To 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.
The 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.
Jang’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).
- Jang Yoon-jeong’s first album (from 2004) at YesAsia, which includes 어머나!
- Jang Yoon-jeong’s home page
- Chosun story, interviewing Jang, Park and Super Junior about the attractions of Trot
- Park Hyun-bin’s first album (from 2006) at YesAsia
- LKL CD reviews: