The worldwide, viral internet sensation that you may have not even heard of yet
By Elle Nacard, year 10
When it comes to the internet, things spread fast. You usually find out about them, and then, hooray- you’ve officially caught onto the trend. Yet, there’s something that has been internationally viral for just over half a year now: K-pop.
So, what is K-pop?
K-pop is the music industry of South Korea,
Artists in Korea work exceptionally hard; to an extent that isn’t common with other pop stars today. These guys (and girls) are smashing out albums every six months or so full of singing, rapping and full choreography to every song included, not to mention a music video or two. K-pop artists never stop creating content, and as such can keep fans fully engaged, never without something new to watch or listen to. As an example, popular group EXO releases nearly 2 albums each year. This is a standard for K-pop. In comparison, Ed Sheeran takes nearly 3 years per album. The massive amount of content never lets current fans tire, and continues to collect more support with each release.
K-pop is an industry that thrives on fan participation for popularity. People who find passion in rapping can rap parts of K-pop songs. People who love to sing can sing parts of the songs. People who dance can cover the choreography, and honestly it goes on endlessly. The music videos also often portray stories which carry on for years, with references in recent MV’s (Music Videos) to MV’s from two years ago, which then involves people who enjoy theorizing. The fandoms are constantly involved in more ways than one, and it’s addicting.
In fact, these fans are the powerful force behind K-pop; music videos breaking their own records of ‘Most Views in 24 hours’, album pre-sales doubling with each release before teasers of the music are even released… These fans are even willing to learn fan chants to every song which is likely in a language they don’t understand, retweeting a simple selfie to numbers of 300k, buying merchandise, striving to be better than the other fans, Slowly but surely, K-Pop is spreading.
However, hearing the term ‘K-pop’, you may think back to the iconic Gangnam Style by artist PSY. You probably took one look, found out that this weird song was where the strange dance originated from that everyone seemed to be doing at the song’s viral peak, and never took another look at K-pop. Surprisingly, the strange comedic tone of Gangnam Style is nothing like most of currently trending K-pop music.
I would safely assume at least some of you watched the AMAs (American Music Awards) from late last year. These featured worldwide artists like Shawn Mendez, Selena Gomez, P!NK, Imagine Dragons… you get the idea. They’re all artists you’ve heard of at the very least.
Yet among them there was a seven-member group called BTS performing. A K-pop group, singing and rapping in their native language of Korean, on international American television. I know for a fact at least 95% of the people watching had no idea who they were, and yet right in front of the world, BTS has collaborated with famous DJ Steve Aoki, created friendships with artists such as Halsey and Marshmello, and even had one of their tracks produced by The Chainsmokers, who they seem to be closest with (they even joined one of The Chainsmokers’ concerts as a surprise for the fans!).
The viral music video for International Sensation BTS's new song DNA
But then why haven’t most of you ever really seen a lot of K-pop?
Because Kpop lives on the internet. With global fans who probably don’t understand Korean, how will they understand the videos Kpop groups post? By using the free fanmade accounts created solely for translating. The fans live online, the Kpop idols become famous online, and because of this the fandoms can quickly communicate with each other and formulate plans for voting for awards, streaming music videos, and keeping up to date with everything that happens. Of course, every fandom would utilise social media to spread news, but honestly, when it comes to K-pop, sometimes it’s on a whole other level.
And after all that, as a fan myself, I can say falling into the pit of Korean music groups who sing, rap, and dance, was probably the best thing that happened to me.