Let us celebrate the short-lived life of History, one of k-pop’s most consistent groups.
I’ve actually been wanting to make a post about what made History a group to keep an eye on. Well, now is the last time to make it, assuming they never regroup. That’ll show me for being a procrastinating twerp.
After celebrating 4 years since debuting, it was announced the group has disbanded and all 5 members will stay with the company as individual atists. I had a feeling Kyungil’s enlistment would have an affect on History’s plans, but I was hoping they’d pull a 100% by having one comeback at the most and hibernating until the leader gets discharged. Alas, there’s nothing that can be done except reminisce on everything that made them one of my top 4 k-pop groups.
If you’re going to like a music group, it should be required to required to like 75% of their title tracks and like at least one of their albums almost entirely or more. For some reason, History have an excellent hit-miss ratio in terms of their Korean title tracks. Out of their 6 singles in Korea, only one was garbage.
I wasn’t a k-pop fan at the time, but if a group debuts with Queen-style harmonies and has a marching band percussion in the song follow up with this unordinary techno boy band song, I’d sure be a miffed. Luckily, their song writing team knew this wasn’t what History should do and changed their sound afterwards. And their sound never stayed the same.
I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this, but if an unpopular group has a drastic change to their music, it’s because the song from last time didn’t get enough new fans and making something completely different should hopefully get more ATMs. Meanwhile, if a popular group has a drastic change from their music, it’s because they have enough fans who will literally buy the member’s shit and the people behind the scenes don’t have to give their best effort every time anymore.
Usually a drastic change means either the old sound was shit and the new sound is better, or the old sound was pretty good and the new sound is shit. But for History, they’ve only sounded below average once or twice and all the other tracks were between pretty good and fucking amazing.
That’s probably why they were slept on. Having your sound change every comeback makes people think the group has no direction, or is poorly managed. If the songs are great by themselves, (not “okay”, great) then it shouldn’t matter what the artist(s) made earlier. By the way, the video above doesn’t have a million views at the time of writing. Everyone’s busy getting the views up for the performance version. But that’s kind of a good thing for a different reason I’ll explain later on.
I was lucky to binge all of their albums a few weeks ago, and a lot of their b-sides don’t live up to the title tracks. They’re title tracks for a good reason. But I do like every song on the Blue Spring EP. Sure, it’s 4 songs and an instrumental. But in a genre where filler tracks are there to make the title look better, that is a high praise worth boasting about. I also need to add I don’t care for this Japanese track. I needed to put my thoughts on their albums, and I remembered this exists. And it’s a filler track in Korean anyway.
Their consistency is a force to be reckoned with. Even though they were never my number one group, the three groups above them have too many songs I wouldn’t care for if I wan’t a fan already. But music isn’t the only thing they were consistent with.
When I sort through how attractive someone is in a k-pop group, I have three areas to place a guy; The far left for those I’m attracted towards, the far right for those I don’t find attractive, and the middle for those who aren’t bad-looking, but not handsome enough for the far left. In other words, the opinions I have on an idol’s looks are ‘would bang’, ‘would date’, or ‘would not’.
Normally, 1 to 3 members in a group are on the left, 1 or 2 on the right, and everyone else in between, There are a few exceptions to this. In terms of the number of members in each section, B.A.P and Monsta X have 4 members I would bang and WINNER has all but one member on the far right. In terms of not having anyone on the far right, Shinhwa, KNK, and B1A4 are a few groups who have members I would either bang or date. And then there’s History, the only group where I would bang all of the members.
But there’s a downside to this: I couldn’t pick a singular bias. Sure, Kyungil is quite a looker, but I honestly don’t find him as stunning as others make him to be. I rather liked Yijeong in Queen, especially his ‘intoxication’ part in the song. He looked like a mini T.O.P, and looking like a confirmed bias can make or break your relevancy in my book. But his appearances from before that MV aren’t up to par. Still a cutie, but he could be better.
I used to think Sihyoung was the runt, until an eye contact version of Dreamer made him look the most handsome in the bunch. I can see what others might see in Dokyun to not like his appearance. But I have a soft spot for ‘ballad singer’ members I don’t find unappealing. (SHINee’s Onew, Super Junior’s Yesung, Shinhwa’s Hyesung, etc.) And he killed it in the Might Just Die MV.
Definitely the winner of the “Who’s the Hottest Member in the MJD Video according to CDGG?” game. As for Jaeho, I’m a little biased (the original way that word is used) towards him because we share a birthday. Still a cutie.
If History had a Jin or a Jaejoong, there’s a possibility certain members would be demoted to the ‘would date’ section, because there would be competition to bring them down. But since they lacked a member with stunning visuals, this allowed the members to be on a similar level with each other. Thus making their attractiveness consistent. This whole section is purely opinion based and unlikely to be agreed with 100%, but the third detail that marks their consistency in being a consistent group that deserved more recognition and should be agreed with was;
When you see a group getting praise for their choreography, a group would be lucky to have a certain niche attached to that. Infinite for their sharp synchronization, Teen Top for their footwork, Twice for having a simple hand gesture that goes viral, and so on. The way I see it, History’s choreo niche was their use of levels. (If you haven’t read my levels post, I recommend you read it now and come back to this after because this might sound too confusing) I would have included them in my levels post, but the fact is their levels deserved their own post, and a History tribute post kinda fulfills that.
Their choreography in the past made good use of the levels technique. So of course they got basic levels nailed down. If you look at the Psycho gif above, you see Sihyoung is the only one kneeling while the others standing symmetrically. Eventually Sihyoung, crawls his way out through his bandmates. Throughout the MV, he really goes all in with his ‘crazy’ role, and the use of levels was a welcome addition. Before I go on, the members standing from left to right are Jaeho, Dokyun, Kyungil, and Yijeong. Try to keep that in mind.
The members on the right do a fantastic job at kneeling. Notice how their heads are never at the same level. Also note how the three guys are posing their own way, rather than being completely identical. While Sihyoung and Dokyun are symmetrically identical, History is one of few groups to integrate two-person dances, and while What Am I To You was just a practice of what can be done, Queen has the more refined example of duo dancing in groups.
When Sihyoung does his rap at 2:25, everyone, members and back up dancers, exit off stage except Kyungil. A big difference between Kyungil and Dokyun in Kyungil is better at dancing. The symmetry is more interesting, the “Matrix” move, Kyungil bending downwards and having his head towards stage left whenever he’s behind Sihyoung, this is a definitely a more creative use of a dancing duet.
Would I really make a History post and not feature this video?
Their magnum opus in terms of music, visuals, and dance. In terms of dance, if you take away all the moves that could have killed them, you’d still have the blocking, levels, and symmetry that makes it a stellar dance piece. Remember when I told you which member was which in the Psycho gif? (You can scroll up and come back in you need to.) The thing is there’s one thing History has that multiple groups don’t; the perfect height ratio.
If you look at their profiles, this is what their official height says from oldest to youngest;
Kyungil: 183 cm
Dokyun: 184 cm
Sihyoung: 182 cm
Jaeho: 174 cm
Yijeong: 173 cm
The three tallest/oldest members have are around 10 centimeters apart from the two shortest/youngest members. Although I’m sure plenty of groups have a similar ratio, I have yet to see any of them take advantage of that like the production team behind MJD did.
See how from left to right it’s tall-short-tall-short-tall? No?
How about this image from a a video teaching the dance moves? Did you know they are standing from left to right in the exact order as the image above it?
Have you noticed how the formation for the chorus always has, from your left to right/stage right to stage left, Dokyun next to Jaeho next to Kyungil next to Yijeong next to Sihyoung?
Even when they’re at the same level, the formation is still the same.
Of course the blocking changes during the verses, because whoever is singing, no matter how tall he is, needs to be the center.
Playing by the standards set by the chorus’ symmetry, having short-tall-short-tall-tall (gonna initial that after this) could be off-putting, but I don’t mind it since Yijeong is the one singing. But there are other uses of the height symmetry in other parts of the song.
In this case, it’s s-t-t-t-s. As a matter of fact, Dokyun being the tallest makes this the most accurate formation in terms of height symmetry. But not enough people fap to him compared to Kyungil. Can’t have everything. This also similar to the Psycho gif, without the main focus kneeling of course.The short members on the ends, and the tall ones in between.
The only difference between this and the blocking for the chorus is Kyungil and Sihyoung have switched places. Still worth noting.
What’s interesting here is the members sans Sihyoung make parallel lines. Shorties Jaeho and Yijeong make on digonal line, and tallies Kyungil and Dokyun make their own.
There’s also some lovely use of levels, during the verses, but I think I made my point about how awesome the blocking is. How bout I move on to how dangerous this dance is?
I didn’t realize how serious that jump was until I watched this video. And Dokyun wasn’t the only one who got any injuries. That video teaching the moves that I already linked has Sihyoung with his wrist bandaged and Yijeong wearing some odd bandage that matches his skin on his chin. Kyungil even had to do a dance practice with his wrist bandaged.
I’m not aware if Jaeho’s injuries from MJD were exposed. (I’m sure he got hurt when the camera was off.) If not, there’s still the time he slipped on rainwater while performing Queen on Show Champion. Looks like you can’t avoid fate after all.
In case you weren’t impressed with anything the dance had to offer, their company saw that coming and released a fucking sleepmask/blind version.
This is just too much to be true. I mean, is it too much to ask for a blooper real where they trip over each other? How could Dokyun and Jaeho at 1:06 make that cross so easily? Either they were trained to do this in their sleep, or they can see through the masks.
It was because of how intense the choreo was that I was fine with History getting one comeback a year. So they can rest and heal. Which leads me to the reasons History’s disbandment isn’t a bad thing;
1. They might never dance to Might Just Die ever again.
If I were them, I’d put those days far behind me. Sure, the jump is a cool trick once you’ve mastered it and don’t mind the bruises you got while learning it. But now that they don’t have to worry about keeping their jump perfected and their abs chocolatey, they can retire with ease. If Shinhwa can refuse to perform a song like Your Wedding because of demanding choreography, how long would it take for History to retire that song? If any of the members enlist in active duty for their military service, I bet they’d think the army is easy compared to their dance training.
2. Their variety has gotten them nowhere.
They used to be my third favorite group before I got interested in Shinhwa, thus dropping to fourth and are likely to drop to fifth if I ever stan another group. Two main reasons why this happened are A) My biases in Shinhwa are more clear than my biases in History. And B) History are quite boring when they are doing variety. The variety they’ve done are standard fill-in-the-blank stuff all idols are forced to do and it seems none of them have enough natural comedic skills to shine out more. I’d say this is a big reason why they couldn’t stay together. There wasn’t a Jackson or a Lee Joon or a Sunny in the group. Having fantastic songs wasn’t enough to keep them afloat, they needed to at least pretend they had interesting personalities.
3. Their song quality isn’t in danger of decreasing with any further comebacks.
If History were a TV show, they were cancelled when the show was still making great episodes. There are plenty of shows that were good the first few seasons but stayed on the air too long and got worse. Is it worth saving History if the songs they make get more boring or awful each comeback? We’ll never know, so let’s be glad that didn’t happen to them.
4. There will hopefully be an update on LOEN/FAVE Ent’s new boy group
It’s possible LOEN (I know it’s FAVE now but I’d rather not thank you) want to pull a YG by dumping an old group for a new one. They know History wasn’t getting as much attention as IU or even Fiestar, so why not start all over? And if Kim Young Hoon is a trainee at your company, why would you even think twice? (For real, is he even still a trainee there? 2 months later and I still don’t know anything else about him.) He’s already more attractive than anyone in History (his potential groupmates probably not), why keep him in the dungeon? Unless he’s a minor, then he could stay there a little longer. (Seriously, if you know what he’s been doing since Whatta Man, please tell me. I don’t like being kept in suspense.)
Another plus about a new boy group is the group could get the songs History would have gotten. The company seem to know how to pick a good title track, no matter whose name is in the credits. Yijeong got credited on the last two title songs. If he really was a driving force in the studio, maybe he’ll stick to producing and be the producer for the group replacing him.
It may seem like I’m happy History is history. I frankly would rather not have a disbandment get me worked up. Being a k-pop fan for 20 months now, I dig for old songs from yesteryear and find plenty of songs made by groups no longer together. The world didn’t end when they did, and the lives of the idols don’t average into horrible. Since this is the first time I got to like a group before they broke up, I’m happy I got to love their music when they were still active. And when everyone was freaking over groups possibly disbanding this year like T-ARA, Crayon Pop, and Cross Gene, it’s funny in retrospect how History’s disbandment came out of nowhere.
Thank you, History, for guaranteeing great songs, great visuals, and great dancing. I can’t say I’ll miss you, but I won’t forget you at all.