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(News Focus) Korean pop emerges as Asia's music hub via international collaborations

All News 18:33 April 14, 2016

By Chung Joo-won

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- Having foreign pop stars' names on K-pop album credits is not an anomaly anymore, thanks to the proliferation of K-pop across the globe. As seen in the case with Psy, BigBang and 2NE1, social network and video sharing services like YouTube have proved fruitful in sharing Korean pop with global music fans.

Amid the rising recognition of K-pop, South Korean musicians of diverse genres are engaging themselves in international collaboration projects.

The latest such case is Vibe, slated to roll out its seventh album on April 21. The South Korean R&B duo came into the spotlight ever since the album included a song that was composed and written by R. Kelly, a world-class R&B star from the U.S. This is the first time that R. Kelly has agreed to join hands with K-pop musicians.

The collaboration owes much to Lee Gyu-chang, the South Korean chief of Kino33 Entertainment and husband of singer Lisa, who has worked with the U.S. promoter of Vibe.

Earlier in March, South Korean reggae duo Skull & Haha released their latest song "Love Inside" in collaboration with Stephen Marley, a Grammy-winning U.S. singer-songwriter. Haha is better known as a television persona and main emcee of SBS's hit reality show "Running Man."

The duo recently said in a local entertainment show that they had pursued the U.S. artist for two years for collaboration.

The two years apparently paid off, as Marley not only composed, wrote and featured the song but also appeared on the song's music video.

South Korean hit songwriter Brave Brother joined efforts with U.S. YouTube star and teen rapper Silento who rose to stardom with his debut single "Watch Me."

The South Korean hit composer's new single album "Spotlight" resulted from collaboration with Silento. The U.S. rapper also struck a duet with Punch, a teen prodigy of Brave Brother.

Among South Korean girl groups, 4minute joined hands with famous U.S. DJ Skrillex, who co-composed and co-arranged its new hit song "Hate."

In some cases, South Korean singers are offered to collaborate with artists of different countries.

Zelo, a member of South Korean boy band B.A.P, participated in "Breakaway" by Swedish pop band Bracelet. The South Korean pop singer sang the Korean rap parts of the song.

"Bracelet's management showed interest in K-pop and picked B.A.P has their partners for Asian collaboration," said an official of TS Entertainment, the management of B.A.P.

Some foreign pop stars even put their names on South Korean pop agencies.

Miljenko Matijevic, a Yugoslavian singer, signed a contract with South Korean star agency BadBoss Company. Many of his fans were surprised to see the member of Steelheart, a rock quartet best known for global hit "She's Gone," appear on popular K-pop television music shows, including MBC's "King of Mask Singer."

"I wanted to start a new life in South Korea where (my song) was loved so dearly," the Yugoslavian rock star said.

Matijevic even released a Korean single and sang the soundtrack for South Korean television series "Glamorous Temptation," increasing his presence in the K-pop scene.

South Korean music critics are pleasantly surprised about the diversity of South Korean music genres that seek collaboration with artists from another country.

South Korean market observers crossed their fingers about K-pop's potential to make money selling material for collaboration with foreign pop music industries in the future.

"The U.S. and European music marketers began eyeing K-pop along with increasing needs for inroads into the Asian market," said Park Keun-tae, a South Korean hit songwriter.


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