The Wonder Girls, Still Trying to Break America

With the success of Psy in America it seems the world of Kpop is trying to follow suit.
JYP, one of the top three entertainment agencies and home to top idols such as Miss A and 2PM is hoping to get itself noticed in the US.

Out of all the acts on the JYP roster, it seems the Wonder Girls have been earmarked as JYP’s export overseas for a long time. The girls have been actively promoting in the US since 2009 when they were the opening act for the Jonas Brothers tours.

They generated a relatively good level of press and even starred on Teen Nick in their own original movie. They centred themselves as catering for a teenage audience and provided the bright and colourful sound and imagery that this audience would expect to see and would respond to.

Granted the movie received good press, the girls themselves didn’t make too much of a splash.
Of course their American fans felt that the girls were making headway into the American music industry and followed their performances and TV performances.

It seemed that they had sacrificed their position at home in and with the birth of many more debuts, The Wonder Girls became all bit a distant memory.

When they returned this year with their new album ‘Wonder Party’ and following on from their member change (Sunmin choosing to focus on her academic activities whilst JYP trainee Lim joined) the girls slotted right back into the Kpop consciousness.

The single ‘Like this’ was fun, young and provided a fresh sound from the harsh dance based music coming from other idol groups. Again the image of fresh, young and down to earth girls provided the perfect formula for them to capture the hearts and bank balances of their fans and others alike.

Although they haven’t had as much success as they would like to they really marked a turning point for Asian Americans in the US. They also raised the profile of Kpop amongst some of the American populace.

America is the land of many opportunities but also the home to a wide range of music genres that seem to coexist. Mainstream pop is still the key driver and people such as Justin Bieber are safe in the knowledge that they fit the bill of how most Americans want their pop to be.

Popular music (for which pop music is the short form) is relatable to teenagers and kids. They are the ones discussing the top singles and their favourite artists at school. They are the ones that will press for their parents to purchase albums and all of their artist merchandise. They are also the ones to show blind devotion to their stars.

In a sense this pop phenomenon is akin to religious worship, where one worships a god and carries out the mission (spreading the word of their favourite artist and helping them to gain more and more fame).
America is the also the land of many ethnicities and the Asian community is strong and thriving. Kpop is alive in these communities and through shows and word of mouth it is easy for Kpop acts to get themselves a substantial audience.

Psy of course bypasses this and seems to stand for the return of fun in music.

JYP is right to send the girls back out to America at a time when Psy’s presence is bringing Kpop to the American audience.

Of course the girls have featured on local radio stations and have done interviews and even featured on the most famous gossip website Perez Hilton.

Perez Hilton is the go to website for all the latest celebrity gossip in Hollywood. Anyone who is anyone knows that they are famous once Perez Hilton starts talking about them. The website generates over 1 million hits a month and most of his traffic comes from the US.

He has featured the girls before and recently sat down for an exclusive interview.
All this is great news for the girls but they are merely scratching the surface when it comes to success in the US.

Yes they may have worked with Akon on their single ‘Like Money’ but this just sounded like everything else already available in the charts at the moment.

They need to get more radio play and also get their faces on every chat show they can get. Unlike Girls Generation who were just plain terrible on Letterman they have to make sure that they position themselves as offering something new to the market.

This is the fundamental principle of business. What can you can do that the other people in your market aren’t doing at the moment.

The American music system is so saturated that there are numerous charts for the different genre present. Some of these genres are very successful and can stand alone (case in point Country Music).

They need to show that they are the girls next door that are real and accessible. They must go against the Kpop marketing system which seems to rely on overly attractive boys and girls (most of whom had some help in that department) who are to be worshipped and loved from afar.

They need to be silly, make mistakes, show their real selves and just have fun with it.

Everyone thinks you need a serious game plan in order to crack America; Psy has completely smashed that theory (of course he is a viral wonder and some would argue a one hit wonder).

The girls already have the chilled out easy breezy vibe about them, they just need to stick with their current concept of the talented girls next door.

They need to ditch the costumes, control and regulated personality and be themselves when it comes to international activities. Save all the drama and concepts for their Korean activities.

Ladies you’re doing a great job but just turn it up a notch and don’t be afraid to ride Psy’s coattails.

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