Thursday, June 28, 2012

Could Ailee be the key to K-pop's breakthrough in America?

Ailee, a more recent K-pop soloist, could very possibly be the key to having K-pop break out in America (at least in my opinion).

Born and raised a Jersey girl, Ailee has deeper connections to America than most K-pop stars.  Ailee started out as an artist under an independent agency called Muzo Entertainment and worked with several artists before her Korean debut.  It was with Muzo Entertainment when Ailee started and released several videos through her Youtube channel.  Although these videos were very well-done (and every one of them a cover of an American song), they were not as big as her performance on the Maury show in 2008.  Ailee placed 2nd in the Maury Show talent show, but "wowed" many audience members and viewers with that 2008 performance.  It was after the Maury show when Ailee underwent training in order to prepare for her Korean debut in 2011.

Through an Arirang interview conducted only a few months ago, Ailee revealed that she could have pursued an American music career, but decided to debut in Korea to begin where her "Korean roots" were.  Even though it was a hard choice to make -- leaving your home country and starting anew in a new country is not an easy transition -- Ailee stood by her decision to move to Korea.  Ailee also stated that she was very interested in K-pop when she lived in America and listened to groups such as 2NE1 and Big Bang for fun.  Ailee thought that debuting in Korea would be a "fresh start" to her musical career.

During her appearance in Korea during September 2011, Ailee blew judges away with her rendition of BeyoncĂ©'s "Halo" on Korea's MBC show "Singers and Trainees."  Although the song was sung in English, there was no doubt that the judges could hear the refined and professional sound that Ailee was capable of giving.  The judges knew for certain that Ailee would go far no matter what she did musically; she subsequently won first place at the end of the show.


Before Ailee even released a Korean song or single, she was cast as a member of the 2nd season of popular Korean drama Dream High.  Ironically, she played a student who wants to become a K-pop idol and star.  Ailee stated that, even though it was a lot of work, she had a lot of fun filming the drama series as she "got to get close" with the cast members.

Ailee's debut Korean single "Heaven" in February 2012 was what really highlighted that Ailee could definitely be a K-pop idol.  "Heaven" reached a peak position of number 3 on multiple Korean music charts -- a great feat for debuting solo artist.  Ailee's Korean success proved that she was able to transition from being a solely American music artist to being an international idol and star.

Ailee's Korean success continued when she released her collaboration song with SISTAR's Hyorin and T-ARA's Jiyeon called "Superstar."  "Superstar" reached a peak position of 9 on Korea's Gaon Chart.

Ailee is set to make a K-pop comeback by the end of this month.

With fluency in both Korean and English (her accent is little to none!), she could serve as a major link between the Korean and American music industry.  If Ailee continues to do well in Korea (maybe even becoming Korea's most popular solo artist), then it may be a piece of cake for Ailee to make it in America.  If Ailee builds up her reputation high enough in Korea, then her debut in America could make her one of the leading Asian-American music artists (we don't have many of those!).  

However, Ailee has made no such move yet.  Although she is still in the beginnings of her career, Ailee has made no mention of returning to the American music industry.   Whatever choice she makes, it is certain that Ailee, at only the age of 23, will continue to rise as one of K-pop leading solo artists.

Image Source: YMC Entertainment Official Website

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