Five Years of U-Kiss, Three Years A Kiss Me
The Backstreet Boys topped the charts from 1995-2000. NSYNC was 1996-2002. The Spice Girls were around for only 1996-1998. While they might all still be performing today (to a degree), their time at the top was rather short and sweet.
U-Kiss, on the other hand, are celebrating their 5th anniversary today. It would be foolish to say that they have been a successful group in comparison to their rivals in Korea. However, right now, the future doesn’t look much brighter as a U-Kiss fan either.
I became a fan of U-Kiss in October 2010. It took some time, and was a gradual progression, much like their own career, but over the span of a few months, I went from someone who saw them at Inkigayo to someone who was in the audience, singing their fan chants and waving about a fan sign. It was a really crazy time to become a fan, because I started out knowing the seven with Kibum and Xander, but by the time I got to see them promoting, it was seven with AJ and Hoon. It didn’t really matter though, because I’d already been claimed as a Kevin fan through the On Air musicals. Over the next two years, I would get to experience all the highs and lows of being a U-Kiss fan. The wonderful high of getting to meet these seven incredible guys over and over again through fan signs and concerts, and the crushing lows of never being able to give the group the #1 that they deserved. I would find myself wishing to myself, “If it means they’ll be successful, I don’t care if U-Kiss focus on Japan first and leave us behind in Korea” and then find myself eating my words when that’s exactly what happened and it hurt.
I’m an international Kiss Me living in Korea. There aren’t many of us here, and I’ve been here longer than the others. I’ve been lucky – I stand out a lot, and because of that, I’ve had a lot of luck. I’ve lived in Japan, so with a little work, I can enjoy all of U-Kiss’ promotions because I can understand the three languages they work in. But at the same time, I stand out a lot, and it can bite me in the ass. I’ve gotten to know the Korean Kiss Mes, and the internationals, and have gotten to know how so many of them feel. I’ve watched the fans get excited for every promotion, and every hint of attention that NH Media and U-Kiss would give their fans all over the world. I’ve also watched as the fans struggled, doing everything they can to try and prove to the world that their group is worthy of attention. Every promotion, I read the tweets from international fans, their frustration and heartbreak when yet again, another promotion is seen as a “failure” according to the Korean charts.
But this is my message to every Kiss Me I know.
#1 doesn’t matter any more.
I don’t mean this in a “the rankings are stupid and screw what the Korean charts say” kind of way. Because a few years ago, those charts DID matter, and things were very different. But then NH made the big risk of saying “Lets try Japan”. In 2011, those guys moved to Osaka, studied their asses off, and then December that year released a song that changed everything for them: Tick Tack. Undoubtedly one of the coolest songs the guys have released, it triggered everything U-Kiss have now. Two sold out Zepp tours, a hall tour, eight singles, a massive official fan club, a keitai (cell phone) game, and tours all over the place.
Japanese fans aren’t the same as Korean fans. There isn’t the same blinding devotion to one group… until the next group comes along. Japanese fans can support many artists at the same time, and have a tendency to be devoted forever. There are enough forever devoted fans of U-Kiss in Japan now that there is no more fear of “Is this the last single?” or “Oh god, these guys never get a day off and they’re going to die.” And because of that, Kiss Mes around the world should be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
It doesn’t matter where U-Kiss rank on Melon, or Soribada, or Bugs, or whatever. It doesn’t matter if the Korean singles don’t blast to the top of the charts. Of course, we should still WANT it to. We should still buy CDs, stream the music, and support U-Kiss as best we can. But if it turns out that a big group promotes at the same time? Or things just don’t go well? It’s fine.
Our job, as fans, is to be supportive. We buy our CD, we stream the songs, watch the Youtube links, and support the guys as best we can. And when the promotions end, be it after a week or a month, we tell the guys they did awesome, that we’re proud of them, and we look forward to the next song, be it in Japanese, Korean, or Martian (who knows, they could go Intergalactic).
As for the charts… It doesn’t matter any more. As long as the fans keep supporting the guys through ALL their promotions, no matter where they are, then U-Kiss is going to be fine. Maybe they’ll only release a single in Korea once a year from now on. Maybe they’ll move to Japan full time. Maybe AJ will go back to school for a bit and the guys will work as 6 again for a few months. No matter what happens, Kiss Mes should be able to take comfort in the fact that U-Kiss isn’t going to go anywhere soon just because of some stupid, rigged Korean chart numbers.
Congratulations on 5 years, U-Kiss. It might not have been a quick and easy trip to success, but the journey has been great and isn’t over yet. You deserve all the success in the world.