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K-Pop Takes Over U.S. Music Charts

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 staddancer@gmail.com.

7 Comments on K-Pop Takes Over U.S. Music Charts

  1. WOWOW what about JYJ i didn’t see there names, they deserve to be there to, and 2NE1 too i can so tell you only like snsd. so before you write such an article try not to be so bais.

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  2. Sarah, K-Pop, short for korean popular music, is a broad genre that includes several styles as dance, electronic, rock, hip-hop, R&B, etc. Kim Jang Hoon is a korean pop singer (korean popular music singer), who has been dubbed “the angel of donation” for his habit of donating many of his concert proceeds to the poor and campaigns to promote his country. Stylistically, Kim Jang Hoon is generically a korean pop singer (korean popular music singer) and stylistically or more specifically he is a rock singer.

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  3. Alexandra Townsend, K-Pop, short for korean popular music, is a broad genre that includes several styles as dance, electronic, rock, hip-hop, R&B, etc. Examples of K-Pop are the rock bands CN Blue or FT Island, dance music groups as 2NE1 or Miss-A. You should correct your article adding:
    “K-Pop’s style is a mix of dance, electronic, electro pop, rock, 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.”

    The successful rap-electronic-dance tune “Gangnam Style” is a great sensation around the world, but Psy has other good songs as “Right Now” or “It´s Art”.

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  4. OK PSY Kpop and other Kpop artists = Not the same thing. Psy’s an established artist but his style is incomparably different from other Kpop artists, especially Girls’ Generation. Kim Jang Hoon is a rock artist, not even remotely in the same genre of Kpop.

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  5. Also, fans of 2NE1 are anticipating a US debut since will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas has been working on producing their album.

    I know there was probably a word limit as I have previously written for the Minaret, but this article could have shed a new light on Kpop because too many people are not taking Psy serious as an artist. They just want to see him dance around on stage like a horse, but this man has so much more talent than anyone is giving him credit for.

    Okay, my rant is done. Sorry!

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  6. Not only did you leave out 2NE1 like the commenter above mentioned, but YG labelmate, BIGBANG has probably the biggest fan base outside of Korea and will be holding concerts in the US in November.

    The Wonder Girls under JYP Entertainment toured with the Jonas Brothers in 2009, and in August released a English single with Akon called, “Like Money”.

    Solo Korean-American artist, Jay Park, released a free all English mix tape early in the summer and has gone to reach gold status on popular hip-hop mix tape site, datpiff.com. The first of any Korean artist.

    I think these names were more relevant than the singer who will have Paris Hilton in a video. She’s not very popular anymore.

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  7. Don’t forget 2NE1 who recently had a concert in NY and Calif. who was named number one pop/rock group of the world!!!

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