Post-"Gangnam Style," America wakes up to K-pop

Factory Girls,” a [paywalled] New Yorker piece this month by John Seabrook, explores the rise of the two billion-dollar Korean pop music industry and "its fraught entry into the Western music market" despite the YouTube-driven viral success of PSY's "Gangnam Style.”

Typical K-pop “is an East-West mash-up,” writes Seabrook. “The performers are mostly Korean, and their mesmerizing synchronized dance moves, accompanied by a complex telegraphy of winks and hand gestures, have an Asian flavor to them, but the music sounds Western: hip-hop verses, Euro-pop choruses, rapping, and dubstep breaks.”

My brother Carl Hamm, a club and radio DJ who regularly spins K-Pop nights (including one this Friday night in Richmond, VA), says, "This is one of an endless stream of articles I have read that sort of 'warns' of a pending K-Pop invasion. But the fact is, it's already happened. Not just PSY, but groups like EXO (which they mention), BIG BANG, SNSD/Girls Generation, SHinee, and 2NE1. All are well on their way to being huge over here among young American kids. And yes, the whole thing about manufactured, assembly-line personas of the artists is, for the most part, true. But despite the much-rumored dark side of this business, many of them really are gifted performers who have worked hard to reach where they are, love their fans, and enjoy what they do." "Incidentally, Big Bang are playing 2 dates in Los Angeles and one in New Jersey this November," Carl adds. "Tickets sold out in less than 4 hours! And 2ne1 also recently played to huge crowds in the US last month. See here and here."