Why Do Some People In The West Like To Make Fun Of K-Pop?
January 3, 2018|Sara Araujo
What’s the real deal about people making fun of this emerging genre?
I will never fully understand why people are such haters when it comes to music. If they’re pop lovers, they think rock is too noisy. If they’re rockers, they feel pop is boring and shallow. Some believe that electronic music isn’t music, and today’s artists will never be like the classics, and let's not forget about alternative projects, which are automatically judged as weird or “only for hipsters.” Music is so diverse that there is a genre for everyone. Whether you’re feeling energetic or mellow, happy or melancholy, there is always something to soothe your ears.
With the digital revolution, a lot of emerging genres are now being easily spread, but sadly this also means that people will have an opinion of them, and it won’t necessarily be positive. Because the real problem nowadays is not that people don’t listen to all kinds of music, but they've gotten the point of making fun of music they don’t like. I think that’s beyond discouraging. No one should feel ashamed of listening to a particular artist or genre, but people insist in pointing out what they don’t understand. A clear example of this phenomenon is K-pop (Korean pop).
K-pop is a music genre that originated in South Korea. It represents a musical merge between popular music in this Asian region and America’s version of this same genre. K-pop emerged during the early nineties, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that it became popular around the world. Since this genre is so innovative yet familiar, the reputation it has recently gained is certainly divided. Either you like K-pop or you can’t stand it. Finding reasons to love new music is not a difficult task, but when it comes to K-pop, it seems that finding excuses not to love it has become more relevant. Why are people not liking this genre? Moreover, why is this kind of music being so ridiculed? Judging on what I’ve read and heard, the main problem revolves around their singers’ image.
It has been said that K-pop is “too manufactured” to be considered original and quality music. Thinking of this as a reason not to love certain music is silly. I mean, what music isn’t manufactured? All of the popular musicians out there (especially your favorite “pop” singers) are constantly working alongside a marketing and production team in order to make attractive and profitable material for you to enjoy. Nothing is a coincidence, not even their lyrics.
This is nothing new, and certainly nothing to worry about. All pop musicians around the world work this way. Saying that K-pop is somehow fake or too produced to be enjoyed is just completely nonsensical. I don’t see anyone complaining about those American artists that clearly don’t care about sharing their music but are far more interested in making good business through their image.
Another thing I’ve constantly heard against K-pop has to do with their male singers. A lot of people say that they are too "girly" for a masculine audience, and if you ask me, that’s nonsense. There is a beauty trend in South Korea called “flower boy,” in which young Korean men groom themselves with much more detail than Western men. They use makeup (foundation, eyeliner, and other cosmetic products) to improve their image, not because they are gay or trans necessarily but because it's a style they prefer.
Since K-pop entails a lot of visual content, colors, and textures, the culture itself demands that their most representative artists apply this concept on themselves too. Having a Western image of a more traditional masculinity can make a lot of people think that K-pop singers are not worthy, which is ridiculous. In the end I think it’s more of a “criticizing what you can’t understand” kind of case. We clearly have to stop judging people for the way they look. Because if Dave Grohl starts using makeup as Robert Smith once did, no one would say a thing, right?
There is much more to K-pop than meets the eye. It may be a little different from what we’re used to in the pop world, but that doesn’t make it wrong. If anything, it makes the genre more valuable. Even though it was inspired by western sounds, K-pop has become a new way of approaching pop, on both a musical and visual level.