The Year that was 2012: When Indie came to Town

In this second article of my 2012 review I will be looking at a group that stood out of the crowd for its simplicity and gained critical success and asking could it be the turning point for alternative acts in the industry.

Busker Busker, three guys with a single mission: make music that is simple and accessible. I profiled them earlier this year as a band to watch here.

They went for an unorthodox approach and were the type of group you could imagine playing to you in a cool café.

Their success and fame grew and grew this year with many people seeing them as a refreshing and talented group of men. It also helped that they were down to earth and seemed to be ordinary guys enjoying playing together. In contrast to the idol groups that they were used to who are groomed and come across as the definition of perfection.

I think it also helped that lead singer Jang Bum Joon was friends with Lee Hyori.

Jang Bum Joon in the green with Lee Hyori in the red)

Jang Bum Joon in the green with Lee Hyori in the red

Miss Hyori (if you didn’t know) is an industry veteran having started out in the early days of Kpop with group F.I.N.K.L. She went solo after the group dissolved and has been catapulted to a high level and even being pinned as a ‘sexy icon’. Her face and body sell various products and she is also known for her straight and down to earth manner.

To me it seems that by having one of the largest stars in the Kpop world endorse you (even though you are just a friend) helped to spread the name and brand of Busker Busker. He even appeared on her show ‘Golden 12’ cracking jokes and showcasing just how close they were.

Another thing that made them stand out in my opinion was their American drummer Brad Moore. As I mentioned in my previous article he added a foreign touch and stood out in performances. This gave Busker Busker something that no other group had, a western member. Of course other groups had foreigners in their membership (e.g. Nickchun from 2PM) but these were all people from other Asian countries. You could say that he added an exotic touch (ironic since in the West Asian culture is seen as being exotic).

Their album was successful and they did prove that having a fancy gimmick or elaborate concepts and teasers weren’t necessary anymore to get people hooked on your music.
For me it signalled the turning tide from idol singers to more authentic and real music. However it does beg the question will another group make it the same way Busker Busker did?

I’d like to think so but knowing just how much the big three agencies have control in the Korean music industry I doubt it will happen on the same scale. Busker Busker came through a TV show and were loved and recognised by many. When they debuted it wasn’t some random group from a club from Hongdae, rather three guys that Korean viewers had watched develop on national TV.

Furthermore their sound is accessible and rather safe. What I mean by that is they don’t bring anything too challenging to listeners. They are acoustic but still maintain a pop sound which makes it easy to hear them being played on the same stations as maybe Kpop idols.

Imagine what would happen if a group like The Koxx (who are a great band by the way) managed to get number one performances on Music Core and Inkigayo with music like this:

Busker Busker is a good band who is easy to promote due to their easy listening vibe. The Koxx are rockier and I can see their music fitting into Radio One or XFM.
So what about 2013?

Well Busker Busker haven’t disbanded as some people previously thought, they may not have released any music and gone silent but they are the kind of band that will take their time to create music that they feel best represents them. Unlike Kpop which needs constant music and promotion these guys seem like they want to be inspired and release quality music that they can stand by.

Does this mean 2013 might be the year of change in the music industry, could a rock band, jazz band or even an electronic maverick shake up the system? It could happen.
The idol system is dying and many people (other than teenage girls) are getting fed up of Kpop taking over the mainstream music scene.

2013 could be the year of revolution when say bands like The Koxx and the RockTigers (who bring something brilliant and alternative to the table) could sweep the charts leading to a rock revival. My fingers are crossed.

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