K-pop is invading the world. Undoubtedly, the most popular music genre of the last five years, it originated in the 1980s in South Korea. It has an almost limitless range for inspiration, drawing on such famous music-genres as pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, rap, reggae, and many others. The basis of k-pop music is the combination of two or more genres, together with vivid visual effects, fashionable images, and dance shows.
The music business in South Korea has been subsidized by the government for more than 15 years. The widespread rage of k-pop is closely linked to the government’s deliberate efforts to increase international exports of Korean goods. For example, many k-pop bands record Korean and Japanese (not even English) versions of the same song, indicating a willingness to adapt to other cultures in order to expand their rage.
Although k-pop is now enjoying worldwide popularity, this is not a new phenomenon. In 1962 The Kim Sisters came to be the first Korean band to hit the charts outside of Korea and also the most commercially successful Asian band in the USA. Han Dae Soo was one of the most outstanding artists of the 70s. His liberal texts, inspired by the hippie movement, addressed a young progressive audience.
Korean music sphere of the 80s was fully focused on the ballad genre. Lee Gwang Jo sold 300 thousand copies of his album “You’re Too Far Away To Get Close To”. Cho Yong Pil gained worldwide popularity after his performances on the international stage in Hong Kong. His music is a mixture of rock, dance, and folk music.
The 1990s were marked by major stylistic changes: hip-hop band Seo Taiji & Boys became the locomotive of the Korean wave with their 1992 hit “Nan Arroyo”.
Some of the largest corporations of the entertainment segment, such as SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and YG Entertainment, started their activities in the mid-’90s and achieved huge success in raising future idols.
The government has relied on music and television products to promote South Korea’s culture and, as a result, to encourage tourism and exports. As the country’s economy grows, the government is investing more in promoting its cultural products around the world, and k-pop has become the most popular in this section.
With the expanse of the internet and its resources, k-pop has found another way to attract Western listeners. The second wave of popularity began around 2005, almost entirely due to TVXQ, which released 12 albums in six years.
Performer Psy became a world phenomenon in 2012 with his viral hit “Gangnam Style,” which revived international interest in k-pop.
More recently, the BTS Boys Band has acquired a dedicated fan base in Japan and the United States, winning Billboard awards in 2017. BTS entered world music history as the first Korean and Asian artists to perform in a stadium in New York. The BTS American Concerts in 2018 became the best-selling concerts in the USA. The band’s latest album, “Love Yourself: Tear,” reached the top of the American charts. BTS is the first Korean artist to appear on the cover of the world magazine TIME as “Next Generation Leaders,” as well as the “25 Most Influential People on the Internet” list. (2018г.). It is a worthy reflection of the rapid growth in the vogue of K-pop around the world.
BTS made its debut in a small unknown company and grew with it from the bottom to today’s world fame. They really went through a lot. Their company and director are also unique. They understand exactly what the strength of the group is and try to support it without changing into little things and without distractions from other groups. In Korea, they have not accepted them, and they have directed the attention on advancement all over the world, and have not lost.
The message and lyrics of BTS songs have an important and familiar meaning to everyone. Every new era is a stage of development of participants and their fans. In their lyrics, the band discusses problems in the South Korean society, as well as such important things as relationships with parents, love, love for yourself, low self-esteem, idol problems, suicide, feelings of sadness, grief, loss, and many others.
The famous Korean boys’ band also pays a lot of attention to its visual identity and style. When you look at their logo, you see the perfect designers’ work. You can read the detailed story of its creation here.
The k-pop artists have their special fashion style and always look bright and classy on the stage. And millions of their fans across the world want to be like them, replicating the fancy outlooks of the young celebrities. It makes international fashion brands design their collections, keeping in mind the latest k-pop trends.
The album covers and posters of the Korean pop bands are also on the top of the list of the most trendy and hip musical, visual identities. Simple shapes, bright colors, and a special k-pop mood can be seen in all the bands’ branded products.
One more essential factor in the growth of popularity is the formation of a dedicated fan base. Popular bands BTS, EXO, GOT7, SHINee, have powerful “fan houses,” which allow selling tickets to their shows in a few hours. They consistently outperform other international artists in terms of touring and meeting fans. Adapting k-pop culture to Western-style, without losing its Asian flavor, allows winning more and more fans in the USA and Europe.
Most of the k-pop are teenagers. It doesn’t mean that older age groups do not listen to k-pop, but the impressive amount of young fans has contributed to many victories in music nominations and the spread of Korean pop music across the globe.
The comprehensive work in promoting Korean pop culture through TV, YouTube, and music products, government support, and strong collaboration with world-famous brands, have participated in the worldwide spread of k-pop. The popular music style affects all the spheres of the recent world’s culture and especially the young audience’s preferences. And it seems like it’s only the beginning of a bigger and brighter story, let’s just watch and enjoy.