SG Wannabe's fourth album, which boasts the largest sales this year, sold only about 190,000 times. That is the clearest indication yet that music has moved from store-bought recording to cyberspace. When the form changes, content changes too. This year, Koreans have witnessed rapid changes in Korean pop music, because the preferences of a public who consume music in units of songs rather than albums demand a new approach. Here, the Chosum Ilbo assembles seven key words of Korean pop music based on a survey of 10 music producers and critics.
JYP Entertainment's girl group Wonder Girls
- Girl singers
JYP Entertainment's girl group Wonder Girls had a huge success with "Tell Me". SM Entertainment's Girl Generation was another corker. And then there were hit songs like IVY's "Sonata of Temptation". Younha
's "Secret No. 486" and Yangpa's "What is Love". One expert points to the social trend of the alpha girl: just as alpha girls succeed in society, so girls succeed in the Korean pop music industry. Other experts say Wonder Girls and Girl Generation have brought middle-aged men to TV and the Internet.
- New idols
With the success of Big Bang and Super Junior, there has been a new spate of boy bands after a long time with only TVXQ to wave the flag. YG Family and JYP Entertainment successfully advanced into the boy band market, which had been dominated by SM Entertainment. The fact that new boy bands are emerging is an evidence of shift in generations in Korean pop music. Those who became successful this year will become major driving forces in Korean music industry after 2008, according to the experts.
- Independent music
Although the music market shrank, many good songs in various genres were released. Prime examples are Clazziquai and House Rulez in electronica, Vassline in heavy metal and Huckleberry Finn in modern rock. One of the experts said, "Despite shrinking market, achievements by musicians who are making their ways were outstanding. I think now is the time of Korean independent music, which is diverse and mature".
- Catchy tunes
During the past years when Korean-style R&B songs enjoyed popularity, Korean pop songs were based on traditional structure of introduction, development, turn and conclusion. This year, the key to megahit songs was an addictive refrain. Cases in point are Big Bang's "I'm so sorry but I love you, all lie", Wonder Girls' "Te-te-te-te-te-tell me", and Ivy's "Hands and feet, do it, only two of us".
- Concerts at small theaters
Many experts say gigs in small venues have emerged as a new profit source for the music industry. The fact that tickets for concerts of Lee Juk or Big Mama in small venues sold out is giving new hope to the industry. There are growing possibilities for a new heyday of gigs in small venues, as in the 1990s.
- Memories of the 1990s
Yangpa and Park Jin-young
's successful comebacks mean that music fans and the media miss the 1990s. Recently, Toy released his new album "Thank You"
after six years and sold 50,000 copies. Fans, it seems, want music that they can cherish for long time. Seo Taiji
's album released to mark his 15th anniversary in showbiz also sold out in November.
- The power of video
At the center of Wonder Girls' "Tell Me" syndrome lies power of netizens who uploaded videos that show them dancing to "Tell Me". Music fans are no longer passive audiences: they reproduce and spread their thoughts on pop music and thus contribute to the success or failure of a song.