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Trapping the zeitgeist

Why K-Pop is the coolest thing in online and social media content

For some time now, Korean Pop music (or K-Pop for short) has been making its way colourfully, bizarrely and oh-so-entertainingly into our collective consciousness. Interestingly, the increasing popularity of the music is due in a major way to the inexorable growth of online and social media content. So while the genre actually originated waaay back in the early ’90s (a time before online content and social media even existed in the modern sense), it is social media that has made it accessible to a previously inaccessible audience.


For those of you not fortunate enough to belong to that effortlessly trendy and in-the-know population sub-sect known as Gen Y, here is a brief explanation…

K-Pop is the kind of ‘so-lame-its-cool’, surrealist, quirky, kitsch concept that is a perfect match for online content (particularly YouTube) and social media. It’s the kind of thing that starts out as an irony and somewhere along the line becomes absorbed into the zeitgeist, to the point where it’s hard to differentiate (even in our own minds) whether it is actually cool or if we like it because we’re trendy and ironic. Like moustaches. And hipsters.

Still don’t know what we’re on about? Then check it out for yourselves:

What you just experienced was Gangnam Style, the wildly successful K-Pop single from Park Jae-Sang (aka PSY). It is the most successful K-Pop single ever, and it has received well over 100 million views on YouTube.

A perfect content fit

As digital distribution and social media begin to play a far greater role in the world of music, it’s interesting to note that the parameters change a little bit. The video, for example, is far more important these days, as it provides the main method of social sharing and word-of-mouth marketing.

Far from being innocently unaware of its humorous appeal, we’d suggest that a vital part of K-Pop’s success has been its main players understanding how the genre translates into killer online content, and replicating the formula.

Whether it’s got staying power as a mainstream Western entertainment form remains yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure: K-Pop has memed itself into the spotlight.

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