Wednesday, 8 January 2014

K-pop collaborations: Trial and error

New partnership: K-pop rapper G-Dragon (pic) has recorded a track with Canadian super star Justin Bieber but whether it will be a hit remains to be seen.

New partnership: K-pop rapper G-Dragon (pic) has recorded a track with Canadian super star Justin Bieber but whether it will be a hit remains to be seen.

When K-pop stars team up with American artistes, it is not always a guaranteed success.

With news of Psy’s collaboration with American rock legend Steven Tyler of Aerosmith as well as local rap star G-Dragon’s announcement that he had indeed recorded a track with international pop superstar Justin Bieber, it appears as though K-pop artistes are looking to expand their presence in the international music realm and continue to snatch any collaborative opportunities that come their way.

Last August, Big Bang leader G-Dragon released his second solo album, Coup D’etat, featuring a number of collaborative tracks with international artistes. This is only one of the few examples of high-profile international partnerships.

The album included the song Niliria, featuring American hip-hop star Missy Elliott, and Coup D’etat, featuring US DJs Diplo and Baauer. Compared to many K-pop collaborative projects that have been released in the past few years, this is one of the few that has made a dent in the international scene, however slight.

Although the singles with guest artistes did not do as well locally as the album’s hit single Crooked, Niliria still managed to grab the attention of American men’s fashion and entertainment magazine Complex, which named the electro pop track one of the year’s top 50 songs, giving it the No. 32 spot.

“Korean pop star G-Dragon has the power to do whatever he wants, so it was nice to see him bring Missy Elliott out of unofficial retirement this past summer when they debuted this culture- clashing collaboration,” Brendan Frederick wrote for Complex.

While collaborations between K-pop artistes and international superstars may not be common, it is a slowly growing trend that has been years in the making. However, despite the many efforts to organise these collaborations, most of the past releases did not have the breakout power that many had hoped.

In 2011, superstar girl group Girls’ Generation released an English remix of the group’s hit single The Boys, featuring international rap star Snoop Dogg, in their attempt to break into the American music market. However, despite the English lyrics and an American hip-hop superstar, the single made little impact in the United States and South Korea, and the English version of the track failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Of all the K-pop collaborations, one of the most unexpected match-ups had to be that between the Korean pop trio JYJ, hip-hop megastar Kanye West and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Malik Yusef.

In 2010, JYJ released their all-English debut studio album The Beginning, which included the single Ayyy Girl, featuring West and Yusef, and the track Empty, produced by famous American record producer Rodney Jerkins.

“When we met Kanye West and Rodney Jerkins, we realised that we had a similar goal. For them it was to take their music to the East, while for us we wanted to bring our music to a wider audience in the US,” said JYJ member Junsu in a Billboard interview.

However, despite the international powerhouse West showing off his rapping skills on Ayyy Girl, the track gained only moderate attention in South Korea, peaking at No. 19 on the Gaon Charts, while having little to no impact in the US.

In the past, K-pop artistes have struggled to pull off international collaborations regardless of the big names they were able to land. Although K-pop fans seem to be only slightly impressed with the featuring of famous artistes, this year still looks to be trending towards more international collaborations, especially with the release of Psy’s first global album, which he has stated will feature a number of popular music artistes. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Entertainment , K pop , Psy , Steven Tyler , G Dragon , Collaboration


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