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Rise to the Top, Indie Band

 

   
 
   
 
People wait in front of their televisions every Friday night for programs that are loved by many citizens of Korea. Superstar K and Top Band are hit programs that mesmerize the viewers with their unique excitement. Numbers of talented singers and bands were discovered due to these programs. For instance, the band 'Mongni' lured the viewers with their melodic voice and rhythm that were easy to remember. The band 'Daydreak' on the other hand, grasped the attention through the powerful voice of the vocalist. As the famous indie bands that appear on television have no flaws compared to those that perform at rock festivals, the popularity of the indie bands has been going through the roof.

 

In Korea, indie bands first came to the attention of the public because of the anniversary of the death of Curt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the rock group, Nirvana. The anniversary performance which took place on Hongik University in 1995 started the rise of indie bands. Many of the fans of Nirvana gathered to perform famous songs of Nirvana, Metallica and Led Zepplin, at an event which suddenly grew in large numbers, leading the fans and the bands to be mixed. Due to the unique style of stage performing, the cultural critics back in those times referred to such bands as independent bands or indie bands since they made music in their own style with their own money. In addition to this, personal computers developed, making home studios, DJ-ing and producing possible and bringing small record labels into existence. This started the proliferation of indie bands in Korea and produced very famous bands such as Huckleberry Finn and Deli spice, bands which are loved by large numbers of fans from variety of age groups.

The independent bands were very popular back in the 1990s as people loved rock music. Many of the fans made their own bands and performed at live bars and cafes. However, as they were independent bands with no financial support, they had difficulty in maintaining their band. Incomes were spent on paying taxes and rents, leaving no profit to the members. Generally, independent bands did not live a happy and stable life. However, nowadays as people have started to recognize the works of indie bands, their profitability has increased. According to "Mirror ball Music", the biggest indie music distributor in Korea, the market has grown 3~4 times over the past few years. Famous Bands such as "Black Skirt" and "Jangiha and the faces" have released their second albums, which has strengthened the indie music market.

There has been a sudden increase of interest in indie bands as successful albums were introduced to the media. '10cm', 'Crying nut' and 'No brain' all made albums that showed their color of the music. This music became popular as they were unique in some way and eventually ranked on weekly music charts. One successful band is ‘Epitone project’ who released their title song '5122' in last June. This title ranked number one on diverse music charts such as Melon, Naver, Daum on the day of its release. Moreover, only after two weeks of release, the album had been sold over a million copies and was used in diverse TV programs and in dramas as BGM (background music, which allowed their songs to be known even more widely.)

The increase in indie market and the rising popularity of indie bands are due to several reasons, beginning with a change in the way people see them. In the past, people reckoned that songs of independent bands were sad and depressing. However, nowadays many realize that indie bands have songs and melodies that are easy to remember, leading indie songs to become more popular than before. 'Janggjiha and the face' is one of the bands that reflect this issue clearly. They created music such as 'Cheap coffee' and 'by the middle of anything' which received the pop music award for its creativeness. In addition, in an interview with Cha Woo-jin), a music critic, he claimed that the listeners tend to believe indie band music to be different from the trendy idol music, thinking it is really music that has no commercial use.

The current audition programs also enhanced the reputation of the indie bands as countless numbers of independent bands or singers participated in the audition and gained fame. Bands such as 'Transfiction' and 'Harry Big Button' performed their music on stage grabbing the attention of the viewers. In an interview with 'Lee Sung Soo,' the lead vocal and guitar of the band 'Harry Big Button,' he mentioned that the band decided to audition in 'Top Band 2' in order to make their music more widely known to the public. According to him, there were not enough chances and places to perform their type of music on stage, thus making it a good idea to attend the program. Moreover, the popularity of 'Harry Big Button' was proven when hundreds of viewers made fuss about the band being eliminated from the quarter finals.

The final and critical reason that enhanced the status of indie bands is the help of SNS and phases. Bands that were not well known were able to gain fame and interest after people experienced their music and started talking to their friends. To add on, people posted their “likes” of certain indie music on Facebook or the internet which helped proliferating the existence of some bands. For instance, the famous '10cm' was able to become renowned after their music went on television. After hearing the song, viewers commented how fun the lyrics and the rhythm were. It eventually caught the attention of millions of online users who also enjoyed through Youtube, the largest video sharing website. This led the name '10cm' to be more widely known, helping the band to make their name receive attention from the public.

To conclude, the music made by indie bands is catching people's attention. Indie bands have existed for a long time in Korea, slowly gaining attention of the public. Through the help of the current social networking sites as well as popular TV shows, the indie bands are creating a more stable foundation of fans than in the past. Thus, people must realize the inevitable truth that the indie bands have a chance of success in the Korean media. Be aware of the rise of the indie bands, the flight to glory is imminent.

Lee Dong jun  jacks222@hanmail.net

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