The year 2010 was the year of girl groups, with over 50 of the manufactured combos including Girls' Generation, Kara, 2NE1, and Wonder Girls competing for the top position. The trend is likely to continue and even intensify in the new year with many new groups such as Dalshabet and 5Dolls waiting in the wings.
The Chosun Ilbo selected 13 girl groups based on music portal Bugs' and KBS2 Music Bank's annual top charts at the end of last year, and analyzed their star power in five categories -- stage presence, fan loyalty, capability of each member, power of management, and performance in 2010 -- to predict what the year 2011 will be like for them. The result showed four strong powerhouses, five in the middle, and four at the weaker end.
◆ The Strong Four -- Girls' Generation, 2NE1, miss A, Kara
Girls' Generation are the dominant No. 1. They had a series of hit songs last year such as "Run Devil Run," "Oh," and "Hoot" and were widely recognized as the best girl group in Korea. They also scored significantly higher than others in the power of their management agency, fan loyalty and performance in 2010.
But 2NE1 are not far behind. Their stage presence counting singing, dancing and costume, and members' capacity were stronger than Girls' Generation's. And miss A are also a strong contender. As they made their debut later, they were behind Girls' Generation in terms of fan loyalty but there is not much of a gap between them in terms of stage presence and members' ability. Kara had the best year in 2010 with explosive popularity in Japan and are likely to carry on their success in 2011.
◆ Five in the Middle -- T-ara, After School, Sistar, f(x), and Brown Eyed Girls
T-ara stood out last year with some of their members expanding their activities to acting as well. They are also expected to begin working in Japan this year.
In addition to sexy icon Uee, After School members Raina, Nana and Lizzy showed off their individual charms last year, and member Ka-hi's solo debut slated for February is expected to raise the profile of the entire group. f(x) and Brown Eyed Girls will likely have another great year as their members have shown their potential and talent on reality shows and in acting as well as music.
◆ The Weak Four -- Wonder Girls, Rainbow, Secret, and 4minute
To everyone's surprise, Wonder Girls, one of the most popular groups, showed a visible downturn. Their long absence from Korea due to activities in the U.S. allowed them just two weeks to meet Korean fans, and that adversely affected fan loyalty. The retro concept of hit songs "So Hot" and "Nobody" has not changed much, and they have not been able to come up with novel ideas.
Rainbow and Secret are relatively new faces and therefore fall behind in fan loyalty. However, if each member seeks other ways to be recognized by fans, they have great potential to become a force to be reckoned with. 4minute scored relatively high in fan loyalty, but they did not have much success last year. Unless they come up with something of greater impact in the near future, their chances of surviving in the extremely competitive K-pop world look slim.