Sunday 4 December 2011

Why Korean pop group Super Junior is bigger than the Beatles

So did you catch the Mnet Asian Music Awards (Mama) on Channel U last week? It was held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Tuesday night.

I’m not a fan of Korean pop, but I think K-pop group Super Junior, who won the awards for Best Male Group, Album Of The Year and Singapore’s Choice, is the greatest boy band in the world ever.

Yes, even bigger than the Beatles.

I mean, literally.

The Beatles were only four people. Super Junior at one point had as many as 13 members, which mathematically made Super Junior more than three times bigger than the Fab Four.

Take that, John, Paul, Ringo and George! (Speaking of which, Take That is also bigger than the Beatles, but only when Robbie Williams is in the group.)

When I first saw a Super Junior video, I thought it was meant as a spoof of boy bands. I mean come on, why would a band need 13 members?

Who do Super Junior think they are? Earth, Wind And Fire? (If you were over 40, that reference would be hilarious.)

Thirteen is the number of people you need to form a football team with two reserve players.

Thirteen is the number of colleagues Glenn Ong will marry and divorce.

Thirteen is the number of people who will read this column.

But 13 people in Super Junior?

That’s not a boy band. That's someone taking the product development strategy of Gillette razors (the more blades the better), stretching it to the illogical extreme (why stop at mere five blades when you can have 13 in a razor?) and applying it to boy bands.

It’s as if South Korea is thumbing its nose at the West, saying: “You think you’re so cool with your Backstreet Boys and Westlife? Well, we have a boy band with 13 members! Top that, bi-atch!”

Disappointingly, only nine members of Super Junior performed at the Mama show on Tuesday.

At least, my favourite member was there. His name is Shindong, but I just call him “the fat guy”.

He's another reason Super Junior is superior to any boy band out there. What other boy band you know has a fat guy in it?

And he barely sings! He just mostly dances and raps.

He’s my favourite because all the other band members look the same to me. But I can always spot Shindong because, well, he’s the fat guy (although he’s not as fat as he used to be).

An inspiration to chubbies all over the world, he’s proof that you don’t have to be a skinny pretty boy (or sing) to be in a boy band (but only if that boy band can have as many as 13 members).

Apart from looking out for the fat guy in Super Junior, I had another more personal reason for tuning into the Mama show last week - my sister was on it.

Except you couldn’t actually see her. And you could also barely hear her. She was the tired-sounding woman off-camera providing the Mandarin translation for the Korean banter on the show.

I don’t blame her for sounding tired. The live telecast was six grueling hours long. To be honest, even I turned it off after watching my fat guy perform.

My mother was watching for my sister and I tried to get my mum to appreciate the awesomeness of the fat guy’s performance, but she kept asking where each performer and presenter was from. I said most of them were from Korea (well, except for Snoop Dogg, but I hope she figured that out).

Then how could they call it the Mnet “Asian” Music Awards, she complained, when the focus was on Koreans.

Yes, my mama had a point about Mama.

But then I’m used to things being called “Asian” even though their focus is clearly on only one country. We have Channel NewsAsia and AsiaOne. Apparently, Malaysia is “truly Asia”.

“Look at the fat guy, Ma. He’s dancing! How awesome is that?”

But it wasn’t Asian music, she insisted. It was just Korean.

Trust my mama to even ruin Mama for me.

To console myself, I’m going to look for Super Junior videos on YouTube.

Look at the fat guy. He’s dancing! How awesome is that? He makes me happy.

Bigger than the Beatles? I think he ate them.

- Published in The New Paper, 4 December 2011