|K-pop is an abbreviation for Korean pop music (also referred to as GaYo or KaYo music), specifically from South Korea. Many of these artists and musical groups have branched out of South Korea and have become popular in many countries around the world. The popularity of K-pop is often considered a part of the rise of the Korean Wave, the recent surge of popularity of contemporary South Korean culture in Asia.|
Modern Korean popular music first appeared in the 1930s. In the 1950s and 1960s, the musical performances organized by U.S. forces in and around the American military bases in South Korea provided South Koreans with examples of other modern music.
The South Korean pop music scene soon had several genres: Boy or girl bands whose appeal lay mostly in their appearance; a technically difficult, older genre that had its roots in the colonial period and was popular with older Koreans; and the often amateur acoustic guitar singer-songwriters, who became popular in the 1960s and sang in a simple vocal style. In the 1970s, rock music was introduced into South Korea, mainly popularized by Cho Yong Pil. Trot, pop music inspired by Japanese-styled music, also became a main genre in pop music.
The debut of the group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point in South Korean popular music, as the group incorporated elements of American popular musical genres such as rap, rock, and techno into its music, which brought a decrease in the popularity of trot. The tremendous success of Seo Taiji and Boys in South Korea and other groups, such as Roo’ra, R.ef, Solid, DJ DOC, Turbo, Panic etc. set the trend for the present generation of K-pop groups and artists. Dance-oriented acts became dominant in the South Korean popular music scene of the early 90s including the legendary hip hop duo Deux. The mid-’90s marked the emergence of teen idol groups, creating a different trend in the music scenes. Groups such as H.O.T., Sechs Kies, Shinhwa, S.E.S., g.o.d. and Fin.K.L became extremely popular, having strong fanbases and high-selling albums (with some groups having a “million seller”, an album selling over one million copies). Starting with the break-up of Sechs Kies in 2000, however, most of these groups have since disbanded. Although some artists have continued their successes in the following decade, new groups have since taken their places.
Currently, in the 2000s, pop groups are still very popular although there has been an emergence of South Korean R&B and Hip-Hop: artists such as MC Mong, 1TYM, Jinusean, and Epik High have proven successful. Underground artists such as Drunken Tiger, Tasha (Yoon Mi Rae) have also helped hip-Hop become mainstream. Recently, rock music has become noticed by the public, with acts such as the Yoon Do Hyun Band and Seo Taiji gaining national recognition. In addition, there are also popular techno/dance artists such as Lee Jung Hyun, Kim Hyun Jung, and Yoo Seung Jun, whom all had very long careers while remaining firmly entrenched in their genre of music. Just as well, ballads and R&B have remained popular, as singers such as Baek Ji Young and KCM, in addition to SG Wannabe, have continued their success for many years.
There are also many artists who have had international success as well. BoA has become the highest-selling international artist from South Korea, due to her strength in the J-pop market; this was in part due to Lee Soo Man‘s adaptation of the Blue Ocean Strategy. Since then, artists such as Rain and Se7en have also released albums outside of South Korea, becoming well-known throughout Eastern Asia. Rain has also had his international Rainy Day 2005 Tour, having tour dates at Madison Square Garden, the first South Korean star to do so. He has been featured two Hollywood films, Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin. . He was also voted “Your #1 Influential Person in the World 2007” by a TIME Magazine online survey.
Kim Bum Soo is the first South Korean artist to reach the U.S. Billboard chart and ranked as 51 on the Hot 100 chart in 2001. After that, solo female artist, mink and Korean-American group, S.Blush also reached the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts, where they ranked #1 in 2006 and #2 in 2007 respectively. Skull, a Korean reggae artist from YG Entertainment also ranked as #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales and #14 Hot Singles Sales in 2007. Se7en who is also from YG Entertainment , BoA from SM Entertainment and Rain from JYP Entertainment are all currently concentrating on their U.S. debuts. Although Wonder Girls became first K-pop artist to have a song reach the Billboard Hot 100, there has yet to be a prominent, successful K-pop artist in the American music industry
K-pop is similar to the boy bands of America in the 2000s. However, unlike American pop music, which had most of its boy bands and girl groups either break up or informally disband, bubblegum pop is still very popular in South Korea. Groups such as TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Wonder Girls, Big Bang, SS501, SHINee and 2PM continue to be top sellers in K-pop, and artists like Ahyoomee and LPG have released novelty songs, to varying degrees of success. However, the 2000s has seen the rise of R&B vocal groups, such as SG Wannabe, Davichi and SeeYa having success with their albums. Ballads are also very popular, as 2006 has seen the release of ballad singles by non-ballad artists, including Shinhwa and Baek Ji Young. In addition, trot music has made a comeback in mainstream K-pop as well, mostly due to the success of Jang Yoon Jung and Park Hyun Bin. The year 2007 was marked with the release of numerous girl and boy bands, though only a few managed to top the charts. Despite new bands debuting, physical sales for CDs have become increasingly low, due to the stagnation of the K-pop industry. The highest selling album of 2007 did not even reach the 200,000 mark with only 190,998 copies sold.
The beginning of 2008 saw the rise of electronica dominance in the K-pop scene, influenced by the release of Big Bang’s mini-album Always, which heavily featured the genre. Other artists also followed the trend, such as Jewelry for their song “One More Time” and Brown Eyed Girls for “L.O.V.E.” Even artists that release music in other genres have released electronica-influenced albums to suit the current trends, including Epik High, Gummy, Clazziquai, and Lee Seung-cheol.
There is so much things still to learn about K-Pop, but I think it’s enough if we stop here…^^