K-Pop making mainstream

K-Pop Star: Troublemaker
K-Pop Star: Troublemaker

By Luciana Matteson

If there’s any youthful phenomenon that has taken over the airwaves, internet, and concert halls in 2015, it’s surely K-pop – South Korean pop music –

K-pop filled with vibrant, quirky music video aesthetics, iconic dances, and irresistible hooks, has been subtly permeating youth culture for years in Korea and overseas thanks to groups like H.O.T (debuted 1996) and Shinhwa (debuted 1998). In recent years K-pop has become an overarching theme in the minds of teenagers and young adults.

This year, however, K-pop seemed to explode in the mainstream American scene. Collaborations like CL of 2ne1 and G-Dragon of Big Bang collaborated extensively with artists like Diplo and Skrillex. BTS, a seven-member hip-hop-centric boy group, sold out two four-city American tours within hours of the tickets going on sale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVwAVbKYYeM BTS’ Dope (쩔어)

But what is it that gives this market so much traction in the United States? How do Americans manage to find such a niche market, and subsequently fuel it to a point where it permeates their own musical market?

Nia Reed, a senior at Senn, says that anime and manga actually got the ball rolling for her, “You kinda see stuff on the internet, related videos, topics, that sort of thing…I was into anime, and eventually fell in love with [other] east Asian culture.”

She also adds that having K-pop fans for friends helped spark her interest, “A few of my friends were really into it freshman year, and I was like, oh, let’s go watch this, sure. I actually started off [being interested in] K-dramas, then I found the music.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJYGddE0vHc  Girls’ Generation’s You Think

In America, it’s not uncommon to see dance cover groups under “recommended” in the sidebars of music videos, nor is it unlikely you’ll come across blogs consisting of nothing but their favorite idols.

K-Pop girl group:Girls' Generation's
K-Pop girl group:Girls’ Generation’s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns0D9qIhMi4 Chicago-based cover group 4chu’s rendition of AOA’s Like a Cat

“It’s opened many doors for me [in terms of] the interests in dance I already had, it helped expand it, got me interested in a culture I had sort of grown up with,” shares senior and 4chu member, Denise Heredia.

However, not everyone is on board with the trend, particularly the older generations: “That music is just not the kind of music I’m into,” says Jeffry Matteson, 42. “It’s really just geared more towards teenagers.”

Some people aren’t quite so kind about their dislike of K-pop racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments are quite often found in critiques surrounding the genre.

But worry not, fellow K-pop fans. Should this level of success from artists and dedication from fans all over the world maintain an upward stride, we can expect even more American breakthroughs from the K-pop scene in 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJYGddE0vHc  Girls’ Generation’s You Think

 


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