There hasn’t been a strong presence of Asians or Asian-Americans in the music of the United States. Several artists like BoA and Utada have carved very small niches for their fans online. One of the latest groups to attempt breaking into the US market is Korea’s Wonder Girls. Managed by JYP Entertainment, The Wonder Girls have become minor internet sensations with their music videos for “Tell Me” and “Nobody.” One could find thousands of vocal covers, dance-covers, homemade English versions, and music video parodies of many of the Wonder Girls’ discography.
The Wonder Girls have even made concert tours in the United States under JYP Entertainment hitting New York City and Los Angeles. The girls have spent the last few months training in English as well as reproducing their music from Korean. Soon they will be releasing their hits “Nobody” and “Tell Me” into the English market. Can the girls hit the Billboard charts with steam or will they be like Utada and bubble in the upper 100s of the Top 100. Here are a few advantages the Wonder Girls have over Boa and Utada.
They have a tour lined up – The Wonder Girls have announced that they will serve as the opening act to the Jonas Brothers. Some fans are a little confused about the idea (read: they are not fans of the Jonas Brothers), but when one realizes that all the girls are younger than 25 it makes some sense. With the Jonas Brothers being huge in the teen sector, the Wonder Girls can capture a huge market.
They have very catchy music – I don’t speak Korean and I love their music. Why? Because it has this universal pop sound. I don’t need to know what they are saying because it’s fun to listen to. For all I know they could be talking about feminine hygiene and I would still love their music. The real question is if their songs will lose something in translation.
They have aggressive management – I truly think that Park Jin Young, founder of JYP Entertainment, knows what he is doing. He’s striking while the iron is hot getting the girls to learn not only English, but Japanese, and Chinese as well.
Fashion Sense – I’m often jealous of petite Asian women because they often can wear a combination of different clothes and mysteriously pull it off. The girls have a very colorful fashion sense and all of them could be trend setters. The “Nobody” video is a take on the film Dreamgirls but they often perform the song in different outfits. If one looks online they have different costumes spreading out the gamut of 60s fashion when they perform “Nobody” in different venues. Their fashion will not stagnate at 50s/60s girl group clothes, but rather be influenced by both European and Asian fashion trends.
They are young – There is the slight chance that the girls will fail in the US, but they still have time to attempt another hit. They have the youth and stamina to tour their songs. They know the usefulness of websites like Facebook and MySpace. They all have Twitter accounts. The girls can make a grassroots push using the internet fan base to gain fame.
As an Asian-American, I hope that the Wonder Girls succeed. Young Asians don’t have many Asian role models, and very few (a few American Idol contestants) are singers.