So You Think You're A K-Pop Expert?

Can I just start by saying that I am a huge fan of K-Pop? A third of my mp3 player is K-Pop. I am also really happy that PSY, one of my favourite Korean entertainers, is getting so much international attention. But don’t you think life was a lot simpler when Gangnam Style had only 700 000 views?

Here’s a little background for you…

In 2007, I stayed up late to watch Linkin Park perform in Japan for Live Earth. While I was waiting, I saw a band, Rize, perform. I fell in love. Started listening to Japanese music. In 2008, my cousin was working in Korea and sent a bunch of us a link to Wonder Girls’ Nobody. I thought, “Oh that’s cute” but moved on with my life. In late 2009, I was watching some J-Pop videos on youtube and I came across a ‘J-Pop vs. K-Pop’ video and the number one song was Wedding Dress by Taeyang. I thought it was great. Starting looking for more of his stuff, which lead me to BIGBANG. Then I started listening to Wonder Girls again. Then 2NE1. And it wasn’t until September 2011, when Tablo signed with YG and I saw how amazingly talented he is that I decided to see who else was in that family that I might like to listen to. (YG Entertainment is one of the most successful, if not the most, record labels in Korea.) That’s when I came across Gummy and PSY.

So let’s talk about PSY. He is after all the reason for this post. Here’s the first video of his that I saw…

Actually I think I saw the Seo Woo version of this song first

And the second…
I still cry when I watch this video

That’s all it took. I bought his album 'PSYFIVE' right away, and I haven’t been able to get enough of his music and him. It is one of my life’s goals to be a dancer in one of PSY’s shows.

Fast forward to 2012. YG has been having an awesome year. BIGBANG’s comeback with 'Alive' and their world tour. 2NE1’s first full-length release in Japan and their world tour. (Can someone please get that album on iTunes Canada?) BIGBANG’s special edition of 'Alive', and news of a new album from leader G-Dragon. K-Pop fans have been spoiled this year, and on July 15, 2012 the rest of the world would get a little taste of the amazigness that’s happening/been happening in Korea.

Gangnam Style is the most successful song to come out of Korea. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) Up until recently, the most successful song released by PSY is Right Now, with nearly 4,000,000 views on YT. (Right Now is from 'PSYFIVE', his first release with YG, but PSY has been in the industry from long before that. Hence the title, Uncle of K-Pop.) So, Gangnam comes out, and it’s addictive, catchy, smart and funny. PSY is up to the usual, and everyone is having a time.

And then it happens. America catches on. I know it’s the world, but America is where he’s hanging out right now. It’s where famous people are tweeting his video. It’s where he is taking pictures with artists like Usher and douchebags like chris brown. It’s Americans who think that K-Pop is now cool because they are starting to listen. (Also, you are not a fan of PSY because of one song. Notice that Gangnam Style is number one on iTunes, but '6 Rules [6甲]', the EP that the song is from, is nowhere to be found.)

NEW FLASH!!! K-Pop was cool before you started listening to Gangnam Style, and it will be cool when you all decide to dash PSY away and go back to the awful music of Minaj.

“It's a publicity stunt, clearly.”

Excuse you? A publicity stunt? Stop reading right here and take a look at the videos from PSY that are further up this post. You back? Good. Publicity stunt eh? Still saying that after watching? Clearly PSY has been going on like this for a while. And that’s not even the beginning. Please don’t say anything unless you know what you are talking about.

G-Dragon’s Crayon [크레용]

This is why I can’t handle youtube sometimes. Gangnam Style gets 190,000,000+ views and that makes everyone an expert on K-Pop. I can’t even claim to be a K-Pop expert. Half the time I don’t know what’s going on cause my Korean is terrible and I can’t keep up with the news. But because so many people have watched that video they think they know all about K-Pop and when they watch Crayon they make comments like “GD is copying PSY so he can get big in America like PSY.” So many things wrong with this. PSY’s intention was never to “get big in America”. This is not everyone’s goal in life, and you say it like making it in America is the best thing that could ever happen to someone. Do you know how frustrating that is? GD is not copying PSY. 

Here are a couple of videos…

From his first solo album 'Heartbreaker'

From BIGBANG's 'Alive' 

Ever since BIGBANG ditched the awful North American hip-hop look, GD has taken off with his own style. In Love Song, he can’t seem to wear a suit properly, that “interesting” headpiece in Tonight, his fashion choices in for Paris Fashion week and his many many many different hairstyles over the years. This is GD, and this is what he does. So how can you say that he is copying PSY?

To all you PSY “fans” out there. Did you know that the first track on his latest EP, G-Dragon is featured on it? Sounds to me like they respect each other. And they certainly make good music together together. You would know that if you bought the EP and not just his single.


There’s a theme here that people don’t seem to know about yet. This isn’t just PSY and this isn’t just GD. This is YG. There is a reason why YG artists are having so much success all over the world and not just Asia. (Two world tours on the go and PSY popping up all over American tellies.) Unlike some other K-Pop acts, YG artists have their own personalities. When it comes to the groups, you quickly can know who is who, because they all have their own thing going on. They’re not all dressing the same as each other, they don’t all have the same hairstyles and they all have something different to bring to their groups. (Daesung’s strong vocals, Taeyang’s voice and dancing skills, T.O.P’s unique voice and rapping skills…) Then the individual artists do the same thing, except they’re bringing their own thing to the company as a whole. YG is so successful because they are so different and the styles of music that they have under their name cover a very large base. There’s something for everyone. They’re all doing their own thing just as always.

I know this is a lot for you to take in, so I’ll end it soon. This just goes to show that K-Pop is a lot more diverse than you give it credit for. I am more than happy that so many people are listening to PSY. (Some K-Pop fans don’t think he deserves the attention.) But you should know that Gangnam Style is not K-Pop. Gangnam Style is a K-Pop song. Do you even know what the song is about? I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.

I really hope you enjoy these videos and will listen to more K-Pop. Here are some more of my favourites…

Gummy [거미] on repeat

My ringtone ever since I got my first phone ever in January

First I heard of Tablo

Follow YG Family on twitter and the YG Artists.

Final thought: 
YG Entertainment isn't all of K-Pop, I'm just biased. SNSD and SUJU are very popular and I really like EXO-K. All with SM Entertainment. 

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