Western pop singers are expected to sing. K-pop idols? Not so much, but they must have other talents!
13 Jul 2017 - 1:53 PM  UPDATED 13 Jul 2017 - 1:53 PM

Another week and that means only one thing - Prince Mak is back on SBS PopAsia radio with "The Prince Mak Hour."

In the latest episode of his radio show, Prince Mak tackles a big topic by delving into the differences between Western pop music and K-pop. Having been a K-pop idol and having grown up in a culture filled with Western pop music, he is well-placed to talk about the differences between how the 2 music industries differ.

From expectations to how groups are formed, here are the differences between Western pop music and K-pop according to Prince Mak.

  • Western Pop are expected to sing, but K-pop? Not so much - Western singers are all expected to have great singing voices, whereas there is less expectation on K-pop idols with great voices. Having said that, K-pop idols must possess a wide range of other skills, such as MCing, radio hosting, dancing, acting, and variety show expertise.
  • There is no trainee system in Western pop - While K-pop idols are essentially "made" via the trainee system by labels, which involves a lot of hard work and doesn't place much emphasis on natural talent, this kind of system doesn't exist in Western pop music. In Western pop, musicians are essentially chosen for their talent, which is cultivated in their own time.
  • The lifespan of a singer in Korea isn't very long -Whereas Western pop singers can have longer careers, the lifespan of an idol and singer in Korea isn't very long as sales are driven very superficially, meaning that K-pop idols will sell as long as they're young and good-looking. 
  • Many K-pop idols cannot write music - Despite the years spent training in Korea, many K-pop idols can't write music as their trainee days usually revolved around dancing and acting rather than music. While there are some K-pop idols who can write music, a majority rely on other producers to write their songs for them. In the Western pop world, most singers (not all) do have a hand in the production of their songs. That being said, this is slowly changing in Korea and more musically-talented idols are beginning to surface.
  • K-pop groups have "visual" members - While there is emphasis on musical talent in Western pop, there is greater emphasis on appearance in Korea and idols have been selected purely based on their looks (though this also does happen in the West!).

Listen to Prince Mak talk about the differences between K-pop and Western pop music at the 26:20 mark:


Catch Prince Mak's SBS PopAsia radio show "The Prince Mak Hour" every Tuesday @ 8PM (AEST). 

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