoroughly transparent one. Fans are allowed to see all elements of how an idol comes to be, their extensive training in not just singing and dancing but acting, PR, and fitness. It is not an entirely glamorous regime, but it’s what it takes to be a star. This transparency means, however, that fans are also under no illusion as to the creators of the music and its authenticity. SM makes no attempt to hide this or push their artists beyond this. So why is SM so popular and yet have no discernible musical figureheads?

Another writer on KultScene got to the heart of this when she wrote about how SM and Disney are very similar companies. It wasn’t totally positive either, equating the recent controversies of SM to Disney’s own troubles with diversity and such. In the context of the companies actual content though, for me, it boils down to the “brand.” These companies are loyal to their brand and what will make their brand the most money. SM has time and again shown that the overall company is more important than any individual. From apparent slave contracts to over-worked idols, no company has had as many high profile departures than SM. The amount of cases show it be a serious problem for young idols and show a lack of understanding from an imposing company.

While groups like Shinhwa and Fly To The Sky left SM after their contracts expired and achieved much success, leaving SM Entertainment prior to the end of the contract has meant difficulties.

The worst of all, of course, is the case where three members left former-quintet TVXQ,  which left Junsu, Jaejoong and Yoochun  (who formed JYJ) unable to attend any Korean television programs. If they do, the station that shows them will potentially not get any SM coverage in the future, losing the station a ton of potential viewers. So JYJ is essentially blacklisted (although Junsu just performed for the first time on television in six years, thanks to EBS.)


 Also on KultScene: What Will SM Entertainment Look Like In 2015?

Like Disney, people have grown to essentially worship the brand of SM. Even after all these controversies, loyalty remains and the fans nearly always side with the group and not the individual. This sort of attitude can lead to a company becoming a Disney-like juggernaut, and that’s a problem. If SM continues growing and accumulating smaller companies, like Woollim Entertainment, they can build a possible monopoly. This might not seem so bad since Woollim has been proceeding business as usual with their affairs, but they’re still under SM’s control. If this continues, the whole Korean music industry would revolve around SM, making it possible that if SM goes under, so does all of K-pop.

Let’s steer away from the dramatics for now and back to a real, current problem for SM: the treatment of individual stars. Maybe it’s not a problem, but just a clear difference in style to YG. Emblematic of SM’s love of the brand, they prioritize cohesive groups over individual talents. It was actually listening to F(x)’s Pink Tape and realizing how replaceable they are as a group that gave me the idea for this article. Yet I still think it is one of the best full length albums in K-pop history. Apart from TVXQ and to a lesser extent, SHINee, all of SM’s groups feature members that could be left out and would make no difference to the quality of their music. Similarly, no group has a defining creative head like G-Dragon, CL or even Bobby, whenever iKon debut. Even TVXQ who are possibly the most talented group in K-pop history, do not have a creative head, merely extremely proficient singers and dancers. This lack of strong individuals shows SM are not interested in people who leave the group or company, in order to shine on their own right as solo artists, overshadowing their previous SM-related efforts. When one of them threatens to possibly do this, they are swiftly taken care of, like former Girls’ Generation member and head of fashion line Blanc & Eclare Jessica Jung.

What about the music these large, anonymous groups are releasing though? This is where it gets tougher to pin SM down. SM is known for creating songs it dubs SMP, SM Music Performance. This is a type of song that is created together as a complete song and performance, which cannot be separated. Essentially, these are incredibly complex songs that go above and beyond what a pop song is expected to be. Examples are SNSD’s I Got A Boy and TVXQ’s Rising Sun. What’s really interesting though is that these are the type of songs that big brands would never dream of releasing. They play with structure in strange ways and swap genre without any notice. Pop songs were designed to lull you into security, make you feel at ease so you won’t go against the system. SM does the opposite and its makes for an interesting case.

To find out why SM does this though, is not easy to find out. We can look at the producers of the songs. A lot of them are outside producers, people like Teddy Riley, Will Simms and The Stereotypes. SM would not let them produce such weird tracks without their consent though, and probably would have even specifically picked out songs like this. This comes across as more of a negative in reality, as it makes SM seem uninterested in even their own artistry not just their groups. Always using outside producers gives them an image of business people rather than musicians, but this is not wholly true either. There are many in house writers and producers like Yoo Young Jin, who has worked on almost every great SM song since its inception.

 Also on KultScene: Artist Spotlight: DaeNamHyup

My last and most likely theory has more to do with the Korean public than the music itself. South Korea did not have pop music as we know it until 1992 when Seo Taiji and The Boys burst onto the scene with their musical fusion. They mixed rap, metal, dance, and many more genres to create something never heard before in the country. At the time they used this music to criticize Korean society (see Gyosil Idea,) which Seo Taiji still does to this day, and it worked thanks to the genre mashing and structure bending forms of their songs. They were so popular, however, that this style of music eventually became commonplace in K-pop. So maybe SM’s songs today are not as strange and revolutionary as I thought, but merely the norm in the country.

One thing I can be sure of though is that SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment have completely different ideologies when it comes to their brand. Of what I have written about, they do share at least one thing in common, having lots of great, artsy teasers, but not delivering with the final product (WINNER for YG and EXO for SM) and I hate them both for it. Ultimately, I don’t know what side I come down on in favor anymore. I prefer SM’s music, but I don’t respect any of their individuals as much as I respect CL and her brazen individuality amongst idols. Either way I’m supporting a big brand whose only goal is to make lots of money.

Let’s support neither of them. Go find a smaller company whom you can get behind and encourage by rewarding quality music and artistry with your support. Like Chrome Entertainment, home of Crayon Pop, whose DIY attitude is already changing K-pop or Source Music who have been accused by netizens of making deals with journalists so G-Friend can get on the charts or any other of the large number of smaller, less corporate companies currently struggling to stay afloat.

What do you think of SM Entertainment’s system? Who do you prefer SM or YG? 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.

[This article was updated on April 21, 2015.]

Playlist Sunday: Animal Edition

This week, KultScene’s staff highlights some of our favorite animal-influenced songs. While some songs are more closely related to animals, whether it be their title or the outfits that the singers wear while performing or the lyrics of the song, these six songs from TVXQ, EXO, T-ara, and 2AM’s Jo Kwon will hopefully make you think of the animal kingdom.

“What are you supposed to be?” “I’m a mouse, duh.” Oh, Mean Girls. T-ara’s Bo Peep Bo Peep is a bit along the same lines, just with some adorable ears, tails, and gloves. The song’s addictive hook and catchy dance led to much success from T-ara in 2009 when the song was released, and became the song that the group debuted with in Japan in 2011. So Little Bo Peep is actually the shepherdess of the sheep, but T-ara’s dressed like cute cats, so it definitely counts, right?


My pick for this week’s Playlist Sunday is not a literal translation to animal. EXO’s Let Out The Beast uses adjectives that describe animals, such as “instinct”, “gazes”, “unleash the beast” and so on. These words describe the animal within us and EXO urges everyone to let it out and to have a great time while living your life. Let Out The Beast has a great beat and infectious chorus that makes it easy to sing along to and to get pumped up for whatever it is you’re doing. So unleash your inner beast and enjoy everything life throws at you.

— Tara

Also on KultScene: When K-Pop Lineups Change – 9 Muses

TVXQ’s “Balloons” is a single off of their 2006 album “O-Jung.Ban.Hap.” This song and music video is extremely bubbly and upbeat and can attract viewers of any age group. When this first came out 8 years ago, it was targeted towards the younger generation, hence the adorable animal outfits and cute choreography but it was also a reminder for the older generation of their forgotten youth. When you’re young, all you want to do is to “grow up” and do all these adult things that you see people around you do; you rush through so much of your childhood, so much that the things that use to be important, no longer mattered; that is, until you’re an adult and those memories come flooding back which then causes you to question where the time went.

“Balloons” continues to be a reminder for the viewers, new and old, of those beautiful childhood memories and the pure innocence that your childhood contained. Besides the fact that this song can make one feel warm and happy inside, how can you look past the fact that these were grown guys wearing animal onesies?!


If there’s any song that expresses one’s inner animal is 2AM’s Jo Kwon’s track Animal. There is no official music video for the song but Jo Kwon fiercely performed in a very avant-garde look. Decked out in feathers, leather, and Jeffrey Campbell’s heel-less shoes Jo Kwon defined the norms and fully expressed himself with his fashion. The track is perfect for a night out to “turn up” with your friends. Plus the song features pre-debut BTS J-Hope which adds that roughness that was needed in the song.


The first time I heard TVXQ’s Yunho’s solo Honey Funny Bunny at their Catch Me World Tour, my lust for him awoke. I was covering the event for an outlet and I was barely getting acquainted with the group, and I couldn’t believe Yunho was making those movements on stage. To say my jaw dropped to the floor in surprise and excitement is an understatement. But despite the very sensual choreography, the song is actually pretty cool too, being an endearing ode to his “bunny.” The smoothness in Yunho’s vocals made me think that R&B is his genre; Honey Funny Bunny is baby making music at its best.

— Alexis

More EXO here but this time it’s their best song, Wolf. You heard me right, their almost universally hated second single is my favourite EXO song and was one of my favourite’s of 2013. The reason I like it so much is because from those first few flute notes to the last ‘awoos’ I had no idea where this song was going to go. Each moment surprised and delighted me and made me want to keep coming back to get my head around it. The wolf concept is used well in the dance and lyrics, despite their cheesiness at times (get it?). EXO’s movements are animalistic and they come off with great energy on stage when performing. Each part of this song is executed in an abnormal fashion but comes together to create a complete performance in true S.M fashion.


Did we forget any “animal” related songs? 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.

Top 10 K-Pop Dance Performances of 2014

Dancing is hugely important to a complete K-pop performance. It is what sets them apart from western pop stars and is one of the biggest draws for western fans. So it is appropriate that we celebrate the year in dances and showcase the best K-pop has to offer. There is a great amount of variety on show here from the most personal of dances to beautiful teamwork. Check out our top songs, videos and albums of the year along with this to get a sense of what we thought of this year in K-pop.

10. Got7 A

JYP rookies Got7 start off this list with their bubblegum hit A. While it is not as powerful or intricate as the rest of this list, A’s dance perfectly balances a sense of fun with great choreography. The boys effortlessly move from chit-chatting in a group to their proper moves all while retaining the fun side. The dance moves are simple, fresh but with quick timing. The choreography matches up with the youthful feeling of Got7 seamlessly.


9. EXO Overdose

With a group as big as EXO’s, the positioning of the members is always going to be hard. As they have released more songs though, they have gotten better and better at their use of the stage. Overdose furthers their reputation of delivering original choreography and inspired use of 12 members. Even after the loss of Kris and Luhan, EXO adapted and continued performing this song to the best of their ability. Plus, with someone as charismatic as Kai leading your dance it’s hard not to look good.


8. TVXQ Something

When it comes to choreographic perfection in K-pop you may look no further than the reigning kings, TVXQ. Something adds to this with a gimmick of microphones and strings. Yunho and Changmin are first held by the strings so they can lean back and look cool. They then use them like the strings of guitar in a charming way to start off the song. Apart from the gimmicks, the choreography is performed to perfection as usual. These boys are up there with the best pop performers in the world, not just K-pop.


7. VIXX Eternity

VIXX are known for their imaginative and relevant choreography and this year they delivered that on two singles. Eternity stands out over Error because of the sheer kinetic prowess on display. Everything that the members do seems connected from the lifting of the members at the start to the intense chorus. The energy and physicality VIXX brings to their performances is unparalleled. They even do the scorpion move made famous by INFINITE and make it seem like no big deal.


Also on KultScene: VIXX and its Successful Use of Themes



INFINITE’s members are easily some of the best performers in all of K-Pop. Of course, they are always helped out by excellent choreography and Back is no different. Their second single of the year marked a return to form in song and dance. They use classic techniques like the shadowing of member Hoya at the beginning and their own techniques like the first post-chorus breakdown, which is spectacular in its originality, to great effect. Also, the drop is EVERYTHING.


5. Nasty Nasty Knock

Star Empire’s experimental sub-group consisting of ZEA’s Kevin, Nine Muses’ Kyungri and trainee Sojin beat Trouble Maker at their own game this year with their single Knock. Nasty Nasty took Trouble Maker’s concept of the co-ed duet to portray a relationship in a performance but added another girl to up the ante. What sounds like a possible conceptual disaster turned out to be one of the sexiest and best performances of the year. The smooth moves are perfectly performed by the three with Kevin exuding charisma he’s unable to show in ZEA, Kyungri maturing into a confident star, and Sojin showcasing great potential.


4. Taemin Danger

SHINee’s maknae well and truly became a man with his debut solo release Danger. Taemin channels his inner Michael Jackson in the song and dance, and pulls it off as well as we might have expected. He brings power and precision to original, intricate moves. The dance moves from bouts of restraint before exploding into powerful actions for the climax. Taemin brought his energy and identity to his solo work and it paid off enormously.


Also on KultScene: Why Taemin Was First In SHINee To Go Solo


3. Nicole MAMA

Former KARA member Nicole’s debut song MAMA may not have been a huge hit but its lyrics about sexual frustration and choreography that matches were some of the best of the year. The whole focus of the song seems to be on the choreography, as Nicole knows where her strength lies. The dance plays as a symbolic move from the sweet, innocent Nicole of KARA to the confident, sexy Nicole we now see. She is alluring with the female backup dancers and is sought after with all the male dancers. Her stage presence and execution has only gotten better since leaving KARA. We may have the next BoA on our hands.


2. TVQX Spellbound

If TVXQ are some of the best pop performers in the world then they had to make two appearances on this list right? Both Spellbound and Something were incredible dances but Spellbound wins out because it does away with gimmicks. In it both Yunho and Changmin are given time to shine on their own with the best use of backing dancers in K-pop yet. The two really shine when together though, as in the incredible moves during the chorus and the breakdown that comes three and a half minutes in. This is the best executed performance of the year so what could possibly have beaten it to number one?


1. HA:TFELT Ain’t Nobody

In deciding a number one for this list it came down to measured brilliance or raw personal energy. Ultimately, Wonder Girl Ye Eun’s alter ego beat out TVXQ as she offered up something we had not yet seen before from any idol. Taking cues from Sia’s Chandelier, the choreography is interpretive and full of emotions. Feeling comes out of every slight movement of Ye Eun’s body which coupled with her intense voice makes Ain’t Nobody a truly complete performance. Every aspect of her performance created a personal story which has never been encountered in K-pop. For once, we are witnessing art rather than a product.

What 2014 K-Pop dances are your favorites? Share your picks in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

What Will SM Entertainment Look Like In 2015?

A lot happened at SM Entertainment in 2014 and very few of those things were good. Multiple artists leaving the company in very public scandals reflected badly on SM, as opposed to its main rival YG Entertainment that has kept stock prices high despite a few scandals of its own. That’s why in order to maintain its place as one of the top entertainment companies in K-Pop, SM Entertainment needs to have an extremely solid year in 2015.

In case you missed what happened during the tumultuous year, here are a few things that happened to the company itself and its artists that you should know before reading KultScene’s analysis of what 2015 will potentially bring.


  • January
    -Sooyoung of Girls’ Generation confirms relationship days after YoonA confirmed to be dating Lee Seung Gi

  • February
    -Baljunso, an indie music label, acquired by SM Entertainment
  • April
    -Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany confirms relationship with 2PM’s Nichkhun
    -Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon reported for assault on ex-boyfriend
  • May
    -Kris (Wu Yifan) leaves EXO
    -SM Entertainment stock falls 10 points
  • June
    -Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon and EXO’s Baekhyun’s relationship confirmed
  • July
    -Sulli goes on hiatus from f(x)
    -Super Junior’s Leeteuk discharged from army
  • August
    -Red Velvet Debut and Music Video Controversy
    -Sulli confirmed to be in relationship with Dynamic Duo’s Choiza
  • September
    -Girls’ Generation renews contracts with SM
    -Jessica removed from Girls’ Generation
  • October
    -Luhan leaves EXO
    -SM stock falls 10 points
    -SM Entertainment releases statement implying outside forces are affecting EXO
  • -Zhoumi debuts as solo artist
    -SM Entertainment surpassed in market value by YG Entertainment
  • November
    -Kyuhyun debuts as solo artist
  • December
    -Super Junior’s Sungmin gets married
    -SM Rookiez Taeyong’s cyberbully past exposed, SM Entertainment releases apology

Separate entertainment agencies’ (Woollim, Baljunso) artists under SM not included in this list.

Also on KultScene: YG Entertainment Wants You To Know It’s Different

Until April, everything was developing fairly well for SM Entertainment. Artists were releasing music, appearing in dramas, variety shows and films, and holding concerts. The dating scandals, once devastating to idols’ careers, were accepted with grace by fans. Even Hyoyeon’s potentially devastating assault case was relatively quiet.

Starting in May, SM saw multiple members leaving from some of the top groups; Girls’ Generation, EXO, and f(x) all lost members. But the company has seen mass exoduses before. In 2009 three members of TVXQ (who are now known as JYJ) and a Super Junior member (Hangeng) left their groups while two others went inactive (although Kangin has returned to the group).

How did SM get over the changes that time? It promoted different groups like Super Junior and SHINee to fill the void when TVXQ’s two members were almost entirely inactive. Super Junior, despite members leaving, is a large enough group that it was able to make up for the losses. EXO may very well do the same this time around, but with further rumors that members will be leaving, SM Entertainment may change its entire format for the upcoming year. Furthermore, Sulli’s hiatus from f(x) and Jessica’s departure from Girls’ Generation are also troublesome for the company, which has lost serious face.

The ongoing struggles between artists and the company have led stocks to drop extremely low, and both shareholders and fans have little faith in it. SM Entertainment needs to make 2015 one of its best years ever, otherwise face the signs that it may not be the top entertainment company in South Korea anymore.

What SM Is Likely To Do:

-Release a new SHINee album in the first quarter of 2015. SHINee is SM Entertainment’s only group, other than Red Velvet, that hasn’t seen any lineup changes since it debuted in 2008. The group’s stalwart songs will likely be well received and raise faith in SM. A SHINee member is likely to debut as a solo artist, joining the youngest member of the group.

– Debut more solo artists. SM Entertainment has confirmed that f(x) rapper Amber and at least one male artist will promote as soloists in 2015. EXO and SHINee members are likely options due to popularity.

TVXQ: Yunho will likely join the army in 2015, which means that TVXQ will probably release at least one song, possibly an album, before his enlistment. There are some rumors that Changmin will be attending the army at the same time, but it is possible that he will join the list of SM artists who have been going solo.

-Girls’ Generation:Two options-

1. Nothing will change. Despite Jessica’s departure, Girls’ Generation has been doing well, holding concerts in Asia. More members will likely have acting roles in dramas, films, and musicals. Girls’ Generation’s nine members, including Jessica, renewed contracts with SM in September.

2. Girls’ Generation will disband. The girl group’s members will stay under SM and subgroup Girls’ Generation TTS may stay active. Many of the members have their own lucrative specialties that they may take as their sole career as they get older.

TRAX: Both members of SM Entertainment’s only band group are out of the army. Jungmo has been visibly active at the company, and will likely release a song on his own if not with fellow member Jay. TRAX has a small but strong fanbase, and SM needs to remind older fans why they like the label.

Super Junior: Super Junior will be holding Super Show 6 around the world. Members will continue to appear on variety shows, dramas, and radio shows. The group will likely release a new album at the end of the year. Leeteuk will appear on more and more variety shows to return to the role he held before the army, possibly gaining a MC spot. Siwon, for his part, will appear in a drama or film, and Kyuhyun will release a follow up to At Gwanghwamun probably at the start of the year. At least one member, if not more, will head to the army.

Sungmin’s marriage is problematic, but he had few solo activities that will be affected. If he leaves the group, it will be traumatic for fans. But Super Junior will likely continue on as it has, unless other members decide that the group is too old to promote.

Also on KultScene: Hello Venus And Sexism In K-Pop

SHINee: See above. Barring any scandals where a member leaves, the group will likely become SM’s headline group in 2015.

f(x): Amber will release a solo album in the first half of 2015. With or without Sulli, f(x) will continue on and most likely promote Krystal even further into the spotlight. Luna will possibly appear on variety shows and Victoria will continue on with her activities in China. The group will make a comeback in the summer.

EXO: The group is once again in the midst of rumors, hinting to further member’s suing SM Entertainment, and rumors are already flying about their disbandment.

EXO should be another Super Junior-esque situation, but it’s turning more and more into a TVXQ-like one, where fans have lost faith in SM Entertainment’s management. TVXQ took nearly a two-year hiatus when three of its members left. The group is planning a 2015 comeback, but things in EXO can change at a minute’s notice. If the rumors prove true once again, SM Entertainment may very well move the group to a backburner and have individual members promote without forcing the whole group together.

Red Velvet: With Girls’ Generation and f(x) in trouble, Red Velvet will likely start appearing in dramas and variety shows. They will probably make a comeback in the second quarter.

SM Rookies: Due to EXO’s issues, SM Entertainment may release a new boy group sometime in 2015.

Woollim Entertainment: Also under SM are INFINITE, Nell, Tasty, and Lovelyz. INFINITE and Lovelyz are technically rivals of Red Velvet, SHINee, and EXO, so they’ll likely not promote at the same time. INFINITE will probably make a comeback shortly after EXO does, and the same with Lovelyz following a Red Velvet comeback. Tasty will probably release Chinese music, but the duo hasn’t been overly popular in Korea so its unclear whether there will be a comeback. Nell needs to become SM’s rival to YG’s Epik High, as a group that attracts more mature listeners.

Everything, essentially, is up in the air. Some groups are more stable than others, but many of SM Entertainment’s groups have a lot of question marks.

What do you think SM Entertainment needs to do to make 2015 the reverse of 2014? 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.