Friday, August 27, 2010

On To Something Positive: K-Pop Hitting USA

Out of all of the periodicals out there, I think Time magazine has always been a little more international and cutting edge when it comes to politics and pop culture. This week the magazine boasts an article about Korean Pop music going global with the help of the internet.

Taeyang's Solar album debut hits No. 2 on iTunes R&B charts
It amazes me how times have changed since I was a teenager listening groups like Seotaiji and Deux. After entering high school and college subsequently thereafter, I took a break from listening to K-Pop altogether since there were new artists coming out every week. Keeping up with the trends was just too much for me. The only viable medium to stay in tune with the latest and greatest K-Pop heads was to ask family relatives in Korea, friends who were avid K-Pop listeners or KBS broadcasting on Channel 18. Still too much work.

I should also mention this was a point in my life where I disassociated myself from many things Asian, more specifically Korean: Korean Pride (KP), Korean music, Korean girls, etc. Yes, I'll admit that I wanted to be more "American", which in my mind meant abandoning a lot of my contemporary Korean pop culture interests. In fact, I was so far removed from Korean pop culture that when I got to college my Chinese roommates were the ones asking me about Korean music! Huh?? Who's H-O-T? FinkL? Boa? Sorry, I don't know any of them.

Then something changed about four years into my career. I took a trip back to my parent's motherland and fell in love with my roots once again, and K-Pop came along with it. Only this time, with the help of the internet, there were many people around the world who were following K-Pop artists as well. I first noticed this on YouTube watching K-Pop music videos and seeing comments from users who are from all over the world. Now that I'm back in the states, I still keep up with the K-Pop scene. If you haven't listen to a K-Pop song in your entire life you should give it a shot. The songs are catchy, dance-able and just plain fun. Here is an example:

All of these artists are extremely hard working and talented. Renown American producers are even taking notice of the talent pool and marketability of these idol groups. For instance, Will.I.Am. from the Black Eyed Peas saw one of 2NE1's music videos and immediately wanted to work with them. Back in April of this year, New Jack Swing founder and R&B powerhouse producer Teddy Riley began collaborating with Jay Park (Jaebeom) on an album. Now whether or not it actually gets released is a different story, but the act of Jay working with a musical genius such as Riley himself sends a powerful statement to the music industry - Asians have talent also, not just in math and science. And if that isn't enough to convince you of K-Pop's growing popularity and influence worldwide, then consider Taeyang's Solar album which hit No. 2 on iTunes R&B sales charts in the U.S. and No. 1 in Canada which is a first but hopefully not the only for an Asian artist!


  1. Actually, I've grown to like Kpop less and less. I just find the whole machine thing a little distasteful. I think the whole scene is ripe for a documentary about the winners(SNSD) and losers (anyone who trains for a company but never gets in successful group).

  2. @ Another Anonymous,

    You have a valid point. These entertainment companies do work these artists like a dog. However, there is the economic phenomenon of supply and demand. No matter how outrageous and distasteful the machination of the these entertainment companies may be, there are those who are willing to go through that kind of hell for a life of fame and (hopefully) fortune.

    Indeed, there are a lot of individuals out there who don't make the cut or get shafted in the end, but that's the entertainment business which is why I'm not aspiring to be an actor or entertainer anytime soon.


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