K-pop gains popularity in American pop-culture

Jessica GuerrucciReporter

With BTS being the first Korean pop presenters at the 2019 Grammy Awards, one could say KPOP is slowly becoming more popular in America.

For some students though, this isn’t the first time that they have heard of KPOP. Kessiah-Ali Powell-Keyton, a psychology major, said she loves BTS and was excited to see the band preform.

“I thought it was really awesome, especially since a lot of people don’t know much about KPOP or the Korean music industry to begin with, so for them to come here and preform, I thought it was really cool,” said Powell-Keyton.

Katerina Varsos, an anthropology major, said BTS’s performance at the Grammys was both a step forward and a step back.

“I don’t think it’s the right time, to be honest, with where our country is. I hate getting political but the amount of xenophobic comments I’ve gotten just because I’m into KPOP has gotten over the top,” said Varsos.

The Grammys is sometimes thought to not show much diversity.

Justin Garcia, an exercise science major, who is involved with the multicultural center, said the Grammys could have been more inclusive of other ethnicities.

“It is not really representing the whole ethnic scale, in terms of Latin based music, and Korean pop, and just other ethnicities that aren’t represented within the Grammys,” said Garcia.

However, Garcia said BTS’s performance exposed people to music from different parts of the world, and he hopes that in future Grammys there will be more of it.

On the other hand, Naima Morst, a communications major, said the Grammys only included BTS for money.

“I don’t think it was necessarily to bring more exposure, but kind of like a move or marketing strategy to get the money that you need to keep being profitable,” said Morst.

While KPOP is becoming more popular in the U.S, people still have misconceptions of what it is. Morst said people do not take the time to learn about the culture behind the music.

“Whenever I mention KPOP or anime or anything like that they first think cartoons, then they think cartoon music, and they think like pink things, and bubbles and stuff, and somehow chopsticks which is completely two different things,” said Morst.

Varsos also said people aren’t aware there is more to KPOP than just BTS. She said there are different genres, including her favorite band, The Rose, which has a British alternative style.

In terms of how they are different from American groups, Varsos said KPOP groups are more talented and classically trained. “They’re trained anywhere between six months, and I remember in one of the most recent groups one of the guys had trained for five years, in dancing, singing, and rap,” said Varsos.

Despite the talent amongst these bands, Powell-Keyton said a reason people are not getting into KPOP is because the music is primarily in a different language.

“I think the only issue is that since they do most of the time speak and sing in Korean, a lot of people don’t understand and don’t want to take the time to look at the subtitles or the learn the language,” said Powell-Keyton.

Powell-Keyton said having BTS perform on the Grammys did help bridge the gap and will help people become more knowledgeable about what KPOP is.

“We’re known on their side for hip-hop, R&B, rock–they know our music, so I think it was a good contributor to try and break our break our gap with them,” said Powell-Keyton, “so then they can come over here and people can get familiar with their music.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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