As rookie acts become more and more prevalent, it seems like a good time to focus on a few that really deserve your attention. Underrated groups are a dime a dozen in k-pop, but some of them are releasing material that matches or surpasses their peers from much bigger agencies.
To kick off this feature, we have my absolute favorite rookie group of the moment… SNUPER!
Reasons you should love them:
1. High quality music consistency
It’s a common hallmark of struggling rookie groups to shift sounds, styles and images often, hoping to find something that sticks. But this almost always ends in failure. Snuper, on the other hand, have kept with a retro, synth-based sound since their debut, gradually deepening and expanding it just enough to show needed musical growth. In just under two years, they’ve established a trademark sound for themselves, with each comeback keeping the quality level impossibly high. Few rookie groups can boast a discography that’s so uniformly excellent.
2. Sweetune, Sweetune, Sweetune
Much of Snuper’s musical consistency is due to producers Sweetune, who have steered their sound since the very beginning. I’m a Sweetune worshiper, so I was already biased towards this group before they had ever released anything, but thankfully Sweetune have gifted Snuper with their grade-A material time and time again. I hope this partnership doesn’t end anytime soon.
3. Ridiculously entertaining, endearing members
Though the actual music is what I focus most strongly on, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t more to k-pop than that. When I fall for a group’s sound, I usually check out variety shows or vlive broadcasts or anything I can find to give an insight to the members’ personalities. As a rule, idols are relentlessly charming, but every once and awhile there’s a mix of personalities that just clicks. It happened with Infinite when I was first getting into k-pop, and Snuper feels the same. There’s a sense of earnestness to their teamwork, complimented by an effortless, goofy humor. You never get the sense that Snuper are trying to be particularly funny, but any broadcast they’re part of ends up being hilarious (usually unintentionally).
4. Steadily increasing popularity (ie: the “Little Engine That Could” effect)
It’s in my nature to root for the underdog, and Snuper fit the bill. Their agency Widmay is well-known for its actors, but Snuper are its first idol group. They debuted with hardly any fanfare, and struggled to make a name for themselves right out of the gate. But with each passing comeback, they’ve sold more and more copies of their albums, moving from under 1,000 in late 2015 to nearly 20,000 in 2017. They’ve also received an unexpected level of success in Japan. From the outside looking in, this growth appears to have occurred through hard work and a steady stream of releases. Get in on the ground floor, because Snuper’s trajectory is looking up.
5. They’ve managed to make the tropical pop trend sound fresh and timeless
I spend more than my fair share of time railing against the overdone tropical trend this year in k-pop, which makes it surprising that two of my favorite 2017 tracks have actually used this sound as a starting point. But here’s the key: Back:Hug and The Star of Stars are products of their time without being defined by it. Snuper has jettisoned the more grating elements of tropical house and infused their trendy production with a heavy dose of glossy pop melody. They’ve taken something I hate and turned it into something I love. That’s not easy to do.
(And a not-quite-as-brilliant J-Pop track, highlighting the potential perils of a non-Sweetune comeback!)