Not Just Pretty Faces: K-pop Idols and Quiet Storm Masculinity

2PM_kpopluv

KPK Director Crystal S. Anderson writes about a different kind of masculinity in K-pop

“However, members of 2PM are more than pretty faces and fit bodies. Like many K-pop idol groups, 2PM is heavily influenced by R&B. While the group has its share of uptempo tracks, it is are also known for ballads informed by R&B vocals. Tracks like “Good Man” from the No. 5 (2015) album draws heavily from quiet storm”….Read the rest here!

Black Popular Music and K-pop

Black Popular Music and K-pop

dance-295134_1280

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

One of the major forces driving the appeal of K-pop around the globe is the music, but it seems to receive the least attention.  When commentators do turn their attention to K-pop, they recognize that it draws from a variety of musical genres and styles. But in making such generalizations, they often overlook the crucial influence of black popular music on K-pop.

Journalists and scholars tend to generalize the musical influences on K-pop. John Seabrook points to musical elements of K-pop without referring to any particular genre:  “The music features lush soundscapes made with the latest synths and urban beats. The hooks are often sung in English, and sometimes suggest a dance move.”  Others describe K-pop as a repository for the world’s musical talent. Jungbong Choi and Roald Maliangkay note the many hands were involved in the Girls’ Generation’s song, “I Got A Boy,” a track “‘crafted’ by composers from England, Norway, Sweden, and Korea” (4). This shows the global impact of transnational music production, but doesn’t tell us much about the type of music produced. Other scholars describe K-pop as generic “dance music.”  In their analysis of music chart data, Solee I. Shin and Lanu Kim coded top K-pop songs “dichotomously into .  .  . ‘hip-hop and dance’ (most representative of K-pop) and ‘others.'”  In doing so, they do not explain the criteria for characterizing a song as hip-hop or dance. As a result, K-pop is generally perceived to be a mixture of a variety of Western musical styles, with a heavy nod to dance music.

However, black popular music stands out as a significant influence on K-pop.   In a journal article, John Lie quotes Lee Soo Man, founder of SM Entertainment, one of the Big Three Korean entertainment agencies:  “South Korea has best consumed black music in Asia. Just as J-pop was built on rock, we made K-pop based on black music” (357). What does he mean by “black music”? It is often used to refer to a range of music genres developed mostly, but not exclusively, by black people, initially, but not solely, for black audiences. Academics and critics alike have tackled the topic of black music through several publications, including Amiri Baraka‘s influential work Black Music, Mark Anthony Neal‘s What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture, James HaskinsBlack Music in America: a History Through Its People and Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby‘s African American Music: An Introduction. Black music is a thing.

While some people may mean all music produced only by black people, many mean genres of black popular music defined by certain elements; one could say they refer to genres that bear a black musical aesthetic.  For example, the hallmarks of R&B music include a unique use of vocals and/or distinct uses of rhythm. Richard Rischar describes the difference between white and black pop singers in their use (or failure to use) certain vocal elements:

Compared to white pop singing of the same period (such as Bryan Adams, Wilson Phillips [a vocal trio], Madonna, Celine Dion, George Michael, Meat Loaf, Taylor Dayne, and Michael Bolton), vocal ornamentation (as somewhat distinct from timbre, intensity (belting to breathy), and other performance aspects) seemed to be more primary to the expression of feeling in African-American pop. (408)

Similarly, the rhythm structure that still undergirds much of pop music can be traced back to musical innovations at Motown. Jon Fitzgerald argues that Motown songwriters introduced “a new style of mainstream popular song–thoroughly based in gospel and conceiving of song structure in an innovative way, where the hidden architecture supporting the melodic/lyric hook is now primarily rhythmic” (8).

When fans listen to K-pop, they hear elements of a range of black popular music genres, including R&B, funk, black pop, soul, disco, house and techno (yes, house and techno originated in black musical communities).  When writers elide the musical influences of K-pop to general dance music, they erase K-pop’s rich genealogical relationship with black popular music and repeat what has happened with black popular music and other music genres. Essentially Eclectic makes the point that the influence of black music was erased by music journalists in the 1960s and 1970s:  “As music writing developed into a platform for academic critique in the ’60s, with magazines such as Rolling Stone, Cream and Crawdaddy all discussing music as a serious art form, black music was pushed aside in favor of the supposed complexities of rock. . . . That white music was rock/metal and black music was soul/funk was a common generalisation in the music press of the ’60s and ’70s. Many musicians of both races abhorred this.”

The same seems to be happening with the characterization of K-pop as general dance music  If we look at Osman Khan‘s interactive infographic that visualizes the evolution of Western dance music, you see just how many black musical genres inform the dance music that many use to describe K-pop.  It’s only until the 1960s that dance music emerges from the United States and Caribbean, beyond black musical genres like disco, funk, old R&B, jazz, blues and soul. In the mid-1980s, we see the emergence of house from Chicago and techno from Detroit, before it goes on to influence Germany’s trance and breakbeat from the UK.

To argue that K-pop is greatly influenced by black popular music is not to say that K-pop is merely imitative of black popular music.  While European producers like Pelle Lidell may be heavily involved in the process of producing K-pop, ultimately, K-pop is produced by Koreans who leave their mark musically.  Many fans of K-pop say they like it because the songs are catchy, and Gil-Sung Park notes that Korean producers are responsible for that: “SM acquires samples of universal musical content from Europe and the United States and then modifies them into a unique SM composition that is not yet globally universal, but has the potential to become the next global norm” (24).

At the same time, K-pop producers have demonstrated that they are clearly students of black popular music. Producers like Yoo Young Jin and Jin Young Park reflect their familiarity with black popular music in their own music.

This is significant, because being able to authentically participate in the legacy of black popular music is not something that everyone can do or has done.   Roberta Freund Schwartz recalls that critics of British R&B complained about the inability of British vocalists to capture the unique sound of black vocalists (140). Richard Ripani notes that because of the difficulty involved in emulating the uniqueness of R&B vocals, “it has remained difficult . . . for any person outside the African-American community to produce an acceptable black vocal style” (190). However, we see K-pop groups often feature singers who can sing R&B vocals, as well as Korean R&B solo vocalists.

More discussion of the actual music of K-pop will allow us to understand the complex interplay between Korean and African American musical cultures.

Sources

Choi, JungBong and Roald Maliangkay. “Introduction: Why Fandom Matters to the International Rise of K-pop.” K-pop: the International Rise of the Korean Music Industry. Ed. Jungbong Choi and Roald Maliangkay. New York: Routledge, 2015. 1-18.

Fitzgerald, Jon. “Motown Crossover Hits 1963-1966 and the Creative Process.” Popular Music 14.1 (1995): 1-11.

Lie, John. “What is the K in K-pop?: South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity.” Korea Observer 43.3 (2012): 339-363.

Park, Gil-Sung. “Manufacturing Creativity: Production, Performance and Dissemination of K-pop.” Korea Journal 53.4 (2013): 14-33.

Ripani, Richard J. The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2006).

Rischar, Richard. “A Vision of Love: An Etiquette of Vocal Ornamentation in African-American Popular Ballads of the Early 1990s.” American Music 22.3 (2004): 407-443.

Seabrook, John. “Factory Girls: Cultural Technology and the Making of K-pop.” The New YOrker. Web. 8 Oct 2012. Evernote. 10 Jun 2013.

Shin, Solee I. and Lanu Kim. “Organizing K-pop: Emergence and Market Making of Large Korean Entertainment Houses, 1980-2010.” East Asia. DOI 10.1007/s12140-013-9200-0.

“What is ‘black music’? How are race and identity conveyed in the music media?” Essentially Eclectic. N.d. Web. 24 Jul 2015.

Video

Yoo Young Jin – Unconditional Kismet” YouTube. 19 Jun 2012. Web. 25 Jul 2015. 

“You’re The One – JYP [ LYRICS HD ].” YouTube. 20 Jun 2012. Web. 25 Jul 2015.

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Black Popular Music and K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Fan Commentary: Nostalgia and Fly to the Sky

Fan Commentary: Nostalgia and Fly to the Sky
Fly to the Sky
Fly to the Sky

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

As their 2014 comeback shows, Fly to the Sky (FTTS) remains a potent force in K-pop, even after a five-year hiatus. However, even before the rumors of a comeback, the group was ever-present in the minds of fans, who recalled Fly to the Sky’s emotional impact and place in K-pop history.

A review of 361 YouTube comments posted between 2006 and 2011 on videos uploaded to YouTube show a lingering sense of nostalgia for the group.  These comments appeared on uploaded videos for “Day By Day” (music video), “Sea of Love” (performance and music video), “Condition of the Heart” (music video, performance and audio), “Missing You” (music video, performance and audio) and “Habit” (performance).

Some still associate even veteran K-pop groups with American boy bands from the 1990s.  Most frequently, viewers compare Fly to the Sky to the Backstreet Boys (BSB). bgurl1210 explains:

vujonny89 stated that FTTS are the Korean version of BSB. And ForeverJunjin wondered y she or he chose BSB rather than NSYNC. I was explaining that being compared to BSB is a compliment. NSYNC was never really praised for the outstanding vocal abilities. They were more known for their dance songs than their vocal abilities. IMO, JC was the strongest singer of the group. BSB is considered by many as a true vocal/a capella group and have been praised for them. That’s what I mean.

However, other commentators reflect a more emotional attachment to the group that they associate with the past. Sometimes, such nostalgia relates to how long one has been a fan and the length of FTTS’s career.  hyegyo1 writes: “THE song [Missing You] that made me a FTTS fan and brought me into K-pop way back then… Am forever in love with this song and this duo.” Similarly, Amy L writes: “Miss them. I’m just looking forward to Hwany finishing his military service and FTTS releasing their new album. I’ve been a huge fan of them for more than 7 years, and I will always be their big supporter. Love you guys.” These are sentiments of long-time fans of the group, who follow their activities even during periods of inactivity. Other comments relate the group’s emotional impact in terms of personal memories related to FTTS’s music. Jenny Leem relates: “Wah. I finally found it [MIssing You]. My parents used to play this song when we went on road trips and I didn’t know its name or who it was by I just really loved the song… But I found it! I’m so happy ^^”

In addition to nostalgia, fans also recognize FTTS as a pioneer in K-pop and an influence on newer K-pop groups. Beating the odds that befall many K-pop idol groups, such as the so-called “five-year curse,” where male groups would disband or be dissolved by agencies in the light of mandatory military service, FTTS’s decade-long career is also reflected in its impact on other K-pop groups.

Their songs have been covered by a variety of K-pop groups and singers. These covers not only show the group’s lasting impact, but also the way they bring new fans to FTTS. Perhaps owing to the time FTTS spend on the label, SM Entertainment artists tend to cover their songs frequently. Yesung of Super Junior and Jonghyun of SHINee covered Fly to the Sky songs at the SM Town concert in Los Angeles in 2010. MissAshleyCakes notes how the cover of FTTS’s “Sea of Love” changed her perception of the group: “If Yesung and Jonghyun wouldn’t have sang this song at the SM TOWN concert in LA I would have NEVER found this song! I was never a big fan of Fly To the Sky. I only knew 1 song by them.. But now that I’ve heard this song by them, I love them! They are an amazing band! BRIAN<3.”  D.O of EXO and Ryeowook of Super Junior, covered Fly to the Sky’s “Missing You” during the SM Town show in Seoul in 2014, as well as on the Sukira radio show in 2013. haz reen writes: “I was looking for the original version of this song . And here I am. Big thanks to D.O and Ryeong who brought me here. I love both version ok.” Other artists cover Fly to the Sky songs as well. K-pop male group ZE:A, with the Star Empire Entertainment agency, performed Fly to the Sky’s “Missing You” live on MBC in 2014.  “Missing You” was chosen for performance as part of The Voice of Korea television show.

With frequent criticisms that K-pop is a fad or a passing trend, such comments during Fly to the Sky’s inactive period shows how fans feel a sense of nostalgia for K-pop groups. FTTS emerges as a foundation Korean R&B group, one that fans refer to with nostalgia and as elders to more contemporary idol groups.

Image: “Fly to the Sky (Soompi),” Hallyu Harmony, accessed April 20, 2015, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/452.

Sources

bgurl1210, comment on theaptidah, “Fly to the Sky – Sea of Love,” YouTube, June 20, 2006, http://youtu.be/CtkQ1F_Xe5c.

hyegyo1, comment on uws, “Fly to the Sky – Missing You (Live),” YouTube, May 26, 2006, http://youtu.be/JrNLbMAK-kk.

Amy L, comment on doolielove, “Fly To The Sky- Day by Day,” YouTube, January 6, 2009, http://youtu.be/uFhubvJhCKE.

Jenny Leem, comment on uws, “Fly to the Sky – Missing You (Live),” YouTube, May 26, 2006, http://youtu.be/JrNLbMAK-kk.

MissAshleyCakes, comment on theaptidah, “Fly to the Sky – Sea of Love,” YouTube, June 20, 2006, http://youtu.be/CtkQ1F_Xe5c.

haz reen, comment on Kuiskaava, “[DL] Fly To The Sky – Missing You,” YouTube, January 13, 2011, http://youtu.be/tWTq_PMXfBE.

 

Ethnicity, Glamour and Image in Korean Popular Music

Lee Hyori, Promo image, Monochrome
Lee Hyori, Promo image, Monochrome

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Elon University

The 1960s girl group concept makes regular appearances in K-pop.  While some think that this kind of image represents a lack of ethnic identity in a quest for mainstream acceptance, I suggest that the 1960s girl group image promoted by women of color represents an ethnic glamour aesthetic.

Contemporary K-pop is driven by image as well as music.  Part of this has to do with its emergence along with rising technologies like the music video and the Internet, which “generate[d] a condition of possibility of reaching a mass audience outside of national borders,” and resulted in photogenic performers as part of appealing images (Lie, 353, 356). This is similar to rhythm and blues-inflected pop music of the 1960s. Gerald Early notes that technology contributed to this music becoming an “artifact,” in part because television distributed the music as well as an image (60, 62).

K-pop agencies, like SM Entertainment, carefully craft the images of K-pop artists for concepts. This is part of the training process, which also includes language instruction, choreography and hosting practice.  This also contributes to criticisms that such preening in the quest for audience acceptance diminishes the presence of ethnic culture.   John Lie argues that contemporary K-pop lacks Korean culture:  “As a matter of traditional culture, there is almost nothing ‘Korean’ about K-pop” (360). Motown acts under Berry Gordy also received similar kinds of training and, were subject to similar criticisms.   Nelson George defines Gordy’s project as assimilationist in nature, where “white values were held up as primary role models” and as a result, “blacks lost contact with the uniqueness of their people, and with their own heritage” (xii). For George and Lie, mainstream appeal translates into a loss of ethnic culture.

When K-pop adopts the 1960s retro look for female artists through chic hairstyles and dresses with eye-catching prints or dazzling sequins and fur reminiscent of The Supremes, I suggest that it partakes of a model of ethnic glamour established by black girl groups.  Brian Ward characterizes Gordy’s quest for mainstream success as one  predicated on challenging prevailing notions about American blacks:   “Gordy felt [the training] might make them more acceptable to white America and an expanding black middle class for whom mainstream notions of respectability remained important” (266).  The aspiration was felt by blacks, even those not in the middle class:  “The spangled pursuit of success carried no stigma among black fans who had routinely been denied equal opportunity to compete for the financial rewards of the mainstream” (Ward, 267).   This is key, because it shows the importance of how viewers read such images. Cynthia Cyrus argues that even though the images of girl groups of the 1960s were  well-managed and carefully crafted, they nevertheless resonated positively with fans:   “The girl group images offer affirmative messages about what it means to be female, messages about belonging, about possibilities for participation, about the possibility of success. . . . The role of the viewer is central to creating meaning, and the girl group fan engaged actively in dialogue with the images placed before here” (190-1).

The Kim Sisters
The Kim Sisters

Just as black fans interpreted those images of black women as positive, Korean women like the Kim Sisters, styled in the same way, represent a glamourous  ethnic, in this case, Korean, experience to aspire to.  Ian Kim writes:   “For a Korean American like me, who grew up in parts of the US where I was the only Asian kid in school, it’s pretty astonishing to discover Korean performers who were successful in the US such an early time. Even more impressive is that they sang in English.”  The Kim Sisters’ images and participation in the entertainment world in the United States functioned as an alternative to the realities of the aftereffects of the Korean War and American military presence. San Byun-Ho remembers:  “After the Korean War, the Korean situation was the worst in the world; we were one of the poorest countries, like the Congo or somewhere like that. The country was devastated. A lot of people died” (Forsyth). Just like images of 1960s black girl groups, such images of the Kim Sisters represent an image of ethnic aspiration.

Contemporary fans may see retro images in K-pop, like those by Lee Hyori and the Wonder Girls, as drawing from a visual discourse of ethnic glamour.  The measure of the impact of the image should also be measured by those who make meaning out of it.  These images matter precisely because they show Koreans in a glamorous context that also acknowledges their ethnicity.   As the Vintage Black Glamour  Tumblr and forthcoming book suggest, images of ethnic glamour still resonate today.  Nichelle Gainer says that any image she chooses has to have “a certain style to it, a certain beauty” and that she includes information about the photo because “I want people to know you’re not looking at some anonymous random person” (Brown).  Given the frequency that the 1960s concept recurs in K-pop, ethnic glamour still matters.

Wonder Girls, Nobody Concept, 2008
Wonder Girls, Nobody Concept, 2008

Images: 1, 2, 3

Sources

Brown, Tanya Ballard.  “‘Vintage Black Glamour’ Exposes Little-Known Cultural History.” The Picture Show – Photo Stories from NPR. NPR . 12 Oct 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2014.

Cyrus, Cynthia J.  “Selling an Image: Girl Groups of the 1960s.” Popular Music 22.2 (2003): 173-193.

Early, Gerald. One Nation Under a Grove: Motown and American Culture. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.

Forsyth, Luc.  “Korea’s Stressed Masses.” Groove Korea20 Aug 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2014.

Kim, Ian. “The Kim Sisters.” Ian Kim. 23 Jan 2014. Web. 28 Jan 2014.

Lie, John.  “What is the K in K-pop?: South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity.” Korea Observer 43.3 (2012): 339-363.

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Ethnicity, Glamour and Image in Korean Popular Music by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Who Does Speak on K-pop?: A Survey for U.S. Fans of K-pop

Audience at KPK's presentation at KPOPCON 2013; Photo credit: Kaetrena Davis Kendrick
Audience at KPK’s presentation at KPOPCON 2013; Photo credit: Kaetrena Davis Kendrick

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Elon University

Last week, I wrote a piece, Who Can Speak For K-pop, for my public blog, High Yellow and received a huge response.  As I suspected, there are a variety of fans in the United States whose voices are not being heard in the larger discussions of K-pop. In order to capture those opinions, my iFans project has added a new survey!  U.S. K-pop Fan Study seeks to understand the attitudes and opinions of all K-pop fans in the United States, but especially African American, Asian American and U.S. Latino fans. In other words, it is the first academic survey that wants to understand the K-pop experience of U.S. fans of color.  To take the survey, click here. Tell your friends!

CFP: K-POP AND K-DRAMA FANDOMS

CFP: K-POP AND K-DRAMA FANDOMS

Special issue of Journal of Fandom Studies

Guest Editors: Crystal S. Anderson and Doobo Shim

This special issue responds to the well-established and global subculture of fans of Korean popular music (K-pop) and Korean television drama (K-drama). K-pop and K-drama are the products of Hallyu, a cultural movement from Korea directed towards the global stage that originated in the late 1990s.  Recent global successes of Korean artists such as Psy, Girls Generation, 2NE1 and BigBang as well as K-drama actors such as Lee Min Ho and Jang Geun Suk represent only a portion of the vibrant and diverse fandom.  This special issue seeks to examine the uniqueness of K-pop and K-drama fandoms and their contribution to global fandom scholarship.

Continue reading “CFP: K-POP AND K-DRAMA FANDOMS”

iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom

IFansOmekalogo

IFANS: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom is a scholarly research project that examines global fan attitudes and activities through surveys, collection of information on online communities and analysis of websites.  Crystal S. Anderson, PhD (Elon University) is the Principal Investigator of the studies and Curator of the iFans project site.

Continue reading “iFans: Mapping Kpop’s International Fandom”

Can’t Stop Loving You: Fans Find Happiness, Solace in K-pop

eurokpopfans
European Kpop Fans

By Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Elon University (U.S.)

Whether it’s excited yelling by fans or crying by K-pop artists, emotions run deep in K-pop.  While some focus on obsessive emotional attachments and behaviors by fans, research shows that fans themselves describe a range of emotional responses to K-pop.  100 responses by 18- to 30-year-olds show that fans find K-pop to be a source of happiness, hope and motivation.  These responses are part of a five-year study on international fans of K-pop housed at KPK: Kpop Kollective.

Some writers tend to characterize fan activities and emotional expressions in negative terms. Patricia of Seoulbeats describes emotional expressions of appreciation for K-pop as bordering on obsessive: “I think there’s something to be said about my stance on the emotional toll that idol fandom takes on its devotees. That’s why I become so alarmed when I see these SHINee fans writing these intense emotional outpourings about how SHINee has changed their lives, or how much SHINee means to them. It breaks my heart to hear fans say that they turn to K-pop as a distraction for real life because their friends and family can’t offer them the same comfort that K-pop idols do.”

Adeline Chia writes that such emotions translate into obsessive behaviors:  “Then there is K-pop’s effects on listeners. It turns functional people into crazed addicts, acting in robotic idolatry. . . . K-pop is also unique in inspiring extreme behaviour from fans and generating psychosis. Cyber-bullying and online smear campaigns are common practices by anti-fans who target a certain entertainer they hate.  Sometimes, anti-fans turn into stalkers or criminals.”

Can't Stop Loving You Infographic (Detail)
Can’t Stop Loving You Infographic (Detail)

To view entire “Can’t Stop Loving You” infographic, click here.

However, fans talk about the emotional appeal of K-pop in more positive terms.  Some talk about overall emotions that go beyond the lyrics.   One notes, “Kpop has the power to touch people even for those like me who don’t understand the lyrics. I think [it] is the r[h]ythm, the emotion in the voices, the dances. Kpop is like a best friend, it is here for you whenever you are happy or sad. Powerful stuff.”   Another said:  “The music is more touching and you can feel the emotions of the singers when they sing regardless of what genre.”  Others link emotions to performances:  “They sing and perform with passion and emotions, so even if you can’t really understand the lyrics you will get to know what it’s about by just listening. Kpop is not just another type of music it’s much more, that I can’t describe it with words” (Anderson).

These responses echo what scholars have discovered about emotional responses to music that transcend cultural differences.  In a study with Western listeners listening to Hindustani ragas, Laura-Lee Balkwill and William Forde Thompson find that it is possible for music to travel cross-culturally:  “According to our model, this indicates that the psychophysical cues for joy, sadness, and anger were salient enough to enable listeners to overcome their unfamiliarity with culture-specific cues and to make an accurate assessment of the intended emotion. . . . That naive listeners demonstrated such a high level of agreement with expert listeners, who were deeply familiar with the culture-specific cues embedded in the music samples, is remarkable” (58).  In other words, listeners from other cultures can identify emotionally with music of a different culture, and this may shed light on why global fans identify with K-pop emotionally.

This emotional response runs the gamut. Many respondents describe how they find K-pop to be fun and happy.  One notes, “Cause the music is always so free and fun to dance to. It simply makes me happy.”  Another adds, “The songs are really refreshing, and listening to it puts me in a happy mood because of their lyrics and beats.”  Other respondents link the happiness they feel from K-pop to their lives in general:  “It always puts me in a good mood and makes me feel energized. Kpop sometimes can make you feel like your part of something bigger. It’s hard to explain but the feeling it gives you is great” (Anderson).

Others related K-pop to more somber emotions.  One respondent says, “Because it’s very different and the music touches something in me, I mean this is not superficial, there are feelings in every song, this could be happiness or some sad feelings.”  Another notes, “When I listen to sad songs I find that it have feelings in it and it will touched me too.”  One says, “There’s an upbeat to the music that sometimes make you want to dance other times depending on where you heard it from makes you sad” (Anderson).

Some fans talk about how K-pop helps them through hard times.  One respondent notes, “It was introduced to me at a hard time in my life and it has been the only music I listened to help me get through it.”  Another says, “Kpop appeared in my life all of a sudden. I was really depressed back then and it helped me get out of my miserable state, pulled me out of the worst” (Anderson). Music can have the therapeutic effect these respondents describe. Annemiek Vink explains therapy methods, such as Guided Imagery in Music, which is “based on the assumption that the most appropriate music can be selected for healing purposes.”  She further finds that the choice of music impacts the therapeutic results of GIM:   “In all aspects, carefully selected music based on the person’s preference and personal background was far more effective than standard relaxation music” (153, 154).

This range of fairly positive emotions challenges negative characterizations of their emotional expression.  These responses come from adults rather than young teenagers, so it is less convincing to describe them as obsessive along the lines of Chia.  She refers to incidents involving K-pop celebrities, but respondents speak about their emotions mostly in relation to the music. When they do comment on the artists, it is often in terms of the positive relationship they have with fans.  One notes, “The singers are so dedicated to their music and their fans. They put their real emotion into every word” (Anderson).

This emotional connection that some K-pop fans feel also translates into a discourse of protection, the desire to protect their group or artist from mischaracterizations.  The Triple S Pledge encourages fans of SS501 “To support and shield them through hard times…To ignore rumors.” The same sentiments can be seen in the “Prom15e to Bel13ve and 10ve” philosophy held by some fans of Super Junior, which acknowledges every member regardless of current status or sub-group membership.

These findings suggest that emotion plays a role in the attitudes and opinions of adult global K-pop fans, often in a positive way.

Images

Anderson, Crystal.  Infographic. “Can’t Stop Loving You.” 14 Dec 2012. Web.

European Kpop Fans. Digital Image. WeHeartIt. Originally posted on european-kpop-fans.blogspot.com.  14 Dec 2012.  http://weheartit.com/entry/29104058

Sources
Anderson, Crystal S.  “Data Set: Hallyu Kpop Survey 2 and Kpop Kollective KiFs Survey 2, 18- to 30 Year Olds.”  Korean Popular Music International Fanbases Project. 29 Apr 2011 – 15 Apr 2012.

Balkwill, Laura-Lee and William Forde Thompson. “A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Perception of Emotion in Music: Psychophysical and Cultural Cues.” Music Perception 17. 1 (1999): 43-64.

Chia, Adeline.  “Sick Cult of K-pop.” Originally published on Straits Times. 8 Dec 2011. SGSJELFs & SupershowSG. Web. 8 Dec 2012. http://sgsjelfs.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/sick-of-k-pop-cult-by-adeline-chia-of-straits-times/

Patricia. “Fans Love Oppa, But Oppa Is Uncomfortable With Such Feelings.” 24 May 2011. Seoulbeats. Web. 8 Dec 2012. http://seoulbeats.com/2011/05/fans-love-oppa-but-oppa-is-uncomfortable-with-such-feelings/

TS Pledge. Triple S: The States. Web. 8 Dec 2012. http://triplesstates.blogspot.com/p/about-triples.html

Vink, Annemiek. “Music and Emotion.” Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 10.2 (2001): 144-158.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License