PSY and the Korean Popular Culture Explosion


Since the mid-July debut of PSY’s hit “Gangnam Style,” the world has exploded with a sudden excitement regarding Korean popular culture. The wild and free-spirited music video seems to have created a buzz among American youth especially, and what has followed has been an array of parodies from all over the world.

Yet, the odd thing is that, in retrospect, the video is not all that unique in that just about every pop singer nowadays is going head over heels trying to establish themselves as a witty free spirit with unique hobbies and lifestyles and friends who party in horse masks. The music itself is also very similar to American pop music. This is to be expected as K-Pop has been heavily influenced by the American pop scene. So what’s up with all the buzz about K-Pop all of a sudden?

Well to blurt out the truth, American pop music has become generic and boring. Anyone can pretty accurately predict the next Taylor Swift or Nicki Minaj song without it even coming out, because one will inadvertently be ranting about her ex-boyfriend and the other will be generating views whilst wearing a thong on a motorcycle. These kinds of things have become so overused that American youth, as well as people all over the world that listen to American pop music are looking for something else.

Although they should be looking for the real talent that exists outside the overdone pop scene, they turn to what has become a sort of exotic spin on traditional pop music, which has come from South Korea. It seems that although K-Pop songs are equally cheesy and generic they have become the new ‘in thing’ and just about anyone with access to a computer has heard of them. This, mixed with the beautiful faces of the Korean singers/dancers, achieved through years of investments in plastic surgery, have established a base of popular support in America and throughout the world regarding Korean popular culture.

The fundamental driving force for all of this has been the K-Pop labels’ sudden surge of investment in foreign music markets, as they try to bring K-Pop to popularity all over the world, and especially to the United States. Marketing campaigns have put PSY and Hyuna all over American billboards, website advertisements and daytime television shows and they seem to be successfully winning over the favor of the American youth.

Korean pop culture will eventually become well established throughout the world because it shares the same tones of the politically correct choruses, beats and bridges of American culture, but with an Eastern flare. And though this is true, I will never understand the way pop music has the ability to establish such a strong, almost robotic impulse on its listeners to stay almost sheepishly loyal. But that’s just my two cents; music is music no matter what genre (unless it’s dubstep, then it’s actually two, decade-old computers having sex).

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