Korean pop music really had a great boost globally recently with Psy's hit Gangnam Style. That link alone has racked up over 300 million hits on Youtube and has received lots of TV and radio coverage in America as well as exposure in Europe and beyond. That's the kind of market penetration that those promoting other singers have dreamed of for years. Who, if anyone will be next?
Some people pour scorn on Korean pop singers. I used to watch some of
the Korean shows, ostensibly to learn a little
about popular Korean culture and also to have an extra something to talk
about with some of my students when I was an ESL teacher. Some of the
singers are undeniably good whilst some are amazing dancers yet some are
obviously just pretty faces.
For the newcomer it can feel so different
from Western music with a seemingly over emphasis on looks and dancing with too
much miming and a lot of auto-tune on songs. One thing in particular that I dislike are the saccharine songs which pop up from time to time. It is
easy for many to dismiss Korean pop music as being all style over
content but there is undeniable talent on the peninsula. Music cannot be
dismissed simply because you may not be able to understand what is
being said. What is different is not always wrong.
The Guardian website today picks 9 acts that readers may be want to look at. Namely, 2NE1, Big Bang,
Girls Generation (SNSD), U-Kiss, Sistar, Beast, Wonder Girls, Super
Junior and 2PM. Notable omissions for me are Miss A, Brown Eyed Girls and Rain amongst others.
Could Korean pop become more mainstream in the coming years? We shall
see. Psy is less polished and arguably more talented than other mentioned
but crucially he has not altered his music to accommodate the tastes of
others. He was/is essentially being himself, take it or leave it.