Long story short: this is a summary of how I got scammed.
Really, it’s my own fault. The concept of a K-pop showcase had escaped me until I purchased a ticket to see JYP’s new gems, ITZY. Of course, I was familiar with the idea of a comeback showcase, in which groups perform their new music for a press audience, speak for a little while, and go on their merry way.
But surely JYP wouldn’t implore me to spend usual concert prices on that sort of performance, no? JYP wouldn’t force me to trek all the way to Brooklyn — which may as well be the middle of the New York City wilderness — for nonsense, would they?
Wrong, friends. So wrong.
First and foremost, I will say that ITZY is as talented as you have imagined. The girls are bright, spunky, and dripping in personality. They are the epitome of the JYP model. In some instances, stereotypes exist because there is a modicum of truth to them. That has always been the case with the big three entertainment companies. SM has the no-frills talent, YG has the edgy folks, and JYP has the magnets. And magnets these girls are. They have waited to hit the stage for years, and they were ready.
Yeji is the ever-capable leader, owning every second of every performance. Ryujin keeps a wry smile on her face at all times, like she knows she’s about to wreck you. Lia is the purest, softest angel imaginable, raining peppiness down at all times. Chaeryoung is a jack of all trades, capable of slipping into any concept; it’s clear that she and her sister are related. Yuna, Yuna, Yuna — she knows she’s adorable, she knows she’s a brat, and she knows you love it.
I could write an essay about the girls themselves. But that in itself is a problem, because it’s really all I have to talk about.
I wish I was kidding when I said I traveled two hours to Brooklyn and two hours back home to hear seven songs, two of which were not in full. But I am not kidding. That is, in fact, what happened. That is what I spent upwards of $150 on.
You could say this is my own fault. Partially, it is. My purchase of this ticket, to begin with, relied on assumptions. Firstly, I assumed that ITZY would have a comeback prior to this tour with a mini album to add to the singles they’ve released since their debut. When that didn’t happen, I then assumed that the showcase would feature a cute compendium of covers of other JYP artists. I don’t think this was an unreasonable conjecture; JYP has a wealthy back catalog, even just focusing on female idol groups. I imagined the girls taking on Wonder Girls, Miss A, or TWICE with ease. There were plenty of hits to choose from!
See, I misunderstood the idea of a showcase all along. I didn’t expect a full-blown concert, to be clear. I simply expected the girls to introduce themselves with a little bit of pizazz. They’ve just debuted, they haven’t toured at all — I couldn’t go into this expecting TWICE. So I didn’t. I set my expectations low and knew that TWICELIGHTS this was not.
And somehow, my expectations weren’t low enough. I really enjoyed seeing the girls have fun with one another and speak to the crowd. It was heartwarming to see them speak to us themselves; Lia has always spoken fluent English, but Chaeryoung and Yuna have become fairly great speakers as well. They consistently ensured us of their excitement, their eagerness to show their charms and to share their music.
Granted, they performed their short discography in full, with excellent choreography to boot. That was incredibly entertaining, and not at all the problem. The problem was the padding around their discography.
This showcase was about an hour and 45 minutes, of which the music itself probably composed about 25. Their five songs and two short covers of TWICE’s “TT” and GOT7’s “Hard Carry” were all we got. The rest were MC segments, games, and downright cringy fan service.
I know to expect what is basically a variety show portion at every K-pop concert, but I never expected that to be the majority of this event. That is, simply put, not what I’m there for. That’s not what my dollars were spent on.
This showcase has made me realize that showcases in themselves are a tricky proposition. If this is indeed how they function in most if not all instances, that means that the showcase model relies on everything but the music. When the event itself surrounds musical artists, that equation really makes no sense to me.
If this was all JYP could offer at this point in ITZY’s career, I wish they would have waited until they could catch up to what the girls have to offer. There is no reason why I should be watching an idol group pass tennis balls through plastic tubes on a stage for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes is precious real estate in the grand scheme of things, let alone an hour and fifteen minutes. Realistically, the group won’t be back in the US for another couple years, because that’s just the way things go. And most of that time was wasted on this kind of tomfoolery?
I hate “Bad Girl, Good Girl” with all of my heart and soul and I would have much preferred that ITZY be the 10000th group to cover it rather than watch the girls play four rounds of a song guessing game. That’s what it’s come to.
The members themselves are not the problem. The problem is the underestimation of our abilities, and the assumption that Western audiences will take any crumbs they are given. After TWICELIGHTS, this stings. That tour was stellar and a real template other companies should follow. To see JYP turn around and present this scam as an event of nearly equal monetary worth is disappointing.
Sure, I know the girls a little better now. I know how they keep one another as contacts in their phones, and how they typically spend Lunar New Year. But couldn’t I have just done that by watching videos on Youtube for free?
This review is nothing short of a rant, but it’s only because I know what ITZY could have shown. The actual performances gave indications, little glimmers. “Icy” was brimming with confidence, “TT” was a lovely tribute but also their special brand of cheeky, and “Cherry” was a choreographic juggernaut. Why not give more of that? Why not prove that ITZY was touring now and not later for a reason?
I know why. Because dopes like me will buy a ticket to see them regardless.