London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Trot makes a comeback

Jang Yoon-jeongTo be perfectly accurate, I don’t think Trot ever really went away. Rather, like many trends in popular culture, its fanbase was getting older and there would come a point when no-one was listening to it any more. But when Trot compilations are selling millions through street vendors (see chapter 7 of Keith Howard’s book), it’s not dead yet.

But what has been happening is that it’s finding a new, younger audience. Just as Robbie Williams and Rod Stewart have been exploring the songs of the Rat Pack, so a young generation of K-pop singers have been exploring the popular music heritage enjoyed by their parents and grandparents, reintroducing it to the new generation.

Park Hyun-binThe revival is generally dated to 2005, when Jang Yoon-jeong (장윤정 – above right) released her single 어머나! (Oh my goodness). Reading between the lines of the KBS article linked to above, Jang’s record company had been badgering her for a while to make the crossover, since her pop career stalled after showing initial promise. Since then the money-men have been grooming new Trot stars, such as Park Hyun-bin (박현빈 – left), and even Super Junior have helped the trend by trying to blend it with dance music. (Update: Super Junior T – the Trot music subgroup of Super Junior – released their first single on 26 Feb 2007)

More established Trot singers are still managing to hold their own. Tae Jin-a (태진아), now into his 50s, and Song Dae-gwan (송대관), who turned 60 last year, came second and third to Rain in a recent survey of most popular male singers.

Song Tae-gwan (left) with Tae Jin-aJang’s new version of Trot is spreading. She gave her first US concert in LA earlier this month, with a tour of Japan to follow next month. Park, meanwhile, has gained popularity in Thailand. But it will be a while before either of them clock up the accumulated sales of veterans Song and Tae (right).


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