Before, I had to go search each K-Pop/Korean artist by name, and sometimes even by the Korean name. And before, keeping track with what was (finally) available on the American iTunes was nearly impossible (unless I wanted to check iTunes daily…).
But now. Finally.
K-Pop has earned its own iTunes genre page! While I am very thankful that this has finally happened, I can’t help but stop and wonder if K-Pop, the magical, marvellous beast of sparkles, sometimes angst, and a good sprinkling of English words, is its own genre. I definitely agree that K-Pop deserved its own page because Hallyu (the Korean Wave) is spreading like wildfire across the world, but what exactly is K-Pop?
What about this guy who is a white American but claims to do AK-Pop (American-Korean), as if K-Pop is its own genre? Does springing Korean phrases count in making it K-Pop? Or is it the electronic sound that makes it K-Pop?
I’m not quite sure how to define K-Pop myself. I mean, I can easily define what makes K-Pop different in the technical aspect (trainee periods starting as young as 10 and going for, at the longest, 10 years, mini-albums, constant promotions and performances in shows, variety show appearances), but musically? Not as sure.
When I show K-Pop to others, I’ve heard many say that “Oh it sounds like a Korean version of (fill in Western Artist).” Which, at first, kind of irks me because usually the statement it said in a way that’s as if K-Pop is just copying the Western world. But, I guess hey, if we want to go off of that concept, all music is copied from somewhere, isn’t it?
But then my cousin put it this way; for him, artists like Psy, who pushed the boundaries into a whole new level of sound and music, created something original. And this, I agree to. I mean, Psy’s new material like Daddy and Napal Baji and pretty out there, and that’s what makes him so unique.
But at the same time, can’t everyone argue that for almost any case? Personally, I think that what Red Velvet did with Dumb Dumb and Ice Cream Cake was really groundbreaking, to the point of almost creating its own quirky, flashy genre. But the danger in arguing about personal taste is that, well…it’s personal. And that means that nobody will win, because there will always be someone out there who will argue otherwise.
And beyond the fact that defining genres is hard is the fact that K-Pop is in fact a lot more than people think it is. K-Pop is a label that’s kind of pasted on all Korean music, or rather, music that Western audiences would know. There is also K-Indie, which is for the more mellow less electric sounding music, but when I looked on the iTunes page, all of these material were bunched together. Even Korean Hip Hop was slung in there as its own special category.
I’m not arguing that it’s bad, I’m speculating. In a way, I suppose it’s good that K-Pop/Korean music has gotten enough impact that its gotten its own page on the American iTunes. Through this page, the wandering YouTube or tumblr person can discover more Korean music, and so propagate (South) Korea.
So, this is a good thing overall. (<how’s that for a weak conclusion, haha~).
This was a spur of the moment post, sorry if the thoughts seem a bit disjointed. (Is it too late now to say sorry?~) I’m on my fifth cup of tea at the moment (yay for dry atmosphere + weird temperatures). But either way, my oh my, it feels glorious to write again. There’s just something very satisfying about hearing the keys click, as if I can hear my thoughts being brought into the world (ooh, that was some good poetic line there, Ashley).
To all my fellow K-Pop/Korean music listening friends, what’s your opinion on what K-Pop is? Would you define it as a genre? Or is it just K-Pop because it’s from Korea?
And to those who don’t listen to K-Pop/K-Indie/Korean music, give it a try? If you’re in America, go to the new handy dandy K-Pop genre tab. And if you’re not, go to YouTube and type in 1theK and go through some material there.
And to the people who are worried about listening to music in a different language;
Don’t be scared, my friend. Music is music, no matter where it is. The language is only another vehicle music uses to express emotions. I listen to Korean music (mostly) but also some French, Spanish, a bit of Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and it’s beautiful to hear how common themes like love, loss, joy, pain, and hope are expressed in different tongues.
Give it a try. You never know what culture music might usher you into~