As a K-pop fan, I, of course, have my favorite artists, but I’ll also have groups that just fascinate me. Groups that are greater than the sum of their parts. Artists who were underdogs and persevered. Groups that when you really look at them, it’s kind of a miracle that they came together. So today, I’m going to talk about one such group the only way I know how: Using sci-fi references. Let’s begin!
JJ PROJECT: A UNLIKELY ORIGIN STORY
By the time they’d debuted in January 2014, Got7 had already made a name for themselves with two things. First, their brief yet impactful appearance on YG’s survivor show “Who Is Next.” Second, two members, JB and Jinyoung, who had previously debuted in JJ Project.
I would be hard-pressed to start this off without talking about JJ Project. After all, it’s an origin story of sorts, the simple backstory that motivates our heroes’ next step. JJ Project is an integral part of Got7’s history, just like the Super Soldier serum is for Captain America.
While JJ Project might seem like a prologue to Got7’s story, it’s literally the foundation of the group. Jaebum and Jinyoung have called themselves the parents of Got7.
It’s always exciting when idols do sub-units or solo projects, but when JJ Project released their second album, it felt like a homecoming. I wasn’t a big IGot7 at the time, but seeing the announcement and promo picture made me excited and oddly nostalgic.
A SLIGHT DETOUR TOWARDS CHAOS THEORY
Okay, this is a bit on the weird side, but stay with me. In the simplest terms, the Butterfly Effect is a theory that a minute occurrence can gradually lead to a complex result. A common explanation of it as a butterfly flapping its wings might eventually cause a hurricane. In reality, it’s a bit nuanced than that so here is a video to explain more. Nonetheless, it’s a classic trope in science fiction, especially if we involve time travel.
I say that to say this: every group has those moments in their history where things could have easily gone differently. Person A decided to be a dancer or songwriter instead of a singer. Person B decided to listen to their parent and go to college. Personally, I don’t believe in fate or destiny. But it fascinates me how seemingly small things can affect something later.
Got7’s history is fraught with these moments. What if JJ Project was more successful? Or if JB decided to just be a dancer? What if Shownu of Monsta X, one of their fellow trainees, had stayed? Suppose Jackson had decided to continue his path to become a second-generation Olympian? (Side note, Jackson Wang totally has the ridiculous backstory of a superhero/pulp hero. I will not be dissuaded). All of these moments where things could have gone differently but didn’t.
Despite these near changes, we have the group we have today. This can only mean one thing: JYP is an expert in chaos theory and uses it for his own devices. He might also have probability manipulation as a superpower, like Domino or Scarlet Witch. Both are likely.
A DIVERSE RANGE
Writing this article, I am reminded of a quote from the first Avengers movie.
“There was an idea. [….]to bring a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to.”
A rather fitting quote for any idol group, to be honest, but it has a special meaning here.
You see, every group that has to team up for a noble cause has a rough start. Much like with the Avengers, it’s due to different personalities and styles struggling to fit or worse, dominate the group. So why am I talking about the Avengers? Because like the Avengers, each member has had their moments to flex their creative muscles, both within the group and alone. They’ve also managed to do it without one member’s sound outshining the others.
Their amazing “Present: You” album has solo tracks from each member. The repackage even has sub-unit tracks they did for the “Eyes On You” world tour. Each song showcases the members’ individual styles and gives you a hint of how it might have enhanced past songs of the group.
Got7 has such a large range of not only what they write or produce but performance-wise. They constantly surprise me with how they’ve managed to balance everything without sounding bland or leaving someone out. Not only do they display a wide vocal and production range within the group, they do it without sacrificing their distinct sound or sounding generic. This goes doubly for sub-units. Each one is different and inventive without being awkward.
So did I use sci-fi tropes? Because it’s the only way I can articulate just what Got7 and company have accomplished. Each point I’ve mentioned has been the downfall of other groups. Yet Got7 has encountered each obstacle and come out the other side stronger. To me, watching them overcome their struggles is like reading my favorite comic books. No, it’s not an intergalactic threat. But that doesn’t mean it’s not special.
I highly also recommend MultifacetedACG‘s amazing “Great Moments In Production and Delivery” for some further insight on Got7. She goes into deeper detail about their growth as artists and her passion is infectious.