Ahead of the EPL action this weekend, we decide to marry the top English football clubs to their inner spirit K-pop band. Just for the kick of it.
Let’s be honest, at first glance, football and K-pop seem like a mismatch. They are not even on the same spectrum, some might say.
But, if you look closer, you might notice certain personality traits and even uncanny parallelism between the rise of EPL clubs and K-pop bands!
So FOX Sports Asia has taken it upon ourselves to play detective and discover what are K-pop band counterparts of the major EPL clubs.
Manchester City FC
Inner spirit K-pop band: Girls’ Generation (SNSD)
As the new titans in their respective fields, Manchester City FC and SNSD have more similarities than you would think.
In an unprecedented coincidence, both started around 2007-08 – with City being brought by the Abu Dhabi United Group and SNSD making their debut with their self-titled album.
But it was only in 2009 that SNSD and the Sky Blues rose to fame with the hit single Gee and a change of players, as well as manager, respectively.
The rest as the fans would say is history.
SNSD’s first Japanese self-titled album in 2011 was certified diamond (over a million copies sold) before gaining international fame when the namesake single I Got a Boy, off their fourth album, snagged the Video of the Year award at the inaugural 2013 YouTube Music Awards. They are the first Asian girl group to achieve 100 million views for five of their music videos (Gee, I Got a Boy, Mr Taxi and Oh!).
As for the City, they too have their own milestones. After winning the FA Cup in 2011, their first trophy since 1976, the Citizens won their first EPL title under ex-manager Roberto Mancini in 2011-12 in a literal last-minute victory. What was especially sweet about their first title win in 44 years was that they stole it from under the noses of their sworn rivals Manchester United FC!
They would go on to win another league title in 2013-14.
And just as SNSD, under the guidance of band leader Taeyeon, is regarded as prominent figures of the global Korean wave movement; City can be seen as THE club of the modern EPL era with their talisman striker Sergio Aguero. The 29-year old Argentine, who recently became City’s all-time record goal scorer with 178 strikes, leads and drives the City attack by example, working his socks off to score the last-minute goal that landed them their 2011-12 title!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 1, 2017
A feat that is matched by the tenacious Taeyeon whose vocal prowess establishes SNSD’s unique musical style of electro-pop, blended with hip-hop, R&B and EDM. Oddly enough, both MVPs seem to be cut from the same cloth – strong understated leader figures who are extreme effective in putting their own mark in their field.
Manchester United FC
Inner spirit K-pop band: EXO
Named as “the biggest boyband in the world”, it is not hard to see why that K-pop band EXO will be deemed as Manchester United’s, the biggest and most recognised football club globally, inner spirit K-pop counterpart.
Separated into the two subgroups Exo-K and Exo-M, the now nine-member super group performs both in Korean and Mandarin! Though United does not perform in two languages, they too have two distinct group of players – attacking and defending.
Just as Exo-M consist of Xiumin, Lay and Chen, United also has three key players in their defending unit in the form of David de Gea, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic.
Similar to how Xiumin, Lay and Chen have been killing it with their latest album The War – becoming the first artist in 2017 to top the Gaon Digital Chart for four weeks with the track Ko Ko Bop – de Gea, Bailly and Matic have also slayed on the pitch, letting in a measly four goals to date in the EPL for the Red Devils.
But let’s not forget the Exo-K members Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai and Sehun too have played an equal part in their success this year. Particularly, in the last two dates of their Exo’rdium tour at the Seoul Olympic Stadium which sold out within the first twenty minutes of ticket sales!
At United, the youth theme is strong in their attackers as well. Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are the fresh attacking faces with the Red Devils, while experienced heads Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan complete the unit.
So far, United has scored 23 goals thanks to their collective efforts, with Lukaku chipping in with seven league goals thus far.
And like EXO, United are in for bigger things as the year draws to an end. While the K-pop group is gearing up for their third world tour Exo Planet #4, United faces Chelsea this weekend in a top-of-the-table clash that will leave everyone rubbing their hands in delight.
Tottenham Hotspur FC
Inner spirit K-pop band: Seventeen (SVT)
A match made in heaven; it is not a stretch to connect the dots and link the youngest K-pop group on our list to the youngest EPL side. Which is why we think thirteen-member strong SVT fits Tottenham to a t as their inner spirit K-pop band.
And much like the “self-producing” idol group who was deeply involved in the composition and production of their album Love & Letter last year, the Spurs team takes a similar approach in honing their own unique blend of attacking football under visionary manager Mauricio Pochettino which excites as much as a SVT number. Very Nice indeed if you catch our drift.
In addition, SVT members are divided into three units – hip hop, vocal and performance. Not too dissimilar to the three different groups of footballers at any club – defenders, midfielders and forwards.
And like in SVT, Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier are all unit leaders who steer the Spurs ship just as much (and effectively if you ask us) as S.Coup, Woozi and Hoshi!
Inner spirit K-pop band: Beyond The Scene (BTS)
Ranked fifth on Forbes’ 2017 Korea Power Celebrity list, seven-member Korean boy band BTS is quite the powerhouse. Besides winning the 2017 Billboard Award for Top Social Artist, the most retweeted artist even have their own emoji – the first ever K-pop emoji on Twitter!
— BTS_official (@bts_bighit) May 13, 2016
As for Chelsea FC, the reigning EPL champions need no introduction having equal the Premier League record of thirteen consecutive wins as well as breaking the record for most number of wins (with 30 victories) in a season under manager Antonio Conte last time around.
While BTS has ended 2017 strongly – their new album Love Yourself: Her reached the top spot on iTunes in 73 countries and have sold 5.5 million copies worldwide – they faced some speed bumps as they tried to balance their hip-hop leanings in a marriage with electro-pop sensibilities.
Ultimately, they must have succeeded; judging from Love Yourself: Her’s record breaking seventh place debut on the Billboard 200 (the highest for an Asian artist) and the lead single DNA peaking at 67 on the Billboard Hot 100 (highest charting song for a K-pop group).
Chelsea though, is finding it hard to cope with the stress of juggling both the domestic league and the added pressures of Champions League football.
Trailing EPL leaders Manchester City by nine points with ten games played, Conte and co have been rocked since their 0-1 league home loss to City at the end of September. Since then, they have also tasted defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace and AS Roma.
Perhaps what the English champions need are some of BTS hip-hop tunes in the changing room to help them get into mood before matches?
And if that fails, they should take a leaf out of BTS’ musical reinvention and evolve – just like how they change to a 3-4-3 formation featuring a five-man defense in Conte’s maiden season.
Inner spirit K-pop band: 2NE1
It is apparent that both are in dark times at the moment- 2NE1 has been disbanded since late last year, while Arsenal FC slipped out of their customary top-four finish (and misses out on Champions League) for the first time since manager Arsene Wenger took over the football club back in 1996.
However, on their day, both are a force to reckon with!
Needless to say, with nine number-one hits on the Gaon Digital Chart and two number-one albums and EPs, the four-member strong 2NE1 is regarded as one of the best K-pop girl group of the past decade.
Their 2012 New Jersey gig was named by the New York Times as one of the “Best Concerts of 2012”.
Arsenal, on the other hand, won two League and Cup double under Wenger, as well as winning the league in 2003-04 on a 49-match unbeaten run – earning them the nickname “The Invincibles”.
They have also won the FA Cup a record thirteen times – seven of which were won under Wenger’s reign. The Gunners were also the first London club to reach the Champions League final in 2005-06.
However, Arsenal is currently experiencing a resurgence in form, with the team losing just one game (their 2-1 away league loss to Watford) since September, so maybe the same will apply for 2NE1 too.
Fingers crossed that the K-pop quartet will be back ripping up the airwaves once more. 2NE1 reunion tour anyone?
Inner spirit K-pop band: TVXQ
The original “K-pop royalty” and the kings of English football share a rich back history of accolades and awards. However, in recent times, both TVXQ and Liverpool FC has taken a seat back due to personnel change.
In 2010, the five-member K-pop group had to contend with the departure of three of its members – Hero Jaejoong, Micky Yoochun and Xiah Junsu.
That left TVXQ as a duo with only leader U-Know Yunho and Max Changmin to carry on the legacy of selling over 14 million records and their two Golden Disk Award winning albums “O”-Jung.Ban.Hap (2006) and Mirotic (2008).
Much like Liverpool in 2010, following the departure of beloved manager Rafael Benitez, who guided them to one Champions League and FA Cup win, the English side was rocked by a spate of departures as Roy Hodgson took over the managerial reins.
But despite seeing the back of players such as Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso (who left a year prior), Liverpool fans were happy that the scouse duo of captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher stayed on at the club to rebuild.
Since then, TVXQ has grown from strength to strength. The duo’s Japanese albums Tone (2011), Time (2013) and With (2014), combined with their previous group album in 2006, makes them the first and only act to have four number-one albums in a row in Japan!
Their 2013 Time Tour, one of the highest-attended in Japan for a foreign act, saw them head a nationwide five-Dome tour!
Liverpool, on the other hand, also had their moments. Under subsequent manager Brendan Rodgers, they had a superb 2013 as a SAS (Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge) or SSS (whenever Raheem Sterling played) led attack scored 101 goals that season – the third highest in Premier League history!
Ultimately though, the Reds didn’t have such a happy ending like the TVXQ duo, finishing an agonising second place, losing the EPL crown by two points to Manchester City.