A glimpse into one of the hottest musical sensations of this generation
South Korea is known for various things such as kimchi, electronics, and K-dramas, but one of the hottest and most influential ones right now is K-pop, a musical phenomenon that has captivated the world.
What is K-pop? K-pop is all music that comes from South Korea. The modern-day K-pop world that we’ve all come to know started in 1989 when a businessman named Lee Soo-man founded the first idol agency, SM Entertainment, now one of the biggest K-pop companies. Idol agencies help aspiring trainees audition and take various lessons, such as dancing and singing, so that they can have a shot at debuting onstage. In 1992, a boy group called “Seo Taiji and Boys” debuted under SM Entertainment and changed the whole K-pop music industry. They added dances to their songs and incorporated English into their lyrics, which started modern K-pop as we know it. In 2000, subsequent groups such as Shinhwa, H.O.T., and Seo Taiji and Boys, defined the first-generation of K-pop idols.
Fun fact: Shinhwa is the longest-running boy group without any member changes that still releases music today.
In 1996, K-pop started becoming popular around the world with a group named H.O.T. H.O.T. began releasing Chinese albums which made K-pop known in China. 16 years later, Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ caught worldwide attention with its catchy lyrics and addictive dance moves. Its music video became the first on YouTube to reach one billion views and was the most liked video in YouTube history.
Today, there are several K-pop groups that dominate the international music scene. For one, who hasn’t heard of BTS? They are a seven-member group who were the first Korean band to perform at the BBMAs in 2017. Famous songs from BTS tend to be their title tracks, which is why each group picks theirs carefully. Many of their songs include “Boy With Luv” featuring Halsey, “IDOL” featuring Nicki Minaj, and “Fake Love” (Fake Love being the song that sparked their popularity overseas). What sets BTS apart from other groups is the stories behind every music video and song they produce. Their songs are very meaningful and have touched many hearts around the world.
Another group that has been quite famous recently is Blackpink. Blackpink is a girl group with four members: Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa. Some popular songs of theirs that you might know of are “Kill This Love” and “Ddu-Ddu Ddu-Du”. In April 2019, they were invited to perform at Coachella, an annual music festival where famous artists perform, making them the first-ever K-pop group to perform at Coachella alongside other famous artists like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish.
While BTS and Blackpink are obviously two of the most successful K-pop groups, there are many that just recently debuted, or as K-pop fans call them, “rookie groups”. An example of a rookie group is X1, who released their first album on the 27th of August this year, with “Flash” as the title track. The group consists of 11 boys all from different companies who were picked on a survival show called Produce X 101 that allows trainees to have a chance at becoming idols. The group’s contract is said to keep them together for five years then disband afterwards.
These K-pop Idols have much impact throughout the world, mostly because they are role models for teenagers. They also created the Han Ryu boom, which also made famous various aspects of Korea’s culture such as Korean dramas and Korean food. It also revived the performance-based musician type that disappeared after Michael Jackson’s retirement.
Many people enjoy listening to and watching K-pop, a market with infinite possibilities. It is starting a new era of music and will influence many different musicians for years to come. K-pop shocked the world with its contagious energy and innovation and I am sure it will continue to surprise us.
Rios, J. V. (2018, April 12). Kpop: A Lifestyle and Culture of its own. Retrieved October 8, 2019, from https://blogs.elon.edu/geo1311803/2018/04/12/kpop-a-lifestyle-and-culture-of-its-own/
Article by Jun J. and Lea F. (Grade 9); Feature image by Jun J. and Katrina R. (Grade 12)
The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.