The Madeleine Brand Show for August 16, 2012

Is this K-Pop's moment?

Screenshot from PSY's video Gangnam Style

Screenshot from PSY's video for the song "Gangnam Style."

"Words cannot even describe how amazing this video is."
-T-Pain

"It's a gangnam style world, we are just living in it."
- Josh Groban

What are some of the world's biggest music stars tweeting about?

It's the new video by PSY, one of the veteran acts of Korean pop music, or K-Pop. YouTube views have topped 32 million.



The video features PSY doing a dance - it's reminiscent of riding a horse - in different parts of the Gangnam district of Seoul, a hub of ritzy bars and boutiques.

The many girl and boy bands that populate the K-Pop landscape have been trying to break into the U.S. market for years.

"No one expected PSY of all people, of all artists, to be that big breakout," said Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based talent agency for K-Pop artists.

That's because PSY is a chubby 34-year-old, considered ancient for a K-Pop idol. And he's come back from scandals that would have felled other stars, one involving him getting caught with marijuana, the other involving charges of avoiding mandatory military service.

Cho said PSY, who studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, is no "fluke by any standards."

"He's not only a singer, but also a composer and producer and songwriter as well," Cho said.

For his comeback video, PSY invited pop singer Hyuna to make a cameo. Hyuna had her own viral hit last year "Bubble Pop!" which combines frothy melodies with dubstep.

The song made "best of" lists by reviewers at SPIN and Pitchfork.

"They fell in love with the song," Cho said. "But I would say, they probably fell in love with her as well."

Also critically-acclaimed is the girl band 2NE1, which won "Best New Band" from MTV Iggy, the global music arm of MTV. This video for the single "I Am the Best" went onto pick up "Best New Artist" laurels at the MTV Japan awards.

Cho says that members of 2NE1 are comfortable speaking and singing in English and have a better shot of crossover success in the US and other international markets than K-Pop stars who are not fluent.

So, when will you hear K-Pop on your local Top-40 station?

Cho says that K-Pop stars are trying to make that happen by touring heavily in the US. 2NE1, for example, will perform in New Jersey and California later this month.

Guest:


Bernie Cho, President of DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based talent agency for K-Pop artists


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