SuperM, the seven-member brainchild of Capitol Music Group and Korean media juggernaut SM Entertainment, entered the world with a muted flash. SM CEO Lee Soo-man announced the supergroup debut in early August, marketing the members as the “Avengers of K-pop” — and it wasn’t hard to see why, with their blustery percussion and high expectations.
SuperM boasts notable veterans in the Korean music industry — including Taemin, Baekhyun and Kai. Along with experienced stars, the group also sports newer faces — Taeyong, Mark, Ten, and Lucas are from 21-member boy group Neo Culture Technology (NCT), known for their endlessly expanding membership.
The group’s contrasting styles and musical prowess were on full display as the group performed a mix of solo and group songs to an at-capacity crowd in the Infinite Energy Arena on Nov. 15.
Buoyed along by piercing screams, SuperM opened the concert with instrumental-heavy R&B track “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” a heavy-handed reference to the similar-named “Can You Stand The Rain” by 1980s black boy band New Edition.
After this track, the group split off, leaving Taemin on stage for his solo. Though Taemin is not the eldest, he is the most experienced; he made his debut in 2008 with his group Shinee, often dubbed the “Princes of K-pop.” Taemin is constantly called the “Michael Jackson of K-pop,” and it’s not hard to see why with his pin-sharp turns and dancer’s build. Taemin’s legendary status in the industry shone through as he performed his solo track “Danger” to resounding praise and applause.
From Taemin, the concert transitioned to rapper Taeyong’s solo song “GTA,” a hip-hop heavy track which references popular video game Grand Theft Auto. Taeyong is NCT’s leader, main rapper and main dancer — and it showed as he led dancers up and down across the stage, filling the arena with the charisma and energy he’s known for as one of SM Entertainment’s newer stars.
The automobile song trend continued as five of the seven SuperM group members rejoined the stage for an electric rendition of “Super Car.” As Ten prepared for his solo, the members gathered at the front of the stage to talk with fans. Mark, a native English speaker, led the conversation, sharing with fans that Taemin wasn’t feeling well but because of his professionalism was able to execute to the best of his ability. Taemin, bashful, smiled and waved off the cheers of the supportive crowd.
After a five-minute interlude, the other members retreated and Ten returned to the stage, decked out in a flowy white outfit and surrounded by backup dancers. Emboldened by the positive response of the crowd, Ten delivered a performance imbued with traditional Thai instruments with all-English lyrics. It was in the performance of Ten, a Thai-born Korean idol singing in fluent English, that the central theme of this piece came to me — SuperM is, rather boldly, a musical blend of different cultures, languages and backgrounds that have come together to create something unforeseen in the K-pop world.
This again was obvious in the transition from Lucas’ high-energy pop-rap solo to the more sensual, piercing performance of Baekhyun, a newly minted soloist known for his powerhouse vocals and stunning range, who performed two songs from his summer release “City Lights.”
In a video projected on a screen behind him during a short break, Ten said, “I think I can see something new from us,” and that novelty showed, particularly in the somewhat disjointed but highly energetic mix of solo and group songs. The group’s strength — their differences — also made for a head-spinning collection of styles and songs, from Taemin’s Michael Jackson-inspired performances to Taeyong’s rap-heavy delivery to Kai’s sexy, R&B-imbued performances.
The concert’s running time was noticeably short: a mere hour and a half, give or take. Cheered along by an audience with seemingly infinite energy, the seven-member outfit made that hour and a half feel like a movie. As the curtain fell, the group joined the stage one last time to perform their lead single, “Jopping,” an explosive Marvel-inspired anthem, the energy of the song highlighting the group’s cosmopolitan mix of truly epic proportions.