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The Crazy Phenomenon of Kpop

Tekaiya Travillian

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Kpop stands for Korean Pop music. Kpop is a genre that consists of different music styles like Pop, R&B, Hip Hop, Electronic, etc. It is often considered an industry as it runs like one. They run their own annual award shows (Mnet Asian Music Awards, Melon Music Awards, Seoul Music Awards, Golden Disk Awards, etc.), festivals (Dream Concert, KMF Korean Music Festival, Busan One Asia Festival, etc.), streaming sites (Melon, Bugs, Soribada, Mnet, etc.), and charts (Hanteo, Melon, Gaon, Soribada, etc.). Kpop is based in South Korea but also feature members of other ethnicities and nationalities like Japanese, Thai, Chinese, American, and Taiwanese. This is done to attract fans in different markets. The first ever idol artists were Seo Taiji and the Boys. They were the first to debut in 1992 and from then on, Kpop became a sensational phenomenon.
Kpop idols come from companies. These companies will sometimes have scouts recruit young males and females to audition for them in order to become an Idol (artist). Other times, they will just come to audition themselves at global audition dates. If you make it through eliminations, you are required to train. Many train for years and years to debut and some only for months. For example, Jihyo, a member from the girl group Twice, trained at JYP entertainment for 10 years while Baekhyun, a member of boy group EXO, only trained for 2 months at SM. SM Entertainment and JYP are currently the biggest entertainment and production companies.
When idols finally debut with a new song and music video (Kpop artists are well known for their unique music videos so always check them out on Youtube), and often an album, they perform their songs on Korean music shows like Mnet, Inkigayo, and Music Bank. During music shows, they are actually competing for wins against other idols. They also might hold tours in Asia, the US, and Middle Eastern countries. Other ways of promoting are going on variety shows like Knowing Bros and Weekly Idol. These are all about having fun with the hosts while also promoting their songs/album.
When idols release another album or song it’s called having a comeback. They repeat the whole cycle over again. At the end of the year, Korea hold the award shows where idols can win awards and perform. At every award show there is a major award called a Daesang. You get one if you win artist of the year, album of the year, or song of the year.
The Hallyu Wave plays a huge factor in Kpop success. A Hallyu Wave is an increase in popularity in Korean culture such as movies, dramas, music, etc. The Hallyu Wave has attracted the U.S these last 2 years. Boy groups like BTS have taken part of this when they became the first Korean artists to debut #1 on Billboard with their recent album, “Love Yourself: Tear”. Girl group Blackpink had the highest album debut of any female Korean artist peaking at #40 with “Square Up.” Blackpink’s song “DDU-DU-DDU-DU” recently became the most watched video on Youtube in 24 hours for a Korean artist. Boy group EXO even performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony.
Recently, many companies have pushed their artists to break the US market. Boy group Monsta X recently just finished their American tour. During that time, they were invited to popular talk shows and entertainment shows like E! News, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood. America is getting more and more interested in Kpop.

Kpop Profiles
The amount of Kpop soloists, groups, and bands is overwhelming and they all have their own unique sound. For groups, there are positions for each member. You have the main dancer(s), lead dancers(s), main vocalist(s), lead vocalist(s), main rapper(s), lead rapper(s), and the visual(s). More than one person can have the same position and often, a person has more than one position. The following are just a few artists out there you should check out.

Blackpink (2016)
They are one of the most popular groups world wide including America. Blackpink has more of an edgy concepts with bops that will make you hyped. Recently they made a comeback with a song called “DDU-DU-DDU-DU,” that ended up being their highest charting song on all the Korean charts (Melon, Bugs, Genie, ect.). You might of seen the music video considering that it went viral all around the world. Check out the rest of their amazing music videos on Youtube. Also make sure to give their album a listen on Apple Music or Spotify! (From left to right: Lisa, Jennie, Jisoo, Rose)

Red Velvet (2014)
Red Velvet specializes in two different styles, A red concept and a velvet concept. Their red concept consist of upbeat, cute styles while their velvet side is more of a mature, dark sound. One of their songs, “Red Flavor” was once the highest charting girl group song on Melon since it changed their chart system. Their most recent comeback is a red concept called, “Power Up.” You can watch the music video and all their other ones on Youtube. Their new mini album is also available on Apple Music or Spotify under the name “Summer Magic”. (From top to bottom: Wendy, Yeri, Joy, Seulgi, Irene)

EXO (2012)
EXO is arguably the biggest kpop group in South Korea and one of the most successful groups. They are a Korean-Chinese group. EXO are the only quadruple million sellers in Kpop history. This means they have sold more than a million of each of their four main albums. Since 2013, Exo has had the best selling album each year in Kpop. One thing to know about Exo is that they are a very diverse discography. You can easily find enjoyment in their songs. In terms of charts, EXO has always topped each major chart with their releases. “Kokobop” broke the record for being number one on the charts for consecutive weeks. Check out their releases and music videos Like “Monster” and “Call Me Baby.” Their recent full album that won Album of the Year, “The War” is available on Apple Music and Spotify. (From left to right: Xiumin, Kai, Chen, Sehun, D.O, Chanyeol, Baekhyun, Suho, Lay (not pictured))

NCT 127 (sub-unit) (2016)
NCT has one of the most interesting concepts. As a whole NCT has 18 members and counting. They are divided into 3 sub-units as of right now. There is NCT Dream, NCT 127, and NCT U. NCT Dream features the youngest members with the age limit being 19. NCT U is a rotational unit that does urban sound with some ballads. NCT 127 has different sounds on their albums. They do experimental hip-hop, a little EDM, pop, funk, ect. Their album “Limitless” went #1 on the world albums chart. Although, they are still a young and developing group they’ve managed to debut at #31 on the Melon chart Which is pretty impressive. Check out hit releases like “Cherry Bomb” and “Limitless.” (From left to right: Johnny, Haechan, Mark, Winwin, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Yuta, Taeil, Doyoung)

Zico (2014)
Zico is the rapper of the hip-hip group, Block B. He has also established a solo career in K-hip-hop. He debuted as a soloist in 2014. His hit release “Bermuda Triangle” with artist Crush and Dean, topped all Korean Charts. Zico is known for his charismatic rapping style. If you like hip-hop / rap, check out his music on Apple Music and Spotify.

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