K-Pop Special — Five Years Of Dreamcatcher
Five Years Of Dreamcatcher: Yoohyeon’s Endearing Nature As Dreamcatcher’s Most Relatable Member
With multi-lingual skills and a down-to-earth attitude (among other things), Dreamcatcher’s Lead Vocalist has charmed fans with her personality and talent since debut.
Part of the challenge faced by many K-Pop companies in the industry is how to make their artists seem like people that regular fans would want to meet with or get to know them a bit better. While there is certainly a degree of emphasis on visual presentation in K-Pop, especially as it relates to idols being on stage, it’s a sometimes carefully constructed style and look that is meant to draw you in and keep you there.
There are many different approaches to get to what is essentially making an idol relatable to their fans, especially if they’re in a group working with other talented, visually appealing members. But one way is to not go with the seemingly flawless portrayal of a traditional idol and instead, play off of a member’s natural charms and behavior to build an audience.
When it comes to Lead Vocalist Yoohyeon, it seems she and the company have certainly have employed the latter, to great success. While Yoohyeon certainly meets if not exceeds any agreed-upon standard by which a K-Pop idol is defined, Yoohyeon’s easy-to-like personality, containing a few tendencies that you’d find more in a best friend or a frequent co-worker, makes her at times to be not so “idol-like” at all, allowing fans to feel more of a connection to her. When someone like Yoohyeon seems to be, even on-camera, going through the same things any normal person not trained as an idol is going through, it creates accessibility that people feel comfortable with. It’s no surprise that Yoohyeon garners a decent amount of fans even as she breaks “flawless idol” stereotypes because of this, a big part of why fans have come to love Dreamcatcher’s off-stage personalities as a whole. If there’s chaos, it’s likely that Yoohyeon is contributing to it in spades.
But make no mistake about it — when it’s game time, Yoohyeon’s talent as an idol is a match for most any others in the industry. Between a vocal range that has both power and emotion in equal measure, and dancing ability that can match most any style needed, Yoohyeon has served as a frequent core portion of Dreamcatcher’s discography, and is noticed just as much for her skills as she is for her warm and sometimes humorous personality.
Here’s five thoughts on how Yoohyeon’s combination of high-end idol talent and down-to-earth approach to life has made her to be, in my opinion, Dreamcatcher’s most relatable member.
Yoohyeon’s Special Clips and cover selection offer a comfort and familiarity that make it easy to get into the group.
Part of the ease of being able to get into a group or artist in the K-Pop industry is how they handle singing songs that aren’t their own. Unique takes on well-known songs showcase both the artists’ range as well as their vocal color outside of what is produced for them for their discography. On top of that, decently popular songs, whether on the domestic front or abroad (or in some cases both) allow for a good sense of accessibility that can interest fans who wouldn’t normally stick around.
Yoohyeon’s bevy of special clips/covers over the years definitely check all the boxes as far as familiarity and accessibility. When I was first getting into the group, my curiosity landed me on Yoohyeon’s cover of “Secret Love Song”, and as someone who is shamelessly into the kind of pop-like tunes that Little Mix has brought to the music industry over the years it made me more appreciative of Dreamcatcher’s range of talent.
It’s certainly helped that Yoohyeon has played a decent part to some extent in producing these special clips and covers as well. Her 2020 cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” showcased not only her obvious singing talent but also a bit of the filming and production side of the house since she did most of both in putting together the short video that accompanied the cover. But most of the appeal and accessibility has certainly come from the name brand knowledge of the artist being covered — and whether it’s Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift (whose song “22” Yoohyeon covered at a live concert dressed as Toy Story’s Woody), Yoohyeon’s ability to sing these well-known pop songs has helped convert curious listeners into fans.
But it’s not like Yoohyeon is any slouch covering popular domestic songs as well. Norazo’s “Cider”, Blackpink Rosé’s “On The Ground”, Sunmi’s “Gashina” and more have all received the Yoohyeon cover treatment, and prove that her ability to make Dreamcatcher more accessible extends to the domestic audience as much as the global one. Either way, what we have seen from Yoohyeon over the years when she sings or dances outside of Dreamcatcher’s discography is a set of songs that have been critical to gathering more fans to the group’s banner — and by extension, a range of music that shows off her abilities as well. A win-win by any estimation.
Yoohyeon’s multi-lingual dedication, especially to English learning, has impressed fans and helped break down language barriers.
Not surprisingly, one of the barriers to being able to interact with K-Pop idols as a global fan (and of course, vice versa) is the language barrier. Though it’s pretty clear that music is a medium that often times transcends language and can elicit meaningful feelings even when not listened to in one’s native tongue, many global K-Pop fans are dependent on subtitling and translators to better understand both songs and communication from K-Pop artists. Having someone in the group that’s multi-lingual certainly helps ease this small burden.
Yoohyeon has arguably been the member who has contributed the most to the breakdown of this language barrier with her diligent study of other languages, including Chinese, Spanish, and most prominently, English. There’s a definite trend in Yoohyeon’s covers in that many of them are in English, and between this and her frequent use of the language during vLives, fansigns, and appearances, she’s contributed a lot to making English-speaking fans appreciate the group as a whole.
Of course, in addition to the accessibility benefit that I just talked about, Yoohyeon’s dedication to improving her language skills has allowed long-time fans to follow the evolution of her multi-lingual talent. From being able to carry a bit of Dreamcatcher’s Chinese fandom targeted “Catch” series while native Chinese speaker Handong was away, to singing a cover of Little Mix’s “Touch” with near-perfect English pronunciation in 2021, Yoohyeon has come a long way from earlier efforts to communicate with her fans outside of her native Korean. There’s a healthy amount of respect that Dreamcatcher fans have acquired for an idol who has clearly spent a significant amount of effort learning other languages in order to make them more comfortable and talk with them a lot easier. It’s already a daunting prospect to do so while also keeping up with the sometimes-hectic scheduling that K-Pop artists go through, and Yoohyeon deserves every bit of praise for it.
Yoohyeon’s vocal talent, combined with a fluidity of dancing skill, make her both core and complementary to Dreamcatcher’s various musical efforts together.
Synergy and the ability to combine forces with other members is a big part of ensuring a K-Pop group is successful and has appeal to fans, and Yoohyeon, just as much as she is relatable to fans, is able to connect with her fellow members for performances in a way that blends together quite seamlessly. Part of this is the fact that Yoohyeon has both vocal and dance dimension that is able to serve a distinctly dual role — able to anchor the vocal element of the songs and contribute her own color to them while at the same time act as a piece of the performance that other members link to easily. It might seem like these are at odds with one another, but one only needs to listen to or watch examples of Yoohyeon’s team-ups with other members to see it in action. 2020’s JiU/Yoohyeon collaboration on McKay and Jeff Bernat’s “Angel 2 Me” is one example of this. Despite not doing many special clips or covers together, JiU and Yoohyeon sound like they do it every day, with eldest member JiU providing the soft vocal airiness while Yoohyeon underpins the cover with her singing power. The result is a cover worthy of the relaxing feel of the original ballad, and a collaboration that has had fans clamoring for more.
Another good example of this comes in the form of Dreamcatcher subunit “Yaja Time”, humorously reversing the traditional age order by placing Yoohyeon as the “eldest” member and leader, along with “rapper” Siyeon and “youngest member/maknae” SuA. With covers of Winner’s “Really Really” and Seventeen’s “Oh My”, Yoohyeon provides the complementary vocal and reliable core of performance presence that allows both Siyeon and SuA to shine in their non-traditional roles in the mini-group. And if we’re talking strictly from a dancing perspective, look no further than the JiU/SuA/Yoohyeon collaboration on DJ Snake’s “Taki Taki” or SuA and Yoohyeon’s live subunit performance of Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings”, both of which demand a combination of dance fluidity and sultry movement that have become memorable to many fans in part because of Yoohyeon’s ability to easily flex to that style of choreography.
But there’s no better example of how Yoohyeon’s vocal and dance talent complements other members than her recent and frequent collaborations with Main Rapper Dami, also known as the ‘97 line, so named due to the duo’s shared birthday years. The two have combined talents three times in the last couple of years, with a live concert subunit cover of NCT U’s “Baby Don’t Stop” and produced musical covers of 24KGoldn’s “Mood” and IU’s “Palette”. As expected, putting together Yoohyeon’s singing talent with Dami’s rapping power results in songs that have a presentation that goes together like peanut butter and jelly, with both members showcasing their own strengths while also complementing and enhancing the other’s parts. In this case, getting what you’re somewhat expecting to see from a collaboration between two members with different strengths is a boon, and Yoohyeon and Dami have done so with plenty of good results. Yoohyeon’s vocal talent is a big part of making this duo memorable whenever they’ve gotten together.
Yoohyeon’s many humorous moments over the years show a Dreamcatcher member who isn’t afraid to be all-too-human in public.
If there is anyone in Dreamcatcher who most often breaks the stereotype of the constantly-perfect idol image, it’s certainly Yoohyeon. Don’t get me wrong — when it comes time to turn the switch into serious performance mode, Yoohyeon is as flawless as they come and you can always count on her to execute properly when the occasion calls for it. But more than anyone else in the group, Yoohyeon has had multiple moments when she’s made fans, her fellow members, and even herself laugh, many times at her own cost. The result of all this is Yoohyeon being humanized in the eyes of the fandom. Whether it’s saying the opposite of marketing their latest album in English, accidentally pushing a water bottle she couldn’t open on her own over the edge of a table, or taking an initially scary (but ultimately just embarrassing) tumble during a fansign, Yoohyeon has proven plenty of times that she is very much like the rest of us non-idol types.
It might seem like it’s unusual to say that part of Yoohyeon’s charm is that she’s human — all of Dreamcatcher, of course, are human beings just like the rest of us. But what I think is worth clarifying is that Yoohyeon’s funny moments show us that it’s OK, even in the image-conscious world of K-Pop, to be less idol and more regular human. Like any human with a job and personal life, Yoohyeon goes through her own mistakes, challenges, memorable moments, and achievements, many of which reflect some of our own. It’s a reassuring feeling and Yoohyeon has been excellent at putting fans at ease with her own on-camera experiences and presentation of herself.
The result of all this is a Dreamcatcher member who is quite self-aware, who isn’t afraid to show she has moments where she feels confident and those where she might end up cringing at herself, and who doesn’t mind speaking out about humorous things even if it gets messy later. Over the years, Yoohyeon has accidentally revealed spoilers about Dreamcatcher comebacks, made plenty of dad-level jokes and flirting attempts on vLive, completely failed to prove she took hold of “sexiness” duty in Dreamcatcher, and many more fun moments. Yet ironically, as the K-Pop industry has expended a ton of effort to show idols as connected to fans through a ton of expected parasocial interactions, Yoohyeon has done so effortlessly simply by being, at least from what we can see, just herself — even if that self isn’t perfect all the time.
Yoohyeon’s willingness to allow fans a peek into small elements of her personal life endears her to them for its courage and its openness.
Realistically speaking, many K-Pop idols’ personal lives are for the most part closed to fans, and likely understandably so. Artists are by their very nature under the microscope by virtue of being in the spotlight so often, and privacy for one’s own personal life can get a bit challenging if one is a bit too open about it. So when someone like Yoohyeon gives Dreamcatcher fans a slightly larger-than-normal opening through which they can peer into hers, it’s both courageous and endearing at the same time. The 2021 revelation during reality show Dreamcatcher Mind episode 6 that Yoohyeon tragically lost her father at a young age was of particular note in this regard, and made an already-relatable member of Dreamcatcher even more so. Such allowance by Yoohyeon to have this be put out into the public isn’t something to be taken lightly, but based on everything else we know about her ability and desire to relate to fans, is entirely in-character.
But of course, there are happier moments that Yoohyeon has allowed fans to see, such as her calling her mom on Idol Ground and getting a bit of suspicious tone from her for suddenly saying “I love you” to her, and blatantly extracting some money from her brother by doing the same. This is the kind of stuff that shows that despite some of the earlier trials of her life, Yoohyeon seems to have a healthy relationship with both her biological family and the second family she feels she has found in her fellow Dreamcatcher members. More importantly, she’s able to both joke with and express affection with them in equal measure — even if, in Dreamcatcher’s case, it’s to laugh at herself becoming overwrought with emotion over writing a personal letter of love to them.
Whether it’s to be a dog mom with frequent appearances with her Pomeranian dog Pie at work, or create content made entirely of her personal items and hobbies straight from her room at her family’s home, Yoohyeon’s openness with regards to who she is and what she does far exceeds that of the average K-Pop idol. It takes a lot of straight-up guts to be even this open about herself given the industry she’s in, but I also think this is ultimately why Yoohyeon has a multitude of fans. Besides her obvious vocal and musical talent, she appears to exude an aura of a friend who is pleased to have you in her life, and who chooses to share with you parts of that life accordingly. It’s quite refreshing.
Cynics would say even this is all part of the K-Pop machine that is designed to elicit such feelings, but I disagree, and would like to take a more optimistic take and say that this is just how Yoohyeon is, generally speaking — someone who at times wears their heart and feelings on their sleeve, likes to share who she is with her fans and loved ones, and isn’t afraid of what people might think of her doing that. This casual, down-to-earth attitude is part of that entire package that fans of Yoohyeon seem to appreciate the most about her along with her obvious talent, and with a supportive company and fellow members behind her, I’ll be interested to see just how far she goes as Dreamcatcher moves forward.
Stay tuned for more Five Years of Dreamcatcher content as we roll toward their 5th anniversary in January — clap, follow, and signal boost this content to your fellow fans so that more people can read about how and why Dreamcatcher remains one of K-Pop’s most interesting and sustainable groups with a great story in the industry!
Want to read the rest of the series? Check out the rest of the members in the Five Years of Dreamcatcher series of articles!