K-POP: What is it?

Within the music industry, there are some interesting and strange genres that people listen to. One of these genres that is making itself known, one of my favorites, by the way, is K-pop.
Now if you have no idea what that is, let me break it down for you. 

K-pop is a strain of Korean popular music that simultaneously sounds like every other modern music genre. According to Joseph Flatley from The Verge, K-pop is a fusion of various strains of electronic, dance music such Trance, electro, and dubstep, then arranged the conventional structure of a pop song.  Jennifer Rousse-Marquet from the Institut national de l’audiovisuel defines K-pop as “a fusion of synthesized music, sharp dance routines and fashionable and colorful outfits.


BlackPink at the Melon Awards 2016 – Source

There are certain characteristics that make up K-pop, that make it unique. K-pop artists are usually boy bands or girls groups or sometimes solo artists. The number of members in a K-pop group can vary, just look at ToHeart or Troublemaker with only two members and Seventeen with thirteen members. However, the general number of groups is 4-7 members such as BlackPink with four members and BTS with seven.

Within the groups, there are certain roles or archetypes that the members take on such at the Leader, the visual and the Maknae.

The leader is usually the older and often picked on their maturity, charisma, and responsibility, but are not always the lead vocalist (best singer) in the group.

The Maknae is the youngest in the group and typically has a ‘baby face’ and performs cute gestures, some are as young as 14 when they debut.

The visual is considered to be the most attractive, and receive the most screen time and stand in the centre in photo shoots. Within male groups, visuals are often a ‘flower boy’ with a toned body.

As choreography is extremely important within K-Pop, a group often have a least one main dancer. They often perform a solo dance during live performances and tend to be the fittest. Dancers in male groups frequently perform shirtless.

Korean Rap has evolved with k-pop to be its own style, so many groups have a rapper or members will take turns rapping.


Kim Taehyung of BTS, the 4D member, and vocalist – Source 

Other archetypes include Foreigners who are typically from China or the U.S and the Alien or 4D member, which is the most eccentric and/or unique idol. Within the groups, members may represent more than one archetype. 



K-pop songs are usually unmistakably Korean, despite the English lyrics mixed in, most of the songs are sung in Korean. The English in K-pop song usually come in during the repetitive chorus for more of an international appeal. 
Two of my favourite English disasters in K-pop would have to be Teen Top’s Supa Luv and Shinee’s Ring Ding Dong with such phases of “Your love plus my love, Supa luv” and “We gonna go rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka. So fantastic. Go rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka. So elastic. Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Elastic, elastic, elastic, elastic” 

As well as taking off massively in Asia, K-pop has become a global phenomenon, finding success in Western countries. According to TIME magazine and Financial Post, this has been contributed to the Korean wave or Hallyu and social media, such as YouTube and Twitter. For K-pop, social media has become a crucial tool to reach audiences in previously hard-to-access markets like the U.S and Europe. Blog sites such as allkpop.com and eatyourkimchi.com have taken off. There has also been an influx of YouTube channels that comment on K-pop scene such as Hallyu back, JREKML and Simon and Martina – who are the creators of the Eat Your Kimchi blog.


KCON 2012 – Source

Another way that we can see the global takeover of K-pop is KCON. KCON is a Conversion that specifically showcases K-pop. KCON is a massive concert type event that showcases groups with their own hit song along with covers, dances as well as meet and greet events. KCON has been in across the USA, Mexico, Japan, France and the United Arab Emirates. And fingers crossed for Australia soon.

To many fans around the world, K-pop is not just a song or genre, it’s a culture all on its own.
But what about you? Have you heard of K-pop before?  Do you listen to it? Let me know in the comments below. 


Header Image: GOT7 at the Summer Kpop Festival 2015 – Source 


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