Is NEWJEANS’ Supernatural Album J-Pop? Fans Divided

Recently, NEWJEANS took Tokyo by storm at their first-ever fanmeeting, “Bunnies Camp 2024,” packing the Tokyo Dome with 90,000 fans across two nights (June 26th & 27th)!

Hanni especially stole the show with a cover performance that went viral, racking up nearly 4 million views on YouTube in just six days.

Disappointment Over Genre Classification

NEWJEANS’ smash Tokyo Dome debut was overshadowed by online controversy surrounding their latest album, Supernatural.

Released just before the event, fans were disappointed to see it categorized as J-pop, not K-pop, on major Korean music streaming platforms like Naver Vibe and Apple Music. Confirmation of this classification came on July 3rd.

Understanding the Classification Criteria

An album’s genre is typically determined by the singer’s agency or music distributor. In this case, ADOR categorized NEWJEANS’ album as J-pop.

This classification often occurs for albums with predominantly Japanese lyrics. However, Supernatural includes significant Korean lyrics alongside Japanese and English, with the music video for Right Now featuring members texting in Korean, solidifying its Korean identity.

Lack of Clear Communication

ADOR’s introduction of Supernatural described it as “a new jack swing style song with nostalgic sensibility and the members’ soft vocals” but did not mention the J-pop genre. Critics argue that the album should have been labelled as K-pop.

A pop music critic suggested, “Categorizing it as J-pop to target the Japanese market might have lowered NEWJEANS’ value. They have a global fandom, including Korean fans, and should not classify a song with Korean lyrics as J-pop.”

Critics Weigh In

Another critic said, “It’s a management decision, not the singers’. Although Japan is the second-largest music market, the company seems to overlook the importance of K-pop and its Korean fanbase.”

Expert Opinions on Genre Classification

Professor Seo Kyung-Seok of Sungshin Women’s University emphasized, “NEWJEANS, as a representative Korean girl group, should promote K-pop. Labelling the album as J-pop can mislead international fans.”

An entertainment industry insider highlighted, “Songs with Korean lyrics are typically categorized as K-pop. Even K-pop groups’ English songs are labelled as K-pop. There’s no reason for NEWJEANS to classify their album as J-pop,” citing BTS’s Dynamite as an example.

ADOR’s Response to the Controversy

In response, ADOR explained, “Supernatural was released as a Japanese album for the group’s activities in Japan. We aimed for global distribution to make it easily accessible for fans. With the rapid development of media and diversified music distribution, we believe distinguishing between J-pop and K-pop genres is becoming less relevant.”

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