SM Town in Los Angeles's Staples Center - September 2009
In the past two months we've seen evidence that America is slowly opening its half-asleep eyes to the effect Kpop has had around the world. But America has put itself in a position of determining what is globally popular. In fact its always prided itself on setting the trends. How did they not see this one coming? And why are they so late to the game?
It's fan-freaking-tastic that America is finally showing signs that it notices Kpop and I hope it continues to roll in that direction (though no guarantees it'll catch on with the public). Awareness is the first step to being a marketable success and I'm sure most Korean entertainment companies would agree: They're thankful for the attention from the press!!
But we have to wonder about the timing... The Wonder Girls' hit song "Nobody" came out in 2008, resulting in a small US club tour with mentor and producer JYP. The English version of "Nobody" was released in 2009 and they joined the Jonas Brothers' headlining tour... The Jonas Brothers!!! That's a big deal! Where was the publicity then? Why hadn't anyone latched onto this growing (and growing... and GROWING) genre called K-Pop? And this was 2 years ago!
Wonder Girls on The Wendy Williams Show (L) and So You Think You Can Dance (R)
Gotta hand it to Perez Hilton! He picked up on the charm of K-Pop long before anyone else in the mainstream media did.
Girls' Generation unveiled their charms with "Gee" in 2009, followed closely by Super Junior with "Sorry Sorry" and 2NE1 with "Fire." With the exception of 2NE1, all of these artists already had careers. But it was only around this point in time that Kpop began globally crossing boundaries that it hadn't crossed before... Well that and Youtube. So the awareness of groups like Girls' Generation and Super Junior and Wonder Girls, despite having released songs in 2008 and 2007, jumped like a rocket flare.
We begin to see more signs of demand in Asia. Cut to 2010 and those demands have filtered to a loud minority in the US. So in 2010, JYP tours the US with protege group 2AM... Wonder Girls returns for a headlining tour, with guests 2PM. Epik High plays a series of concerts. And the creme de la creme of potential US takeover? SM TOWN... in Los Angeles's very own Staples Center. Need I remind you that this was 2010. This was over one year ago. I think of 2009 as a time that both Korean entertainment companies and the rest of the world began to notice Kpop's global potential and 2010 as a testing-the-waters time, to test whether or not their assumptions about Kpop's global potential were true.
2NE1 after winning MTV Best New Band In The World, SM Town Fans in Times Square
2011 was full-blown global marketing. No hesitations. Kpop went straight for the big guns and suddenly we've got: A Kpop Cover Dance Festival, Kpop Star, Kpop World Festival, etc. We've got multiple concerts all over the world - Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, etc. and in BIG VENUES too! New York's Madison Square Garden, Las Vegas's MGM Grand Theater, Paris's Le Zénith de Paris... These aren't itty bitty venues. These are BIG HUGE AMPHITHEATERS. Guess Kpop was feeling pretty confident in 2011.
Various promotions of Kpop
Well I guess you could also say that it paid off
MTV Style - Top 12 Girls To Watch in 2012
Refinery 29 - K-Pop Cheat Sheet: The Bands To Know Before They Blow Up
MTV Style - 2NE1 and Jeremy Scott on MTV Style
Spin - Spin Picks HyunA's "Bubble Pop" As #9 Song Of Top 20
Slant Magazine - The 25 Best Singles Of 2011
MTV Iggy - 2NE1 Wins MTV's Best Band In The World Award
Pop Dust - The Singles Bar: Girls' Generation, "The Boys"
New York Times - Korean Pop Machine, Running on Innocence and Hair Gel
New York Daily News - The Korean Invasion: New Yorkers Are Screaming For The New Wave Of Pop Stars
Pop Crush - HyunA's 'Bubble Pop' Video Goes Viral
But looking at that three year period between then and the time when all these publications came out (now), we kind of have to wonder why it took so long to notice the glaringly obvious signs that K-Pop is not only globally known about but globally popular. Granted, although Europe and South America were quicker to catch onto K-Pop, it can be argued that K-Pop isn't a mainstream success there... yet.
Its been said repeatedly that Kpop has long tried to attain the crown that is America's mainstream and join the ranks of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, etc. But we actually think it's the other way around. It's America that needs to hurry up and latch on to the crown that is Korea's pop music. What do you think?
I really hope the Wonder Girls succeed this time! That trailer has me a bit on edge though! :(