“People continually ask why K-pop is so popular in America and other countries. I think, as cheesy as it may sound, music is a universal language that anyone can love.”
It all began with a love-hate relationship between me and K-pop, a subculture of music that comes from South Korea. This genre has been influenced by a lot of Western music, including hip-hop, electronic and pop music.
If you’ve heard the popular song “Gangnam Style” by artist PSY, you’ve heard K-pop. This music has grown in popularity in the U.S. and other countries around the world.
A person I worked with during a summer internship introduced me to K-pop. She asked me to let her look up a song on my laptop. Initially, I was resistant because I thought the music was overrated.
I also didn’t want to become an “Adorable Representative MC for Youth” (ARMY), the fandom name of BTS, a popular all-male K-pop group.
I finally decided to say yes. The first song she showed me was “FIRE” by BTS. I hated it.
Well, not really.
I kind of tricked myself into thinking I did. The next song I heard was “Save ME,” also by BTS. The songs were very catchy, but I still didn’t want to admit they were actually good.
Over the next week-and-a-half, I caught myself Googling BTS, and I began to listen to the group’s songs on my own. It wasn’t until October of 2016 that I became invested. My friends had also discovered K-pop over the summer.
When some people first see a K-pop group, they immediately mention the number of members in the group. Typically, American boy bands such as Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and One Direction have about five members. K-pop bands can range from four to 15 members, or more.
I’ve also come to love K-pop because I can see the personalities of each individual member of the groups shine through. In K-pop, “bias” is a term for your favorite group member. There’s a famous saying within the K-pop fandom: “You don’t pick your bias, your bias picks you.”
Many people view it as a joke, but in reality, it’s a common belief among K-pop fans.
K-pop began to grow in popularity in America in the last couple of years. Recently, Korean idols have performed more in the United States. In May 2017, BTS was the first K-pop group to win the Billboard Music Awards Top Social Artist, gaining more than 300 million votes on Twitter.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to admire all types of music. Discovering K-pop helped me realize that a song didn’t need to be in English for me to understand the true meaning.
People continually ask why K-pop is so popular in America and other countries. I think, as cheesy as it may sound, music is a universal language that anyone can love.