Since the heady days of 2007-2009 when K-Pop really started to establish itself as a musical force across East Asia, entertainment companies have been trying to crack Western markets, specifically the juggernaut, the big beast, the grand prize, of the USA.

Psy did it in 2012, but mostly as a gimmick - although there's nothing unusual about 'Gangnam Style' in K-Pop terms. Various (obviously futile) attempts were made before and since. The most successful, concerted, actual effort to break America came from the Wonder Girls in 2009, who, get this, had their own Nickelodeon original movie (!!!!!!!!!), and a HOT 100 SMASH HIT, 'Nobody' (which lasted one week at #76).

Also failures: BoA, Se7en, Girls' Generation, and SPICA. Why? Because (for the most part) they were trying to take their K-pop bangers and just pop on English lyrics that often didn't have a very good ~~~~flow to them.

Classic example: Girls' Generation, 'The Boys'. The song/video (you may recognise this 'look at all the fucks I give' .gif) was just K-Pop, and not even good K-Pop.

For extra lols, please watch this horrendous performance on Letterman back in 2011.




Has Korea learned anything from all this fail? Yes. SPICA tried (did I mention they also failed) to crack America in 2014 with their actually, kind of ok song 'I Did It'. It's not super K-pop, it's a bit fun, semi-bouncy - maybe containing elements of a jiggle is a better way to describe it - but ultimately boring and totally inauthentic. If you want to have an ok three-and-a-half minutes, then search for the video. I won't force you through it.

So, will K-Pop be on the airwaves in a non-gimmick form any time soon. After this massively sarcastic and sardonic **hot take**, you might be thinking the answer is no. But that wouldn't make for an uplifting or interesting read now would it.

The answer, by the way, is yes. CL, better known to some (many in Asia, there are a lot of Asians) as the leader of mega group 2NE1, is the self-styled 'Baddest Female' of Korea. She's been making silent waves in the creative scene over the past few years. Amongst other things, she's a muse of Moschino's creative director Jeremy Scott, regularly attends all the important fashion weeks, and works with big name producers (Skrillex, Diplo, etc). Lucky for her she was signed to Scooter Braun's talent agency in 2014.

So why is she more likely to make it? Well, she's charismatic as fuck for one. She has attitude by the shovel load, and is handily fluent in English (and French, Japanese, and obviously Korean) for two. She's authentic. She's individual. She's somehow managed to go through the often soul-crushing industry that is K-Pop and kept her own identity.

Good thing for a K-Pop nerd like me is that she's in the process of making her debut English EP Lifted set for release in 2016. You can get a hint of why you might be hearing more from CL with her (TOTAL BANGER of a) teaser track 'Hello Bitches'.




So, if you're a Korean artist and you want to crack America, here's what you need to know:

  • • Be yourself
  • • Be as charismatic as Beyoncé
  • • Get signed to a bigshot US-based talent agency

Ok, good luck.