The Koreas are weird places. From having an undying love for a tyrannical leader who at one point they believed to be immortal, to commonly eating chicken feet and boiled silk worms, the Koreas are a vastly different culture than that of the good ol’ US of A. #Patriotism. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of their culture is the music.
Typically referred to as K-Pop, short for Korean pop, this genre has become popular not only in the Koreas, but in other countries near them as well, spreading through East Asia into Japan and reaching as far as Latin America. The genre of music that most heavily populates these regions’ airwaves is a sugary sweet blend of the pop and electronic dance music genres. The performers in this genre can best be described as caricatures of what a typical performer in a different genre of music would look like.
This caricature-ness is specifically evidenced in a recent performance from K-Pop act Hatsune Miku. Miku recently made her late night television premier on The Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and Letterman didn’t really know how to react to this unique performer.
What’s special about Hatsune Mike is that she is actually a hologram. So she isn’t really a she at all. Or a he for that matter. This performance was particularly polarizing, because there was a group of people praising Miku, or rather the artists behind Miku, for originality and for providing a new way for artists to convey their messages, but at the same time, there was a group that abhorred the concept behind her act.
This hatred stems from the misconception that sitting behind a computer screen is all the artists surrounding Miku do, when in reality, I’d venture to guess it does indeed take a good amount of musical and technological prowess to compose and perform these pieces. Also, some see a hologram of an anime-style girl and automatically assume it’s a situation similar to that of the incompetent doctor Krieger and his virtual girlfriend from the FX television show “Archer.”
K-Pop is a relatively young genre, and it’s still only beginning to get a foothold in the music community. One of the most notable examples of K-Pop was Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” It received global attention two years ago by becoming the most viewed video on YouTube at 2.1 Billion views — that’s Billion with a B — and was the subject of thousands of parody videos, both professional and amateur. Psy managed to put a foot in the door for K-Pop as a respected genre of music by becoming a globally recognized K-Pop artist.
K-Pop is nothing like anything the U.S. has spawned, so that obviously makes us a little more hesitant to accept it as a legitimate genre, but discounting it as a genre because there’s nothing to compare it to locally isn’t an effective way to consume music. The music industry is an ever-changing beast, and we must have open minds to keep up with it.
And now, for another only tangentially related video of Krieger from “Archer,” because I think he’s hilarious.
Have a fantastic Tuesday.