K-pop stars shouldn't imitate their American counterparts too hard

K-pop stars shouldn't imitate their American counterparts too hard
Korean-American rapper Jay Park in a scene from his new raunchy music video, Mommae.

K-pop stars should stick to their roots when venturing into US market

You're reading this probably because, like me, you enjoy K-pop and all its hallmark qualities.

The crazy hooks. The earworm choruses. The perfectly choreographed dance routines.

The well-chiselled hunks and Barbie doll-like eye candy. The high probability of our idols sharing the same plastic surgeon.

I cannot imagine K-pop being robbed of these distinctive traits.

It'll be like Enka (traditional Japanese ballads) without the vibrato, or heavy metal without brutal guitar riffs.

Guess what's even more awful?

Two of K-pop's self-appointed iconoclasts have gone ahead to put this horrifying thought into reality - 2NE1 leader CL with her solo English single Doctor Pepper and Jay Park with his filthy rap number Mommae.

If you are fed on a regular diet of Western hip-hop and R&B, don't bother checking out their new material.

Trust me, you've heard it all before.

These two jokers are clearly way too obsessed with the "Americanising" of K-pop culture.

On Doctor Pepper - CL reportedly named it after the popular American soft drink - she spits her rap verses like a fierce Nicki Minaj. When she sings in her nasal voice, she is an aural dead ringer for Rihanna.

Now, why would we want to listen to a pretentious Minaj-RiRi wannabe when we already have the real deal?

As for Park, it doesn't take a genius to see that he is aspiring to win the title of K-pop's baddest dude.

The Mommae MV features him and his mates in full-on party animal mode, smoking and drinking the night away as voluptuous babes in lingerie caress his tattooed chest.

Seriously, is Park fashioning himself as Korea's version of Chris Brown-meets-Tyga? Every scene looks like something the US hip-hop stars have pulled off.

All right, Park is Korean-American. But still, he is rapping in Korean, so what's with that try-hard parade of debauchery?

LUCRATIVE MARKET

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating a boycott of the West. It's every musician's dream to crack the lucrative US music market, but to achieve that, there is no need to dump the unique aspects of your culture.

So far, Korean acts who have attempted to Americanise themselves to win over US audiences have flopped big-time. Think BoA, or the now-defunct Wonder Girl, who had a duet with Akon.

Gangnam Style superstar Psy, on the other hand, has got the formula for Stateside success firmly in his pocket.

Hangover, a collaboration with Snoop Dogg last year, was his first English song, yet it is quintessentially Korean from start to finish.

The MV showed the pair bonding over soju, chatting up ahjummas (Korean for aunties) and Psy tucking into jajangmyeon (black bean paste noodles).

And - ta-dah! - it has more than 200 million views on YouTube.

keeyunt@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 3, 2015.
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