At first, I had a hard time telling if the rookie group Bigstar were a parody group or if they were legit. If they are a parody, it’s fucking brilliant. If they are legit, it’s still fucking brilliant.
Bigstar’s debut single, “Hot Boy,” and its equally absurd MV brought flashbacks to the now-defunct K-Pop-inspired western boy band Heart2Heart, whose sole single and video, “Facebook Official,” I recapped a while back.
Oop sorry wrong photo
I couldn’t decide then if they were a joke or if they were legit, and while the jury’s still out, their precipitous breakup and leader Chad Future’s subsequent solo efforts suggest the former. Either way, unlike Bigstar, they failed pretty hard. If they were a parody, their humor was too tryhard and obvious to be very effective; if they were legit, well, the song and MV itself should speak for themselves.
So what makes Bigstar succeed where Heart2Heart failed? To address the obvious elephant in the room, no, it’s not because Bigstar is Korean. That helps, I’m sure, but I think successful parodies have to… you know, be any good. And therein lies Bigstar’s brilliance. The members have exhibited singing and dancing skills on par with their K-pop boy band contemporaries. Their songs, while absurd, sound like real K-pop songs, and are produced by Brave Bros, who has also worked with several prolific K-pop acts. In fact, the “Hot Boy” MV cost 300 million won (roughly $260,000 USD) to produce, although you’d never know it by looking at it (it does, however, have more polish the Heart2Heart’s “Facebook Official” MV, which looks like it was shot in SME’s back parking lot with whatever they managed to scrounge from the dumpster).
Furthermore, unlike Heart2Heart, Bigstar forged on after “Hot Boy,” releasing another single and a mini-album. While these subsequent efforts are not nearly so extravagant (their latest offering, “I Got Ya” is essentially three minutes of them photo bombing and clowning around—I guess they blew all their budget on “Hot Boy”), they still retain elements of Bigstar’s trademark absurdity, such as “Think”’s interpretive dance and “I Got Ya”’s ridiculous tiny-steps dance. The boys are still promoting regularly on music shows, and are showing no signs of slowing down.
It’s pretty clear the guys don’t take themselves that seriously. Their leader’s stage name is Feeldog, for one thing (the name in Korean also has an amusing possible Romanisation “Pill Doc”). Their particular ridiculous brand of humor also permeates their behind-the-scenes footage. If it’s all an act , it’s a good one. Although to be fair, asking a bunch of early 20s/late-teen guys to act stupid and trollish isn’t really a tall order.
For now, Bigstar are working the humor angle and it seems to be working out for them. They have thus far managed to convey clever spoofs of popular boy band motifs in their singles–in “Hot Boy,” the dramatic and overwrought “manly-man” shtick that was at the time being pushed by fellow rookie bands such as B.A.P., A-Jax, and Exo; in “Think,” the pseudoartistic melodrama exhibited in crooning boy band ballads such as MBLAQ’s “Cry” or Taeyang’s “Wedding Dress” (dude, Feeldog’s even sporting the trademark cornrows); in “I Got Ya”, the cutsey-boy aegyo reminiscent of early B1A4 or Boyfriend.
It remains to be seen whether Bigstar will “go legit” and release a song and concept played completely straight (and that’s about the only thing that’ll get played straight *rimshot*), or if they’ll disband and move on individually once they run out of things to parody or just get bored (or the public gets bored with them). If there is anything I have learned from being a K-pop fan for 2+ years (damn, it has been a long time), it’s that reinventing yourself is the key to staying relevant. And I ain’t talking about Bigstar’s satirical transformations. Unlike the efforts of Heart2Heart, there is a sincerity behind Bigstar’s absurdity that suggests these boys are genuinely committed to careers as idols. Thus far, they’ve been successful at gaining fans’ attention (as witnessed by the fangirl screams during live performances), but can they keep it? Or will they, like many before them, strut and fret their hour upon the stage and be seen or heard of no more?
It’s too soon to tell. But in the meantime I, for one, will be enjoying the ride.