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Grading the K-Pop Agencies 2022: JYP ENTERTAINMENT

This feature has gradually shifted from a December to a November tradition, leaving more space for next month’s sprawling end-of-year countdowns. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at many of K-pop’s biggest agencies and offering my thoughts about how their 2022 went. Following SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment‘s evaluations, it’s time to dive into JYP Entertainment.

As usual, the thoughts are my own and aren’t privy to any insider information. The purpose of these articles is to determine how well K-pop agencies are serving their artists and fans. Because of the timing of this post, I’ll be including the last few weeks of 2021 as part of my analysis. JYP Entertainment


The Good

JYP Entertainment is home to many popular acts and most of those acts have maintained (or grown) their popularity in 2022 – especially overseas. Stray Kids have become one of the most successful groups of their generation and ITZY have deepened their international appeal. I was hesitant about the agency debuting two new acts this year, but both NMIXX and Xdinary Heroes seem to have found their respective fan bases pretty quickly.

As usual, the agency does a nice job promoting its acts. Not only do they receive frequent comebacks, but JYP often films multiple music videos for each album – especially in the case of Stray Kids. This allows for a fuller picture of their discography.

Though Twice’s commercial power isn’t as strong as it used to be (a natural consequence of being industry veterans), the quality of their output hasn’t flagged. Talk That Talk was one of the strongest efforts this year and the group has really settled into a comfortable groove. I’m not sure many casual fans expected every member to extend their contract with the agency, but good on JYP for retaining the entire group and breaking the famed “seven-year curse.”

Speaking of Twice, 2022 saw a long-overdue solo debut from Nayeon. I hope this bodes well for the future of other soloists from the agency. JYP hasn’t often leveraged the strength of their individual members. This offers a great chance to grow the brand.


The Bad

Spoiler alert: JYP Entertainment will not have a large presence on my upcoming “best of 2022” countdown. This is subjective, but their music quality has taken a sharp downturn this year.

If I were to sum up JYP’s 2022 in music, I’d use the word “novelty.” It feels as if the agency is placing concept before song and hitching their fortunes to gimmicky, meme-worthy songwriting filled with silly sound effects and repetitive sing-talky hooks. From ITZY’s Sneakers to NMIXX’s O.O/Dice to Stray KidsManiac/Case 143 to Xdinary HeroesHappy Death Day/Hair Cut, the agency seems more intent on being clever than crafting songs that stand the test of time. It’s a worrying trend, and far from the agency’s peaks of 2018-19.

More and more, this music feels like blatant advertising. It’s as if it’s being cobbled together by a boardroom, with no real soul behind it. It’s chintzy. JYP has long loved the power of a repetitive earworm (think early Wonder Girls), but this new iteration of the approach lacks warmth. And in general, the digital charts seem to agree. ITZY’s Sneakers somehow found its way into the top ten, but other than that JYP has had a smaller presence than its competitors.

As far as debuts go, NMIXX and Xdinary Heroes exist more as concepts than actual groups. The “mixxpop” genre has proven polarizing, while Xdinary Heroes’ music hasn’t yet come across as authentic. Maybe these acts are just targeting a different audience. Whatever the case, I find much of their music borderline unlistenable. At best, these two have some serious growing pains to get through.

Speaking of debuts, will JYP ever debut the boy group that was formed on 2021’s competition show LOUD? The conceit of that series was to find a group who could debut “right away.” A year-and-a-half later and there seems to be no serious plan to get the ball rolling. This is a broken promise to fans.

While JYP found great success with NiziU in Japan last year, the group barely released any material in 2022. Sales are falling and it seems as if their popularity might have already peaked. There’s no reason to believe they couldn’t see a resurgence in 2023, but the agency has been awfully quiet on the NiziU front this year.

It feels like JYP Entertainment is trying to do to much and focusing on the wrong aspects of their artists. To me, their musical output has been the weakest of any of the “big four” agencies in 2022, and that’s something to be concerned about.

2022 Grade: D+


What I’d like to see in 2023:

  • Get rid of the gimmicks and focus on the music. Maybe let JYP himself take the reigns of a few title tracks again?
  • LOUD boy group debut
  • More solo debuts

Previous years: 2021 // 2020 // 2019 // 2018 // 2017 // 2016

37 thoughts on “Grading the K-Pop Agencies 2022: JYP ENTERTAINMENT

  1. Pingback: Grading the Okay-Pop Companies 2022: JYP ENTERTAINMENT - So Thirsty Media

  2. I think something that needs to be noted is Day6 also broke the 7-year curse and became Studio J’s first-ever renewal lol. And Wonpil also debuted solo with a pretty solid debut album – a full one at that.

    Speaking of Studio J, Bernard Park also released one last mini album before leaving JYP this year. It was very expected he’d go when his contract ended though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t understand what JYP has been doing this year, at all. You summed it up perfectly—they seem to be trying to catch people off-guard rather than making good music.
    I did enjoy Maxident as an album, but it doesn’t come close to the peak of SKZ’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the things I really liked about JYPE when I got into kpop a couple of years ago was that the groups all seemed to have their own style – Twice sounded different from Day6 who sounded different from SKZ who sounded different from Itzy who sounded different from NiziU. Toss in the two new groups and put Day6 on hiatus (and whatever is going on with 2PM) and now everyone except Twice sounds like SKZ, and SKZ sound like 3Ratcha could use a break.

    Maniac grew on me (I love the PING PING shut up) but my favorite songs from them this year have been unit songs and/or special projects that departed from their usual sound – Heyday, Waiting for Us, Mixtape: Time Out and Can’t Stop. Thinking about it, my favorite songs from 2021 were Winter Falls and Red Lights.

    I guess they’re still making money though. /shrug

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s also been interesting to see more groups attempting to cover SKZ this year. One of the generic boy groups gave Maniac a shot and it was an adorable mess. Part of the problem was definitely a 10 or 11 member group covering a 7.5 person choreography, but it also really illustrated to me how specifically tailored their choreo is to the members’ stage personas. Maybe my biggest disappointment with Case 143 was that the choreography felt weirdly generic – I sure hope that was a fluke, because even if their music hasn’t been as strong the last couple of years, they still give great performances.

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  5. Have to agree. The highlights are few for me: I quite like Twice’s single this year, and, while I dislike their singles, NMIXX’s b-side Cool (Your Rainbow) is one of my favorites, in a STAYC/NewJeans kind of way. I used to love this label, but other than Twice, it’s just not for me.

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  7. I think it simply comes down to title track selection. A lot of the songs released this year either have been either very polarizing or very safe. Add in the major debuts of 4th Gen girl groups and the continued presence of 2nd and 3rd Gen stars from other companies, and JYP just isn’t as buzzworthy as they were even a year ago.

    Nayeon had the solo debut of the year for me and I hope she releases more music in 2023. But, I don’t know who else would be in the cue to debut outside of Jihyo. I also don’t know if JYP is ready to push a proper Stray Kids or ITZY solo album based on the way it took so long for us to get Nayeon’s project.

    I’d love for JYP to call up Black Eyed Pilseung (BEP) to produce some tracks in for their groups in 2023. I am aware that they have STAYC to manage, but BEP was so successful working with Twice and helped Apink and Chungha release songs that were critical to maturing their sound and image. Maybe their magic could rub off on ITZY and NMIXX, or help the LOUD boy group come out the gate swinging if they debut in 2023?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Grading the Ok-Pop Businesses 2022: JYP ENTERTAINMENT - Up To Date Hip Hop

  9. Well, not matter how much money I have on JYP’s current risk-taking approach, it seems hard to deny that they’ve had a weak year. There is a gap between the promise and its fulfillment. NMIX and Xdinary Heroes are turning more and more into cover groups, even though they seem to have so much potential. And for whatever reason, they stick to kind of obnoxious, overcrafted concepts, when they seem to be one inch away from far workable concepts (cheerful rnb for NMIX and “boys next door with a lot on their mind” for Xdinary Heroes).

    For the older groups, I preferred Twice 2021 output (especially summer). Otherwise I enjoyed Itzy last mini (unpopular opinion apparently, but Racer and Free fall had something going on) and Stray Kids’ efforts are still going somewhere (they’re trying different sounds, crafting lyrics that aren’t repetitive, and surviving a hectic schedule) so I really hope that JYP ent can turn the table next year and fulfills the amazing promises each of their groups hold.

    The LOUD team! I miss them so much. I was a fan of Yoonmin and Amaru, and liked the tortured leader vibe that Gye Hun was giving off. Every three months or so, I’m doing research on their future haha. I wasn’t so pleased with the youthful vibe JYP seemed to have in mind for them (based on the show storytelling, only Amaru seemed to truly fit a Treasure-inspired concept, and even him did his best with an emotional song) and hoped the agency would actually go for something a bit more angsty (2016-2018 BTS let’s say) rather than forced cheerfulness, but now that they’ve just plain disappeared, I’d be very happy with anything…

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  10. Unless I’m mistaken, they’ve lost most of their legacy artists: Wonder Girls (and all their members, including HyunA & Sunmi), GOT7 (and all their members, including BamBam, Jackson Wang, et al), Miss A (including Suzy), Somi, who signed with YG. So many legends and talent. I guess that’s why Twice choosing to stay was met with so much surprise and jubilation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Talk that Talk is definitely one of my favorite songs this year and Twice showed they still had it in them!!❤The other songs from JYP groups are not as high up – though O.O is one of my biggest growers! The previous Xdinary Heroes album is one of my year faves – all those bsides; Strawberry Cake, Sucker Punch, Pirates – they are all so damn good.

    As I group I would say Nmixx is AMAZING!! They are my favorite rookie group of the year (the keyword being “group”, I’m not talking about their songs lmao). And their covers! Honestly, both Thunderous and Aju Nice have been low-key converted to female versions in my head now and I don’t mind it one bit! XD

    Itzy music isn’t my thing but those girls are great on stage and a joy to watch.

    I think I like JYP groups because they are kinda easy to get into – they have presence and charm and even if you don’t know them too well, you can still enjoy watching a performance from them because they know how to catch your attention. And, they have a nice collection of vocal tones I like listening to lol.

    And finally – SKZ is still one of my ult groups but their only songs range around the middle for me I guess. I discovered Ateez and SKZ around the same time and if I’m absolutely forced to pick one of them – as a group I would pick SKZ but funnily as songs I would pick Ateez songs 😂 Like if I’m ranking the title tracks, a whole bunch of Ateez titles wil go first probably before I start on SKZ ones.

    Also another interesting thing I realized while just listening to music today was that the one SKZ song for me which still had the same initial effect and which may match up to my Ateez top tier list is… Top 😂😂 Of all their songs… Top. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this realisation but what can I say – that song hits hard every single time. SKZ is the group that got me interested in kpop again so yeah the bias is real. And even if the songs from JYP this year didn’t completely wow me – I liked most of them and have a positive feeling about all their groups.

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  12. I’m obviously a ONCE and a gg stan so JYP is mostly interesting for me because of TWICE. I hoped Talk That Talk, which is my favorite song of this year without any doubt, would do better in Korea but it seems like Koreans just want to move on to the next hype while TWICE just wants to work hard for their fans but also wants to build a musical legacy instead of making hype songs. Their discography is really strong and diverse. I’ve rarely seen an artist putting out so much music with quality, in K-pop or outside of that. I just feel the love and soul of the members in their music, that’s why I fell in love with TWICE.

    The reception of Scientist and Talk That Talk in Korea made me a bit sad, especially because the girls work so damn hard. It’s like you said, at this moment they aren’t as commercially strong as they used to be. Especially in Korea. They are doing really well in the US with the tour, album sales and on the Billboard charts, especially considering the fact they still don’t aim at the western audience. That’s probably what’s impressed me the most about TWICE. Their massive global success without music for the western market. What other K-pop group does that? Between 1&2 did sell over a million copies btw, which isn’t all too bad 😉

    What makes BTS, Blackpink and TWICE different from other groups is their huge fanbase. There’s a gap between these 3 and the other groups. I hope TWICE will profit from that in the future. Scientist and Talk That Talk performed quite weak but it’s quite crazy the amount of streams both songs got are weak by the artists standards. Tells you a lot about the artist. And it’s still huge for a 7 year old artist in the K-pop world.

    Talk That Talk is aimed more at ONCEs as well, that might be part of the reason it performed a bit weaker. I hope JYP will aim at the western market more in the future, without losing TWICE’s identity. As the girls have all signed a new deal I am guessing they will be taking more creative control. So I think they will stay true to TWICE’s identity for sure. It’s my ONCE heart speaking but I do think ther’s way more to come for TWICE.

    As for ITZY they’ve been losing some of their initial spice but Checkmate did provide me with some great albumtracks like Free Fall and What I Want. I’m waiting for another ICY like title track now. Or something like the great I Don’t Give A What.

    JYP should step it up. It’s not like they don’t have the artists for it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I wouldn’t say Talk That Talk is aimed at onces specifically, I think that it was more aimed at the international k-pop fandom as a whole. I saw a lot of people talking about it, including many friends who aren’t onces, who said that it was a great track.

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  13. twice’s music has been boring and uninspired for 2 years now, they fit right in with the rest of jyp’s groups. talk that talk was one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me.

    also itzy’s sneakers was good actually.

    Like

    • I disagree too. Their singles have been great these past 2 years, The Feels, Scientist, Talk That Talk. And my favorite of all of them, which I know fans were split on: Alcohol-Free. (That tune would have been *perfect* for the Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha OST.:)

      Liked by 1 person

    • I actually see where you are coming from, though a
      controversial and surprising comment. I do love talk that talk, Twice. I just became a new Myday and Stay this year. Those two always felt understated and less flashy than other artists (though SK has made their share of cringe). For jype a whole, basically nick said it all here. Extremely uninspired. Lack of creativity and innovation, while other companies are sticking with a good, undeniable sound, things that you will always love listening to.
      i also love sneakers. It’s weird and childish, but it is tailored for my peronal bias bc it is somehow cheerful and joyful.

      Like

  14. A few days ago I had mentioned somewhere that SM and YG were the worst but then I forgot about JYP, probably because JYP’s output has been mostly forgettable. Tbh, JYP has a great way of doing certain things. They have a separate creative and management team for each group, they are consistent with comebacks and they have a bankable and reliable history to build clout upon. Even then, they have managed to screw up mostly everyone’s comebacks musically. And this has been deliberate! They deliberately chose weird concepts like NMIXX’s mix pop and ITZY’s new tween concept and bank on company stans to make it popular!! What and why and whom do we need to fire?
    Honestly, Itzy used to be GOOD. Their music was fun, new and catchy for all the right reasons. I’m thinking of wannabe Itzy singing “go put your sneakers, put my sneakers on” and I don’t know how this turn happened and if Itzy had been given a choice about this. After Mafia in the morning, expectations were anyways quite low but now it’s best to not have any. Maybe I’ll listen to the new album but it definitely won’t be on time and I won’t care if I don’t at all.

    I don’t know what stray kids are doing. The best thing they did this year was Felix’s tiny contribution to Nayeon’s album. Poor NMIXX had to be debuted at a time where their agency has decided to take bad risks and though their album sales are good (dem industry stans), I doubt they’ll ever see the heights of popularity that Wonder girls, Twice or Itzy enjoyed. Again, how the mighty have fallen! In years past, a debut from an agency like JYP would mean strong charting in a relatively short time for girl groups! But its a good thing that such bad music can’t find general appeal (thought some can, lol), no matter where it comes from.

    The only thing that JYP did good this year was twice and that’s the only reason I’m going to give this company a grade. It’s been a journey. Seeing twice come up with bops after bops, regardless of their lesser general popularity these days, has been gratifying. Their music has not just matured well, it’s thrived! I have been listening to Talk that talk for months now and I’m glad twice gets to do their thing. Nayeon’s pop was also fun and enjoyable, and did surprisingly well on the digital charts, which was honestly so good to see.

    My Grade: C-

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  15. Pingback: Grading the K-Pop Agencies 2022: JYP ENTERTAINMENT | Beatsway

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  18. To be fair, what established group from _any major agency_ had highlights this year. They all seemed to have peaked musically a year or three or more ago, and now are on the coasting along with current stans phase of their careers with the occasional new tourist stan.

    JYP seems to go through peaks and troughs – Wonder Girls cycle, and again about 3 years ago when Twice and Stray Kids were still in the ascendency and Day6 were still around. I think Mr JYP needs to step back in a reassert his magic song choice touch.

    I think we should give a bonus point to JYP for successfully re-signing all of Twice. This is quite the accomplishment as it is the rare girl group who survives the 7 year curse. And all of them re-signed! Twice still reliably releases high quality songs and sells a ton of music. Sure it isn’t the buzziest, but it is remarkable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the reasons this year has been so weak in K-pop, imo.

      If all/most of the established artists from major agencies are dropping the ball, it sets a bad precedent for everyone else.

      Like

      • Super Junior “Mango” was quite good, a flash back to a Black-Suit style song. You even scored it rather high initially. But Super Junior just doesn’t have the buzz for top hits any more. They earn their bread and butter through variety shows and touring.

        Also sorely missing EXO. There is an EXO-sized hole in the SM Universe.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. releases from this year have been a hit or miss for me. I LOVE the work Xdrinary Heroes, Stray Kids, TWICE and NMIXX put out, but other than that, its boring. Sneakers was very terrible and Voiceless was boring. Celebrate was ok.

    Final grade: C-

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I kind of feel like for both western and kpop Tiktok has a lot to answer for. Songs are written to have an interesting but obnoxious hook and bridges are all but dead.
    I tried listening to the spotify kimbops playlist and ended up skipping every song.
    Not to say that 2009ish with outputs like Ring Ding Dong and Fanastic Baby was better, but I think I’ve aged out.
    Itzys debut was a high point but went steadily down hill. And Nmixx is an extraordinary waste a talent.
    JYPE needs new song writers and to give 3racha a holiday before they burn out.
    Even the best self producing artists work with other song writers, it’s not a bad thing.

    Like

    • A quote from an article about what RM, the leader of the biggest ever kpop group, RM said in Festa 2002.
      “RM added that he kept feeling trapped within himself and he tried ‘shedding’ it off, and take time off. He kept postponing as something or the other kept coming up for BTS. “But the world wouldn’t let me,” he said. “We’ve lost our direction, and I just want to take some time to think.”
      If it happens to bts, and knowing how jype likes to squeeze every last bit of everything from their artists, this is a big warning. The kpop industry treats artists like they are disposable products, when used, just go onto the next group. The artists are humans who need to breathe, live, find inspiration.
      Also, maybe there is an aging out, but for example, during second generation, the Korean public seemed to actually know kpop songs.
      I am seeing more and more how tiktok is changing music in a bad way; how people are disliking its effect on music. I think jype is a big offender with it. They seemed to think tiktok will be their music concept now as a company.

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  21. Pingback: Grading the K-Pop Agencies 2022: HYBE Labels | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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