And now, Apeace
An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.
Idol groups are known for their large teams. Seeing a group with less than 5 members seems odd compared to what you might expect from your favorite western pop groups. These days, most K-pop fans are aware of big member group NCT, but did you know that there’s another boy band that began with 21 members? Today, let’s become familiar with Apeace, formally known as Double B, right after the drop.
You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.
In 2011, Golden Goose Entertainment decided to round up 21 young men from around South Korea and debut them as Double B 21. Based on the number of members, from their debut until June 30, 2014, they were officially the largest K-pop boy band in the world. With such a large team, and the creative energies of industry veteran Kim Kyungwook behind their development, why have you possibly not heard of them? The first reason is that some believed the group disbanded at various times in its history. The most likely reason you’ve not heard of them, however, is because you’re not in their target market. Although it’s true that K-pop has amassed praise and loyalty in foreign markets, this group was developed with Tokyo, Japan in mind.
Given that their history in the South Korean pop scene is limited, I’m moving forward with 2010 debut details versus pre-debut history. After all, we’d be talking about 21 people. We don’t have that much time to get into each backstory! That aside, the original team contained four sub-units: Sky, Earth, River and Burning… because clearly it would have been too difficult to simply use “water” and “fire”... and Sky took on debut responsibilities with the solo “One” on August 25, 2010. By December of that year, the group’s name changed to A-peace (with conflicting history on whether or not this stands for “Angel Peace” or to appease the ambitious needs of a label housing a 21-member boy band) and some leaving the group.
In order to maintain the high membership number, new performers were brought in and with that, the group opened K Theater in Japan and performed daily from May 2011 until December 2014. Mind you, this was before their official Japanese mini-album release, which did not happen until 2012. By this point, they were not only back at 21 members, but also with a hyphen-free name and three 7-member sub-units: Lapis, Jade and Onyx.
Their entire career rests in the arms of Tokyo; and whether or not they’ve disbanded at the end of 2021 as it has been alleged, what remains true is that their Korean discography boils down to two digital singles and one mini album. They were never crafted to focus on their home country’s audience. Singles, “One” and “S.O.S.” display pop ballad and generic anthemic vibes, respectively. It’s less a reflection of them not being good performers and more of the sounds that were popular during that time in South Korean music. Do you remember in past episodes when I’ve mentioned the “One band, one sound,” idea from the American film “Drumline”? Apeace takes it to musical status with their song “Lover Boy,” off their June 2011 mini album, “We Are the One.” The level of vocal unison is a bit unsettling! It’s almost two dozen males on stage yet it sounds like 4 are responsible for the singing!
Each member certainly is singing, however. A quick search on YouTube of fan-made videos from their performances in K Theater shows that the mics are indeed on, for better or worse. That’s the experience of daily live performances and honestly sets them apart from most other idol groups A3Day will explore. They are a theatrical act by design and shouldn’t have a ranking because of it. Anyone who has experienced musicals knows that the integrity of the performance can change daily and this group delivered on that for many successful years.
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