Rain is facing off against Stephen Colbert. The Wonder Girls are opening for the Jonas Brothers. PSY is doing a duet with Justin Bieber. More and more, the peppy, addictive sounds of Korean pop music are crossing international borders and becoming mainstream.
Perhaps someone handed you a link to “Gee” or “Sorry, Sorry” and you effectively got hooked. Or you watched PSY til your ears bled, even though you have no idea what makes a place “Gangnam Style.” (Points if you already knew Gangnam is a place.) Maybe you just heard your friends talking about DBSK. Or was that TVXQ?
Too many acronyms? Here’s a rundown of the slightly obsessive but always entertaining world of K-pop fandom and a list of where to go to get started.
Beyond the few viral hits you might have seen on YouTube, K-pop fandom is evolving into a worldwide trend. As part of the “Korean Wave,” Korean music has been bridging cultural borders at an unprecedented rate.
K-pop studio bands are often considered to be of higher quality than other nations because the level of technical training that goes into the making of Korean pop stars starts at a very young age. Studios have gotten the production of infuriatingly catchy pop beats down to an art form, and with new bands entering the stage each year, the pressure is on to make every new debut and “comeback” more spectacular than ever.
Since the ‘80s, the Asian music industry has evolved a small group of powerful music studios who function roughly the same way that a powerful ballet studio might here in the U.S. They select a group of children at a very young age—generally between 10 and 12 years old—and begin training them to be pop stars. They spend hours in the studio, go to special schools, and learn to dance, sing, and perform like the professional idols they will one day be. When they’re old enough, the studios generate pop songs for them and group them into boy bands and girl bands, most of which go on to drop major hits all over Asia.
WOOPS now I’m listening to Bad Girl Good Girl again.
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