Our favourite 9 ladies were recently featured in more international news publications, highlighting once again the popularity that the members of SNSD enjoy around the world.
First up is the Middle East, where both Sooyoung and Yuri got a mention in 2 Saudi Arabian news publications “Alhayat” and “Alkhalej”.
For our favourite shikshin Sooyoung’s photo caption, it reads “South Korean Sooyoung from ‘Girls Generation’ attended a conference in Seoul today 28 September 2011.”
In the case of Yuri, our beloved black pearl, the photo caption states “ The South Korean singer Yuri from ‘Girls’ Generation’ speaks to the audience in a conference and announced with her members that the new album ‘The Boys’ will be out next month.”
Well, it certainly looks like the global appeal of our 9 ladies is increasing by the day .
Next up, the United Kingdom, where the 9 ladies are mentioned in, not 1, but 2 well-known English news publications .
The London Evening Standard chose one of our favourite OTP (TaeNy) to headline an article on the current K-Pop craze sweeping across the British Isles. With Taeyeon and Tiffany dressed in their iconic Oh ! costumes and striking the well-known song’s classic hand gestures, it seemed a fitting image to highlight the news article entitled “K-Pop Crazy – Korea’s hottest export comes to London”, considering Oh ! is such a fun-filled song itself.
The verbatim article follows:
Snaking around the edge of the Korean Cultural Centre on the Strand is a queue of about 600 teenagers. Every few minutes, a video camera zooms in on the action.
“Facebook … I got invited as I go to K-Pop nights all the time,” says one, when asked by the interviewer how she found out about it. “We’ve been here about an hour now so we’re quite excited,” cries a young male voice through the noise. “Big Bang, yeaaah. 2NE1, ahhh,” two girls then shriek at the camera, each hoping to get a place inside the tiny venue.
This was the scene from one of the many new nights being held in London, marking the city’s newest fixation with K-Pop. Not pop as we know it, this is a fresh brand of commercial contemporary music from South Korea and, because of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, thousands of teens in Asia, America and now Europe are buying into it.
K-Pop’s three biggest groups – Big Bang, boy group Super Junior and girl pop rappers 2NE1 – have generated more than 45 million YouTube hits between them for their recent singles.
The latest one, by nine-piece electropop group Girls Generation, entitled Gee, has been viewed by more than 53 million, despite being sung in Korean and dotted with exclamations in English.
Since June, London fans have organised monthly flash mobs, re-enacting moves by their K-Pop idols in Trafalgar Square, while at an event held during the Mayor’s Thames Festival last month, 100,000 teens turned up to take part in K-Pop competitions and watch music videos together over one weekend.
Another night, Ultimate Cube, is planned for November 19 at Wimbledon Arena.
But while music constitutes one part of Korea’s latest export, K-Pop is more than just about singing. Like a Korean equivalent of a manufactured X Factor band, teen K-Poppers dressed in identikit rainbow-coloured outfits make peace signs and dance about in music videos, squeaking about teenage love.
“The age group really hooking onto K-Pop is 15-20,” says Paul Wadey from the Korean Cultural Centre.
“Our nights have been incredibly successful. We organised them on a first-come first-served basis but there were hundreds queuing. We didn’t advertise or anything and about 95 per cent were non-Koreans. It started with the style, not just the sound and the lyrics. It’s very, very slick and very attractive but at the same time, it’s different. It’s not mainstream Britpop music, it feeds into lots like rap, hip-hop, cinema. And lots of money and time goes into making those music videos,” he says.
Another team contributing to the K-Pop frenzy here are London-based Chinese brothers Jon and Jeremy Bock, who together run Kpopteam.com, a website which gathers 60,000 monthly hits from uploading details of London’s regular K-Pop club nights.
This Saturday sees a “sexy and glamorous” night, showcasing music by top K-Pop DJs and plans for a K-Pop themed Halloween are under way.
“At the moment K-Pop is marketable as the music is similar to R&B and hip hop,” says 30-year-old Jon Bock, “so the transition to the mainstream market is easier than other Asian music. When we play it at our club nights it fits in and even Westerners enjoy it. It’s different but at the same time not too different as they can still relate to the music.”
The next UK news publication that featured our 9 ladies, The Guardian, talked about the influence that SNSD has on the K-Pop music scene in Japan.
In the October 1st edition of the newspaper, it was stated that the efforts of the ladies, and other K-Pop groups like TVXQ and Kara, in trying to penetrate the Japanese music scene were highly praised by both the Japanese fans and music production industry leaders alike.
Currently the top leader in the Japanese K-Pop music market, the Girls recently concluded a highly successful sold-out Japan Arena Tour concert stage, performing to a record 20,000 fans in Tokyo alone.
Japanese fans heaped accolades on the professionalism of our beloved 9 ladies, going so far as to state unequivocally that they “are better trained and more sophisticated” than Japanese pop artists.
Perhaps the highest praise was given by Stephen McClure, an editor for McClure’s Asia Music News, who states that Mr. Taxi “is a beautifully constructed pop song.”
Mr. McClure went on to add in the article that “If anyone from Asia is going to make it internationally, it will be a Korean artist.”
With their current popularity in Asia (and, it seems, the world ), and in light of the highly anticipated comeback single “The Boys”, the 9 ladies are certainly set to dominate the global music scene for a long time to come.
The verbatim news article in question:
The language is unmistakably Japanese, the lyrics delivered in familiar high-pitched tones over a backdrop of electronica. But the wave of pop music sweeping Japan is not the sugar-coated homegrown variety that has long clogged the airwaves.
Korean pop culture’s first foray into Japan was led almost a decade ago by Bae Yong-joon, an actor whose mainly middle-aged, female devotees nicknamed him Yon-sama, or the Honourable Yon.
South Korea’s prodigious output of trendy dramas featuring actors with impossibly perfect – possibly surgically enhanced – features and improbable plots has been followed by music whose popularity defies the often testy diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Seoul.
The genre has produced a steady stream of award-winning hits and fuelled an assault on the Japanese pop charts that few western artists have matched.
Its roots lie in the Tokyo debut a few years ago of Toho Shinki, a boyband who recently released their fifth album for the Japanese market. They were followed by a string of girlbands, led by Girls’ Generation, a nine-member group who performed in front of more than 20,000 fans in Tokyo last summer and completed a sellout tour of Japan earlier this year.
Kara, an all-female quintet, made their Japanese debut last year and won best new artist at the Japan Gold Disc Awards. K-pop idolatry is played out daily on the streets of Shin-Okubo, a Tokyo neighbourhood packed with Korean restaurants and shops selling K-pop paraphernalia.
For Kaori Kitakata, a devotee since she was introduced to the genre by Korean friends, K-pop is a change from the overtly cute mien cultivated by popular Japanese girlbands such as Morning Musume.
“The Korean girlbands look more professional,” she says. “Japanese singers are more like the girl next door in the way they sing and dance, but Korean singers are better trained and more sophisticated.”
Korean artists, the 28-year-old adds, appear less diffident than J-pop groups about their Asian identity. “J-pop female bands are cute, but in a very Japanese kawaii [cute] way,” she says. “K-pop singers have a more Asian feel to them. That appeals to me. And their fans here appreciate their attempts to learn Japanese.”
The linguistic nod makes commercial sense. Japan is the second biggest music market in the world after the US, with a 22% global share, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. CD sales in South Korea, where broadband penetration encourages filesharing, are one 30th of those in Japan.
K-pop artists have taken localisation to its natural conclusion: in their native South Korea, Toho Shinki are known as Dong Bang Shin Ki, while the rest of the world knows them as TVXQ. Girls’ Generation perform in Japan as Shojo Jidai, and in South Korea as So Nyuh Shi Dae.
Stephen McClure, the Tokyo-based editor of McClure’s Asia Music News, attributes some of K-pop’s popularity to stylistic differences with its “less sophisticated” J-pop counterpart.
“The former is mindless and full-on, with no sense of dynamics,” says McClure. “They just never stop singing. The latter, though, is a beautifully constructed pop song.”
South Korean management companies invest considerable time and money in tailoring their acts to the Japanese market, McClure adds. “The bands have made an incredible effort to learn the rules of the game, they do all the right commercial endorsements and appear on the popular music shows. They have come up with a very marketable product that fits the Japanese template for idol pop.”
The K-pop wave has spread to Thailand and Malaysia, and there are stirrings of interest in the US, Latin America and Europe. “If anyone from Asia is going to make it internationally, it will be a Korean artist,” says McClure.
Finally, we come back full circle to Korea itself, where the Girls get to grace the front cover of the AstaTV magazine again .
The October 2011 issue of the magazine not only features beautifully taken, heart-stopping images of our beloved ladies on the front cover, there are also 60 pages of Soshi news-treats within the magazine itself !
All I can say is “Lucky K-SONEs” !