K-pop is a bloody fight to the death: who can sell more, who do people talk about more, and who gets people to watch their MV? The epitome of this power is, of course, PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” The vibrant, crazy song that billions around the world watched (or at least millions repeatedly). What does it take to make such a commotion, not just in Korea, but around the world? How do you make yourself known in the vast expanse of K-pop Wonderland?
If you are a part of the Big 3, you probably don’t have to worry about any of this. Millions view their MVs anyway, no matter how lame they are.
So, if you want people to flood to your videos and make a splash, there are easy paths to take!
1. Be Crazy
If there is one thing “Gangnam Style” taught us, it is that people love craziness. We all know people love a good laugh, even if it’s stupid. How else would cat videos on YouTube become so popular? Or those insane Vine videos we see trend on Twitter?
The more insane the MV appears, the more people will watch it. We’re talking outright strangeness. Poke fun at yourself and others in the industry. Dress in enormous shoes or hawk $199 detergent. It doesn’t really matter what path you take, just make it highly entertaining to the point that people question your sanity. Before you know it, people will mimic you and get excited to see what lunacy you will release next.
Also, if it works, who cares if you become a caricature of yourself or your people? As Cosmo Brown sings in Singin’ in the Rain, “Make ’em laugh, make ’em, make em’ laugh.”
So you aren’t funny or entertaining? Well, there are other options.
2. Bring the Sex
Sex sells. I know it, you know it, we all know it. So what better way to stir up some interest than to include a little T & A in a MV? Raise those skirt hems, lower those collars, and loosen up a bit. Also, have the choreographer throw in some butt rubs, body rolls, and perhaps some booty popping to the dance. It’ll bring all the boys and the girls to the yard…er, the MV. If you can allude to sexual acts and laden the MV with innuendo, then you’ll get even more people to watch.
Oh, so you are a male artist or group? That doesn’t matter. Male eye candy is just as interesting as female eye candy. Female K-pop fans feed the market, anyway. So cater to them, especially the more perverted ones. Some shirtless guys, tight pants, and the requisite groin rub, and you are golden. If you add in a little lip swipe service and hip thrusts, females will swear their ovaries have exploded.
If you want to up the ante, feature individuals of the opposite sex. Push those boundaries of what is considered appropriate for teenagers. Make it interactive between the actors and artists. A little soft-core isn’t too harmful to the adult population. We’ve seen worse in movies and dramas, right?
Rate it 19+, and you’re guaranteed that people will watch. This is the forbidden fruit, so to speak. People love doing things that they shouldn’t. And even if they legitimately can, they’ll still revel in the seemingly rebellious nature of watching something scandalous. Yes, the MV will likely be banned from broadcast, and you will probably have the choreography banned on music shows, but that’s never stopped anyone from doing well on charts and views. Just look at JYJ.
3. Stir the Pot
There are multiple ways to stir the pot. First, try to build up the noise months in advance. Have some members debut as soloists or sub-units. Perhaps some will have started acting. Then bring on the image and video teasers. I’m talking dozens of, if not a hundred, teasers. One or two teasers will just get lost, so go full speed ahead. It may start annoying non-fanatics, but if you pick up a few new fans along the way, then you’re good.
If you are truly desperate, then there’s another way. Creating some controversy will help build the necessary buzz to garner views. This is the most dangerous, but the payout can be big. The easiest move is to use a stereotypical trope of some foreign people and BAM, people flock. You can sample some highly culturally sensitive aspect, claiming it as showing reverence or respect, and making it obvious in the song. Throw in an appearance of a foreign individual portraying a stereotypical character of their race or nationality. If they aren’t willing to cooperate, you can also distort their image to fit what you need.
This is easier if you already are established as an artist. You’ll have a built in defense system from your fans. After all, oppa and unnie didn’t mean any harm.
If choosing to go the sex or controversial route, be prepared for some self righteous international sites to put forth criticisms based on sexism or racism. Yes, you’ll probably have to apologize or edit the MV; be prepared with some lame excuse and make the problematic sections easily editable. But, in the end, all publicity is good publicity, right? So screw those uptight blowhards.
4. Roll out the Celebrity Red Carpet
Do you have industry pull? Then exploit it to the fullest. If you aren’t a celebrity yourself, then let other celebrities and idols do the advertising for you. You can choose to have a famous actor or actress in the MV. You know they’ll give a good performance and their fans will come to watch them perform.
You can also bring a veteran artist on board as a feature. They’ll add a dose of legitimacy and make it easier to chart. Even though you’ll see constant comments about “so-and-so brought me here” or “I’m here to see so-and-so,” it’s the views that count. If the song is decent, you may even find a new fan or see the song begin to spread even more.
5. Be Attractive
Like sex, being attractive makes you go places. There are studies showing that being attractive can lead to a better job. This is true in K-pop, as well.
You don’t have to be the best singer, dancer, or rapper to make it big. If you can do one thing well, and look good doing it, people will not even care that your songs suck or your vocal ability is lacking. At least you are pretty.
If the group is talented and looks good, you have hit the sweet spot. People will stare at your MVs for those glimpses of their favorite pieces of eye candy. They’ll ignore the song, but who cares. Look at all the pretty people!
These paths seem easy, right? Then try one of them or all of them! Yes, there may be some important message in the song, but nobody is really going to pay attention. If you are going down these paths, then you can expect people not to even care what you are singing.
The biggest thing you can do is simple: release good music to build a dedicated fandom. They’ll do all the hard work and spread the love around the world. After that, you can release whatever you want and it’ll get views.