“Part of K-Pop’s success in Japan can be attributed to globe-hopping musical production. Ian Martin of The Japan Times writes that Korean acts take most of their cues from Western music, meaning a lot of European electro house (2NE1’s Diplo-ish “I’m The Best”) and American R&B touches (Girls’ Generation’s “Mr. Taxi” and KARA’s “Mister”) among other influences. In the case of Girls’ Generation, it especially helps that most of the tracks on their Japanese debut album were sculpted by Western producers. These touches might not necessarily impress Western ears, but in Japan they ring revelatory. A common stereotype about Japan is that it’s a nation stubborn to change, and in regards to J-Pop, this is completely correct. Most of the popular tracks of today could have been frozen back in the mid ’90s and thawed out at any time, the combination of goofy numbers and sappy ballads remaining basically unchanged for the past two decades. Japanese music plays it safe, resulting in a bland popscape where artists have very little opportunity to expand internationally. Meanwhile, K-Pop has conquered Japan and most of Asia, and is even taking baby steps into the Western world.”
“Image also plays a critical role in separating the two countries’ pop music. A crass way of summing it up is this: K-Pop stars out-sex their J-Pop counterparts. The members of Girls’ Generation show a fair amount of skin in their music videos, while many fans were drawn to KARA by a chunk of choreography Wikipedia dubs “the butt dance.” Beyond straight-up sex appeal, K-Pop groups look and act like real adults, whereas J-Pop outfits often emphasize adolescent cuteness…The most popular Japanese act of the moment, AKB48, is a collection of 48 singers usually wearing high-school uniforms while behaving like 15-year-old girls. It’s been a tried-and-true path to pop success; Japanese singers have been donning their staple sailor suits since the ’70s-a fashion shtick that’s far from progressive. Girls’ Generation and KARA aren’t glimmering examples of feminism, but at least they look and act like grown women.
"Much much more at the source. A great read for anyone who’s having trouble accepting the popularity of Korean groups in Japan.
Yao and I have been saying this for over a year now— unless Japan lets go of its’ ingrained pop culture stubbornness and outdated ideas of what is “cool” among the youth and starts to draw from other popular cultures (and you can see the beginnings of that in V6’s tragic new single HONEY BUNNY), they will continue to come in 2nd, 3rd, 4th to Korea and the West. As it stands now, I think a Korean group has 2x the chance of making it in the U.S. than a Japanese artist because Korea is watching what is popular not just in their own country but everywhere, and emulating it (no, pushing it forward, too!) rather than clinging to what worked ten years ago and then blaming dismal sales and reviews on their more successful neighbors.
Wow, that makes me sound like a major K-Pop fan. I guess I kind of am now though. Sorry Japan, hallyu even has its’ hooks in me!"