While PSY's viral sensation Gangnam Style may have opened the floodgates of K-pop to mainstream consciousness worldwide, it is not indicative of the phenomenon itself by any means. Yes, it possesses the synthesizer and bassline driven electro-pop sound that K-pop is known for. It also possesses a "point dance," an extremely recognisable piece of choreography that becomes attached to a K-pop song by the consuming public, in the form of the "horse riding dance." Despite these ingredients, this dissertation would argue that PSY does not represent K-pop. It will identify and discuss the general characteristics of K-pop, focusing on elements of sound, look and "family friendly" content. .
In this introductory chapter, I first outline the general context of my research topic, and the question addressed in this dissertation. I then outline the theoretical framework I will draw from and the methodology applied to study and analyse selected examples of K-pop producers and artists. The chapter concludes with a brief outline of the dissertation's content and structure. .
1.1 PSY's Accidental Success .
Due to his self-made backstory and run-ins with the law, PSY is not a representative of the culture-manufacturing machine that is the K-pop industry. "His first album, 'PSY from the PSYcho World!' was condemned for 'inappropriate content,' and his second, 'Ssa 2,' was banned for anyone under nineteen. In 2001, he was arrested and fined for smoking pot, and, during his mandatory military service, he neglected his duties and had to serve again." .
(Seabrook, 2012) .
PSY is also nowhere near the chiselled and suave look expected of male K-pop idols and especially was not handpicked by an agency after going through years of the cutthroat rookie-training process. He started off as, and continues to be, an incredibly popular rapper and singer who has skirted on the outside of standard K-pop while commanding the respect of audiences due to his witty lyrics, comedic personality, charisma, energetic dancing and larger-than-life concert shows.