Geek Culture

When will Kpop truly hit mainstream?

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Back in 2012, a (to mainstream audiences) unknown Kpop artist came out of nowhere and had us all dancing to a little ditty called “Gangnam Style.” The song was a hit with the mainstream and whether you liked it or not, you heard it if you listened to the radio. Psy accomplished something that many other singers in the Kpop industry have been hoping to do for a while now: conquer global airwaves.

It’s been five years now and it seems like in that time those of us who still love Kpop have continued to listen to it, to appreciate it, and to promote it. The rest of the world, however, seems to have moved on.

Was Psy’s hit a trend that has moved on and will there ever be another Kpop act who will develop that much buzz again?

Take a look at the popular music now and the landscape has changed a lot. During Psy’s reign, there was an increase in EDM style songs. DJ’s like David Guetta and Zedd were popular with songs like “Titanium” and “Clarity” respectively.


There was an intense build up, and a satisfying explosion toward the end of the song. Such songs peaked in 2014, but slowly started to “die off” as more tropical tinged EDM songs with a chill beat have become popular. I’d argue that Justin Beiber’s last album help to usher in that EDM sound and is a prime example of it.

Funny enough, even with this analysis, there is a major wrench that’s recently been thrown into the chart’s popular music trend. It happened in the form of “Despacito,” the song no one can seem to escape. The song is poised to break the longest running number 1 track on Billboard, for crying out loud! Much like “Gangnam Style,” it is a non-English track that has conquered mainstream radio. With that in mind, chances are it will also live and die like “Gangnam Style,” meaning it’ll be known as the song of the year, and within a few years will become that one song that reminds everyone of that “one summer.” This works to keep the song afloat, but will not mean that the artist or the accompanying style will then become the next big thing, thus meaning that the genre has officially made its way into the mainstream.

That being said Kpop has carved a little niche for itself in the mainstream and it continues to see success in artists like Taeyeon, BTS, and Red Velvet. They may not be burning up the Billboard Top Ten with their songs, but they’re still making their voices heard whenever we see them peak in the various music charts here.