Korean boy band Super Junior - or at least their sub-group/Chinese franchise Super Junior-M - launched a foray on the Taiwan charts, going straight to the top for the week 18 to 24 September with their new EP Super Girl. (See the latest G-Music album chart here, but in Chinese).
Super Junior-M (the M is for Mandarin) were created, or manufactured might be the better word, last year to cash in on Super Junior's popularity in the Chinese-speaking world. The band has seven members, made up of five original Super Junior members including the group's only Chinese member Han Geng. Another two newcomers were then added to the mix: a Chinese-Canadian who goes by the name of Henry, and Wuhan-born Zhou Mi.
Super Junior-M's debut album titled Me (迷) featured mainly covers of Super Junior's Korean hits but sung in Mandarin. The musical arrangements were also tailored to suit Chinese audiences. The result: a kind of hybrid K-Pop "with Chinese characteristics". The new mini-album Super Girl in contrast contains some original material, though the title track and first single was written by the same man who composed the similar-sounding Sorry Sorry, Super Junior's latest hit.
Super Junior the original are part of a recent fad for boy (and girl) bands the size of football teams - Super Junior for example has 13 members. And like a musical amoeba, the group has regularly subdivided to fill particular niche markets. Super Junior has sporned at least four sub-groups: as well as Super Junior-M there's Super Junior-K.R.Y (which specialises in slow, sorrowful ballads), Super Junior-T (T standing for "trot music", a style of dance music dating back to the 1930s), and Super Junior-Happy whose music style is, well, happy. Super Junior-T recently morphed into Super Junior-T X Moeyan, joining forces with a Japanese girl act in an attempt to conquer the Japanese market.
Super Junior itself is a carefully planned and manufactured product, just one in a long line of pop groups created by the Korean record company and talent agency, SM Entertainment. The group were unleashed on the Korean public after massive fanfare and publicity back in 2005. Members are known for their versatility: as well as singing, they are expected to be dancers, actors and presenters. Of course good looks are also an essential selection criteria.