Hip-Hop's latest success story, Asher Roth, sits down at Lollapalooza with Roxwel to discuss his musical roots, the daily grind of touring, his friendship with Kid Cudi, and being nominated for MTV's VMA Awards. Catch clips from his "I Love College" music video interwoven throughout the interview, too.
This month's feature is South Korea. The producers and artists from this country have infused pop music with hip-hop freestyle dances and created a worldwide craze known as K-pop. Although it has some obstacles to overcome to make it big in America, K-pop shows promise to become the new face in pop music.
Some people may think it's far-fetched that pop music originating from a small Asian country can become the next big thing, but there are a number of opportunities that have opened for them.
1) Renewed interest in Michael Jackson. If there is one major influence around K-pop, it's Michael Jackson. The K-pop artists are skilled in hip-hop style dance and singing, and they have followed Michael's dedication to rigorous dance training.
2) The global Idols TV show franchise has waned interest in pop music. The show continues to be popular for large television audiences, but it's resulting music by-product has not fared so well. Pop music is singing and dancing, but the Idols encompass only the singing part. Pop music was king ten years ago with Britney Spears, Nsync and Destiny's Child, and their music videos featured both singing and dancing. One can look at Idols such as America's Jordan Sparks, South Africa's Jody Williams, or Australia's Jessica Mauboy and note the lack of differentiation in their sound and style.
3) It's American too. Several of the K-pop groups have American members, and the songs are sung in both Korean and English.
4) Competitive producers. There are three major producers in the K-pop scene. Each are trying to innovate and outdo one another. One noticeable difference between the pop groups from a decade ago to today's K-pop groups is their size. Older pop groups were three to five members, but the number is seven to nine for K-pop. This allows for bigger dance numbers and more publicity opportunities.
K-pop has a very enthusiastic and dedicated fan base. I hope they will enjoy this month's International Spotlight of BoA, Wonder Girls, Big Bang, 2PM, 2NE1, and Se7en.
Today marks K-pop Day on Blastro featuring videos from BoA, Big Bang, and Wonder Girls. K-pop has major commercial success in Japan and now its producers and stars have their eyes set on the biggest prize of all: superstar success in America. BoA has relocated to the USA and has an English album with four music videos. Wonder Girls are scheduled to open on the Jonas Brothers tour. Big Bang is a hip pop boy band whose songs combine both Korean and English.
Can these music acts have the same success in America as Korean brands such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai?
I believe it is possible for Korean acts to have success in America, but there are several obstacles they need to overcome. Unlike Japan or Korea, America is a geographically vast, heterogeneous society with many cultural and media fragments. Whatever tactics used in Asia will probably not work here. Secondly, music acts need close to ten years to develop an American audience for long-term commercial success, but pop music does not lend itself to this timeframe. Finally, success in the pop genre has two gatekeepers: the major music labels and Disney corporation. The Wonder Girls have one of the gatekeepers letting them in on a few stops of the Jonas Brothers 53-city tour.
If the Korean producers want commercial success as independents, I have a few recommendations.
1) Succeed in Los Angeles first. LA is home to more Koreans than any city other than Seoul. It is also the most diverse city in America, which will expose artists to new and different cultural influences.
2) Be Korean. Even though much of the K-pop music is influenced by urban culture, don't try to get acceptance among the urban cultural elite because it is not going to happen. America likes to accept people who are true to themselves.
3) Think long term. The vast geography of the United States makes it hard to for performance tours. Have a long term plan to build success in different regions across the country. Trying to tour the entire country year after year is too hard physically for most people.
BoA may have the opportunity for commercial success in America, but she needs to make some adjustments. She's only 22, but that is approaching the sunset years in pop music that craves teen stars. She needs to know where she wants to be creatively ten years from now and start making the transition today. Her core audience is also making life transitions as well, so she can draw support from her fan base in Korea and Japan. She should let her base know about every little success and setback that happens in America. Whether that's finally getting a radio show interview that she's worked on for months, or losing out on an audition for a TV show.
These K-pop artists have the talent to make it here. Their singing and dancing skills are top notch. However, the American market is big and highly competitive. K-Pop stars need both the patience and tenacity to make it here. I'm cheering for them.
Director of Content Programming Blastro.com