Western Artists, Producers Turn to K-pop: 2NE1 Leading the Charge

Girl group 2NE1 made waves last year when footage of them working with Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am hit national television. (YG Entertainment)

Music industry slump and digital downloads spur increase in East-West collaborations

This is the first of in a two-part series exploring the increasing involvement of foreign producers and composers in the K-pop scene. ― Ed.

When footage of The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am working with girl group 2NE1 hit national television last year, it was a defining moment for the K-pop industry.

Though the domestic industry had been enlisting the talent of overseas producers and composers for years, this collaboration took the whole situation to another level, not just in terms of exposure but also in terms of star power.

“Our side had an opportunity to meet will.i.am,” Hwang Min-hee ― PR Team Leader for 2NE1’s YG Entertainment ― said in a phone interview. “He saw music videos (of the girls) and said he wanted to work with us.”

The artist of the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group met with the girls for three recording sessions in London and Los Angeles and churned out 10 tracks. Then, in early February, Black Eyed Peas tour DJ-and-co-producer Poet flew into Seoul with DJ Josh One to lay down some more tracks for 2NE1.

“This was my first time in Korea to work on K-pop,” DJ Josh One said via e-mail. “I was very impressed. YG’s sound and vibe seems to definitely stand out from everything else I have heard in Korea.”

Since the late 1990s, the K-pop industry has rapidly grown, bulging out of its domestic market, spreading through Asia and entering European and American markets.

Such rapid expansion has also spurred overseas interest from major producers and composers.

Take Xperimental Entertainment for instance. The Los Angeles-based company founded by William Pyon and Kim Young-hu currently counts South Korean music goliath S.M. Entertainment as one of its biggest clients and has also worked with YG Entertainment, the company behind major K-pop acts BIGBANG and 2NE1.

According to Xperimental CEO William Pyon, the amount of business based on hooking overseas composers and producers up with K-pop artists has grown over the years. If before, it accounted for about 5 to 10 percent of their business, now it takes up 50 percent.

Park So-young, assistant manager for the South Korean publishing arm of Xperimental, agreed that there has been an increase in such collaborations.

“If there are 12 tracks then at least one of them is an overseas single,” she told The Korea Herald.

“We get a lot of requests from entertainment companies for overseas composers these days,” she added.

An increase in the number of prominent international producers and composers working with Korean entertainment companies, in turn, seems to be fostering even more interest in South Korean pop music abroad.

Lars Halvor Jensen, whose Denmark-based company DEEKAY Music worked on Girls’ Generation’s “Hoot,” believes there is “massive potential for K-pop worldwide.”

“Lots of people are tired of the ‘taking yourself so serious’ that a lot of Western artists seem to have,” said Jensen, explaining the selling power of S.M.’s nine-member girl band via e-mail. “In a world marked by natural disasters and financial recession people need the positive energy that comes from listening to K-pop artists’ records and seeing them perform.”

DEEKAY first made contact with S.M. through a mutual acquaintance that pitched their song “Holla” to the South Korean entertainment company. The song became boy band SHINee’s single “Hello.”

Then, DEEKAY and songwriter Alex James co-wrote “Hoot,” which Universal Music Publishing Group European artists and repertoire executive Pelle Liddell says he pitched to S.M.

Aside from writing and programming for S.M.’s Girls’ Generation and SHINee, DEEKAY, which was founded by Jensen and Martin Michael Larsson in 1998 and currently has studios in Copenhagen and Los Angeles, has also written and produced for major artists like Diddy, Lil Wayne, Mis-Teeq and Ashley Tisdale.

Though DEEKAY could easily stick to high profile Western acts, Jensen said “because of our fantastic experience with Asian artists, we will focus a lot more on K-pop and J-pop markets” this year.

Xperimental CEO Pyon, whose company also has branches in Seoul and Tokyo, believes that one of the reasons more overseas producers and composers are looking to South Korea is because “the music industry really took a slump.”

“I think that has a lot do with a lot of interest now from foreign writers as well as American writers to break into the Asian market,” he said over the phone.

Pyon, who not only worked with S.M. and YG but also on projects featuring major artists like the late 2Pac, attributes the industry downturn to technology.

The Internet fostered digital downloads which led to decreased album sales. Also, says Pyon, the advent of technology narrowed the gap between home and professional recordings.

All of these changes have really upped competition among American producers and composers.

“People that were charging 120,000 (dollars) per song, nowadays, if they get 30,000 (dollars) a song, they’re doing well,” Pyon said.

In fact, Pyon said it is “to some degree cheaper” for a Korean entertainment company to enlist overseas talent than it was 15 years ago.

Yet, Pyon believes that the real incentive for K-pop companies to invest in overseas composers and producers is in the music itself.

“It really comes down to the song,” Pyon said. “It comes down to if they really like the song, then that’s what they’ll go for.”

“On one hand you have a Korean producer and you have an American producer and his song,” he elaborated. “They (Korean entertainment company) listen to it. If they like the Korean song, then they will 100 percent go with it. If they like the American producer’s song because it’s better or a better fit, then they’re going to go with that.”

Another incentive for the K-pop industry to look abroad seems to be higher consumer standards. Pyon agrees that the ability to download singles digitally without having to purchase the whole album enables consumers to be far more selective in what they listen to.

“The standards of domestic audiences are high,” said Seo Hyeon-joo, director of Starship Entertainment ― the company behind K-pop girl group SISTAR ― explaining why they want to continue to collaborate with overseas producers and composers. “We need to meet their expectations.”

K-pop girl group SISTAR, whose single “I Don’t Like Weak Men” was produced in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer Eliot Kennedy (Starship Entertainment)

For now, domestic composers and producers still dominate the K-pop industry. There is no denying the increased presence, however, or at the least increased publicity, of overseas collaborations.

Indeed, Starship Entertainment’s collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer Eliot Kennedy on SISTAR’s single “I Don’t Like Weak Men” represents one of the company’s first forays into working with foreign talent. The positive experience, according to Seo, has left the company wanting to continue such explorations in the future.

Kennedy, in turn, is also interested in working with more Korean artists.

I will be heading out to Korea in the next couple of months to hopefully work with some artists and local writers and producers,” he said via e-mail.

As for high profile collaborations, will.i.am’s work with 2NE1 may be the most televised of the day but it is certainly not the first.

YG’s Se7en worked with female rap artist Lil’ Kim for his U.S. single “Girls” and BIGBANG hotties G-Dragon and T.O.P. with American DJ Diplo for “Knock Out.”[/b]

JYJ ― the boy band formed by three TVXQ idols-gone-independent ― collaborated with famed rapper-and-record producer Kanye West on their first album “The Beginning” last year.

Not everyone, however, is looking specifically to work with famous acts.

“Yes and no,” Pyon said about whether or not he feels the pressure to orchestrate more headline-grabbing collaborations. “If you want publicity or if you’re looking into publicity, then, yeah, it’s definitely worthwhile to do that.”

An S.M. Entertainment artists and repertoire publishing representative said that they were “open to the possibility” of working with famous artists but that they are more focused on the quality of the “song” itself.

One thing is for certain, collaborations like that of will.i.am and 2NE1 point to the increasing international influence of K-pop.

“Nowadays a lot of producers, they know who these artists are,” Pyon said about overseas recognition of S.M. and other K-pop acts. “It’s telling me that the K-pop scene has really evolved into almost a mainstream aspect of the industry.”

“A lot of American producers know as much about or even more about J-pop and K-pop than even me.”

Source: Korean Herald; written by Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldm.com)
Reposted by tazanya @ygladies.com


“What are the actual sales amounts?”

Netizens are tilting their heads and pondering about how many first albums have actually been sold.

2NE1’s management, YG Entertainment, stated recently, “According to a gross amount from all the retailers, 2NE1’s album has sold about 100,000 copies in a matter of 5 days.” However, according to the Hanteo charts, only 25,300 copies have been sold as of the 16th. To this the netizens stated, “Even though YG had counted all the retailers, there is a big difference between the numbers from YG and the numbers from Hanteo charts.” Hanteo Charts states that they set the total sales amount for the album after a poll from the different malls and stores in Korea.

Some opinions about the issue included the chance of the exchanges being made on the YG e shop for the albums have not been included in the Hanteo charts. This would have been a probable opinion except that YG Entertainment had already stated that the sales made on their site will count in the Hanteo charts as well. To this, many fans commented, “Isn’t the exaggeration from YG hurting the positive imagine of 2NE1?”

Source: hhttp://news.nate.com/view/20100916n08533
Translated by YONGISM @ ygladies.com



From Kim Hee-Ae To Sandara Park, Trend On Skin, Who Has The Most Flawless Skin?

Depending on the current trend, light colored skin, self-luminous skin, healthy skin, honey skin, etc, there are numerous changes in what people see as beautiful. But beautiful skin is always a constant and essential element for women who are “wannabe” models for beauty.

In recent years, celebrities have been drawing attention because of their beautiful skin, and are fast becoming a leading representative in skin care. From the first generation celebrities who have beautiful skin, Kim Hee-Ae, Go Hyun-Jung, and Lim Su-Jeong, and now to the next generation artists with beautiful skin, Secret’s Han Seun-Hwa, top beautiful skin Sandara Park, and rising actress Han Ji-Woo, have all garnered interest and attention.

Rising star, Han Ji-Woo, who recently appeared in a drama, showcased her beautiful and radiant skins through selcas that she uploaded. Secret’s Han Seun-Hwa, has also uploaded pictures on her minihompy, featuring varied facial expressions, and showing off her porcelain skin, making her join the ranks of celebrities with beautiful skin.

And finally, the top celebrity with gorgeous skin is Sandara Park, whose milky-white, flawless baby skin is famous, allowed her to be crowned as the best-skin celebrity. Etude’s president, Lee Hyun-Ah, revealed, “Sandara Park has really good, clean skin, making her an ideal,” proving the authenticity of her flawless skin.



Source: http://news.nate.com/view/20110224n07154
Translated by: knucklepink@WeLoveDara/ BlackjackBelle@OhDara


Jung Il-Woo, “I want to invite Sandara Park to a fan meeting”

The warm thoughts of two friends, both actors and singers, Sandara Park of 2NE1 and Park Il-Woo, have become a hot topic!

In Jung Il-Woo’s recent interview with Nylon Korea for March, he was asked the question which girl group he would like to invite for a fan meeting, “Sandara Park, we became friends when she appeared for ‘The Return of Il-Jimae.’ So when the opportunity comes, I’d like to invite 2NE1,” he answered.

Before her debut with 2NE1, Sandara Park appeared for “The Return of Il-Jimae,” where she played the part of Rie, a Japanese girl living in a village. In the drama, she has a crush on Jung Il-Woo’s character, portraying a beautiful and unique character full of charm and cuteness. Sandara Park’s charming acting attracted attention even then.

Sandara Park and Jung Il-Woo’s hug and kissing scenes were especially given attention when the dramatic scenes unfolded.

When compared, her appearance between then and now have no diffference. In fact, Sandara Park is a “Star with Preserved Beauty (A/N: Another way of saying “vampire looks” or before, they called her “human preservative” or sumn like that),” the fact of which has been pointed out time and again.


Source: http://news.nate.com/view/20110224n32490 andhttp://news.nate.com/view/20110224n23922 (A/N: I fused the two articles together.)

Translated by: knucklepink@WeLoveDara/ BlackjackBelle@OhDara

CeeLo Green and Taeyang: A MashUp

Hilarious mashup of CeeLo Green’s and Taeyang’s YT hits:  F**k You vs. Wedding Dress

Warning:  Some language may offend. Listen at your own risk.

I love FORGET YOU of CeeLo Green and Taeyang’s WEDDING DRESS.


Korea’s biggest group 2NE1 make their debut in Japan this Spring

The 4-member Korean girl group 2NE1 released their debut single in Japan, entitled “Go Away“, on the 22nd February. Since their 2009 debut, they have become the 30th biggest group in Asia and their music videos have been viewed over 2.6 million times on YouTube. They are really taking the music world by storm and are gaining a name for themselves as a super unit. K-Pop‘s biggest group are looking forward to doing battle in the J-Pop market.

At last year’s MAMA awards, 2NE1 became the first female group to win the prestigious Artist of the Year award. 2NE1 have finally arrived in Japan.

They made their debut in Korea in March, 2009 as the protegee of 5-member boy band BIG BANG. The R&B/electronic fusion, cool dance and eccentric fashion sense which have become so popular amongst Korean and Asian girls in general have been inspired by American singer Lady Gaga (25).

Since their debut, every one of their singles has gone to number 1 in the charts. As well as the MAMA, they have won a further 30 awards in Korea. This success is spilling over into the West. will.i.am (35) of the Black Eyed Peas saw their stuff on their internet and called them “genius.”

Will was introduced to the girls in LA last summer and recorded with them. Fashion designer Jeremy Scott (36), a favourite of Madonna‘s (52), praised the girls’ fashion sense, calling them “promising for the future.” He can see their original style becoming world famous.

In the middle of all this, they have secured their Japanese debut. Japanese record company Avex saw one of their performances and were reportedly shocked by the perfection of the girls’ songs and their refined fashion sense. After hearing about their success in Korea, they immediately set up negotiations with the group.

The single ‘Go Away’ is their first Japanese language song. The ringtone of this song will be available from 9th March. As well as Japan, entry into the western market is also in sight. The leader of the group CL (19) says that she hopes that they can live up to the fans expectations.

This popular K-Pop group will surely light up the Japanese chart race.

Source: Sanspo (pg. 1), (pg. 2)
Translated by the wonderful Dan @YGLadies.com



Sandara Park – CL, Bare Faces Draw Public Attention

Girl group 2NE1 members, Sandara Park and CL unveiled their gorgeous bare faces, and are now becoming a hot topic.

On the 18th, Sandara Park updated with CL while on their trip to Japan, disclosing a picture, which drew attention to their superior bare face beauties.

She updated with, “Wassup! Darong Darong’s trip down memory lane! Ke We went to Japan last January, and an unfamiliar and nervous Darong came with someone who was very accustomed to Japan, Guide CL ke snap! Kya~! The memories of that time….keep popping up and it feels refreshing! +.+ This pic was taken by photographer Gong!” and revealing a picture with CL.

In the first picture, with her fingers forming a V and wearing a black beanie, Sandara Park showed her cute charm. The black nail polish and her outfit created a great harmony, while CL’s blonde-dyed hair also garnered attention. In particular, their bare faces were highlighted, much unlike their usual appearance on stage, with their charismatic make-up.

Because of the cold weather, the way her skin remained immaculate and seemingly not affected at all, captivated netizen’s attention. Sandara Park has always been known for her flawless skin, and now CL is also showing a different side of her, boasting good skin also.

In the second picture, it showed the two of them sitting on a dining room table, sharing a meal, and showing a relaxed pose. Sandara, showed on the left, posted,“A trip down memory lane with Darong Darong!” she said of memories, “This was taken by Gong-photographer!” she said.

Netizens who viewed the photos commented with, “I think Sandara Park unnie is the queen of freshness!” “Both of you are cute,” “Wow, so beautiful!” “The sparkle of goddess-like beauty appears in your bare face,” “You have really good skin,” “Your no make-up face is more beautiful,” “You’re both very sexy,” showing a hot reaction.

Source: http://news.nate.com/view/20110220n12071 and http://news.nate.com/view/20110220n09324
Translated by: knucklepink@DaraGon-Hideout.com/Belle@OhDara.wordpress.com
Uploaded by: WeLoveDara@Twitter