Home Pop Music From Prickly to Nice: The Softening of Ok-pop

From Prickly to Nice: The Softening of Ok-pop

From Prickly to Nice: The Softening of Ok-pop


The Softening Of K-PopWith so a lot of this 12 months’s Bias Record critiques touching upon comparable themes, it looks as if an excellent time to pause and take inventory of the place we’re at in Ok-pop’s continued evolution.

Although there are at all times outliers, it’s potential to chart the trade’s development by way of a lot of musical tendencies – some transposed from exterior music markets and others homegrown. One of many greater tendencies of the previous few years revolved round what turned referred to as “noise music” – hulking, combative manufacturing with shout-chant choruses and cacophonous pots-and-pans percussion.

Not like different outstanding tendencies (trap-pop, synthwave, and so forth), this “noise music” motion felt like an invention of Ok-pop itself, throwing many components right into a blender to craft a uniquely Ok-pop sound that different music markets proceed to emulate. Possibly for this reason it caught round so lengthy the place different tendencies felt extra flash within the pan.

On the boy group aspect, NCT appear a probable genesis level for this fashion, with teams like Stray Youngsters and ATEEZ augmenting it for their very own makes use of. Relating to woman teams, ITZY’s spunky, attitude-infused bombast created a lane for a lot of others to observe.

As we enter a brand new technology of artists, we could also be witnessing this shouty noise-pop’s final gasps of dominance. Ok-pop will at all times churn out iterations of this fashion, however the previous 12 months has seen a seismic softening of the trade’s aesthetic.

“Subdued” is in.

We started to see this take form as synthwave and disco gave strategy to a reserved tackle metropolis pop, however it wasn’t till NewJeans debuted with a collection of summer time smashes that the shift actually started to dominate. “Subdued” is available in many flavors, drawing from genres as numerous as 90’s R&B, Y2K hip-hop and radio-friendly delicate rock. However general, it seems like Ok-pop is changing into quieter. Melody traces are flattening. EDM thumpers lose out to funky anti-drops. Showy vocals and theatrical, expansive preparations are few and much between. In spite of everything, they betray the easy cool that has caught the zeitgeist. It’s higher to ship two minutes of vibe sprinkled with one incessantly catchy, TikTok-ready hook than to try a multi-part pop opera with construct and climax.

So, why are we seeing this alteration? I believe the reply lies in many various aspects of the trade. Trendy Ok-pop has at all times been an export-driven artwork kind, however the previous few years have seen that export potential ramp as much as unimaginable ranges. Greater than ever, Ok-pop acts should enchantment to the widest swath of listeners as potential. These concessions have change into a serious tenant of pop music in our streaming age, however they’re particularly important of product meant to blast by way of cultural boundaries and boundaries. Inoffensive — or nice — music is at a premium, assured to hit as many various playlists as potential.

Although the comparability isn’t equivalent, we’ve seen an analogous softening of the pop star perfect in Western markets. Gone are the times when audiences crave larger-than-life characters who really feel unapproachable — even alien-like. With social media fully inseparable from the pop trade, it’s extra vital than ever for an artist — and by extension, their music — to really feel relatable. Few of us are virtuosic abilities, however we will all rattle off a breathy advert lib and execute some easy TikTok choreo.

Ok-pop is mired in an particularly distinctive place right here. It has lengthy been an trade constructed across the veneer of perfection. So, how do you translate that into relatability? Past Ok-pop’s thriving on-line selection infrastructure, I’d argue the best strategy to bridge this hole is with subdued sounds that really feel immediately approachable.

Now don’t get me mistaken. “Subdued” doesn’t robotically imply boring. Notable leaders of this pattern stuff their music with a kaleidoscope of fascinating rhythms and phrasing. A talented artist could make a coo or whisper as compelling as a battle cry. However as with every pattern, a military of copycats and knockoffs is sure to pull down the batting common.

For those who’ve been studying this weblog for any size of time, you already know the place my allegiances lie in all of this. Whereas subdued and nice will be pleasing – particularly as mood-setting background – it’s not often been my cup of tea in relation to pop music. I’m drawn to massive, maximalist tunes that really feel like fantasy… cathartic anthems with melodies as tall as skyscrapers. I don’t essentially need artists to be relatable or “identical to me.” I search pop gods and goddesses with boundless charisma and an onstage persona that feels nearly untouchable.

None of those features are mutually unique, however I’m unsure Ok-pop has but mastered its new mix of understated artifice. As with every pattern or style, it’s all about having a perspective – one thing idiosyncratic or memorable that transforms a knockoff into a reputation model. As we navigate Ok-pop’s subsequent strikes, I’ll proceed to seek for compelling melodies and dynamic manufacturing that pushes past the tasteless. And if composers wish to throw in a little bit of drama to appease followers like me, I wouldn’t refuse!



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