Critical Discussion: “Addressing a Concern: Fiestar’s Potential Disbandment”

“Addressing
a Concern: Fiestar’s Potential Disbandment”

Posted on February 19, 2017

Nonetheless,
this anxiety towards Fiestar’s potential disbandment is true—and in fact,
whether or not these incidents occurred does not matter. Fiestar has always had
the fear of disbandment: the group struggles financially as Cao Lu has said
multiple times, and indeed, the ladies are not popular as a group even if
individually two of them—Cao Lu and Yezi—are somewhat more popular. Likewise,
their songs have not been strong enough to catch high popularity; at most, “You’re
Pitiful” remains their best song and somewhat “Apple Pie,” but both of which
are not easily “mainstream” pop songs especially the former as “You’re Pitiful”
is a pop-ballad.

Personal
Message:
Admittedly
this is more of a “casual” discussion than a “critical” one—“critical” in the
sense of how these types of posts tend to be reserved for when social-related
topics come into play, such as gender, sexuality, or even ethics—but I have decided
to give my own take to the concern of Fiestar disbanding. There are a lot of
clarifications that I believe should be addressed, and furthermore the current situation
is not a binary of “Fiestar will either entirely disband or they will entirely
continue as is.” Furthermore, this post will also allow me to address a
question on what becomes of my subtitled videos of Fiestar (and indeed, Fiestar
is the perhaps the group I am most emotionally attached to as a fan) should
they disband entirely.

_______________________________________________________

Context:
To clarify to those who are unaware
of why this concern exists—though in truth, as I will address in a post about
SPICA’s “hiatus,” this concern should have already been lurking in fans’ minds—there
have been two main incidents leading fans to suspect that Fiestar is soon
disbanding. The biggest reason is that, according to a few news articles, Fiestar’s
leader—Jei—is no longer listed as a member of Fiestar on LOEN Entertainment’s
website (their label company). In fact, Jei is supposedly not even in LOEN Entertainment anymore; a few
sources claimed to has moved to another label company entirely under an actress
category. As such, as readers can tell, this is creating much concern as
Fiestar losing their leader and one of their most popular members can
definitely hurt the group’s popularity if not a disbandment.

As for the other reason fans are
concerned—and this, personally speaking, being a weaker reason—is due to Cao Lu’s
words regarding Jei on a show: when Jei was
in Fiestar. I hesitate to claim this is solid evidence for Jei leaving Fiestar
(and that, even after Jei’s departure, Fiestar will continue with the remaining
members) because this quote is not from Cao Lu directly; it came from English
subtitles. And indeed, especially as Fiestar fans can tell with my own
subtitles and translations, captions are never perfect due to
lost-in-translations or simply translation mistakes (and of which I admittedly
am tremendously guilty of).

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Nonetheless, this anxiety towards
Fiestar’s potential disbandment is true—and in fact, whether or not these
incidents occurred does not matter. Fiestar has always had the fear of
disbandment: the group struggles financially as Cao Lu has said multiple times,
and indeed, the ladies are not popular as a group even if individually two of
them—Cao Lu and Yezi—are somewhat more popular. Likewise, their songs have not
been strong enough to catch high popularity; at most, “You’re Pitiful” remains
their best song and somewhat “Apple Pie,” but both of which are not easily “mainstream”
pop songs especially the former as “You’re Pitiful” is a pop-ballad.

And so, we come to the point of this
post: What now? To first address on a personal level before addressing this
situation in a general sense, I want to clarify this one point and I hope this
message is spread to those who watch my subtitled videos: that in the case that
Fiestar entirely disbands, I will
still continue subtitling Fiestar videos as ridiculous as it sounds. I have,
quite literally, gigabytes’ worth of videos that I still need to subtitle
involving Fiestar, and even if the group itself is gone, I still wish to finish
the responsibility I took up for fans. Now even when that is done, as many fans
relate, I personally have grown quite attached to the ladies themselves in
Fiestar—Cao Lu, Jei, Linzy, Hyemi, and Yezi. What this means is, even if the
group disbanded, I will attempt my best to continue uploading and subtitling
videos of each of them individually. Unfortunately this is unrealistic but it
is possible and I will attempt my best to do so. In short: for fans worried
they will forever lose access to Fiestar because I might no longer care for the
members once the group is finished, this is false; I will continue to be a
resource where fans can find videos of the ladies.

Ignoring that, though, let us
address Fiestar’s potential disbandment as of itself. My stance is this: Wait
for Jei and LOEN Entertainment to confirm she is officially leaving the group.
Currently, all we have are speculations and for all we know, LOEN Entertainment
might have made a deal with the company Jei is now currently signed with. If
this is the case, perhaps Jei would still be in Fiestar but with merely a
different company and contract. Additionally—and for the more realistic, feared
route—even if Jei leaves the group, I argue Fiestar can still go proceed
strongly as four. And admittedly by “strongly” I mean they can continue as is—not
popular but perhaps at least maintaining a financial stability and having a
decent, loyal audience. But on topic, recall that many other groups have lost
members and are still doing well if not even better: Dal Shabet lost two
members (one of whom was their core, solid rapper) and yet they persevere on
and have released a very impressive song of “Someone Like U.” Nine Muses is
also in mind as the group’s roster has seemingly shrunk every year. Though
their current releases are not too strong, it should be acknowledged that Nine
Muses has done very well despite so many roster changes.

Of course, though, it is true that
no matter the situation if Jei leaves Fiestar it will hurt in all aspects—popularity,
emotionally, and musically. That said, especially as this blog focuses more on
the musical aspect of K-Pop (and a reader suggested I take some time to purely analyze
vocalists, so perhaps this is a slight experiment at such), I think it is
equally critical to discuss how Fiestar would be affected musically should Jei
leave. In my opinion (and bearing in mind I am quite familiar with Fiestar in a
musical sense and thus am not throwing random thoughts), the departure of Jei
will leave a noticeable void but it is nothing that cannot be overcome. Regarding
Jei’s role, she can be understood as a sub-vocalist; this means that Jei’s
singing in Fiestar is oftentimes for less intensive, strenuous lines but it
still means she provides those minute details that are still very much
important.

As for why I claim her role is essentially
“replaceable” (in a musical sense; I wish to emphasize this), we have to bear
in mind that Cao Lu is Fiestar’s other sub-vocalist albeit weaker than Jei.
Nevertheless, I see this as a chance for Cao Lu to finally receive much more
lines and in songs such as “Thirst” and “Back and Forth,” I find that she is
definitely capable of firmly holding that role even if Jei is a slightly more
adept singer than Cao Lu when it comes to handling more complex tunes. Overall,
unlike losing Linzy or Yezi—both of whom are the group’s main vocalist and
rapper respectively—or even Hyemi with her being the lead vocalist (for those
confused, the lead vocalist is basically in between the main and sub vocalist),
Jei is already musically substituted by Cao Lu. As a result, Fiestar could
theoretically continue without much if any shifts in the group’s musical role.
(And to address how Fiestar would lose their “visual” member, I find this role fans
have created rather silly—though no offense to those who strongly believe in
this. For one, every idol in the K-Pop industry can be claimed a “visual”
member, but I argue it is partially ridiculous that we belittle both male and
female idols who might have excellent dancing and singing skills to nothing more
than a pretty doll to stare at.)

Lastly, regarding the non-musical
aspect I have yet to address, Fiestar’s popularity dropping from Jei leaving is
a reasonable concern. While we have our comedy-genius Cao Lu and our “girl
crush” Yezi (while I assume all readers know what that means, it is in
reference to a woman who gives off a tougher, “do-not-mess-with-me” vibe—for a
lack of a better term) as Fiestar’s other popular members, we have to
acknowledge that many are fans of Fiestar because of Jei. Especially with her
taking on acting in a drama and attending a myriad of variety shows, many fans
are here because of Jei herself. Therefore, it is unavoidable that Fiestar would
potentially lose some popularity from Jei leaving—and, many fans turn away from
groups once members leave and more so when it is the group’s leader. However,
even so, I argue Fiestar’s popularity will still be stable considering Yezi and
Cao Lu are in the group and certainly, these two members have brought a lot of
attention to Fiestar.

All in all, it would be greatly
upsetting in all aspects if Jei leaves Fiestar—or worse: if Fiestar actually
disbands. From a critical standpoint I find that Fiestar can still carry on without
Jei, but I equally would understand the decision LOEN Entertainment and the
remaining members make to disband if Jei leaves. Regardless of what occurs—Jei leaving
or the group disbanding—it is always crucial for fans to be understanding and
supportive to all members. As Cao Lu openly shared, working as an idol is an
incredibly unstable job; there is no certainty that the group will hold well or
that members can individually make a living. As such, Jei’s leaving—should it
happen—should never be interpreted as her being selfish and ignoring the
members and fans, and the same can be said if the members and company agree to
end Fiestar. If through this all it happens to be nothing more than a contractual
and company change on Jei’s part and Fiestar remains the same as currently,
then I hope this post remains relevant in addressing the “lurking thoughts”
fans—and perhaps even the members—have. And, would this not make us realize we
need to truly support and cherish the ladies and group while we are all
together?

_______________________________________________________

I hope this post is able to address
some questions fans have regarding Fiestar’s current situation. Time will tell
what occurs but as I said, being understanding and supportive is vital during
this sensitive period. I personally will continue to subtitle Fiestar’s videos
regardless of their status, and should the worst come I plan to still subtitle
videos of the members in their individual paths.

Another post will come out similar
in this fashion regarding SPICA’s “hiatus,” so look forward to it if the
technical aspect of K-Pop is fascinating. As for standard reviews, BTS’ “Dead
Leaves” and “Spring Day” will come out shortly. Thank you to all for reading,
and whether one is a fan of Fiestar or not, I hope this post still provides a
more critical insight as to how groups actually function in a systematic sense.
(Though we always need to remember the humane side and that groups are not just
a robotic team of robots.)