Pop Music Disappointments, and K-Pop

The Korean saw this some time ago:  12 Extremely Disappointing Facts about Popular Music. Just to give a few samples:
  • Flo Rida's “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles' “Hey Jude”
  • Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix
  • Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album
The Korean found this to be pretty illustrative of what matters in K-Pop also. No one in his right mind would claim that "Low" is just as significant as "Hey Jude," or Katy Perry is better than Michael Jackson somehow, because the history of Anglophonic pop music is very well known. Yet if an alien landed on Earth tomorrow and studied the Earth's biggest pop stars by simply relying on album sales, she may come to the ghastly erroneous conclusion that puts Creed on the same plane as Hendrix.

The same goes to K-pop. Non-Korean fans of K-pop may well be an alien who just landed on Earth, because the full history of the pop music in Korea is not yet available in English. But know this: Korean pop music is much, much bigger than the pretty faces that are being pushed by media companies with hot stock prices. As there was the Beatles before Michael Jackson, and Elvis before the Beatles, there was Seo Taiji before Dongbangshinki, and Shin Joong-Hyeon before Seo Taiji, with countless other talented artists in between who shaped the course of Korean pop music.

The Korean hopes to have an opportunity to have a full exposition on the history of pop music in Korea in the near future. In the meantime, let's try to have some perspective as we enjoy the music.

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