Korean language pop song a huge success in USA

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Korean language pop song a huge success in USA

English is no longer the default language of American pop. K-pop’s chart-topper has lyrics mostly sung in Korean. Between 2013 and 2016, as K-pop grew dramatically in popularity in America, US college enrolments in Korean language classes went up 65%, even as overall enrolments in foreign language courses dropped off.

The rise in popularity of the Korean language in USA coincides with a rise in the number of requests for our Korean translation, interpreting and transcription services.

According to the article in the Guardian, in the 16 years between the summer of the Macarena in 1996 and the viral success of Psy’s Gangnam Style in 2012, there wasn’t a single song performed in a language other than English to hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

In the past three years though, the proportion of non-English tracks on Billboard has been increasing. This has, in large part, been down to the success of reggaeton artists and, in particular, Despacito, the Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi hit that had a 16-week record-breaking reign at No 1 last summer. Despacito opened the door for other latin tracks. In 2016, the year before its release, there were just four Spanish-language tracks in the top 100 all year. In 2017, there were 19.

The number is almost certainly set to rise this year. This week’s Billboard 100 features six non-English songs including Fake Love by BTS – sung in Korean – and Te Bote, Dura, X and Dame Tu Cosita – reggaeton tracks all performed in Spanish.

After the success of Despacito, Luis Fonsi had said he was sent videos from all over the world of “people trying to nail the Spanish, trying to learn a bit of Spanish through the song”. Spanish has long been the most commonly learned language in the US, but the influence of K-pop’s Korean lyrics is being felt in the languages young Americans are learning.

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