The rise of Asian celebrities in recent years has really awakened the dreams of teenagers, dreams they never thought they had. And all of a sudden, a middle school student who once dreamed of becoming a prominent figure in the medical world or a national athlete, can be found practicing their singing and dancing and auditioning to well-known entertainment labels.
The influence of these idols had really made teenagers realized that they want to be celebrities, that they want to sing and dance on stage and they want to shine like a star. We can’t blame them, of course. When you’ve been infatuated with these idols and the way they are living their life, you’d want to become one too!
Two of the most famous idol industries and their music genre are the KPop (Korean Pop) and JPop (Japanese pop). And they have been making their mark since the 1990s. As ever-rising industries that have survived the worst and best of time, it really makes us wonder? Which of these two can be considered the best of the best?
Definition: JPop and Kpop
JPop, an abbreviation for Japanese pop, is a music genre that entered the premise of mainstream music in Japan in the 1990s. Modern JPop stemmed from traditional Japanese music but the famous rock and pop bands of the 1960s, such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys, have a huge influence which ultimately led to Japanese rock bands to fuse with Japanese music in the 1970s.
Eventually, the term JPop took over the Japanese music industry, replacing “kayōkyoku”, which means Lyrics Singing Music, the term used for Japanese pop music in the 1920s to 1980s. Later on, the term “JPop” was coined by Japanese media, as a way to distinguish Japanese music from foreign ones. In the present, it is used to refer to most of Japan’s famed music.
KPop stands as an abbreviation for Korean pop and is the music genre used to described songs originating from South Korea. KPop is influenced by a lot of other music genres, such as rock, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, folk, and country. Other than that, it also rooted in classical and traditional Korean music.
This particular music genre really took off in the formation of one of the first idol groups, Seo Taiji and Boys, in 1992. Their experiment with various music genres and integrating foreign music elements shaped and modernize South Korea’s music scene.
Differences: JPop vs. KPop
If you search the “Jpop vs. Kpop” keyword on the Internet, you’d be surprised to find that there are numerous forums and articles often comparing the two and stating their notable differences.
Despite being in the same music industry and has the same concept of debuting and producing idol groups, it might be surprising to find out the stark difference between the two.
In KPop, it is widely known that the training life is no easy feat. Do you want to debut as an artist? You have to work 1000 times more than your fellow trainees. And keep in mind, they are working their 1000% too. They are trained in various aspects such as singing, dancing, and rapping. It is also expected of them to show and portray the emotions of the songs perfectly and they are regularly evaluated by training directors.
These trainees started their training debut early in life, some even while they are still in elementary school, and often debuts at around 16 years old or older. They are trained for years until they are picked and ready for debut. Other than that, there is also stiff competition between one and the other trainees.
It is the survival of the fittest, determination, and whose endurance is the strongest. If they wound up debuting, they are the cream of the crop.
In Jpop, the intensity of aspiring idol training depends on the agency. Some labels would train their trainees similar to the way of a Korean label while others are laxer. It is important to note though that their training period and even the intensity is not close to those of KPop trainees as Japanese entertainment labels like to debut their idols in their most natural state.
The JPop industry wants to show these normal boys and girls entering the professional entertainment world and how they would grow and learn from their experiences. Fans like to see these idols grow and improve right in front of their eyes.
In KPop, the image of the idol depends on the group concept and even with that general rule, idol groups over the years are often seen diverting away from their original concept and are trying and experimenting with different ones. A group can debut with a cute and fresh concept and a year or two later would come back with a more mature and bold image. They are also heavily influenced by Western image and style.
In JPop, being cute and/but sexy is still a superior concept and is the most commonly seen artist or idol image. They might be in different groups, are significantly different in their sense of music and fashion but one element that is always present is the tinge of cuteness in them.
The genre KPop is influenced by all other genres across the world. This is clear as day as in recent years, we’ve seen artists and idol groups venturing out of Asia and into international waters, often being found featuring and collaborating with Western artists.
While JPop is more exclusive and tends to focus on the music style that is more than often reoccurring. Their songs are intact inside a bubble that is commonly heard, produce, and popular in their local market. Of course, every song released is significantly different than the last but the genre pretty much stays the same, usually void of outside influences.
This section right here is where the difference widens. And it is probably the most obvious of all.
To start off, because of their population (~ 126 million) and the amount of support, attention and loyalty Japanese idol groups garner in the local market alone, agencies don’t really see the need to branch out any further.
After all, learning a new language, studying the culture, international touring, and even marketing the group for international appeal is risky and has the possibility of little to no financial gain.
But recognition-wise, a few Japanese idol groups and artists have gained fans from all around the world, especially those who are insanely popular in their homeland, such as AKB48 and Baby Metal.
But KPop, however, is on the other end of the scale. When it comes to branching out internationally, KPop could even be put in the same place as Western artists.
It was believed that one of the reasons why KPop is so adamant in treading into international waters is because of their population, which is just a humble 51 million. Compared to Japan, there is an extensive need for growth and opportunities.
A few idols and artists have taken the risk and fortunately succeeded in branching out, eventually paving the way for younger groups. At the present time, it is normal to see KPop stars out and about on international television, music shows, and even going as far as snagging awards.
Korean talent labels are getting more and more aggressive in marketing and training their idols to appeal to foreign fans such as including foreign members in the lineup (given that they pass and exceeded the idol standards) and asking them to study foreign languages.
The Bottom Line: What is the best?
Dubbing someone or something the best is subjective. Not all will have the same preferences and opinions on one thing.
If you are someone who thinks international recognition is the number one factor for the title “best”, then without a doubt it’s KPop. But since we are talking about music genres here, I think it is only right if we judge base on music.
And music is completely up to you! If you are a KPop fan, then it comes naturally that you’d fight for the crown to name KPop the best and if you are a JPop fan, you’d claim a hundred reasons why everyone should love it.
These two are different and unique in their own way. And if you are only looking to be a fan of one thing because they are “famous” or are “the best”, I think you are doing it all wrong. Be a fan because you are genuinely interested or it is something you absolutely love.
Verdict. What is the best? Well, I think they both are.