Korean pop music is growing ever more popular across the Middle East, with Morocco being no exception.
Rabat – At first glance, South Korea’s K-Pop music scene and Morocco have little in common, but the genre is becoming a growing sensation in the Maghreb and the Middle East. K-pop is a style of pop music that blends hip hop, electronic dance music, and traditional pop music into a colorful blend of sights and sounds.
K-pop is spreading around the world, its performers have transformed from national stars to international mega-celebrities on par with top artists from the US and the UK. K-pop group Blackpink performed at the renowned Coachella festival in 2019 and the genre’s clout is only growing.
Conservative Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have seen a boom in K-pop’s popularity. In the Maghreb, Algeria and Morocco are the top countries where K-pop is on the rise.
Within the Middle East, the UAE is currently the most obsessed with Korean pop music. Two large concerts had been booked for 2020 in Dubai, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to their cancellation to the despair of Emirati fans. The concerts intended to outdo a 2019 show in Saudi Arabia, where popular K-pop group BTS drew 60,000 Saudi fans to Riyadh.
According to data from Spotify, Morocco is the fourth most K-pop-obsessed country in the Middle East. The love seems mutual, as K-pop boy band BIG in January released the K-pop song “la bezzaf” that featured words in Darija. K-pop group Ateez also filmed the music video for their song “treasure” in Morocco.
What is K-pop?
K-pop is a catch-all name for the Korean pop music worth $4.5 billion worldwide. The K-pop industry consists of large corporations who fund the composition and training of groups of either all men or all women. The groups undergo months of rigorous training before they are provided with pre-written music and choreography by their company.
The life of a K-pop star is not as glamorous as that of many traditional music artists. K-pop groups face grueling schedules and tough competition within the Korean music scene. K-pop stars are called “idols” and are expected to behave within tight constraints. They are asked to always present an image of perfection and are often not allowed to date in their personal life.
K-pop music videos are a sight to behold. Tightly choreographed hip hop dancing is combined with bright colors and skimpy outfits to produce a cacophony of sight and sound. K-pop lyrics are often a blend of Korean and English with catchy refrains that appeal to audiences from China to Morocco.
The rise of K-pop in Algeria has received much attention as the music genre spreads globally. But Morocco’s obsession with the glitzy music genre has so far gone relatively unnoticed, in spite of K-pop-related topics regularly appearing as top trending social media topics in Morocco and the region.
It appears that K-pop has so remained somewhat of a guilty, unspoken pleasure for people in Morocco. But as the pop genre becomes ever more popular, it will likely attract commercial interests. With global sensation such as BTS and Blackpink conquering the global music scene, it is only a matter of time until the first large-scale K-pop concert is announced in Morocco.