Posted by : KPopRanter July 01, 2013

A few days ago, I was searching the Internet and dropped on an article by The Juice Judge explaining the who, what, when, where and why as to how a K-Pop Idol group could possibly make it into the US market. As said by the juice judge:
K-Pop is still a rather niche market and... a lot of K-Pop artists aspire to eventually break the largest music market in the world, the U.S. While this is thinking a bit in the future, [there's] some very necessary steps that any artist would have to take before they even have a shot at making it in the U.S.

After getting permission from the author of the article to have my own recreation of the article, I wrote my own thoughts as to how K-Pop can possibly break the American market.

Step 1: Get respected in Korea and abroad.
There's a huge difference between being popular nationally and internationally and being respected nationally and internationally which can determine how successful your future will be as you try to progress in the Western market.

Sure, you can be popular, however, if you're in T-ara's boat, it can hinder your chances of being worldwide and respected superstars, because if they (T-ara) were to gain even an ounce of popularity in America, the media being able to dig up their bullying scandal in an instant just like how they dug up PSY's "Americans are Yankees!" rant. Contrarily let's take for example the group Rania, who's not that popular around the world but are at least respected in their small range of people. Even though they haven't seen many results from their previous attempts at American advancement, they still have a clean slate that can keep them afloat if they actually do make it.

Step 2: Learn English... not Engrish.
It's my belief that all of the group members need to be fluent or at the very least understandable in English. It doesn't matter if you're pretty, good at standing and can nod at everything an English speaker says without even knowing what they're saying, your ability to communicate in the language is vital unless you want to be the backdrop of the group. With Girls' Generation's case, the only members who could possibly communicate and show themselves off to the camera would be Tiffany, Jessica and somewhat Sooyoung and Seohyun while the rest (which is the majority of the group) can only stand there quiet and still, not knowing what to do with themselves. Contrarily, in Wonder Girls, who have had many more opportunities to showcase their English skills usually have Yenny, Hyerim and a little Yubin speaking, however do sometimes has the rest of the members joining in and speaking, (though they claim Sohee is the best at understanding English) and even though it is Engrish, is better than nothing.

If most members can't contribute with communication, the group's as a whole variety skills will most definitely lack and it'll cripple them from being able to build popularity from being seeing their bright personalities. Even if a song gets popular, the fans who buy your shit and keep you relevant will watch your shots, and wanting to see the whole group participate then just a select few will get bored.

Step 3: Get a good, catchy song.
What's the difference between "Bring the Boys Out!" and "Op-Op-Op-Op, Oppa Gangnam Style"? The catchiness. It's not everyday that you find a song like Gangnam Style... but The Boys on the other hand? Nothing new.
Not only do you need a catchy song that is pretty damn memorable, but you also need lyrics that  aren't cliche and boring... that means drop the typical "We make you so hot!" (The Boys) and "I'm the only thing on his mind" (DJ is Mine) shit. If you're going to make a song in English  I suggest making another Thrift Shop or Price Tag that doesn't talk about love or sexual appeal and instead talks about real world problems and then I think maybe, just maybe, you'll get some recognition. 

Step 4: Get a good dance or something memorable.
If Psy's success has taught us anything, a memorable and fun dance is as important, if not more important, than the song itself.

Since many K-Pop Idols can't sing well, the next thing they can to do is dance. However, what I think is more important than a whole memorable dance is one memorable part to the song... for example, PSY's horse-riding dance and his "Op-Op-Op-Op, Oppa Gangnam Style. Hey~ sexy lady!" part. No one takes time to remember any other part to the song other than the two key dance and verbalization, so if you totally put your focus on dancing like The Boys music video, you're really screwing yourself over. Sure, that stuff works in the Asian market where you're already known but the Western market where you're nugus? I don't think so.

The only extremely popular song in America I can remember at the moment which focuses mostly on dance would have to be the already well-respected artist who probably, without her already built fame would have less recognition with the song, BeyoncĂ© in Single Ladies.

Step 5: Get a decent amount of time with the respectable media.
Do not pull a Wonder Girls who were desperate, snagged their first deal with Nickelodeon which is no where near respectable and made a shitty movie unless you want to be nugus in the eyes of most of the American population save toddlers. Don't also pull a Girls' Generation and snag two shows with the respectable David Letterman and Kelly Ripa then expect your popularity to skyrocket with a mundane performance that I probably would have changed the channel on if I wasn't already a K-Pop fan. You have to receive respectable deals, for example, 2NE1 appearing on an Adidas commercial with Nicki Minaj and Big Sean and a decent amount of time on media, like, as stated by the Juice Judge, like PSY, to receive popularity. PSY's ability to feature on shows like the Today Show with his good, catchy song and his good dance and his understandable English and his respectability made his popularity go through the roof. 

You can't have a movie (which I gotta say again, was shit!) on a television channel that only appeals to children when you want to appeal to adults. You'll be a laughing stock.
You also can't appear on two shows with a very meh and boring song then expect people to shit their pants for you. You will also be a laughing stock.
But you can expand your interest-level by going on MTV and the Today Show and at least expect people to think "who's that?".

Lastly, if you come in a group, you need small numbers (my guess is five at maximum. Six maybe but that's a stretch) as well as a company to sign yourself on. Without all seven of these, I really do doubt that you'd get as far as you hoped for whether you're famous in Korea or not.

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{ 12 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. How can k-pop make it to the US? It can't.

  2. Actually I think if they took the steps right, maybe ALL K-Pop groups won't get in, but at least the ONE artist who tried like PSY did... maybe because I'm an optimist.

    Most people say that K-Pop can't possibly make it because the people who've actually tried to make it sucked so terribly bad with their shitty songs and their shitty appearances on shitty shows but I think if ONE group in particular plays their cards right, they can succeed... maybe not Adele, Lady Gaga, One Direction level, but at least notably popular.

  3. PSY only made it big because he was a novelty. He was a funny singing and dancing Chinese man. Once the novelty wears off, and it already seems to be doing so, the door to allow any sort of k-pop crossing over to the United States will close.

  4. "Once the novelty wears off, and it already seems to be doing so, the door to allow any sort of k-pop crossing over to the United States will close."

    ... Not exactly. If PSY's funniness began to wear off, that would be illogical to effect ALL of the groups of K-Pop. It would just effect PSY and his popularity.

  5. The only current K-pop act I could see having a realistic shot at a sustainable career in the US market is Ailee. That probably shouldn't count, though, since she IS American and her act wouldn't really be a crossover as much as her just returning to her own country (just like Sandara Park isn't really an example of a Filipino pop act gaining success in Korea - she simply went home).

    As far as a true crossover K-pop group goes, I've always felt 2NE1 had the best shot. Three of the four members speak English, their music and fashion style is more 'western' than other groups, and they have an established American musician in their corner ( But I still think the odds are extremely slim.

    You could really broaden "Step 5" to this (which is a big one, in my opinion): Hook-up with an established American music promoter.

    Gangnam Style only REALLY blew up after Psy signed with Scooter Braun and gained access to all those big media outlets through Braun's connections. No way would a Korean company have the ability to get him on all those shows.

  6. Yes if a group was to complete all these steps might make it but this is Easier said than done! I think the biggest obstacle is the Cultural difference because In America things to perceive the different way so if someone goes To YouTube and sees a video of A boy band With eyeliner on they would be be like WTF

  7. By the way I just found this blog today And read through a bunch Of the articles and you seem like a really reasonable person unlike some reviewers. Bookmarked your blog will be checking daily so keep up the good work!

  8. I really liked seeing what you thought. I might have to go back and edit my thoughts a bit now that I've seen what you thought XD I totally agree with a lot of your viewpoints and I'm glad that we shared so many ideas. Also, I'm glad that you could further explain some of my ideas while making it more understandable!

  9. Going back to edit isn't needed, your thoughts towards this topic are still amazing :).

    Yes, exactly and thanks!

  10. "Easier said than done!" True, especially the 'learn English' bit.
    I agree with the cultural difference especially, boy bands in America already being labelled as "gay" and "fag"... what would Americans perceive of Korean boy groups...?

  11. True. I'd like to add and say imho, I think Jay Park could probably hold a career but that goes along with the 'going back to the home country'

    Yeah, exactly! I noted that in another blog post ( saying "I would probably only say the... two [2NE1 & Rania] have even the slightest chance of making it big in America...." while the other groups have a small chance.

    I would've broaden that step but I thought the company was a given, just adding that at the very end saying "Lastly, if you come in a group, you need... a company to sign yourself on".

    Extremely valid point. If a Korean entertainment company were to try to do things all by themselves, they would be stuck at a dead-end since Korea, where they're the "top dogs" and can do whatever they please, is much different than America, where they're nugus.


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