Since the success of Psy and his viral hit “Gangnam Style”, a number of new wannabe music moguls in, especially, Greater China, have started re-looking at the industry with rose colored glasses, dreaming of making a quick buck with new acts in tow sold on these pipe dreams and pie in the sky thinking.
The quick fix thinking, business and marketing “strategy” is always the same: Psy is K-Pop, so “all we need” is another Psy and more K-Pop. And this is where these people should all should come to a screeching halt: Gangnam Style is as K-Pop as chop suey is Chinese and Psy is as Korean as Tom Jones. Psy might be Korean-born, but he was educated in the States, lives in the States and how Gangnam Style happened is open to interpretation: Fluke or a very shrewd, calculated marketing move aided and abetted by viral marketing given a financial and “views” leg up just as most overnight successes happen today?
Nothing at all wrong with any of this and which plays on trends and how the media and consumer-driven social media can be more important than any other form of mainstream media which jumps on trends as opposed to creating them. And Psy and his Gangnam Style is a consumer-marketed success- with, I think quite a smart leg up when it came to gaining those initial YouTube views.It had to have without this initial leg up and now hitting close to a billion views is extraordinary in its numbers.
As for those jumping on this K-Pop and Gangnam Style bandwagons, instead of rushing to form new bands with Hello Kitty girls with pink hair, starched frocks, knee socks and making them look like something outta a Japanese porno movie, stop and think what this has to do with Psy and his one track and whether in this cyclical world of music and trends, this is very simply to do with timing and a 21st Century version of Chubby Checker and The Twist.
Like Psy, Chubby Checker came outta nowhere with a song by Hank Ballard Jr that introduced a dance called The Twist and with the artist trading on this trend until the twist became mangled and was replaced by the Beatles. It remains to be seen how Psy follows up his Horsey Dance and if it will be more of the same from the same production line and if consumers will want a second bite of the same cherry or whether Psy takes to the reality television route.What is also interesting to see is who from the States comes out to manage or turn him into a judge on a television talent show. Who just said, Simon Cowell?
As for these people auditioning cutesy girls and guys in countries outside of Korea to be baby Gangnams and K-Poppers, why bother? K-Pop was born and manufactured like a Samsung product devoid of any human element in Korea. It followed the mechanical manipulations and cosmetically enhanced of J-Pop over a decade earlier and which came outta Japan.
Does anyone want a Hong Kong or Taiwanese or Mainland China version of K-Pop? I very much doubt it plus Taiwan, especially, has some great original talent being completely ignored by bad A&R people with cauliflower ears whereas for all the talk about China’s “Indie scene”, I have heard most of these “indie” bands and they are mediocre at best, frighteningly funny despite the hype with bloody awful musicianship. If not for The Made In China brand, no one would bother with them.If only The Made In The Philippines brand would work as well for the in incredible talent out there- the original talent and not the copyists who end up in hotel lounges.
As for China, no matter what anyone says, it will never ever be a music market except for fat cats from mainly Hong Kong making millions, hand over fist, through touring with their hairstylists and wardrobe changes. Meanwhile, what can one say about the music from Hong Kong? It’s still stuck in nowhere land, the media still goes to quasi celebs like Wong Chi Chung who are still playing at being “rock pundits” and the music- if one can call it that- plays second fiddle to hairstyles and their contrived lifestyles.
As for Hong Kong trying to ape K-Pop artists and bands? Okay, some hybrid like the real-life twins called AOA happens- and then what?
What does AOA do to get ahead? Tour? Go on television? Make a music video? And THEN what? Record a duet with Snoop Dogg or whatever he’s called today? Didn’t the girl group manufactured here called Blush do that? And then what happened to their career? It stalled. Still, I wish AOA the best of K-Pop luck though I think this video is bloody weird.
A friend was talking to me the other day about the over-supply of restaurants and bars and how so many were trying to be what they are not and the gullibility and snob appeal of Hong Kong consumers. Give Hong Kong a so-called five star restaurant, pay for an éxpat chef and manager or manageress and it will probably succeed. It’s all about face- and a white face and the gift of the gab still sells almost anything.
Tired of seeing this happen for too long, my friend wants to start up an upmarket chow fan aka fried rice and dim sum restaurant and make it completely all- Hong Kong.
Perhaps, this is where Hong Kong music should also head: To its roots and capture what Hong Kong is through music and visuals.
Forget about trying to be Foo Fighters or Radiohead or Sigur Ros. Or Gangnam anything.
Forget about trying to be a badass rapper talking about bitches and hos when being a rich kid living with the folks in Repulse Bay. Or a Gangnam rapper- whatever that might be.
Especially in music, imitation is not the highest form of flattery. It’s a cheap cop out and bound to fail.
Try starting from scratch and realize that music alone is, sadly in some ways, is not enough.
Without a business plan in place, even the greatest song will get lost amongst the clutter.
And let’s face it: Psy and Gangnam Style is little to do with music and everything to do with extremely clever marketing.