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Guerrilla’s That Broke the Boundaries of Idol-Artist

By Staff Reporter | March 06, 2012 11:47 AM EST


Idol and artist are two words that are used more limited and in a specialized meaning in Korean pop music industry.

Idol that is meant to be a public icon instead narrowed down to represent ‘teen idol’ for teenage icons and now became a term to refer to those young singers who are oriented towards teen idols. Now it’s common to go through formalities of teens to be selected and trained for several years in addition to professional composer and choreographer to debut on network TV to make a big name.

The dictionary meaning of artist is art. Even pop music is clearly art so it’s proper for pop singers to be called artist, however lately it’s a bit awkward to call idol singers, artist. There is no clear dividing line between idol and artist however clearly there seems to be a general social consensus.

The standard of being an artist generally seems to be based on how they are able to display their thoughts and philosophy through music and have independent activities. It’s not required for them directly compose and write the music. To set the direction of the overall album or to express a song with own color is also part of creativity. A contestant of SBS ‘K-Pop Star’ was commented by judge JY Park as ‘the only contestant worthy to be called artist’ for his original choreography is the same context.

In the past it was common for idol and artist to overlap. Significant amount of songs of idol Jun Young Rok in 1980’s were his own compositions. Even idol Seo Taiji & Boys who are known as the pioneer of today’s culture also had their own compositions, choreography, songwriting, and stage costume.

However the dynamics changed since mid-1990s. Idol singers became part of a large wheel operated under large agencies under their enormous entertainment industry. The time has come when even music is governed by system rather than people.

In the midst of this there are ‘guerrilla’ that are coming out who are breaking down the boundaries of idol and artist. Leader G-Dragon of Big Bang who participated in most of the song is representative of that. He shared, “Being called an artist is the greatest joy and praise we can receive. It’s important for us that people who see and listen to us feel that we are musician and artist rather than calling ourselves that.”

Also Jay Park wrote 80% and produced the whole album. He shared, “The biggest difference when I was part of the group and now is that I can do music that I wish to do. I believe if you are able to express your music confidently then you are an artist.”

Just as the Kpop wave that is spreading out to the world symbolizes, the result of large agencies are world standard. However music is fundamentally different from matching America’s idea and design with Korea’s part, China’s labor force like industrial products such as an iPhone. Even if it’s less than perfect people are more attracted to music that shows that person’s fragrance. Music is that person and life itself before being a product.

Tagged :  idol, artist


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