Ever since the times of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Michael Jackson, several music styles and performers have gained their fame by catching the interest of a generation. At the moment, one of those fads is K-Pop. K-Pop is a South Korean music phenomenon that has made it to the top of the Billboard music charts worldwide. K-Pop’s style is a mix of dance, electronic, electro pop, hip-hop and R&B. It has been popular in South Korea since the 1990s, but it became popular on a worldwide basis in the 2000s.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube made this music available globally. These sites make it possible to share music and videos instantly. Because of this, fads have the ability to grow in popularity more rapidly now than ever before. Time Magazine considers K-Pop to be “South Korea’s greatest export because it is rocking the world with its widespread popularity and rapidly growing influence.” It is giving South Korea more of an international appeal. In fact, according to soompi.com, “K-Pop has been embraced by the South Korean government as a tool for soft power abroad, particularly towards global youth.”
In 2011, YouTube launched a K-Pop channel. American celebrities have caught to the genre as well. According to Spin magazine, “American socialite, Paris Hilton, will star in an upcoming video by South Korean singer Kin Jang-hoon.” Americans have realized the popularity of South Korean music and K-Pop music producers are using this knowledge to increase the fan base.
A part of the K-Pop craze is Girls’ Generation, which is an extremely prevalent girls singing group. Girls’ Generation debuted their first single, “Into the New World,” in 2007. The Girls’ fame rapidly increased. In 2009 and 2010, Girls’ Generation won the Grand Prize at the Golden Disk Awards which is one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the Korean music scene. Girls’ Generation has become well-known in both Japan and Korea. According to their fan page, “in the U.S., Girls’ Generation will release a Maxi Single in December through Interscope Records.”
Vibe responded to the Girls’ popularity by stating that, “Interscope’s choreographed sorority of sisters can import K-Pop into the girl-group deficit States.” Vibe also noted that the Girls’ sound is “Spice Girls meets the Pussycat Dolls.” With a group of nine talented girls, it makes sense that they are gaining notoriety as quickly as they are. Their unique sound and energy is extremely popular in Asia and that popularity has quickly spread westward.
Another South Korean sensation that is taking over the internet is rapper Psy. Psy is best known for his popular YouTube video, “Gangnam Style,” which has received over 220 million views. It is easy to see how Psy’s video received so many hits at such a rapid pace.
The song itself has a heavy, electronic dance beat that makes it impossible to sit down and not dance to it. The lyrics themselves are pretty simple and repetitive. However, in this case, having basic lyrics works to the rapper’s benefit. It makes it easier for individuals to sing along with the catchy tune and leaves the lyrics lingering in their heads long after the song ends. During the video, Psy dances around doing the “gangnam style” dance move to his song in a variety of random locations while dressed in a tuxedo.
Freshman Amita Gelinas said about K-Pop, “It seems to be this new, emerging dance style. I think it’s crazy and fun because it’s not your typical dance style and it’s already widely popular.”
The contrast between the strange locations, dance moves and other characters is completely random. Psy said that the idea behind his performance was to “dress classy, but dance cheesy.” This interesting combination has given the performer fame that he could have never imagined.
According to the Chicago Tribune pop culture columnist, Jae-Ha Kim, “Part of the initial interest was a kind of freak show mentality, where people are like, ‘This guy is funny,’ but then you look at his choreography and realize that you really need to know how to dance to do what he does.”
Psy’s quirky style, self-confidence and talent were enough to expand his fame from South Korea to the United States. With the help of social media sites, K-Pop has gained a generation of global fans.
Alexandra Townsend can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.