Over a 100 teams debuted as idols between 2011 and 2012, adding to the already fierce competition between rookies, senior idols and non-idols. Most rookies hit the hard wall of reality and ended up disbanding, while others started touring offline events instead of televised broadcasts.
In their midst, however, there are rookie groups that have managed not only to stand out, but also to threaten the status of other groups already in existence. B1A4 is one of them. This group swept up rookie awards inside and outside Korea with its five albums and even won a Bonsang at the Golden Disc Awards this year.
We interviewed the members of B1A4, who are busy with broadcasts, commercial shoots and working on its next album.
Member CNU said, "Our popularity? To be honest, we can′t really feel it yet. Still, thanks to our appearances on Immortal Song more older people recognize us at highway rest stops. I feel proud whenever that happens."
The group′s fan club has already managed to gather over 140,000 people, ranking it among the large-scale fan clubs. The age groups of the fans in the fan club have also diversified following the group′s appearance on Immortal Song, as more non-teenage fans have started to join in. San Deul and Baro won the Kim Bum Ryong special with their rendition of How to Live Like a Man, achieving a rare win as idol group members.
On the day the episode aired, B1A4 held its first exclusive concert in Seoul. The feat came just 600 days since the group′s debut, with 11,000 fans there to witness it.
Baro said, "I don′t know how the other members felt, but I was really nervous. I was nervous the entire time I was onstage too. The second day was better because I had settled down a little... but on the first day I was near a so-called ′mental breakdown.′ I thought personally that maybe I fit better in smaller club performances in which I can get closer to our fans."
Armed with its popularity, the group went on to hold concerts in Japan in January, meeting with over 30,000 fans. It is rare for a rookie group to sell out all seats in an arena just seven months since its debut in the country. The feat proved that the group didn′t win the Rookie of the Year award and the Best 3 New Artist Award for nothing at the Japan Golden Disk Awards.
Baro said, "We had held an exclusive concert in Korea, but we were still nervous. We′ve been in a variety of performances but I guess it will never change that I′ll feel nervous just before going onstage. I′m sure that the passionate support from our fans helped me jump and sing onstage for three hours."
On the last day of the group′s Japan concert, Baro put on a secret sketchbook event like the one that appears in the film Love Actually, drawing tears from even Gong Chan, rarely known to show tears.
Gong Chan said, "It was an incident that forced me into tears when I had held back all this time compared to my fragile big brothers. I could really feel the sincere message Baro wanted to convey to us and our fans, and I kept thinking back to what we had been through all this time. I broke down alone after the concert in the bathroom."
B1A4 will soon be celebrating its second anniversary in K-Pop. Did the members feel they had accomplished any of their official goals yet?
CNU said, "I had a goal so great I was embarrassed to say it, but I set such a high goal because I believed I would be able to get closer to such goals. It′s hard for us to say exactly what our goals are and how far we′ve come now; we′ve just taken our first step from the starting point. We′ll work hard to show our better sides."
"When we first released our album, I was simply in awe," Jin Young said. "Now, however, I′m completely different. I feel more responsibility now. I feel I should always improve.... Many thoughts buzz through my head when I′m working."
B1A4 concluded its interview with a message for its fans.
San Deul said, "We feel that we should repay our fans′ love by becoming even better with every day. These days the members have been talking things over, sharing new thoughts and concerns, so I′m sure we′ll be able to emerge as better singers. We won′t let you down, so please keep your eye on us."
Photo credit: enews DB
Reach reporter Park HyunMin on Twitter @happygato!