I’m sure everyone by now has heard PSY’s international hit “Gagnam Style”; whether you hate it by not or not may be a test of endurance as this trendy tune has swept the nation. Flash mobs and radio stations alike have jumped on the bandwagon. However, arguably before PSY, K-Pop appears to have been picking up publicity and popularity in the United States since the debut of groups such as Super Junior and Girl’s Generation.
But what is K-Pop, and what distinguishes it from other genres besides the language sung? What is making is so popular?
Is it just a temporary fad thanks to the sweeping explosion of “Gagnam Style”? Perhaps not…
Since about the end of 2011, K-Pop has been capturing the music hearts of many with their appealing style very nostalgic to our 1990s N.S.Y.N.C. or Backstreet Boys. A majority of the artists in K-Pop are actually in groups ranging from two to more commonly six or seven. The music is typically made with synthetic instruments, distinguished by their catchy beats and elaborate dances. K-Pop artists take music to the next level by presenting a variety of different moves to their music, calling the listener to not only enjoy the music from their headphones, but to actually make a physical exercise. Perhaps they go onto try to impress their friends with their newly-learned footwork. It becomes a means of an activity for the ambitious dancer, or a group of friends wanting to hang out in a new way.
Each song is unique in their own way, ranging from different emotions and cultural shifts occurring in South Korea at the time. For example, the incredibly popular “Gagnam Style” was actually PSY’s jest to the younger female and older, wealthier male populations. He targeted the superficiality and materialism present as younger women focus more rich older men instead of the young men of their generation. Definitely a lot deeper than what you’d expect from such a upbeat-sounding song? Each song has their own meaning, but of course it’s a little more difficult to understand as we are not all fluent in Korean.
Which brings me to my next point: if we can’t understand it, why is it still becoming so popular? Perhaps this day and age our generation is becoming more tolerant of other cultures and respecting the language differences. Next to math, it’s said that music is a universal language. As the internet has been tying different countries together through sites such as YouTube, it is evident that diversity is becoming more and more known, and while intolerance continues to grow, perhaps tolerance and acceptance is growing faster in the world. The growing popularity of K-Pop may be signaling the birth a new mindset and furthermore a new genre that distinguishes our generation as pioneers of a whole new level of music diversity.
In it’s own way, K-Pop is starting off the promotion of international music. At this rate, it won’t be before long other genres of music pick up. Perhaps K-Pop will stay at the top under its many awesome artists, rhythmic beats, and enjoyable dances.
Interested in listening to more than just Gagnam Style and curious about other awesome K-Pop artists out there such as EXO-K, Two X, E-7, and NU’EST? WKNC has a K-Pop show known as “KJAMZ”! Tune in every Saturday from 12PM-1PM to rock out to awesome beats!