Blog: The Rise Of Asia Pop

The sleeping giant awakens      21/03/14

Lagrange Audio Writes:

If you are a European or North American reader then I have some bad news for you. You are not as significant as you thought you might be. In fact, based on population alone you are only a quarter as significant in the music world as perhaps you thought you might be. OK, let's calm down a little bit now, it's not as bad as all that. However based on sheer potential audience volumes alone there is one inescapable truth that is a direct reflection of the way global economies have changed in recent years.

To set the scene here no doubt you may be aware that countries like China have become economic powerhouses of late. Indeed the rise of this particular economy reflects on the growing economic strength of the South East Asian region broadly. Certainly in my home country, Australia, you would have to have you head buried in the sand not to realise the significance of this. The backbone of the Australian economy is so inextricably linked to this region that we can ill afford to ignore it.

A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a TV show syndicated to a national network here called 'Pop Asia', which essentially is an hour long hit parade of K-Pop and J-Pop tunes that happen to be the 'thing' for that week. Now while I confess the content wasn't exactly my go-to genre I was struck by the incredibly high production values and therefore investment that was being poured into this market. Much has been said about Stock, Aitken and Waterman (SAW) building their, quite honestly, factory production line techniques and applying them to any artist willing to subscribe to it.

What I see on shows like Pop Asia simply blows this idea out of the water and takes the approach to an almost ludicrous level. Now to be honest that sounds a little unfair but what is clear is that the market demands it. It is taken to a level where you might consider SAW to be pioneering in one respect but rank amateurs by comparison.

To put this into some sort of perspective and attempt to explain my opening statement, the rising economic expectations of the region has driven popular culture to levels that are sometimes unfathomable to those not familiar with it. Just on potential market size alone SE Asia commands levels something like four times that of both Europe and North America combined. In typical Asian style the efficiency at which content can not only be created but made available in mass distribution becomes an almost a self fulfilling prophecy in its own right.

The downside of course is that it leads to higher levels of disposal. K-Pop and J-Pop bands for example come and go very quickly. Most bands you may never see again, the one hit wonders are the norm, rather than the exception. Longevity is not the catch cry here and what is obvious is that the unseen producers rule in an environment where the fusion of music, broadcast and popular culture is never been more pronounced.


Even more news...

9 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Koshdukai    Said...

I would consider SMTOWN's f(x) as a big miss in that list :)

About 2NE1, I'm still stuck on their older songs :/

Anyway, other interesting (old/new) K-POP groups to add to the list are:

DickPunks, Ulala Session, J-Min, AOA and AOA BLACK variation, Crayon Pop, Turan, Stellar, TAHITI, etc...

A good source for these is KBS World TV's Music Bank show:

21-Mar-14 10:26 AM

San_pete    Said...

The doom of the occident (yawn) This type of music is created also here. Stock, Aktien and Waterman and today Simon Cowell. So if it was not from Japan nobody would give a damm about such music. It will be there and it will be there forever. The only intressting perspective on this topic is the producing and marketing machine of such Brands...ah... Bands.. ;-)

better talk about Ruyichi Sakamoto next time, ok?

21-Mar-14 12:14 PM

selercs    Said...

I thought Japan was always at the forefront of this. From big synth companies like Roland, Korg and Yamaha creating iconic machines with sounds used in all of modern western music (Yamaha DX7, Korg M1, Roland Jupiter, TR808, etc.

22-Mar-14 12:07 AM

gridsleep    Said...

It's a good thing that after fifty-five years on this planet I have come to accept that I am completely insignificant, so the news of this article is neither shocking nor a revelation nor an epiphany. My Winamp bookmarks have at least two dozen anime soundtrack streaming services listed. I've been listening to Japan pop since the '60s with Astro-boy and Speed Racer. If you're shocked, you're just really late to the party.

22-Mar-14 08:20 AM

Koshdukai    Said...

eheh, loved gridsleep's comment xD

Funny thing is that most recent K-POP hits are composed/produced by European composer groups/houses, so some of that gear still ends up in Europe anyway.

It's an endless spiral/loop of influences.

22-Mar-14 10:15 AM

yrag    Said...

Meh—I never liked 'manufactured acts' of any country, and I don't watch American Idol or listen to top 40 radio here in the US.

Since I like alternative, indie bands or trip-hop and downtempo acts, this story, though interesting, is hardly going to 'rock' my world.

22-Mar-14 06:04 PM

AndyB    Said...

Interesting article!

As a (UK based) longstanding fan of synth pop, I've got fairly seriously into J and KPop over the last few years. While a lot of music is 'manufactured', it's done with skill and aplomb, and the groups fronting the music embarass their Western equivalents when it comes to their training, skill and energy.

Look out for producers such as Yasutaka Nakata from Japan, who is a number-one-hit making genius (Perfume, Kyary, Capsule, Amy Suzuki and others), and Shinsadong Tiger from Korea whose cheezy synth disco is irrisistably addictive (T-ara, 4minute and others).

Live too, these acts impress immensely. I had the good fortune to see Perfume play live in Tokyo over Christmas... the technology and production value that goes into this sort of show surpasses anything I've seen in the UK.

This is definitely a genre that should be of interest to any synth fan - or indeed anyone into good pop music!

26-Mar-14 09:01 AM

Osohobo    Said...

Still waiting for the rise of c-pop

28-Mar-14 06:53 PM

kyrin    Said...

I would consider SMTOWN's f(x) as a big miss in that list :)

About 2NE1, I'm still stuck on their older songs :/

Anyway, other interesting (old/new) K-POP groups to add to the list are: DickPunks, Ulala Session, J-Min, AOA and AOA BLACK variation, Crayon Pop, Turan, Stellar, TAHITI, etc...

07-May-14 10:20 AM

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