Hardly anyone outside Korea knows or remembers the first generation. Going international was one of the traits of its successor wave: Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube, even ranked "Tell Me" by the Wonder Girls as among one of his favourite clips.
Way back when Sohee was cute and HyunA wasn't the sex symbol she is today.
The Wonder Girls were the first real supergroup of the second generation, and they followed that up with one of the most annoyingly famous songs in recent memory.
"Nobody" put the Wonder Girls and a little bit of K-pop in the international spotlight. Up until they left for America and were subsequently forgotten by the hordes, the Wonder Girls very nearly single-handedly redefined Korean pop culture with their outrageous concepts, cutesy group choreography and judicious uploads to YouTube. They set a template that was to be emulated in the years to follow - most notably by their arguable successors, SNSD.
They were pretty before they were slutty.
SNSD were achieving moderate local success until the release of "Gee", which set an unbeaten record of 9 weeks at No. 1 on KBS Music Bank. It spawned a wave of idol groups which attempted to capitalise on the instant fame and and popularity that the Wonder Girls' template could produce.
It also heralded the increasing use of meaningless lyrics in pop songs.
2009 also saw unique twists on the tried-and-tested formula in the form of 2NE1 and T-ara. "Fire" was catchy, but not in the girl-next-door way that the YouTube fapboys had come to expect. Neither was "Bo Peep Bo Peep", which had two different MVs released in response to the "Mature" rating slapped on one of them by the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
It marked a significant shift from the subliminal pedophilic ahjusshi fap message that SNSD was trying to implement, to the overtly sexual territory as peddled by the newbies. "Mister" brought small-timers Kara overnight success with that infamous butt-dance.
I'd tap that.
By now the entertainment companies were catching on and group after group debuted, providing the hordes with more fap material - but at a significantly reduced quality. It used to be that the music was even tolerable (mileage generally varied with gender and age), but it eventually came to be all about the MVs and the hapless underaged sexpots on feature.
The 4minute sluts.
4minute set a new low with their banned choreographies, as did the Brown Eyed Girls with "Abracadabra".
Ga-In. That is all.
At some point, the industry reached saturation as idol groups began to debut every other month. After School, Secret, miss A, Dal Shabet, SISTAR, f(x), Girls' Day and a whole host of other groups that tried to break away from the sexytime mould garnered moderate fame in and around Asia, but never came close to the level of success that their predecessors attained. YouTube views also did not translate into profits, and as the South Korean charts started getting stuffed with just about anyone who could sing and dance, the entertainment companies started going for the Japanese market.
Auto-tune is one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread.
SNSD's "Mr. Taxi" was about the only original song made for the Japanese market. The rest were repackaged and translated versions of earlier hits; T-ara's "Bo Peep Bo Peep" was, unsurprisingly, a resounding success over there. Other artistes tried their hand at going solo instead, and in doing away with the group thing, brought K-Pop to a whole new level of kitsch.
"Not all Asian girls look like HyunA. wake up guys k"
K-Pop eventually started to gain traction in the all-important American market (after the Wonder Girls failed miserably), and people like will.i.am and Teddy Riley started to make inroads into the scene by making shiteous songs like "The Boys".
K-Pop music today sounds nothing quite like when it first started out; for better or for worse, the sales are still going strong and the fans are no less retarded than from when it really started taking off. If anything, it served as a halfway-decent primer to Korean culture and a slightly skewed introduction (not all Korean girls are that good looking, unfortunately) to a land where image is everything.