Recently K-pop -Korean pop- has been dominating western music charts. It’s only natural that people have started comparing K-pop with western pop. Though these two genres fall under the pop category, they are completely different. I will be discussing the similarities and differences between the K-pop and western pop’s culture, selection process, and music production. When reading this, cultural differences must be kept in mind. People listen to American pop music because they like there music and not necessarily because of the artists. In western pop culture you don’t have to look good to be popular. If your music and touch many people’s hearts, get people hyped, of become a good bop; it won’t matter how you look.
People listen to K-pop because they love the idols. The K-pop industry is more focused on the visual aspect of music- the idols. The idols are groomed from the time they enter the company- which is usually around ages 14-20. Looks mean everything, most of these idols don’t write or compose their music and are only told to perform perfectly and be pretty, cute, and handsome on camera. These idols must always appear perfect in the eye of the public.
Because that’s what they are- idols. And that’s why scandals that destroy their image are hard to recover their reputation. They dance and sing nonstop for hours all to appear perfect on stage, even if they’re injured or malnourished. In the K-pop world, there are 3 powerful entertainment companies that dominate- SM, YG and JYP. They control most of the K-pop industry. Groups outside the big three rarely get public attention. Unlike K-pop, in western pop, there is no standard trainee system. Groups like One Direction, The Spice Girls, and Backstreet Boys were all formed through open audition. These groups made their official debuts within 1-2 years. In western pop once a group is formed it is rarely a question of whether or not the group will debut. K-pop artists or “idols” are made via the trainee system by labels. The training period is much longer and more uncertain.
Aspiring artists join a company without knowing which group they will become a part of; that is if they do become part of a group at all. There were many instances where idols quit training right before they were about to debut. There were also times were trainees would train for as long as seven years and still not debut. TWICE’s member Jihyo trained for 10 years before debuting Despite the years of training, many K-pop idols cannot write their own music; as their trainee days were spent improving their dancing, acting, and language skills they often don’t learn- or get the chance- to compose/ produce their own music until later in their careers. However, many K-pop groups such as BTS are indications that this is slowly changing.
BTS’s musically talented members write many of their own songs and are strongly involved in each songs creation. Most K-pop idols rely on company hired producers to write their songs for them. This might sound weird to western viewers since there is a strong focus on originality and personal identity for western pop artists, especially individual singers. Unlike in Korea, the majority of western pop artists wright and produce their own songs. If they are not writing it, they have a say about what the song is about. For western artists, their songs often base on life experiences and are deeply personal.
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