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January 26, 2011

Big Bang's Taeyang is one of the Top K-Pop stars riding Hallyu’s 2nd Wave

When The Beatles hit the United States in the early 1960s, they helped launch what would eventually become known as the British Invasion.

The Asian equivalent is Hallyu – the Korean Wave of drama, film, music and culture that took Asia by storm beginning in the late 1990s. Beginning with television dramas and originally restricted to Asia, Hallyu is now going through a second phase, with music groups leading the way into the coveted American market.

Another Korean artist who had success in the West is Taeyang, who is a member of the group Big Bang. His album “Solar” reached No. 1 on the Canadian iTunes R&B sales chart and went to No. 2 in the U.S. in the beginning of last year – a first for a Korean singer. His success was even more impressive because the songs on the album are all in Korean and his competition consisted of top pop names such as Usher and Ne-Yo. It was the first time that a Korean singer had topped North American charts.

Taeyang’s popularity was amplified when two Canadian singers and b-boys by the name of J. Reyez and Tommy C. became YouTube sensations with their cover of Taeyang’s song, “Wedding Dress.”

Song Gi-cheol, a Korean pop culture critic who has studied this phenomenon, said, “K-pop has started to achieve the quality of American pop. The music that we’re producing now is well-produced and the singers themselves show a lot of talent.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 13 that Korean singers and groups are using social networking to promote their music. According to the article, “YouTube’s video-management features are gaining traction in emerging markets where local content producers are seeking a cheap way to reach overseas audiences and create demand for its artists without having to open offices or partner with labels in other countries.”

In a recent study, the JoongAng Ilbo examined the popularity of K-pop by surveying 923 video clips of Korean acts – specifically those managed by SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, the country’s top three management companies – that were uploaded to YouTube in the year 2010.

The results showed that the videos by the Korean performers got 793.57 million hits from people in almost every country worldwide. Over 500 million views were from the Asian continent, 120 million from the American continent and 55 million were from Europe.

Lee Won-jin, the managing director of Google Korea, said, “The fact that K-pop videos had almost 800 million hits from viewers all over the world proves that K-pop has the potential to succeed in any given market.”

By Chung Kang-hyun [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
via ashiva @ omona

Note: some parts of the article not related to Taeyang were omitted.

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