Because Korean Entertainment has been attempting to cross over into the United States for some time, the industry has been the subject of many comparisons and criticisms against the American standard. These criticisms and comparisons range but the one constant that remains is the inevitable inability of America to accept certain cultural, social, and musical norms of Korea. And while this is to be expected, every such comment made is occasionally responded with the ever so brilliant and clever assertion that American music is all about sex, drugs, and money.
Where the hell have I been living the last 19 years of my life?
America is apparently hypersexualized. They call attention to the scantily clad females gyrating in black leather and singing about how she wants to screw someone’s brains out. While I admit that this kind of music does exist, it is not the ONLY music that exists. In fact, there are a plethora of other songs in America that are not about sex. These songs range in their subject matter, from songs about the effects of corporate colonialism to songs about the self-destructive nature of vanity. And where can you find these songs? Try Kanye West and Rihanna.
Take someone like Britney Spears and essentially every song she has ever made. From “I’m a Slave 4 U” to “Three,” they are all extremely popular, receiving a lot of love and attention all while provoking sexuality.
But then take someone like Lady Gaga and essentially every song she has ever made. From “Just Dance” to “Judas,” her material is highly sexualized. But it’s not about the sex itself. While she incorporates sex and sexuality into her overall music and image, her material transcends sex covering subject matter from pop culture’s vanity, to LGBTQ advocacy, to self- acceptance.
And then there is Taylor Swift who never goes remotely near that topic and we absolutely love her regardless.
There is a lot of crap in American music but let’s be honest, there is a lot of crap everywhere. But there is also a lot of good stuff everywhere, including and especially America. Because in America, even the most mainstream, seemingly superficial material, can have depth and meaning to it that goes beyond the sexual. And all of you should have recognize that sex is a natural, normal part of life. As an artist, you’re going to sing about things that you know and if sex is one of them, then super! While I’m not saying that any prepubescent girl that wants to pop her chest and crotch for the camera should, I am saying that American music is more about sex. And even when it is about sex, the kiddies of fandom should grow up and not treat it like it’s some disgusting, forbidden topic that should be shunned by all respectable people.
America is apparently addicted to everything and anything. They call to attention to the number of artists and videos singing about drugs while doing drugs. Again, while there are many songs that are not about sex, there are also many songs that are not about drugs.
Take a group like LMFAO and their song “Shots!” This song is catchy, addictive, but perhaps more importantly, celebrates alcohol and encourages alcoholism. This is exactly what everyone is talking about when they describe America as inebriated. It celebrates alcohol and people who use it. Points if you’re using it dangerously.
But then take Kid Cudi and his song “Day N’ Night.” This song is also catchy, addictive, but is also about drugs. And while this song centers itself around drugs, specifically marijuana, the song engages with concept of drugs in order to express the stress of wondering what he has done in life thus and far, what he is doing in life now, and what he will be doing in the future, and how marijuana helps him “free his mind.” While both songs are about drugs, drugs can be used to express more than “We like ciroc / we love patron.” And songs that do more than that, can be just as popular, perhaps even more popular than the songs that do.
And then there is Maroon 5 who doesn’t touch the topic and yet are perfectly popular. The beauty of America is that there are plenty of options. For everyone!
America is apparently obsessed with money. And while this one might actually be true, the only thing that I can say and continue to drive home is that, hey, there is plenty of music that has nothing to do with that.
Yes, Lil Wayne “Money on My Mind” essentially brought the phrase “Fuck bitches, get money” into the venacular of every 17-24 year old in the country, but Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” that has nothing to do with money and asks you to love bitches first, has been quoted on 74% of facebook statuses since it’s release. Makes you think, huh?
Most of the nations of the world are saturated with one musical sound. Europe has dance, club music, India has Bollywood music, and Korea has pop music. But America is different. American music is musically, intellectually, and emotionally diverse. From Adele, to Maroon 5, to LMFAO, and to Lady Gaga, the United States is the only place on the planet where multiple forms of music by multiple kinds of artist can coexist and come together to creative one, cohesive sound. This is why everyone, in Korea and beyond, wants to make it in the United States. Because to be apart of something so different and so diverse means that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
There are cultural differences between American and Korea; no one can deny that. But just because someone points out what and why will not work in America even though it works very well in Korea does not mean that you can take two or three songs by two or three people and transform a small minority into an overarching statement that applies to an entire nation. Yes, Americans sing about sex, drugs, and money but they sing about more than that. And even if they do, so what?
From BoA to 2NE1, America is the best place on Earth for artists. It is the only place on the planet that any music by any artist can achieve fame and glory. And while everyone might not succeed, they have the opportunity. But if the fandom keeps on parading itself like it does sometimes, an already difficult path is going to be even more difficult. So while I understand and respect your right to want to defend your Oppas and Unnies, please take the time to think about it before you say something that is incorrect and above all, ignorant.