Saturday, October 20, 2012

seoul flaunts the come up...,



WaPo | Americans aren’t particularly accustomed to foreign music competing with their own in global markets, so when the South Korean song “Gangnam Style” popped onto U.S. music charts, it was something of a wake-up call. Korean pop music has been thriving in East Asia for years, which is remarkable in itself given the country’s small size and the wealth of successful musicians in its bigger and richer neighbor Japan.

So how do Korea’s music companies do it? Part of the industry’s success comes from being just that: industrial. Musicians are meticulously groomed, songs set to careful formulas, and all of it processed on a grand scale. The New Yorker’s John Seabrook explained the concept of “cultural technology,” a factory-like system whereby everything from composer nationality to eye shadow color to hand gestures is pre-determined by formula and protocol. Seabrook suggests that the “cultural technology” model produces music “too robotic to make it in the West” — the music’s painstaking earnestness also doesn’t quite translate for Americans — and K-pop has indeed long struggled to make it big in Western markets.

How, then, to explain the sudden U.S. success of “Gangnam Style,” written and performed by a K-popper who is of the “cultural technology” system but also an aberration within it: older, less attractive (sorry) and more satirical than his K-compatriots? How did Psy manage to utilize the successes of “cultural technology” — he’s got Americans mimicking his dance and glued to his video, in true K-pop form — while also overcoming the more “robotic” aspects of it that have hampered its Western reach?

The answer may have to do with the timing of South Korea’s “economic miracle,” in which the largely agrarian dictatorship became a wealthy and developed democracy in a few short decades. The country became rich enough to support a big domestic music industry during a time when the way people consume music was changing. Fist tap Dale.

5 comments:

CNu said...

I find it hilarious the amount of effort the boy has put into mastering Psy's little corny dance and the fact that he has perfectly memorized and loves to reproduce Korean lyrics - none of which he understands...,

Dale Asberry said...

As you know, I did a bit of research into it because it just kept popping up on my radar. I saw a "making of" video and it seriously reminded me of the dorky movies a friend of mine made (that I happily participated in) in high school making fun of social norms. He does an excellent job of being a "straight-man" in his video but the outtakes show him barely containing himself long enough to get the take in. Psy does an excellent job of skewering (both in the video and the lyrics) the newly wealthy in S. Korea -- and all within the acceptable confines of (anal-retentive) Korean social decorum. He is a masterful smartass.

Dale Asberry said...

...speaking of masterful smartasses...

Ed Dunn said...

I read about this story on the following site a few days ago before the WashPo article:
http://www.dreamandhustle.com/you-should-have-seen-this-coming-a-long-time-ago/


Even though this is the same Oyaji-gag routine done in Japan (which reminds me of Benny Hill), it just shows that Korea is doing a great job like China in terms of copying and pasting their way to becoming a global economic power.

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