thoughts on [k]pop vol 2: the plagiarism issue

Okay, so continuing on the K-pop thread. I'm going to keep this one short because I want to do less talking and hear from whoever reads this blog - I'm not vain enough to think I have hundreds of followers, but I do like to think people read this and have their own opinions about the stuff I say.
So, South Korea's favorite girlband Girl's Generation (So Nyu Shi Dae, or SNSD) just released a song called "Run Devil Run" which sees them leaving their cute image for a dark and sexy one. Check it out below:


Music Playlist at

I like it. It's not particularly sing-along-able, but it's a fun song that you can't help but play over and over again. This is not surprising, since SNSD tends to only release songs that will be hits. They may not be musical masterpieces, but they're carefully crafted and succeed in capturing the ears of listeners. Then it's up to the music video and performance to catch the eyes and hearts of fans and shoot them to number one on the charts. (See my last k-pop post for more on this.) [UPDATE: MV's OUT! Watch it here - And it's pretty cool, if basic. They'll be number one though, for sure.]

The track was originally composed by American songwriters, and Kesha did a test run for them. That track leaked before SNSD's track came out, and now everyone's screaming plagiarism*. K-pop is notorious for plagiarism scandals: G-Dragon, Lee Hyori, CNBlue, Kim Jong Kook and now SNSD for the second time, have all been accused of copying someone else's work**. Though only a few of them were actually legal accusations, they still manage to stir up trouble among netizens. Then again, netizens can stir up trouble about almost anything (topic of a later post, for now read Eccentric's post on netizens in k-pop).

I think it's interesting that these issues come up at all: pop music isn't particularly concerned with making something that no-one has ever heard before. The imperative is to sell CDs/mp3s, and human nature makes it so that people will buy a song if it sounds like something they heard before and liked. Thus, they write songs that people can easily acquaint themselves with. (Case in point: one of the reasons I like this song is because it's very similar to Britney Spear's "Radar", which I really like) That being said, I still think writers of pop music succeed in keeping things original when they try hard enough.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this: Can pop music be original? Or is it full of copycats and plagiarizers? And is k-pop particularly susceptible to plagiarism or accusations of plagiarism because it's [allegedly] a manufactured genre?

I titled this post the Pop Chronicles because I think that the best way for me to write about pop music is to break it up into bits and pieces. So I'll write a couple more posts under this heading in the coming weeks.

* Check out the comments on this article on to see how heated things can get.

** I have my own opinions on each of these plagiarism scandals, but in the interest of saving space I didn't put them here. Ask me if you're interested in my take on it.


  1. i dont think kpop music can be original
    i think kpop has changed to the point where companies like sm ent, jyp, star company etc need to make songs whether its original or not, hook and ballad, so that it can be successful
    wheesung made the point that the industry doesn't have diversity and that pop singers/idols such as 2pm. snsd dominate airwaves leaving other artist to crumble and unable to breathe
    each song they produce needs to be a hit and if isn't, they will scrap it for the next song
    i hate to say this but korean music companies are there to make money and they will do wateva they need to make a great song, hiring artists, songwriter, music composition etc to get the very best for their artist

    im sure you noticed but snsd is following the steps of ses
    all their music is poppy, girly and easy to follow
    there is a usually a hook to it
    and finally they are not breaking away from their cute image, run devil run in my opinion is the one fo the worst songs ive listened to snsd in a long time, its slow, lyrics are so so and boring, there is no hook to it (which is why i love korean music) i cant wait for someone to really remix that song so i can dance to it in my bed but until then, i wont be listening to it
    the company wants to keep this image until they eventually leave

    korea for one loves cute over sexy as sexy is taboo or untraditionlist, i think you get what i mean, and if you are being too sexy, channels like mbc will stop broadcasting it anyway

    now ive strayed a little bit

    its always gonna happen
    since music is universal
    it wouldn't surprise me that someone had the exact same thought as another composer

    people will always compare especially in korea and those behind a computer can use a simple software to cut and paste to see if they are truly copied
    the song from cn blue is very simliar to that other group they copied, and its unfortunate that the rookie group cn blue has been caught in this problem

  2. Pop is called so because it is "pop"ular music. It is meant to be commercial and very cookie-cutter. Somethings I don't know the difference between Ne-Yo and Jeremih. Sounds are beginning to blend in and with autotune, it is just so hard to find someone original. K-pop is very like K-drama. There is a formular, and everyone follows it.


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