The reemergence of the vampire-werewolf conflict is here. Join E&M editor and author Alberto on his journey to find out how HYBE’s boy groups Enhypen and &Team are bringing “Twilight” back in vogue.
Over the past decade, K-pop, or Korean pop music, has witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity in Europe, becoming a cultural force that is redefining norms and values. With its catchy melodies, intricate choreography, and visually stunning performances, the impact of K-pop has gone beyond just the music industry, shaping various aspects of teenager culture, including pop standards and beauty canons.
The narratives used to market Asian idol groups play a significant role in captivating fans and creating a strong emotional connection. One recent trend that has caught the attention of millennials and Gen Zs is the fictional conflict between vampires and werewolves, which bears a striking resemblance to the globally well-known film saga “Twilight.” This narrative has been skillfully woven into the storylines of HYBE’s boy groups Enhypen and &Team, triggering a similar social phenomenon among teenagers and bringing the “Twilight” craze back in vogue.
The popular film franchise based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, was a global phenomenon that mesmerized millions of teenagers and young adults in the late 2000s. The story of forbidden love between a vampire and a human, with the added element of the werewolf as a rival, struck a chord with audiences worldwide, and the franchise grossed billions of dollars at the box office. It is therefore no coincidence that Kpop masterminds were looking forward to recycling it.
HYBE Corporation, formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment (BTS’ parent company), has gained worldwide recognition for its innovative approach to storytelling. The agency has a track record of creating elaborate fictional universes and narratives that transcend traditional music promotion, creating immersive experiences for fans.
Enhypen, a seven-member boy group formed through the reality survival show “I-LAND,” has been particularly successful in incorporating the vampire-werewolf narrative into their music videos and album concepts. Their official Twitter account boasts over 2.6 million followers, while their Instagram account has garnered over 3.8 million followers. Their debut album “Border: Day One” released in November 2020 features the story of seven boys who awaken as vampires and embark on a quest to find their destiny. The members portray characters with supernatural abilities and struggles, reminiscent of Edward Cullen from “Twilight”.
Similarly, &Team, a nine-member boy group formed through the reality show “&Audition”, has also embraced the werewolf narrative in their debut album “First Howling: ME” released in late 2022. Their social media presence has rapidly grown, with thousands of followers on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. On their audiovisual concept clips, they are often shown as outsiders, grappling with their identities and trying to find their place in the world, much like Bella Swan’s love interests in the popular saga.
Years in advance, HYBE has placed the members of each group in each other’s music videos, teasing fans with glimpses of a larger story yet to unfold. This interconnected narrative has been a masterstroke in engaging fans from both groups, creating a sense of anticipation and curiosity. Fans eagerly speculate and discuss how the storylines of Enhypen and &Team are connected, with each music video release offering clues and hints about the overarching narrative. This has resulted in a dedicated fanbase that is always on the lookout for the next piece of the puzzle, eagerly awaiting the comebacks of both groups to see how the story continues.
In addition to the music videos, HYBE has also taken the narrative to another level by creating a webtoon that features fictional characters inspired by both Enhypen and &Team members. This webtoon allows fans to follow the story in a more detailed and immersive way, delving deeper into the plot and characters. Both fandoms actively participate in discussions, theories, and fan art related to the groups’ brand narratives, showcasing the deep connection and investment they have in the storylines. The ones who are interested in the story can read the webtoon, while fans who are primarily focused on the music and other artistic projects of the groups can still enjoy their new versatile and trendy concepts without paying attention to the limiting narrative.
By doing that, HYBE is bringing marketing to a whole new level, getting to the point where even Western fans, in this case Europeans, are re-accepting a massive phenomenon again due to how Kpop creatively revisits it. One question arises: Are new idol groups coming from East Asia more sophisticated than ever or was there a latent longing for the beloved vampire-werewolf fantasy among European youngsters?
Top picture by Niranjan-Photographs on Unsplash.
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