Genre Analysis (Music) – KPOP (FINAL)


KPOP is a genre that originates in South Korea. It’s different from regular pop music because it’s a new more modern genre that fuses other traditional ones of their country with typically western music genres such as Hip Hop and western pop.

Korean Trot music and American Hip Hop has strong influences on the music in this genre.

Most KPOP performers are groups.


This genre also differs from regular pop genres because of technological aspect- almost all artists in kpop did not form a group or act and approach a record label, the artists are recruited as early teens and trained. The genre is very controlled and often every action an idol makes isn’t directly from said idol.

Idols have also been known to have a given personality, not their true self. The way this genre is distributed also differs from most pop genres. Outside Asia, this genre had been little known from it’s beginnings just after the Korean War.

Thanks to the internet and the ability to download mp3’s through services such as iTunes, the genre is gaining global success as well as exposure on sites such as YouTube – for example, Gangnam Style by PSY is KPOP and gained huge success through YouTube.

These technological aspects aren’t completely new to the music world. We’ve always had ‘manufactured groups/idols’ however in KPOP this is taken to another level. Every aspect of their life in the public eye is controlled. The idols have social network accounts, but most are strictly controlled and monitored by their company, everything they do has to be approved by those above them. Also to do with the technological aspects, the popularity that has spread through internet is also new – never before has the internet played such a huge role in music when over half the fanbase of KPOP music has to solely rely on the internet to deliver it.

Music such as Alternative Rock and metal gained exposure with the internet in the 90’s, however it was still based in and around their own country. Much of KPOP’s fanbase aren’t even Asian or from Asia.


A key innovator in the genre is Lee Soo Man, who founded one of the first major record labels in South Korea called ‘SM Entertainment’ – despite economic strains in the mid 90’s after the war. This kick started a new trend in music and gradually opened up the country to diversity and warming to other cultures that had previously been locked out of South Korea. This transformed popular music and formed what we now know as KPOP.


Early groups with a strong impact on the success of the genre are G.O.D, SechsKies, and H.O.T.

These groups made the genre popular with the new young generation as well as the older generation, transforming pop music of their country.

Groups today that have led the path to global success include BigBang, EXO, Girls Generation, and TVXQ.


A popular group in KPOP is Girls Generation (SNSD) who debuted under SM Entertainment in 2007. They are a nine member girl group who have released 8 albums and 4 EP’s. They’re a key group in the launch of KPOP to global success with proof through their wins at international award ceremonies such as their win of best music video at the YouTube awards over other artists such as Lady Gaga.



The two songs ‘Mr Mr’ by Girls Generation and ‘Fire’ by 2NE1 are both similar in many aspects. They are both KPOP – and both groups usually produce very different songs – but these two songs, reflecting the increase of American Influence on the genre, are similar – The song ‘Fire’ by 2NE1 – released 2010 under YG Ent. before this style of KPOP was popular – is of the KPOP genre, but unlike early songs of that genre, the Korean Trot elements are almost completely replaced by the American Hip Hop and Dance influences. The song is in Minor, and uses instruments such as Syn Saw Wave, Banjo, Fingered Bass, Syn Square Wave, Distortion Guitar, Syn Bass 1, and Acoustic Bass. The song is 120 beats per minute. 4/4 time signature… (or 8/8. Not sure). Polyphonic. Unlike SNSD, 2NE1 have always carried this style through in their music where as SNSD tend to change depending on popularity of certain elements at the time.


The song ‘Mr Mr’ by Girls Generation (SNSD) – released 2014 under SM Ent. – is a lot different from their typical music and reflects a recent change in the KPOP genre – it shows that the genre is moving out of it’s more well known typical ‘aegyo-cute’ themes and into typical American genre derived themes. Unlike 2NE1, SNSD were always a typical KPOP group and stick closely to trends in KPOP, where as 2NE1 are more eager to experiment with less popular styles of KPOP that weren’t popular in the past (hip-hop inspired, electronic, etc.)  This new song signifies a move in the genre towards these previously less popular styles that 2NE1 have been using since their debut. Their recent song ‘Mr Mr’ reflects that with their use of instruments such as Syn Brass 2, Syn Saw Wave, Fretless Bass, Violin, and Piano. While this song sticks closer to the KPOP genre than ‘Fire’ it still shows the change towards American music influences. 116 BPM. 4/4 time signature. Minor. Polyphonic melody.

Source(s): The comparison between the two comes in because they both use a similar balance of Synthesized sounds and traditional instruments, a similar tempo, and melody.


The song ‘Gee’ by Girls Generation is an Aegyo filled song from their earlier days. The song is fast paced at 240 BPM. It has an 8/8 time signature and uses instruments such as Bass and Chimes. The song is polyphonic. It shows a lot of typical kpop themes that aren’t as popular anymore. The song is in major.

In contrast, the song ‘Danger’ by BTS – the 2013 seven member boy group – make very different music. They’ve been met with relative success in the face of such a busy industry that releases over 60 groups a year. The song is 116 beats per minute, in the minor key, uses instruments such as an Electric Guitar and Syn Bass 1. Polyphonic Melody. They are strongly influenced as a group by American Hip-Hop culture and spent a lot of time training in American with artists and producers of similar genres. Their songs reflect this completely in the sense that they’re barely recognizable as KPOP. While both in the KPOP genre, the songs themselves contrast so much through the information above.

KPOP, however, isn’t solely defined through sound and focuses a lot of performance and delivery aspects too – the two songs are similar in their delivery and performance, both having made a typical music video with limited setting and the group performing in the sync. What they’re performing to, although same genre, couldn’t be any more different.


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