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Helpful info about K-Pop

Index

Intro
Album numbering
Korean music shows and charts
How songs are promoted
Sources

Intro

The Korean pop music industry is similar to any other pop music industry, but has its own quirks that can be confusing if you're not familiar with them. These particular aspects of the industry were even more apparent when Baby V.O.X was promoting. Because of this, I've included this page to explain some terms and details used on this website that may be confusing. Note: Like most of the website, this page is still under construction! Thank you for your patience.
Disclaimer: I am not Korean and am simply explaining things I have noticed about K-Pop from my own perspective. Please do your own research in addition to reading this if you are curious. Also, if any of this information is wrong, please contact me so I can correct it!

Album numbering

In the Korean pop industry, albums are often referenced and referred to by the chronological order in which they were released. In Korean, the word used to indicate numbering of music albums and other publications (magazines, books, etc.) is “집,” romanized “jib.” See here and here for more information. A singer’s first album is known as “1집,” his second as “2집,” and so on. For example, Uhm Jung Hwa’s fourth album would be referred to as “엄정화 4집.” In the digital age, this system has been further broken down by type of release. For example, you could refer to SHINee’s fifth mini album (“미니앨범”) Everybody as “샤이니 미니앨범 5집” and their fifth full/regular (“정규”) album 1 of 1 as “샤이니 정규 5집.”
Before the digital era, many Korean singers didn’t give their albums titles, and simply used their numerical order to differentiate them. For example, Byun Jin-sub’s first five albums are simply known as Byun Jin-sub 1 through 5.1 Similarly, Baby V.O.X’s second album is titled BABY VOX II. In addition, many albums in the 90’s and early 2000’s that were given titles also had their number printed on the cover for clarity. For example, the Korean releases of Come Come Come Baby and Why say “3rd” and “4th,” respectively, on their covers. This is still very common. For example, Exo’s sixth album Obsession has “No. 6” printed on the physical album cover. (The digital album, however, does not include this detail.) As another example, SF9's fifth mini ablum has the text "5TH MINI ALBUM" on the cover.2
Compilation albums or other non-regular full albums (cover albums, Christmas albums, etc.) recieved half numbers instead of full numberings. For example, Baby V.O.X's compilation album Special Album is called their "5.5th" ("5.5집") album in Korean. Other examples of this include Fin.K.L's album S.P.E.C.I.A.L (their "2.5th" album, or 2.5집) and their cover album Memories and Melodies (their "3.5th" album).
Note: This is really more of a linguistic matter than a musical one, but I wanted to explain it because it is something that may be confusing and/or interesting to those not familiar with Korean pop or the Korean language. Sorry if I went too far in detail, and thank you if you read the whole thing!

Korean music shows and charts

There are several music TV shows in South Korea that are broadcast weekly and feature performances by artists that are promoting their music. Currently, these programs include: Music Bank (KBS), Music Core (MBC), Inkigayo (SBS), M Countdown (Mnet), Show Champion (MBC M), and The Show (SBS MTV). Each of these shows features its own music chart, and a winner/first place song is chosen at the end of the week based on various criteria. These shows are similar in some ways to western shows like MTV’s Total Request Live or British program Top of the Pops. However, their history and function is different.
In the past, the charts featured on these shows and their predecessors were the main music charts of South Korea, functioning in a similar way to a singles chart in other countries. Therefore, earning a number one song on a TV music program was the Korean equivalent of having a number one song on a singles/top 100 chart. This is why the charts cited for Baby V.O.X albums are TV charts and not a radio or magazine chart like Billboard. The official albums chart used during the time Baby V.O.X was active was the RIAK (Recording Industry Association of Korea) chart.
Today, these music shows and their charts coexist with the Hanteo chart, Gaon charts, and various (Melon, Genie, Soribada, etc.) streaming charts.

How songs are promoted

In Korea, the “singles” from an album are simply the tracks that are chosen to promote it. These tracks are usually given a music video and are promoted on the music shows mentioned above. However, the “singles” from a K-Pop album are not given physical releases or, in most cases, digital standalone releases. This was standard even back in the 90’s and 00’s when Baby V.O.X was promoting. In contrast, artists in America, Japan, and other countries typically released their singles on CD and cassette separately from their albums. For example, “Get Up,” “Missing You,” and “Killer” were the “singles” from Baby V.O.X’s album Come Come Come Baby. However, these are only considered the “singles” because they were promoted individually. No separate physical release of these songs occurred.

Sources

  1. 변진섭 :: maniadb.com [Byun Jin-sub :: maniadb.com]
  2. JpopAsia