For those people who know me, they will tell you that music is my passion and also that I am a huge culture lover. I am very open to other culture’s traditions, movie and most of all music. For me personally, music is a universal language and it doesn’t matter of the song is in English or another language. Music is still music! Today I decided to write about K-POP and share some interesting facts about this genre of music.
My interest in K-POP was sparked when I first heard PSY’s mega hit “Gangnam Style” this is a fun upbeat song that brings something new to mainstream music. I wanted to see for myself what else K-POP has to offer and I was pleasantly surprised that K-POP is a very catchy and unique genre. However, before I begin telling you all about the wonderful musicians in the K-POP world, I decided to give you a brief history lesson about this genre. I will mainly focus on modern day K-POP, rather than write about K-POP from the 80s and 90s.
K-POP is a genre of music that originally began in South Korea and there are three major K-POP management agencies: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. These agencies are responsible for recruiting, training and promoting these new bands and ensure they become successful. K-POP is a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop, r&b and electronic music. K-POP artists are called idols and they go through auditions and then through training before going out in the spotlight. K-POP is predominantly represented by boy and girl groups and there are approximately 60 Korean groups.
The image and key characteristics of these bands are highly produced , including synchronized choreography, catchy tunes and the very popular pretty boys and girls image who are mainly young. Since these groups have multiple members, the singers often have to switch positions while dancing and singing in order to provide synchronization on stage, this is called “formation changing”. K-POP girl groups go for the more girly and cutesy image. Not all girl groups strive for the cutesy image, but majority of them are known for being cutesy.
K-POP music videos have great visuals, they are very colorful and special and effects are incorporated! I would describe some K-POP music videos as eccentric, the reason why I call them this is because they have a lot happening in one video and sometimes it is very over the top. For instance, in the “Gangnam Style” video there is the beach scene where a child dances next to PSY, scene where PSY is at the sauna, being inside a bus where elderly women dance along, the famous elevator scene, the subway scene and then concluding the video with everyone dancing. A lot is happening in this video and it is very different and unusual from the typical American pop music videos, but this is what makes it interesting and appealing. K-POP offers something fresh, unique and new to the world of mainstream music and I think it is great that K-POP is getting recognized as a unique genre.
Fashion is also an important aspect in the world of K-POP, musicians wear bright colors, eye catchy accessories and in some cases eccentric pieces of clothing. The K-POP 2ne1 are known for wearing eccentric clothing in their music videos i.e. “Follow Me” or “I Am The Best”.
SNSD are a popular girl group in Korean and one of the girls that have the cutesy image.
2ne1 are known for having unique visuals in their music videos, as it is seen here in the their music video “I Am The Best”.
Super Junior performing on stage. Dance sequence and formation changing.
Wearing colorful clothes and unique fashion is also an important aspect of K-POP and it helps to increase their fan base. This girl group is called Kara!
Groups and musicians that started to get recognition in the States are Boa, Wonder Girls, Big Bang, 2ne1 and of course PSY.
Boa is huge K-POP solo artist in Japan and she is fluent in Japanese, Chinese and English, she is considered the Korean Janet Jackson/Britney Spears. She released her self-titled American debut album in 2009 and her single “Eat You Up” landed a #9 spot on the Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart.
Wonder Girls made their debut in the States with their song “Nobody” which they performed for the first time on “So You Think You Can Dance” and they were also an opening act for the Jonas Brothers in 2009. In 2011 they returned to Korea and in 2012 they came back and recorded a track with Akon called “Like Money”
2ne1 is another Korean band that worked with producer will.i.am and it said that 2ne1 will make their debut in the United States in 2013. The band was also praised by New York Times saying that their concert at the Prudential Center in New Jersey was considered one of the best concerts of 2012. This a huge compliment for a band that is not well known, which means that 2ne1 might have a bright future ahead of them in the mainstream music world.
Another band that’s getting recognized is Big Bang which is a very popular boy band in Korea and they won an award for Best World Act at 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Gradually K-POP is making its way into the mainstream market and I definitely think there is something special about this genre of music. It offers mainstream music more variety and the unique talent of new musicians, I am excited to see how many K-POP groups will become well known. Music is indeed a universal language, I have no idea what K-POP artists are singing about, but that won’t stop me from listening more songs. I see a bright future for the K-POP genre.
I want to share some K-POP music videos of some popular groups, as well as some of my favorite songs. Enjoy!
See you soon!