The “Oricon Comet” Younha
The Korean pop music industry, like the recording industry worldwide, has been in a constant downward slide in recent years. The reasons for that are all the usual suspects: General sales slump for the CD market, rise of digital media, and, oh yeah, suckiness of the product.
Personally, I think kpop is both worse and better now than it’s been in years. It all depends on how you define “kpop,” I guess. What’s typically seen as kpop is the stuff you see on those live music shows, the girl- and boy-band pop groups, the idol stars, the overchoreographed dances, the lip-synching Barbie dolls. But the industry has diversified — there are so many niches now, subgenres, pockets of creativity — and while “mainstream pop” used to be all there was, now there are alternatives. So does kpop suck these days? Some of it really, really does. But some of it really, really doesn’t.
The following takes a look at the mainstream market and finds hope for the future of popular music.
2007 showed a different side than what the music industry has seen for the past few years. Up through last year, the state of affairs looked dark as things declined with no bottom in sight, but this year, there were singers whose successful hits shined a bit of light. Here, we take a look at a few of the praiseworthy singers who’ve enabled the pop music industry to look once more to a hopeful future. …
SONG OF THE DAY
Younha – “한 우산 아래” (under one umbrella) [ zShare download ]
In 2007 a number of idols, that is to say young pop singers, banged out the hits. There were frequent comments that this was a revival of the pop-idol era. But watching those pretty-looking youngsters with a thorough lack of musicality, who relied solely on their star appeal, raised doubts as to whether this so-called revival of the idol-star era was a good thing for the music industry.
But in the midst of this situation, one such idol group, Big Bang, offered respite with their self-composed and self-written song “Lie.” Although they’re young singers, their music’s creativity and ability to captivate the attention of the public make the “idol era” seem less bleak.
Big Bang – “다음날” (The next day) [ zShare download ]
Lim Jeong Hee, Younha
LIM JEONG HEE
There were quite a few reports for a while that Lim Jeong Hee would be entering the U.S. pop market. For those who are familiar with the U.S. music industry, making an event of a singer’s departure for the States could be seen as nothing more than mere meaningless PR. Speaking in soccer terms, it’s similar to a player with minor-league training clamoring to enter the big leagues in Europe.
However, Lim Jeong Hee was different. She’d entered into a contract with a leading figure in the U.S. pop market, hip-hop artist Big Boi of OutKast. To be sure, she hasn’t yet started recording, and until she does, she’ll have to overcome the language barrier, among other issues. But with her contract with Outkast, Lim Jeong Hee has the potential to be the first Korean singer to enter into Billboard’s main charts.
Lim Jeong Hee – “이별선언” (Farewell declaration) [ zShare download ]
In the past few years, there haven’t been many singers who’ve shot to prominence in the pop music world soon after their debuts. Although there have been a few here and there, they’ve succeeded more as a result of huge marketing pushes and strategic planning than they have from singing skills and appeal. Such singers lack the charisma needed to be called a star singer.
In this current climate, one young woman took the stage in early 2007 with a flash of charisma. The young singer Younha had cute looks, but she had a voice that could overwhelm audiences with its power and appeal. She wasn’t “made,” but rather came into prominence naturally, with her clear voice and appearance. The future for this mighty new figure can be seen in her appealing music.
Park Jin Young, Toy
PARK JIN YOUNG
No, it’s not the Wonder Girls, it’s Park Jin Young. Sorry to the hard-working young ladies of Wonder Girls, but the “Tell Me Sensation” must be credited entirely to Park Jin Young. He’s the one who produced the melody that hooked the nation and marketed the Tell Me Dance that swept the internet.
Actually, Park Jin Young deserves praise for bringing the nation a widespread hit for the first time in a long while. The last nationwide phenomenon, Lee Hyori’s “10 Minutes” in 2003, had long faded, and he revived the landscape. Park Jin Young has brought the “power of pop music” back to life, and allowed us to dream of a revival in the pop music world.
JYP – “너의 뒤에서” (Behind you). I don’t have any recent Park Jin Young songs, so here’s one of his earliest hits, from 1994. If you were a fan of the old Lee Jung Jae drama “Feelings,” you might recognize this as one of the prominent love themes played in the latter half of the drama.
[ Download ]
TOY (aka Yoo Hee Yeol)
Before Toy’s sixth album came out, it was accepted that “The age of CD sales is over” and “1990s singers are singers of the past.” But with his first album in six years, Yoo Hee Yeol’s sixth album proved those beliefs wrong…
It also showed the possibility for the pop music market, led by teens and twentysomethings, to return to the older age groups in their thirties and forties as well.
Toy – “Christmas Card” (MERRY CHRISTMAS!) [ zShare download ]