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Chad Future & The Debate Over What Defines K-Pop

By Adrienne Stanley | May 09, 2014 09:05 AM EDT

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There are two surefire ways to spark an argument in a room (or internet forum) filled with K-Pop fans. K-Pop fans do not appreciate it when groups and fandom names are conflated, such as when the newly indoctrinated accidentally think SONES are the fan group for 2NE1. Another more unfortunate way to spark a debate amongst fans of Korean pop is to launch a conversation about Chad Future. Chad Future and his genre American K-Pop are a point of contention amongst fans, as well as industry professionals. Beyond his musical talent, Chad Future is representative of the tenuous balance that K-Pop currently maintains with the international community beyond Asia.

As both critics and fans from the Asian American community have pointed out, there are Americans who are active in K-Pop. Jessica and Krystal Jung stand out amongst the most prominent Korean Americans in K-Pop, along with Jay Park and Ailee. Taiwanese American Amber Liu of f(x) is also well loved within the K-Pop community. Chad Future is an anomaly within K-Pop, who until recently was dismissed by many as a cover artist as opposed to an actual performer of Korean pop music.

On May 6, Chad Future released an English remix of “Overdose”, the newest EXO single. His remix of “Overdose” followed his release of “Rock The World”, a hip hop influenced dance single featuring Ravi of VIXX. “Rock The World” and the remix of “Overdose” are a vast departure from his past releases in terms of improved quality. The Chad Future “Overdose” remix is solid and extends beyond what could be considered a cover. However, audiences delivered mixed reactions, with many fans of EXO criticizing the decision to release an English remix of “Overdose” on the same day EXO released the single in Korea.

At the heart of the debate over Chad Future, is the issue of what defines K-Pop and who should be considered an acceptable participant in the industry. Last May, The Korea Society hosted a program entitled All About K-Pop in which industry leaders such as Billboard's Jeff Benjamin and The Wall Street Journal's Jeff Yang discussed this issue, as well as the anomaly that is Chad Future. The program concluded with the general opinion that K-Pop is uniquely Korean, which makes a performer like Chad Future antithetic to the genre.

From my perspective, it is interesting to see Chad Future advancing within K-Pop. As K-Pop continues to make its journey into the United States, there will undoubtedly be numerous attempts by non-Asian American artists to penetrate the market in Korea. Besides Chad Future, former American Idol contestant Arnelle Nonon is one of my favorite artists who is also making strides to break into K-Pop. Arnelle was the 2013 winner of the New York K-Pop Festival, who went on to become a champion at the 2013 World K-Pop Festival. Like Chad Future, Arnelle Nonon is an anomaly is Korean pop music. However, both artists provide inspiration to international audiences and are a testimony to the fact that the definition of K-Pop is in the process of changing.

Tagged :  Chad Future, overdose, American K-Pop, Arnelle Nonan

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