Music is music

Dean music blog

DEAN, an R&B singer-songwriter and producer from South Korea. Photo: Pearl Shin

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a strong emphasis placed on music based on where it originates from. For instance, Korean music is always prefaced with exactly that, “Korean” music, such as k-hiphop, k-indie, k-pop, etc. The list goes on. When I asked some friends about this, a lot of them didn’t think of it as that big of a deal – and I agree. I think it’s fine to acknowledge the a song’s culture and language of origin. However, I find it a bit troublesome when music starts to get belittled because of its place of origin.

A lot of times, music from different cultures get categorized into a separate genre and is oftentimes automatically pushed down and considered as somewhat inferior. A comment I commonly hear is, “This is really good for a (insert ethnic culture) song.” Most of the time, these kinds of statements aren’t said with malicious intent. Usually, it’s just a passing thought. However, that in and of itself becomes problematic, especially since at that point, it’s something that’s so innately ingrained in our thoughts that things like “American” or “western” music is automatically better or is the ideal.

This goes beyond the music and onto the musicians and artists, as well. It’s so common for me to things like “This artist is Asian? I had no idea because he sounds so American,” “He sounds pretty good for an Asian rapper,” or “She sounds like a Korean version of Ariana Grande,” and so on.

That being said, I think it’s important that we make a conscious effort to be less segregating when we listen to different music and artists based on their ethnicity or cultural background. How we judge music should be based on the music, rather than the fact their cultural or ethnic background or their similarity to American artists.

If you want to check out some music by talented Asian and Asian-American musicians, check out the songs “D (Half Moon)” By DEAN, “Romance in Seoul” by Neon Bunny, “Safe” by Dumbfoundead, “She’s Dreaming” by EXO, and “Beside Me” by Code Kunst.


Pearl Shin

Pearl Shin is a senior majoring in English with a concentration in media, rhetoric and cultural studies, and minoring in political science and philosophy. When she isn’t writing for UIC News, doing homework, or catching up on sleep, she enjoys watching foreign films, going to geek conventions, tutoring at the Writing Center, and photographing events around Chicago. She is the public relations officer of UIC’s pre-law society and the program director of UIC Radio.

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