As the Internet improves connectivity throughout the globe every day, it seems the world holds an endless amount of fresh art, film, and other media.
Not the least of these exciting foreign bits of culture is known as K Pop, short for Korean pop music. You might think you know a thing or two about K Pop if you’ve seen the video for “Gangham Style,” but K Pop is so much more than this one tune.
Ingenious approaches to music videos, what it means to be talented, and pure hard work set K Pop apart from any other genre. Here are the reasons which make K pop so uniquely popular.
1. Costumes And Color Theory
One of the things K Pop does so well is creative use of costumes and color in music videos. Hundreds of years ago, when North America was barely being industrialized, Asia already had a burgeoning art and graphics scene.
So, it should come as no surprise that Asian pop culture in general, including music videos, is often heavily refined and well thought. Use of effects, make up, outfits, and everything else, are always in service to a greater theme and vision. If you don’t believe me, just check out this video from TVXQ.
Another way that K Pop keeps amassing fans is by utilizing strong storytelling in many songs and music videos. A perfect example is this song by Kim Wan-Sun.
K Pop is also well known for its unique, extravagant, and eye-popping personalities. K Pop stars, or “idols” as they are usually known in Asia, have a knack for truly standing out from the crowd and taking self expression to a new level.
Similarly, K pop stars bring a whole new meaning to fashion. Their real life outfits and styles often far surpass western stars’ in intensity and originality. K pop idols never shy away from making a splash, and have a decidedly unique way of interpreting current trends.
Take, for example, G-Dragon, a well know member of boy group Big Bang and an accomplished solo artist. Not only is he known for his superior musical talent, G- Dragon is a frequent trendsetter and overall fashion icon.
Photo credit: TeamBIGBANG
5. Addicting Melodies
Pop music would be nothing without catchy hooks and sing-along lyrics. K pop is no different, making use of melodies that are instantly stuck in your head.
Boy and girl groups alike have appealing song writing down to a science, which makes their music appealing to fans no matter what language they speak.
Choreography is another area where K pop artists completely dominate. Groups not only sing and dance, they perform routines so complicated and challenging, they would usually require truly professional dancers.
Not only does this take an insane amount of hard work, practice, and skill, but K pop artists are well-known for performing these routines live – proving they are truly skilled, not just well edited in their music videos.
Unlike young western pop stars who often grow famous in a short period of time, K pop artists are usually groomed and mentored by managers or agents for years at a time before recording their first song.
Intensive training, never less than a year, make these young artists seasoned performers by the time they debut. It’s no wonder even young kids are expected to go through this rigorous schooling, since their dance routines and schedules become so insanely demanding.
8. Diverse Talent
Additionally, K pop artists almost always act as well as sing. While you can certainly find stars who don’t act very well, usually a true K pop idol is just as skilled as an actor as they are as a singer and dancer.
Far from the thin marketing ploy that combination singing and acting acts in North America and Europe often are, these kids are utterly talented.
Not only that, K Pop idols who take on major roles in many different tv shows and movies are common. Of course, these acting gigs are all concurrent to their regular musical career. For example, Daesung from boy band Big Bang made many appearances in the tv show “What’s Up?”
Not only are K Pop artists uber talented, incredibly hard workers, and star in perfectly executed music videos, they often mix other cultures into their songs. Since most students in many Asian countries are required to learn English from an early age, singers frequently mix in English sayings with their lyrics.
Not only does this appeal to fans throughout Asia, it makes K Pop artists more accessible to fans in the Western world. Case in point, this mega hit from Big Bang: “Fantastic Baby.
10. High Concept Groups
Finally, K pop has a tendency to put forward highly talented groups with an original concept. For example, Exo is an unbelievably successful boy band based in asia.
The band is made up of two groups – Exo K and Exo M. Exo K performs and promotes the band’s music in Korean, while Exo M does the same for in Mandarin. By recording every song in two different languages, this boy band multiplies the band’s potential audience immeasurably.
Unsurprisingly, Exo is the highest charting Korean male act on the Billboard 200. This tendency to give a group’s very existence a bigger vision makes K Pop standout against other genres. A truly unique approach to pop music, Exo is a perfect example of the unique approaches coming out of K Pop today.
Featured photo credit: Republic of Korea via flickr.com