Monday, 18 April 2011

The Hallyu Wave

Korean Pop Invasion!

Over the past 2 years, a change has been coming over the pop music industry, Korean pop has started to infiltrate the airwaves all over the world, but especially China and Japan. K-pop has a difference to Jpop as in the musicians, if they are manufactured, have been trained for a long period of time before their debut. So their singing and dancing skills are often slick and very well executed.

Korean pop music is extremely well produced. Synth is highly used, along with phat basslines and a perfect combination of good vocals and a melody that makes you bop your head. A big difference I have also noticed is, that most Kpop singers can actually sing, and have musical talent. Japanese pop seems to take looks/personality over vocal talent a lot of the time, whilst almost all the Kpop I have listened to, I have not heard a note out of place. Now, while that may come down to auto-tuning, and I am sure in a lot of cases it is, there is only so much you can improve someone's voice before it becomes unrecognizable. Try listening to Erina Mano or Koharu Kusumi. They sound very, very average even after being autotuned. So it's not an implement to be used to improve them so they sound like Mariah Carey. More to fix up the naff notes.

The training for becoming a Korean Pop Idol is extremely hard and sometimes unsurity kicks in, as a lot of highly trained people never get to debut. The people who do, get hand picked by the agenices/record companies, and even after that can sometimes be dropped. It's a very stressful life.

Considering the fact that so many K-pop groups are becoming very famous in Japan right now, including Girls' Generation, 4minute, Kara, T-ara, SHINee and many more, Jpop is going to have to up their stakes to compete with the highly professional sound and extremely polished performances that these ultra-talented young stars are bringing to the industry. Considering Japan, Korea and China have always been extremely competitive, I have no doubt that we may see some Kpop influenced songs and bands coming out over the next few years in China and especially, Japan.

Japan is going to have to put their obsession with cuteness and youth aside for a second if they are going to compete with Korea. As Kpop has a much more mature look and sound, which in turn, attracts a much more intelligent audience. In Japan, girls as old as 25, and as young as 12, are being portrayed as schoolgirls and objects of lust to try and sell more records, which attracts a very weird and often perverted audience.

While in Korea, girls and boys are recruited as young as 9-10 years old, and trained for upto 7 years before they debut. Long, long hours of dancing and singing training. As a result, they are experienced beyond their years once you see them on the television and hear them on the radio, as opposed to Jpop stars, who are auditioned and given fast-track training, and as a consequence, a lot of them are very under-par when they are first seen, and, due to the nature of the industry, the bands (or members within the band) are usually so short-lived that we never get to see them at their best.

I think Japan could take some really good tips from Korea in the way of music. The question is, how long will this wave last? Will it become a great point in repairing relations between Japan and Korea? Or will it just be a temporary fad that will fade out with time?


  1. Awesome, this article is so well-written.

    Thanks to you, I know it's an old post but I really appreciate how you write this post, totally changed my opinion about K-Pop.