• http://twitter.com/jpp208 Jui Patel

    Agreed! If one remembers hearing “red one” in beginning of any of the Gaga or Pitbull or multiple other electro-dance tracks, it means that song wasn’t produced by the said beloved artist, but a producer behind the scene called Red One.

    I realized the point you are trying to make few years ago, and hence have never bothered defending my taste in so called “weird” music to other nincompoops. 

    Long live pop and dance music!!!!

    Additionally: To me Kpop seem fake compared to American pop is b/c American pop singers make it seem like what their company tells them do is what they want to do, but w/ lot of Kpop idols it somehow, it genuinely feels like they do not like what their company tells them to do and the image that their company wants to represent. Its our (American) culture here to usually just say/post what comes to mind, and when others are as reticent about their opinions as kpop idols, they come across as fake and having no opinions of their own. Plus who knows behind the scene American pop might be just as rigid as Idol training system, but in front of the screen it comes of as free living as wookstock festival in 70s. This keeping in mind that there are lot more societal and cultural constraints on kpop idol behavior then the behavior of an American pop-artist/singer. We as Americans have enough freedom that we won’t get slammed by general hate from all over and by everyone when singer like Rihanna wants to make a video like Te Amo: http://youtu.be/Oe4Ic7fHWf8

  • http://www.facebook.com/dim.tso Dim Tso

    Interesting article, but seeing how I’m new to Kpop,….
    …let me get this straight. The people are actually aware of the Kpop idol’s whole journey in Korea?
    They know how everything started (from trainee days), and also get to know everything there is to know about an idol’s career while remainning up to date with their activities? Then, all that effort is published in order to boost an idol’s image?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YQ53WK5K4DPXQ5DIBKDELB6WPE Camille

      The idol phenomenon is nothing new. It’s been around since 1996, so people generally have a fair idea all the good and bad sides to it.

      Well, diehard fans of certain idols will obviously learn everything they can about their idols. The general public, though, only learns of it from various talk shows and interviews wherein idols will talk about their predebut lives. Over the years, all these little stories here and there add up to the images the company has always upheld for their idols.

      For example, DBSK’s leader Yunho. Always has been popular to the general public, possibly the most universally liked idol in the past 10 years. It’s hard to say negative things about him because nobody has anything negative to comment on. Even those indifferent to him have some form of grudging respect for him.

      Why is that so, then? It’s because his image speaks for himself. He’s the strong, cool, collected, respectful, hardworking, humble, and talented leader of arguably the biggest boygroup that has debuted in the past 10 years. He went so many variety shows by himself back in their debut days, always smiling, polite, and hardworking that he won over the MC’s, the celeb guests, the TV crew, and the general public. Then over the years, he talked about his predebut life, how his family disapproved of his dream, how he ran away from home to start training in Seoul, how he took so many part-time jobs to support himself, etc. Then people see the success he’s had at a young age, and bam! Yunho’s rags-to-riches poster boy image is set and
      perfected.

      /LOL at the essay I just typed.

  • RC_RC

    In the West people make the distinction between an artist and an artisan (craftsman/craftswoman). An artist pushes boundaries and innovates and has a troubled soul, an artisan does what the previous generations also did. I think that people in East Asian make less distinction between an artist and an artisan. Of course this distinction is to some extent a figment of imagination. 

    “As hallyu continues to spread, the issue of how K-pop can adapt to a more international range of audiences will continue to arise.” 

    I’m not sure if I understand that sentence. It spreads but it needs to adapt? I think it only needs to adapt if it doesn’t spread but wants to spread. It doesn’t have to adapt when it is succeeding. 

  • RC_RC

    In the West people make the distinction between an artist and an artisan (craftsman/craftswoman). An artist pushes boundaries and innovates and has a troubled soul, an artisan does what the previous generations also did. I think that people in East Asian make less distinction between an artist and an artisan. Of course this distinction is to some extent a figment of imagination. 

    “As hallyu continues to spread, the issue of how K-pop can adapt to a more international range of audiences will continue to arise.” 

    I’m not sure if I understand that sentence. It spreads but it needs to adapt? I think it only needs to adapt if it doesn’t spread but wants to spread. It doesn’t have to adapt when it is succeeding. 

  • http://twitter.com/SrilathaR Srilatha Rajamani

    Yes – Western pop is more successful. It is just more successful in hiding its derivativeness. The reason for this is because of the cultural element. I will just talk about the American culture because it seems to define the Western pop at this time. American culture values the individual more than the group, competition more than cooperation, presentation at the front end rather than preparation at the back end, end result rather than effort. This is prevalent across all areas of life including school and work. In the East, there is more hierarchical structure, where age, position in life, and relationships play a greater role in determining an individual’s actions and behavior. The community is more important than the individual. Idols in the West and the East personify these cultural traits and very often, the American idol’s actions appear to be more free, and organically generated than the manufactured confines of the K-POP idol’s world.  But this perception of freedom is only a shell. At the core, there are equal measures of creative constraints, pressure, and compromise. Idols in the West and the East go through rigorous training, are backed by similar corporate interest, and are subject to limiting oversight in their music.  

    • leesigh3

      This is a really well reasoned comment! Nice job.

      • http://twitter.com/SrilathaR Srilatha Rajamani

        Thank you :-)

  • shannie4888

    This article is spot on. I couldn’t have said it better if I wanted to. The one thing I will add though is that Kpop doesn’t really need to shed its fake designations, it needs to hide them or reduce them. Instead of always having Kpop stars talk about every single thing that happened to them pre-debut, they need to find a way to open up without revealing that they are so manufactured.I know this is equally deceptive, but if Kpop plans to go global, then it needs to be tweaked a little. Also, idols need more freedom. How are int’l audiences suppose to connect with grown men and women who have to ask their managers to use their cellphones or be confined to dorms without having the ability to see their parents or loved ones for months on end. 

    Kpop as a genre needs to represent the main faces of the music scene (idols) in a more grown up way. Western audiences don’t want to see grown women and men (some of them) acting like 12 year olds. Yes music is manufactured in the West as well and there is no doubt about that, but I think when companies make it so blatantly clear that their idols just do what they’re told, it makes Kpop seem very generic.

    Let’s take a look at Psy: “Gangnam Style” works because in the eyes of Western audiences, they can relate to it. Psy is one person who is an excellent performer. He doesn’t need 5 or 6 guys like him jumping around and lipsyncing. Having a person that is the visual of a group is not pertinent to the performance aspect of the group. It’s the way the company makes money by selling the person’s looks. Of course looks are important, but do companies have to outright label this or that person as the visual.Things like this takes away from the artistic merit of K-pop as a whole.

    I think if Kpop had more solo singers who are really awesome performers as well, it could be seen more legitimately. A major problem with Kpop is that most of the mainstream music is by idols. If more idols like Hyorin could be solo singers, then that would be amazing. Most solo singers (or too many) seem to sing ballads. Hyorin is a great singer and she may have a production team behind her, but with her alone, it allows her to stand out. Kpop is seen as inauthentic because of a number of elements: the never-ending groups, the companies that always make their presence known, the idols that can’t construct the image they want, but only living up to the one they are given, among other things.

    I love Kpop, so don’t think I’m being too harsh. I know some elements of Kpop are cultural, but I think if the industry could work on some of these issues, it would allow the genre to be taken more seriously instead of always being looked at like a bunch of manufactured, hair-dying teenagers who are catering to teenie boppers and adolescent consumers. 

    Western music is just as inauthentic, but people are going to judge what they can see and hear. Kpop needs to make us see less of what should be behind the scenes and let us hear more of great music that we know it is capable of. At this point, it’s difficult to define what is truly authentic in any music. The same ideas have been repeated over and over again and that boundary breaking shtick that Western artists use as a platform for their individuality is as fake as the image they are projecting. Not every Western artist, but far more of them than we probably know about.

    I hope someone who is really amazing can prove the critics wrong and show them that Kpop has a lot of staying power. I don’t know who is capable of that, but I’m patiently awaiting that day. I know I’m all over the place and I got off topic a lot, but just giving my 2 cents. Sorry……….so long!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/SrilathaR Srilatha Rajamani

      Very nice analysis. Money phrase: “Kpop needs to make us see less of what should be behind the scenes and let us hear more of great music that we know it is capable of”. Your also hit the nail on the head with your observation on Psy’s success.

  • MXIS Song

    Thank you for the insightful and well researched article. I hope Seoulbeats publishes more of these going forward.

  • muggle87

    i won’t lie that i get excited over kpop groups that have some kind input in their music. i just feel like its another way to know what they are like as singers. i mean variety shows does a good job of showing the idol’s personality but little about their thoughts on the music. i do not need them to write the songs (not everyone can be songwriter/producer) but it would be nice if they had an opinion about the songs in their album. just saying.

  • VLF218

    Very well said.  

  • http://twitter.com/dewaanifordrama dewaanifordrama

    Great article! I don’t think that Kpop necessarily has to change to fit western standards – I think that western music fans need to realize that western pop, and even more “authentic” artists have an incredibly manufactured element to them as well. And I think that Kpop has something to offer in that it does strive to connect with their fans by generating concepts that appeal to as wide a base of fans as possible. It makes a lot of business sense actually. And quite frankly – I much prefer Kpop to western pop which I find more artificial actually. That’s not to say that the Kpop industry doesn’t have issues, but I just really don’t think it needs to become more “authentic” like western music, or really that it has to become more western at all. That would just be boring, and buying into the ridiculous notion that to be successful, one must be western.

    • theprophetblog

       Agree

  • theprophetblog

    Love this article! I’ve always noticed how even the most manufactured and commercial Western pop stars still need to be marketed a s”artists” and “authentic”, going as far as to fake songwriting credits like Beyonce is known to do. K-pop stars are shamelessly open about how manufactured the industry is, and instead of being respected for their honesty, they’re treated by many Westerners as fake puppets. It’s ridiculous. Glad somebody is finally highlighting this, although if there is ever a follow up article to this one I’d love to hear about the hypocrisy of many Westerners when it comes to this topic.

  • theprophetblog

    Love this article! I’ve always noticed how even the most manufactured and commercial Western pop stars still need to be marketed a s”artists” and “authentic”, going as far as to fake songwriting credits like Beyonce is known to do. K-pop stars are shamelessly open about how manufactured the industry is, and instead of being respected for their honesty, they’re treated by many Westerners as fake puppets. It’s ridiculous. Glad somebody is finally highlighting this, although if there is ever a follow up article to this one I’d love to hear about the hypocrisy of many Westerners when it comes to this topic.

  • theprophetblog

    Love this article! I’ve always noticed how even the most manufactured and commercial Western pop stars still need to be marketed a s”artists” and “authentic”, going as far as to fake songwriting credits like Beyonce is known to do. K-pop stars are shamelessly open about how manufactured the industry is, and instead of being respected for their honesty, they’re treated by many Westerners as fake puppets. It’s ridiculous. Glad somebody is finally highlighting this, although if there is ever a follow up article to this one I’d love to hear about the hypocrisy of many Westerners when it comes to this topic.

  • UncleFan

    Best Seoulbeats article of all time! I’ve been saying this stuff to my friends for years… maybe now they will listen.

    • theprophetblog

       Agree!