Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2012 you will have most certainly had the infectious hit Gangnam Style reverberating around your head at some point over the last six years. The single released by the unknown South Korean singer PSY was an instant hit and reached number 1 in 38 countries.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the track would be long ago assigned under the novelty tracks catalogue alongside Mr Blobby and The Crazy Frog but this song has infact had a much bigger cultural impact than many would realise. Firstly Gangnam Style reached the milestone of one billion YouTube views on December 21, 2012 – a view count that had previously never been reached and in many ways heralded the start of a new era in how we view the commercial success of music. Secondly, the impact of Gangnam Style introduced the world to the genre of K-Pop.
OK – you may have heard of K-Pop.. but what the hell is it?
Generally classified as pop music within South Korea, the term K-Pop describes a modern form of music which encompasses a huge range of audiovisual elements from over the top promo videos, flashy dance routines and dazzling outfits. These elements have helped to shape the genre into a product which fans develop a deep emotional attachment to – think One Directioners and Beliebers turned up to 100!
Blackpink are a prime example of the modern day K-Pop phenomenon the girl group have collaborated with several high-end fashion brands, sold out shows at the famous Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo and racked up tens of millions in digital music sales since their launch in 2016.
The fiercely loyal fan base of K-Pop’s biggest acts who want to replicate the latest clothes and hairstyles of their idols propelled the Korean music industry to gross nearly US$3.4 billion in 2012 and was labelled by Time magazine as “South Korea’s Greatest Export”.
Thanks to the success of PSY’s breakthrough single the culture of K-Pop is gradually making inroads into the western musical mainstream with bands now regularly heading to European destinations as part of their tours.
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