You have recently heard a lot about “K-Pop” or “J-Pop” but those words sound extraterrestrial to you? Or you are simply a curious fan willing to always know more about your favorite musical genres? Then follow us, you are at the right place!
In this article, we will start from the roots of both genres having an overall review of their history to eventually focus on what are the main differences between them, from the image used to their type of business model.
K-pop, which stands for “Korean pop” is a genre of popular music born in South Korea. Even though modern K-pop has started at the beginning of the 1990s, the term itself has been popularized in the 2000. Designating all forms of Korean popular music, K-pop is often used to directly refer to this new modern form, influenced by various styles from whole over the world. Thus, in a mere sample of modern k-pop you would be able to find parts of jazz, electronic music, gospel, hip hop, country and so on. A huge melting pot in a way. The most modern form of this genre has started with on of the first groups “Seo Taiji and Boys” in 1992 to take off in the 2000s.
Since the group “H.O.T.” in 1996 , modern K-pop is not only about music anymore but developed another whole dimension around its “Idols” : K-pop artists with a huge fan base who help even more to export worldwide this Korean sub-culture.
J-pop, in a similar way to K-pop, simply stands for “Japanese pop”. Sub-genre of Japanese music, J-pop took its roots from traditional Japanese music but was deeply inspired by pop and rock music of the 1960s with songs like those of the Beatles or Beach Boys. J-pop has then been developed by new wave bands in the late 1970s, in particular the “Yellow Magic Orchestra” synth pop group and the “Southern All Stars” pop rock band.
From here, the term J-pop is created by the radio station “J-Wave” to rename the old “new music”. This name isnow vastly used in Japan to describe several musical genres including pop, rock, dance, rap and soul.
Like for K-pop, J-pop also grows along with its Idols, nonetheless from another kind.
From J-pop side, and we could explain it easily culturally speaking when walking a bit around the country, a “kawaii” style (aka cute) is adopted. The Idols are cute rather than sexy and gets a childish dimension. It’s really common to see J-pop Idols wearing school uniforms and other cute outfits to draw the attention of their fan base.
Regarding K-pop, they have opted for something “cooler” with more sex appeal. In fact, their fashion is more “grown up” without hesitating to try out various styles. They are real fashion ambassadors and models.
J-pop have always focused on the local market, with few influences. It’s totally understandable knowing the demographic and geographic context of Japan. In fact, Japanese people are on an island composed of around 130 millions inhabitants whereas Korean are around 50 millions people with a more “direct” concurrence because of the borders. From the beginning, the needs for growth have been different.
Even if J-pop is musically very diversified, it doesn’t borrow that much from other genres. Same goes for its image and marketing.
In the end, thanks to its population already captured, there is no such requirements for the J-pop industry to try to seduce more people around. In fact, it’s turnover is already impressive without external help, all it needs is on the spot.
On the other hand, K-pop reaches the international scene playing the “cool” card, without being afraid of the unknown and making it its. In fact, they want to appear more accessible for everyone starting with a better presence on all social networks. Furthermore, contrary to Japan where its industry mostly sticks to CD and where copyrights are a huge thing preventing massive diffusion on platform like YouTube, therefore less accessibility for the rest of the world, K-pop goes digital and shines on streaming platforms.
Last aspect, in Korea you will find a lot proper schools to devote your life to K-pop in hope of becoming a true idol whereas in Japan it remains rare and J-pop starts more or less as a hobby.
If you want to actually have a better idea on the matter, please have a look at those several groups. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Trendy K-pop bands
- Wanna One
Trendy J-pop bands
- Baby Metal
- Kyary Pamyu Pamyu