Over the years, as the Korean wave has touched the shores of Asian countries, several popular singers have tried to make it in the Asian market. Rain, Se7en and Yangpa have been among the notable flops, and BoA is currently releasing singles and videos in the United States. Now the group Wonder Girls is trying, with much fanfare, to make an impact. The group made its television debut on “The Wendy Williams Show” in July and is currently an opening act for the insanely popular Jonas Brothers.
The Korean media is, of course, uniformly excited, but the online community is more ambivalent. Regarding the performance on The Wendy Williams Show, 3gyupsal writes: “Three girls sang, and they lip-synched the chorus. One girl was obviously digitally assisted”.
ROK Hound adds, “That was about as clear as I’ve ever heard them sing the English version of the song, and I still don’t know what the hell they’re saying for most of the song”.
Reports in the local papers were bolstered by glowing reviews by Koreans and Korean-Americans, although others were less enthusiastic about the performance. Commenter 3gyupsal continues: “What the hell is JYP [Entertainment director Park Jin-young] thinking? The guy produced a song for OutKast, he has an office in New York, you would think that someone like him would know that you can’t perform live and lip-sync. He is sabotaging their chances in America before they can get an honest shot at releasing a record. Nobody, nobody, but K-pop fans would buy their stuff”.
Shortly after the television performance the Wonder Girls opened three Jonas Brothers shows in my home state, and one in my hometown, Pittsburgh. The few brief mentions of them in Pennsylvania said they performed one song, their first U.S. single “Nobody”. The singers were also giving dance lessons to the song outside the stadiums before the shows.
Sonagi questions who the target audience of the group is. “Up to now, I’d only read Korean media reports on the Wonder Girls as an opening act and had no idea they were singing only one song. That explains why every video of them in the U.S. shows them singing only ‘Nobody’. Literally one-hit Wonder Girls in America. Rather than establishing a fan base in the U.S., their participation in the tour seems to be raising their status at home in Korea”.
John B appreciated the video of the band doing a dance lesson outside their bus in Philadelphia. “Actually, I have a new respect for the group after seeing this video. They’re starting out by paying their dues the way all other musicians do – by playing crappy gigs and taking whatever they can get”.
Fairy219 adds: “Hitting them with just one and only one catchy song helps make people remember them and the song. With this, hopefully next time, when they release something else, people will get curious [and say,] ‘Hey, that’s the girls who sing that Nobody song’.”
People have speculated what it would take for a Korean singer to make it in the U.S. Writes 3gyupsal: “If JYP spends enough money and gets them enough exposure I think they can definitely become a one-hit wonder if they release a song with a catchy and stupid enough hook”.
Samedi adds, “While there are a lot of people who will buy an album if the hook from the single is catchy enough, there are also quite a few who want something different from what gets put on repeat at the Top 40 stations”.
King Baeksu says, “What do Wonder Girls offer that is unique and different for U.S. music fans?”
These stars have adapted their styles to suit what they believe is the American audience, but it’s worth wondering whether young Americans – not just Korean-Americans – would appreciate more authentic Korean pop music, rather than knock-offs or English translations.
I hope wonder girls can have a great success in their carrier in US!