What to do if your favorite idol group disbands | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

When the idols we follow suddenly decide to change direction (aka disband), where does that leave the fandom?


It’s likely impossible to meet a person who is not part of any sort of fandom today, especially that of an artist. With such easy access to music and the artists’ lives themselves through the internet and social media, it’s not surprising how deeply intertwined music fandom now is with daily life.

But this isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Girl groups and boy bands have been popular since time immemorial—even way earlier than the hit pop artists of the ’90s and early aughts. As early as the ’20s up to the ’60s and ’70s, jazz and Motown groups have dominated the airwaves and enjoyed phenomenal success. In the ’90s, R&B and pop girl and boy groups changed the game, offering not just soulful, eargasm-worthy harmonies but visuals and dance moves, too.

Fast forward to the 2010s, Asia has taken their share of the girl/boy group scene with the growth of idol culture—and now we have icons like BTS, Twice, Blackpink, and more touring and filling stadiums all over the world with fans. (Fearless forecast: Soon enough we’ll see P-pop on the international arenas, too!)

[READ: For P-pop artists, fans hold the future of the genre]

Aside from the easy-on-the-ears, radio-friendly (or TikTok challenge-able) genres, the media landscape today has also contributed to these idol groups’ popularity. Social media and the internet has given idols a larger platform not just to perform but to connect with their fans, too. And while this can be an argument for parasocialism, the fact is, it’s built and nurtured fandoms—and that includes the communities around it.

The passion and connection within a fandom—especially a big one—is palpable, even in online spaces. Just check the comments section of any post, Reel, or TikTok about, say, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Laufey, or BTS. 

But as trends change and people (artists and fans alike) get older, we eventually face the question of what happens when we reach the proverbial end. 


K-pop and the “seven-year curse”

Even if the mantra of your favorite group may include promises of “forever” and being together as a *whole* group until the end, sometimes, life just happens. Factors like mismanagement, physical and mental health problems, scandals, shifts in career trajectories, and other issues may put a stopper on a group’s journey.

In K-pop, there’s a term called the “seven-year curse,” which often refers to the disbandment of a group seven years after they’ve debuted. This is because most contracts for idols span seven years, and after that, the idols will have to decide if they want to renew their contracts with their current agency. 

Some groups have survived this “curse,” with all members opting to renew their contracts together and continuing with their group activities (as in the case of Twice). In some cases, only some members choose to stay on, while others opt to move to different companies (like Mamamoo). In others still, all members leave the company they debuted with, and sign with other labels (like Blackpink). At this point, it is often uncertain if group activities will resume.

For many fans (myself included), being part of a fandom and following and supporting artists have become closely intertwined with our lives. Not only has fandom given many of us a sense of belonging and community, but it’s also helped develop self-expression, creativity, and even a feeling of emotional support. For better or for worse, sometimes being part of a fandom even becomes a character trait. 

Because of the emotional investment this passion into a fandom entails, many also form a strong attachment to their object of obsession. 

So when the idols we follow suddenly decide to change direction, where does that leave us?


Moving on(?)

I’ve been part of two fandoms where the groups have gone on hiatus from their activities together. Naturally, it was hard to get used to the fact that the break was indefinite, that we wouldn’t know how long we would have to wait until we could see them together or release new music again. Still, it was a relief on my part that they didn’t completely disband.

But I understand not all groups and fandoms are as lucky.

While moving on may be hard at first, it’s not impossible—and it’s not a crime to do so, even if it may seem “blasphemous” to the fandom you’ve sworn your wholehearted support to.

The first thing you need to know if you’re dealing with the heartbreak of disbandment or hiatus is that it’s okay to grieve and feel sad about it. There’s nothing silly about crying about it, or feeling like you’ve lost purpose—it’s understandable, after investing so much emotion into something.

But please also remember that even if the group may have ended, it’s not the end for you. 

In most cases of disbandment, the members choose to pursue their own solo careers or paths. One way to still honor the love you have for their group is to continue supporting the members in their endeavors. What’s also beautiful in some of these groups—particularly in ones who take a hiatus from group activities—is that they still identify themselves as members of their group, and acknowledge their group’s fandom as part of their solo success.

Since fandom is also built not just by the artists, but by the fans who have come together, take comfort in the community, too. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, and that there’s surely someone in the fandom who understands exactly how you feel about your idols. And just because they’re inactive now doesn’t mean the fandom has to stop. Many fandoms and fan clubs continue to operate, celebrating group anniversaries, or organizing events in support of group members. If you want to keep your fandom passion alive, continue keeping tabs on the fan clubs.

Most importantly, hope for the best. 

Girls’ Generation, after a five-year hiatus, came out with their 15th anniversary album “Forever 1.” 2NE1 surprised fans with a reunion at Coachella in 2022, seven years after their last performance together. More recently, Super Junior also appeared together at the wedding of one of their members. 

These recent second-generation K-pop groups’ activities are proof that even inactive and disbanded groups can have a chance at a reunion, no matter how long time has passed since they’ve gone their separate ways or been quiet. As they move forward with their own paths, move on with yours, too. It’ll be fine; in just a matter of time, who knows? Maybe they’ll be back sooner than expected.

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