Starshine: Hello and welcome to another riveting round of Objection! As always, I am Starshine, and with me today is a newcomer to the Objection arena.
Oliveblair: Hey y’all! I’m Oliveblair, and I’ve been writing at Moar Powah for about three weeks now. I’m excited to be participating in this Objection!
Starshine: Excellent! Today’s topic is whether the state of K-Pop is better or worse than after its big boom of popularity in 2011-2012. We’ll start with Olivebair’s opinion.
Oliveblair: To be fair, I only became a K-pop fan in 2011, but I believe that with k-pop’s new popularity all over the world, it’s only gotten better.
Starshine: I would strongly disagree. While the more hip-hop influence is a plus, K-Pop lost a lot of heart and style post 2012. Now it’s either all trying to be super-sexy with EDM weirdness or get crazy success like Gangnam Style, with a few expections.
Oliveblair: You know I love the hip-hop influenced k-pop but I like the other influences as well! Now that k-pop’s gone global, it’s being inspired by pop music over here. There’s an element of American pop in it. And I’ll have to disagree that all k-pop is either sexy EDM or Gangnam Style weird. Maybe some of the bigger groups like 2NE1 or Girls’ Generation are experimenting, but a lot of groups from smaller companies have stuck to the “traditional” k-pop formula. Just look at Apink!
Starshine: Apink has a devoted fanbase that would rebel if they went too off formula. The problem is K-Pop music is often trying to go for what’s popular rather than what’s good. So many songs just feel like copies of one another. I mean Catallena was the first song I’ve heard in a solid 10 months that didn’t sound exactly like something else.
Oliveblair: Well, pop does stand for popular, so going for what’s popular just comes with the territory. But I think each group has their own individual style, which they’d have to considering how many k-pop groups there are, not to mention soloists. Are you saying that groups do copies of their own, older work, or that groups just do copies of other groups’ songs? ‘Cause I wasn’t sure what exactly you were saying there.
Starshine: Definitely both. 2NE1 would not stop with the island reggae background, and the multifacetted love song became a thing after Girls Generation made I Got A Boy. It’s a self feeding machine – waste something until it stops working then pick at the one bit of something different or not heavily recycled and use that. I’m waiting for the next Catallena sound-alike hit to come out. This is a problem with the bigger artists but if anything they are the ones who can afford to take the risks, not the small guys starting out.
Oliveblair: I think the fact that the bigger artists don’t take risks is precisely because of the companies backing them. Take f(x). Their last three music videos have all been visually almost exactly the same. The reason they haven’t done anything different is because they know people will buy their music anyway, if only because it’s SM Entertainment. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But smaller companies have to be more creative to get the attention of fans. Groups like Block B, Spica, Sunny Hill, they’re doing something different.
Starshine: Still, it doesn’t have that same electric feel of K-Pop during the big boom. It’s all sounds so similar and boring that I honestly can’t tell from song to song who the artist is. They all share formulas, and the effort is all shifting into the promotional stuff rather than the music itself.
Oliveblair: I disagree, I think there are groups with very distinct sounds and that are vastly different from other groups! Infinite doesn’t sound like SHINee, who doesn’t sound like Teen Top, who doesn’t sound like Block B, who doesn’t sound like B1A4. And Brown Eyed Girls are very different from Apink who are different from Spica, who are different from Kara who are different from 2NE1. And when you listen to a group long enough, you know their voices and you know their styles in a way that’s different from everyone else. I’m sure it’s even more distinct in Korea, where you’re surrounded by it.
Starshine: You’re talking about vocals, I’m talking about over them as sound, with the instrumentality. Spica and Girls Generation sound the same, Kara and T-ara sound the same, and even on specific songs they cross. They all ended up singing the same songs and its honestly weird. These bands all used to have more distinctive sounds before they all started falling into a formula.
Oliveblair: Spica and Girls’ Generation don’t do the same kind of music at all! If anyone I might compare Spica to Wonder Girls, or TTS, the Girls’ Generation subunit, because they have that sort of retro sound. And I think T-ara tends to stick more to ballads while Kara’s songs are way more upbeat as a whole. So I can’t say that it’s the exact same.
Starshine: I disagree, I think they sound incredibly similar. You Don’t Love Me and Dancing Queen, but I’ll give you the TTS comparison. But it’s not even that one group sounds like another, it’s that they all recycle the same song with the same formula with the same beats and the same themes.
Oliveblair: But since the boom there’s been all the Western pop influence and different groups have taken in different aspects! 2NE1 used a trap beat on their new single, there was some dubstep a couple of years ago, hip hop groups have blown up- and B.A.P. and Block B, while both being hip hop, have 2 very distinct sounds. I think you have to remember that it is pop music, so you shouldn’t be so strict on them. The same thing happens in American pop music, and if you want really different and innovative stuff, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.
Starshine: Some dubstep? There was dubstep everywhere! Hell its still lurking around. But the difference is on the American pop charts there is more apparent diversity. Even different genres don’t have to fight as hard in america to be top 40 as they do in Korea. And the music there is seems more about the formula than about the quality. But let’s wrap this up. Any last thoughts, Oliveblair?
Oliveblair: Well for a for a pretty homogeneous society, I think they’re doing their best, since American music’s diversity comes from our diverse population. But I’m in it for the fun! As long as each group has something different to offer (which I still believe they do) and the music is enjoyable, then I’ll keep listening. If I perceive that it’s gotten as bad as you said, maybe I’ll take a second look but I think there’s still enough variation for me!
Starshine:I’m not saying the music isn’t enjoyable just that it’s all fallen into a very neat formula they are all replicating. I think K-Pop can do better, should do better, in fact, and I am hoping that soon the genre will rise with new unique ideas rather than phoning the song writing in.
That’s it for this week’s Objection! Tune in two weeks from now when another pair of writers literally type fighting words.