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The K-Pop Craze

Foreign, handsome, talented boys have been capturing teenage girls hearts all around the world for decades. As seen by One Direction, The Beatles, and many more, the appeal of boy bands has the power to define a generation. A new era of boy band talent has emerged out of South Korea. The K-Pop industry has […]

Foreign, handsome, talented boys have been capturing teenage girls hearts all around the world for decades. As seen by One Direction, The Beatles, and many more, the appeal of boy bands has the power to define a generation.

A new era of boy band talent has emerged out of South Korea. The K-Pop industry has seized the attractive business of boy bands to create and produce dozens of male and female K-Pop groups designed to fit the “boy band” mold.

K-Pop, or Korean pop, is pop music sung in Korean, usually made and released in South Korea. “It’s a genre that combines the culture of South Korea and dancing, makeup and visuals,” Tiffany Palacol (’20) says. “It’s kind of its own thing.”

K-Pop music is taking the world by storm, producing billions of dollars in revenue for South Korea and the K-Pop industry. But its recent booming popularity among consumers and among many students at CB is a phenomenon that has puzzled the world.

K-Pop is known for its albums and “comebacks”, which is when a group releases a new album. Karla Pinales (‘20), citing the most recent comeback for the group BTS, comments that “it has to do with all these types of art. I think it’s really cool because I’ve never seen a Western artist do something like that”.

The albums typically come with not only the CD, but photo books, stickers, mini-letters to fans, posters, and more. Fans pre-order weeks in advance for limited edition gifts and many will spend hundreds of dollars on multiple versions of the same albums to collect all the extras for each version.

Despite the sugary light appeal of K-Pop, these idols lead a much different lives than the typical celebrity.

“They are not just singers, they are idols,” Karla says. They have a lot of pressure to look good, always stay in shape, to be ‘the perfect idol, perfect person’.”

Idol culture is very distinct in the fact that it is meant to make fans feel a personal connection with the idol and is meant to emulate the relationship dynamic in order to draw fans further in. This constant pressure is harmful and destructive as it puts the idols on nearly impossible pedestals to be perfect and available for fans 24/7. The training to become an idol can be brutal and long.

“They train sometimes up to ten years” Karla says. Many idols start training very young, enrolling in schools and after school programs designed to help them succeed in auditions and prepare for life in the spotlight. They train with many different kinds of music and dance, giving them the ability for a versatile career. But despite their broad talent, many are restricted by the rules and management of their company, who control their lives and careers. More recently artists have been given more freedom with the music they produce and write, but it’s slow progress.

However, fans are still enchanted by these singing and dancing stars, and it always comes back to the music.

“There are so many things that make up K-Pop,” Tiffany says. “It’s something you can never be bored of.”

Fans discover K-Pop through family, friends, YouTube recommendations, and other celebrities. No matter how they find it, they all keep listening because of their genuine love and appreciation for the music and the artists. The topics of many albums tackle self-love, acceptance, and the struggles of youth, which aren’t things that are widely talked about in music.

“BTS makes good, meaningful music.” Karla ‘20 says.

The connection between fans and idols makes the experience much more meaningful for both sides. Connie Brown (‘20), who has been listening since 2009, talked about her favorite group Shinee, “I grew up with them and I’ve known them for nine years, I’ve seen them grow as artists.”

As K-Pop continues to gain popularity in the mainstream, the possibilities will grow with it. Artists and companies alike will adjust to the trends of western industry while still keeping up the traditions of groups and comebacks. At the same time, the western industry will likely take inspiration from the explosiveness of K-Pop and adopt some of its traditions to boost its own popularity.

K-Pop has been an inspiring new avenue of creativity within the artistic industries. Its growing connections to the west and beyond will make the world become just a little smaller and more connected.

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