J-Pop and K-Pop – A difference in Quality Control

This post is about something I’ve mulled about for some time know.

Now, everyone who visits here will know how much I love AKB48, and J-Pop in general, but most people don’t know that I have an equally strong like of K-Pop as well. That started about a little over a year ago, when I found out about the K-Pop group Girls Generation, which has now become quite the phenomenon. When I was getting into K-Pop was also around the time I was getting into AKB48, so I’ve liked both for an equal amount of time. Now, I love both J and K Pop just as equally, but I have begun to notice just how much more goes into making music in Korea.

Lets take a look into how groups are formed. AKB48, for instance has occasional auditions to find new Research Students, who will eventually have a chance at being put into one of the teams. Now, as far as I know, these auditions are open to anyone in Japan (as long as your a girl, obviously) and essentially if your chosen, you begin performing almost immediately, though obviously not on the same level as actual members. The RS’s backdance and do fill in for other members on occasion. Now, one thing I am unsure of is what training comes with being an RS, or even a full member, but as is apparent, you don’t have to have any formal training to audition. I expect they get some pretty lousy people audition, which brings to mind all those hilarious auditions you see every season in American Idol.

Now, what I’ve seen in the Korean music industry is quite different. Auditions are still present, but the training seems to be far more intense, almost to the point where it seems like a boot camp for the music industry. Lets take a look at SNSD (Girls Generation), before any of those girls actually debuted, they went through YEARS of training. Years. Some more so than others, but the one thing that is for sure is that these girls didn’t audition and then immediately start performing or pumping out singles and what not. For example, one of SNSD’s lead singers, Jessica, trained for over 7 years before debuting with the group. That’s devotion if you ask me. I don’t think any of the girls of AKB48 or Morning Musume can attest to that.

Now, of course, I still love AKB48, regardless of whether these girls had proper musical training. One thing that seems to seperate these 2 groups is simply why they were made in the first place. AKB48 is an idol group, and more of its focus is on the girls themselves, not actual talent. That’s not to say AKB48 doesn’t have its share of tremendous talent. It does for sure. It just seems to me that K-Pop groups seems to have a better focus on the musical talent of its performers.In SNSD’s case, not one of them are a bad singer in any way. They all have fantastic voices.

There are times when listening to AKB48 when I wonder how some members actually passed their audtions, and it becomes obvious image is the key factor here. All I am saying is why can’t the idol world of J-Pop be more like the Korean music industry, where image AND musical talent are both valued just as equally.

32 thoughts on “J-Pop and K-Pop – A difference in Quality Control

  1. Well, Morning Musume (particularly the 1-4 generation) had a relatively long training camp compared to most idols. The 6th generation were chosen in 2002 but trained for about a year before they even debuted. It’s no 7 years, but that’s still quite a long time.

    And from What I understand, Johnny’s Entertainment gets their singers at ages like 8 or nine and doesn’t debut many of them until they’re 16-18. That’s quite a long time too D: Although I will admit that Gee and SNSD stuff is usually more high quality than H!P or AKB music.

  2. I think AKB is trying to get more into the ‘artist’ category, but keep its ‘idol’ identity at the same time.

    Personally, I can’t compare the two.

  3. No doubt, Girls Generation is a stunning ensemble. Should they develop any dancing legs, forget it. They’ll be as good or better than anything Hello! Project offers. Lotta potential there!

  4. I lol’d at rad’s comment
    SNSD are really good dancers.
    There’s not really anyone in H!P that can dance amazingly well

    I think this is more of a Female japanese idol vs Kpop discussion
    because as Max said, Johnny’s waits like 5-10 years to debut their singers, unless you’re Tegoshi in which case they waited like 8 months but he’s like a prodigy anyways.

    • Well, they maybe good at choreography but lack of various music genre.[ KPOP ]
      Jpop = H!P & Akb48 are my fav
      Kpop = After School & Younha are my fav.
      By the way i don’t listen to SNSD,and they get num 23/30 On japan chart.[NOT ORICON]

      1. TVXQ
      2. BigBang
      3. SS501
      4. Kara
      5. 4minute
      6. 2NE1
      7. DBSK
      8. Girls’ Generation
      9. Wonder Girls

  5. I think that a comparison doesn’t suit well with the 2 genres you’re mentioning, because Idol Music is a niche phenomenon, musically speaking, with a specific target audience in mind and a very different dynamic than that of Mainstream Singers.

    I don’t know much about Jpop outside of the idol world, because that isn’t what I listen to the most, but I do know that in mainstream Jpop vocals and/or talent are usually more important than looks. Not necessarily vocals only, as there are plenty of famous Jpop artists who don’t sing all that great but have a special talent in the way they perform their songs, or how they present themselves in front of an audience.

    But yeah, I should probably zip it, because I don’t know anything about Kpop at all😄

  6. Pingback: Aigon’s Domain On Music Quality Between AKB48 Vs. SNSD | International Wota

  7. well, AKB48 is an idol group and not a mainstream pop group so i don’t think they should be used as an example at all. AKB48, Morning Musume, C-ute, etc. their focus are all more on “moe”.

    But if it will be mainstream jpop group versus mainstream kpop group, kpop’s only advantage is synchronized choreography.

  8. i honestly like both but if i had to choose( i woundnt want to) if i really had to pick it would be jpop, though its seems like a good idea to have training camps etc, the whole matter of boot camp scares me. look at dbsk they wanted to sue sm for being a bitch

  9. i am a japanese, but i like listening to alot of k-pop. i gotta say k-pop has a mixture of everything, while some j-pop singers stay with the same thipng. i love JE and everythig i love KAT-TUN is just k-pop drags me more into their music, and their dances are challenging and i like it.

  10. Valid points that are so true. Korea has some top vocalist hands down…Japan can really compete in that category if you strictly stick to JPOP. However thats why JPOP is JPOP you wont find that kinda music anywhere else for this long especially lol. Kpop takes the time to cultivate because they probably take much more pride in the art of pursuing music as a career thats probably looked down upon in society. Whereas Japan has a solid music industry and music isnt as frowned upon. Easier to break through and have your music accepted.

  11. jpop/jrock > k-pop
    anime ost> kpop
    kpop always use synthesizer

    japan music last longer like
    ai wo tori modose
    and many more!!!

  12. I LOVE KPOP & JPOP But Jpop still my num.1 and second Kpop.
    Kpop maybe good at choreography but lack of various music genre.
    I don’t care about this dance/choreography OR Sexy Girls OR HOT BOYS and etc, what is important to me is
    the LYRICS & TYPE OF GENRE.
    Jpop has many genre then Kpop.
    Yea, I know I found some of Korean Rock Band but what i know
    Korean Rock are not very popular at all…….
    Like ‘ GAGA ‘ said on his/her comment : –
    ” However thats why JPOP is JPOP you wont find that kinda music anywhere else for this long especially lol.”

    ALSO I AGREE WITH ‘RichardTheBrave ‘ ^_^.

  13. Why do you care so much about whether the members are really good singers? I personally have no inclination to listen to SNSD because I don’t like the music they put out. I don’t give a toss about whether they can sing better than Morning Musume according to some arbitrary musical standard. The only thing I care about is whether or not I like their material.

    Besides, my problem with K-pop is that the industry is hyper-centralised. There’s very little competition, and thus very little variation in genre. Most K-pop sticks to the same hip-hop/R’n’B/dance-pop paradigm. Try and list all the K-rock bands you know. Japanese popular music is a much vaster playing field. Moreover, J-pop has more of an identity. A lot of Japanese stuff can be called uniquely Japanese, whereas K-pop is much more similar to the music that’s popular in the USA. If you don’t like that, you’re kind of screwed over with K-pop.

  14. Yes, while i agree that much of K-pop is based on hip-hop/R’n’B/dance-pop like you’ve mentioned, but its the quality that counts. All of us agree hands down that the quality of K-pop music is generally better than that of J-pop, especially if you compare the dance/singing groups. I’ll admit that Korean bands are lacking as compared to Japanese bands, and i don’t disagree with this, i’ll definitely prefer UVERWorld over C.N Blue or F.T Island. While people’s opinion may differ, i would say most of us prefer music with solid vocals rather than cute bubblegum music, hence i’ll have to disagree with you [DarkRidley]

  15. And groups like SNSD aren’t cute bubblegum music? Solid vocals don’t change SNSD’s primary audience.

    Whatever, that’s not the point anyway. “Quality” is entirely arbitrary. There is nothing that is OBJECTIVELY musically superior about K-pop. Again, being able to sing better than someone else is still in no way objective because something cannot be judged as “better” independent of human feeling or thought. To evaluate singers according to a musical standard is something I have no issue with; to state as objective fact that K-pop’s “quality” is “better” is folly. If you choose to prefer artists that are better singers, I really don’t mind, but don’t start talking about it as if that standard applies to everyone, or that it should apply to everyone. I am more than happy to get contentious on that issue.

  16. You people have just recently have gotten into Kpop, I started listening to Kpop, Jpop & Jrock ten years ago, and I am completely tired of Kpop. I know nowdays people finally are getting into Kpop, but seriously don’t you wonder how long your going to keep liking it. I realized how much it was a fad, I never got tired of Jrock & well as for Jpop I am not crazy about it so much but there are a few artists I like in it. And now days I seriously feel Kpop is using subliminal messages and mind control to make people only listen to their music. I met several girls online who listened to different kinds of music but now suddenly all they talk about is Shinee, and are mesmerized by them & won’t listen or care about anything else.

  17. Ok I have to post my opinion on this:

    I like JPop 10x better than KPop. Why? Because most of the stuff that KPop offers – is pretty much all the stuff I try to escape here in the west everyday – being harassed by the media, radio, and tv w/ all this hip hop, pop, r&b and stuff. It’s honestly the same EXACT thing except “prettier” MVs, flashier advertisements, and in the Korean language. Nothing else different about it.

    As for quality and whose voice is better and such…I’m not sure. Everyone has a different idea of what is the best “voice” or what is “quality” music. It is completely based on opinion. Many people consider Whitney Houston have a beautiful voice while someone like Bjork having a strange voice. But there are also many people out there who think Bjork has a gorgeous voice (like me) and consider the other voices similar to Whitney Houston just damn boring.

    So that’s why I’ll forever stick to JPop – because it’s much much different compared to the stuff I get here in the west. KPop is not remotely different for me UNLESS…I want to listen to people like Outsider and Seo Taiji – they are very very talented artists. Seo Taiji makes any of these KPop girl groups look like shit. And there are some other non mainstream KPop artists which are quite good.

    But as for now…JPop all the way and AKB48 FOR THE WIN!

  18. Obviously Kpop is superior to Jpop in every way. If you look up Kpop music from a DECADE AGO, the music is VERY VERY similar to Jpop now. Jpop groups just need to be cute or be a “pretty boy” in order to get into the industry. Korea has stricter standards and make their artists train hard before debuting. AKB48 is full of “okay” looking girls with small vocal talent. On the other hand, SNSD (Girls’ Generation) is more than capable of singing both high notes and low notes effectively with the different vocal ranges of the members DUE to the training and experience they had prior to debut. Korean groups also tend to be more synchronized and have appeal beyond their looks or music like stage presence and dancing abilities. Jpop groups only get attention from foreigners MAINLY BECAUSE THEY SANG AN ANIME OST or LOOK “SUPER CUTE”. Seriously, I’m so glad Kpop artists are breaking into the Japanese music market. They need a good look of what QUALITY MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT!

  19. Oooooooohhhh!!! I’m not a K-pop basher, but if someone tells bad things about J-pop, I can’t stop myself from getting angry! J-pop started for long time ago. And I could say that some of K-pop bands imitate the J-pop styles. I could say, and it is proven, that K-pop artists are one of the number 1 fans of J-pop. They admited it! J-pop is one of their insperations in terms of styles and songs. J-pop can last for a very very long time. Unlike K-pop, their songs are soooo tiring to listen to. So for me, J-pop rocks forever!!!

  20. And one thing more! Haven’t you noticed? Most of the K-pop songs sound so similar with each other. Even their voices! Yes, they can reach very high and even low notes, but their style in singing is very very same. There is no change. You will not expect new from them. Almost all of the K-artists have boy bands/girl group Can’t you see that? I’m right, am I not?

  21. I am okay with K-POP, but have always been a J-POP supporter. K-POP’s advantages are only their synchronised dances (and their faces) that’s all. Their definition of Pop music is really just Pop music, and nothing more to that. For J-POP, their music reaches and they actually make more sense than just love love love and more love (the world’s got enough to that thanks to E-POP)For eg, KAT-TUN gives off a bad boy band sound, but they can produce cheerful sounding ones like Yorokobi no Uta as well. Shinee on the other hand, only sings songs with the same sounding tunes, like Lucifer and Ring Ding Dong, plus they are really tiring and it gets on your nerves if you hear it being played all over and over again.

  22. For me, SHINee isn’t that tiring. I can liten to their songs all day long😄
    I started to listen to J-POP about…. four years ago. About an half year ago I started to listen to K-POP, and I’m already addicted to it😄. I’m just saying that for me K-POP is better… and it’s true that K-POP songs sometimes sound simillar…. but I don’t really care~
    And the K-POP artist vocals are better, but I’m not sayin’ the J-POP artist vocals are bad, I just prefer K-POP😀

  23. Gosh, I like both JPop & KPop, but this just irritates me. I’m sorry but using AKB48 or any idol group in Japan to represent JPop is one of the most SHALLOW thing that Kpop fans do all the time. Unlike the so-called-phenomenon KPop, Jpop is NOT hopelessly dominated by factory-made idol groups. There are only AKB48 & Arashi on 2010 Yearly Single Ranking Top 10, but on the Album Ranking & digital rankings, other artists’ names appear as well.
    And who cares about synchronised dance & proper vocal while you keep singing banal love songs? At least many idols in Japan have promoted a bunch of meaningful songs about life, which can be hardly found in any KPop groups:/

  24. Yeah J POP FOREVER!!! you know j pop is just much more than just AKB48, or other girlies groups, in j pop you have much more diversitie, and don’t talk about the vocals of the japanese singers…. i haven’t watch one japanese concert in which the singing fail… in fact i belive they are more foccus in the vocals that in the choreagraphy which is the reverse for k pop, so in conclusion k pop is just too plastic, try to listen to other j pop singers and J POP ROCKS!!!

  25. JPOP is WAY BETTER THAN KPOP because Jpop song lyrics makes sense unlike Kpop; the lyrics are repeated, repeated, repeated (ex. Sorry,sorry,sorry blah blah blah) it doesn’t make any sense at all. Jpop songs are inspirational, it calms you when you listen to it. Jpop/rock artists focus on the song/melody/music not on their appearance while Kpop artists focus on their looks, and oh they are PLASTICS.
    About the Kpop artists debuting on Japan, hahaha greedy Kpop artists debut to Japan because they want, I mean they need the money of the Japanese people they can’t get from the Koreans. Oh pathetic.
    Kpoop retards says Kpop is more popular than Jpop, that’s because Kpop artists promotes here, there, and everywhere. They desperately seek for attention. Jpop artists don’t need to do promotions(in other nations) because they are contented on the things/attention they get from the Japanese people.
    Jpop is Jpop, it’s original and cannot be replaced.

  26. The “similarity”, thats what makes k-pop waves around the world. It’s called the “hook song” and its popular all over the world because its catchy and easy to follow. And yes, they use a lot of synthesizer and their faces might look the same BUT on the other hand, there are many solo or groups that does not go in to those categories. Like Bigbang or 2AM or IU or Davichi or 2ne1 or Gumi or Tablo and etc. And also don’t try to listen to the most popular songs of K-pop. Try songs in the same album and there you will fine “varieties”. I agree that j-pop has more varieties since it is the second biggest music market in the world but i also dont stand criticizing K-pop without knowing about them better. K-pop singers really work their butts off for normally more than 7 years if more maybe 10 or 12 years. Because if they are only good at dancing and suck at singing, they get lots of critisism from the fans from other groups. And for the writer, have you ever been to SM audition? It is almost the same as the “American Idols” Passing the audition is harder than getting the star on the sky. lol

    Oh btw I’m Korean who’s living in Canada for long🙂

  27. OMG I cannot believe ow babyish everyone is!!! Like, seriously, who cares if you like jpop or kpop?!!!!! This really IRRITATES me and I can’t stand this childish debate! Can’t we just all make peace GOSH. Babies

  28. Im ok with both of them… but i gotta go with J-pop. People who are using akb48 to represent jpop pisses me off so much… there ALOTTT MORE than that for jpop… (listing to utada hikaru, yanagi nagi, nico nico singer, and alot more….) Oh and also the cuteness thing… not eeryone in the japanese music industry cares focuses about it… god damnit… and also rn’t half of kpop fans attracted to k-pop because of their looks?

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