In essaying the phenomenon of KPop music, the main idea is to discern the elements that make this genre, popular as a mainstream item. Westerners and other non-Korean speaking listeners do not comprehend the lyrics of most KPop songs; but still find it easy to get into the groove.
Songs with English Lyrics Become Part of Mainstream Music Even in Non-English Speaking Regions
It is likely that the situation is pretty much the same in other parts of the world.
Koreans and other non-English speaking audiences fall in love with tunes carrying English lyrics. Not because they understand the message or feel the meaning put into a song. The appeal is more on the tempo, the rhythm, and the arrangement, combined with a rendition that makes a song highly appealing.
One example is Mariah Carey’s “Without You,” which an aspiring Bulgarian female singer named Valentina Hasan, popularized as “Ken Lee” when she auditioned for a Bulgarian singing contest. Without batting an eyelash, the Bulgarian amateur singer soulfully, fluidly, confidently and with passion, sang “Ken Lee” in garbled English; not at all bothered that she was actually delivering a gibberish version of “Without You,”…
”Ken Lee, Tolibu dibu douchoo” (Can’t live, if living is without you)
The song became Valentina’s ticket to Internet fame, and to recording a globally released international single with the “Ken Lee” title.
KPop Provides Additional Proof that Music is a Universal Language
KPop music first gained international fame in 2009, via the Wonder Girls and their “Nobody but You” single.
The Wonder Girls and “Nobody But You”
Originally popularized as a local Korean pop song, “Nobody but You” became a worldwide hit when an English version of the song was released internationally and landed No. 76 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even if still not phenomenal by standards, the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody but You” boosted South Korea’s music industry.
Psy and “Oppan Gangnam Style”
In 2012, Korean KPop artist named Psy hit and broke a number of charts and several lists of world records through his 18th KPop single, “Oppan Gangnam Style.” This particular song spearheaded the KPop music phenomenon. Just like “Nobody but You,” “Oppan Gangnam Style” has a catchy upbeat, danceable steps, but different because the song, despite its Korean lyrics, gained worldwide fame.
Only a few words such as “Baby, baby,” “Sexy lady”, and “You know I’m saying,” are in English. Yet there was a quality to it that caught the attention not only of KPop fans but also of political leaders in the likes of U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Blackpink and “DDU-DU DDU-DU”
A decade later, KPop music continues to make it into the pop music mainstream. Blackpink, another all-female Korean group lands a spot in Billboard’s Top 100 in June 2018 with “DDU-DU DDU-DU” in original Korean version. The group and the song even surpassed the Wonder Girl’s feat by landing No. 55.
The quartet of sexy Korean girls, also made history by debuting as the reigning Billboard Emerging Artist Chart in the No. 1 spot. In fact another first is Blackpink’s participation in the highly attended North American Coachella Music Festival as a headliner, making history as the first ever Korean group to perform as such.
Actually, this writer is at a loss on how to end this essay with a definitive conclusion on what elements make a KPop music a phenomenal mainstream hit. So far, I have only offered proof that when it comes to music, language is not a barrier. Perhaps a professional essay editing services provider can help me present my discussions in another way.