Line distribution is one of the hottest topics among K-Pop fans, and it’s no surprise why. After all, who wouldn’t be upset when their bias only receives a few seconds of lines in a whole song? Fans have long been wondering how songwriters decide which group members get to sing the most—and now, there’s an answer. K-Pop songwriters Cosmic Sound (Kim Kihyun) and former RaNia member Cosmic Girl (Yoo Jooyi), who work with major acts like MAMAMOO and ONEUS, recently sat down with AYO on YouTube to explain the truth about dividing parts.
When it comes to unfair line distribution, many fans unleash their frustrations on K-Pop agencies themselves. However, according to Cosmic Sound, the amount of lines each group members gets is all down to the songwriters.
The pair went on to explain the process of dividing up song parts. When songwriters create a K-Pop song, Cosmic Sound said, “there’s a big sketch we draw“. Parts in the song are then allocated based on this sketch depending on who suits it most.
‘This member would fit in the part-in verse’… ‘What if this member sings the ‘chorus’…
— Cosmic Girl (Yoo Jooyi)
So, instead of trying to give each member an equal amount of lines, songwriters focus on making sure each line is given to the singer or rapper who suits it the most. Naturally, this will be different for every song.
If a song has a lot of high notes, it’s likely those parts will go to the vocalist with the highest range and skill—usually the main vocalist. In Red Velvet, for example, four-octave main vocalist Wendy sings most of the high notes.
But other times, a song may fit a lead or even sub-vocalist’s tone better. In Red Velvet’s Japanese song “Sayonara”, for example, Joy has the more lines than the other members despite being one of the lead vocalists. So, it’s likely that the songwriters felt her sound was best suited to the jazzy track.
While the AYO viewer Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Girl responded to lamented that “every songwriter has a different preference“, they made sure to clarify that it’s nothing to do with “personal bias“. Instead, it’s all about the music itself.
Since we divide parts considering [which member fits best], we focus more on the musical part rather than personal interest or friendship.
— Cosmic Sound (Kim Kihyun) and Cosmic Girl (Yoo Jooyi)
Cosmic Girl chimed in to say, “we divide [songs] fairly!“—but, of course, many fans would disagree. For example, both songwriters worked on ONEUS’s single “Valkyrie”. In the song, main rapper Leedo has 29.2% of the lines, while main vocalist Seoho ranked 4th in the distribution and sub vocalist Xion has just 7.5%.
However, judging by Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Girls’ comments, it seems the distinction is down to the different ideas of “fairness” between fans and songwriters.
Many K-Pop fans believe a fair line distribution is one where each member gets an adequate proportion of the lines based on their position and ability. In a songwriter’s eyes, on the other hand, a fair line distribution is one where each member gets the lines that fit their voice the best.
See what Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Girl said about the best idol songwriters here: