[WS] SNSD to be on Letterman; and, Thoughts on What It Takes to Succeed in the U.S. Market

SNSD to Appear on Two American TV Talk Shows Next Week

It’s been announced that SNSD will appear on two popular American TV talk shows next week. According to SM Entertainment, the girls will be on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS next Tuesday, January 31. The following day, SNSD will perform “The Boys” during their guest appearance on “Live! With Kelly!” on ABC.

A representative of SM Entertainment stated, “SNSD is the first Korean singers to guest star on a talk show on any major American broadcasting channels. We received several love calls from popular TV shows following the release of ‘The Boys’ special album on January 17.” Even without active promotions in the States, SNSD is gaining enormous popularity in America.

Credit: Soompi’s SNSD to Appear on Two American TV Talk Shows Next Week.


Wow, those are some big shows! 소녀시대/Girl’s Generation will be appearing on Letterman at the end of January, as well as an ABC morning show the following day.

To be honest, I don’t see this going too differently from other attempts by in-Asia singers releasing songs in the United States. Some Japanese entertainers have tried, plenty of Korean ones have, and the range includes those who speak English fluently as well as those who tried their best to learn the language. None have retained any memorable presence in the mind of music-loving America.


I’ve always thought that to succeed in the U.S., an Asian artist would have to both impress the American audience as well as gain their respect. A big backer wouldn’t hurt at all, as promotion is necessary and might lend an air of legitimacy.

It would probably be more legitimate, though, if their popularity was established in a grassroots fashion that was able to reach the level of big-label attention and demand. Far East Movement, riding the club/dance trend and utilizing their musical skills, has been able to achieve that to a significant extent. Arguably the most successful recognizably Asian music entertainers in America, they signed in 2010 with Cherrytree Records, which is under Interscope Records.

Far East Movement touring with Rihanna last year in early 2011.

Anyway, having to impress and to garner respect seems to rule out those who go for the too-cool-for-school pop diva/sexy man angle or novelty types. SNSD, as a nine-member girl group, definitely falls under the novelty type. And I feel like K-pop is always trying to be cool. A couple of members speak fluent English and a few can sing, but nothing distinct enough to be a pop diva.

Wonder Girls, using Asian+retro novelty.

I wonder what SM is hoping to achieve — radio airplay? award show performances? entry into the Hollywood market?

SNSD may get some attention, especially with those big names backing their appearances, but it’ll be fleeting, if anything.

I know they work hard and I’m impressed that they’ve landed those TV spots. I’m not trying to be mean. But with Rihanna and Adele ruling the airwaves, I just don’t see American audiences having anything to grab on to here.

Agree or disagree? Sound off!

Posted on January 25, 2012, in kpop, thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Dunno, I don’t think it is all the Korean groups’ fault that they’ve had so much trouble getting a foot in the American door — we are still a pretty xenophobic and racist country. What famous foreigners we do have tend to be 1)white and 2)speak fluent English. I think you’re right too, about the big KPop companies using entirely the wrong approach — in an age where so many people are finding their own music through the internet, as opposed to the radio or MTV, and singer-songwriters having a really profound impact on the American music scene, grassroots is considered more legitimate. I just don’t think SNSD have that much personality, and that is also another issue.
    (Now Brown-Eyed Girls, on the other hand… :D)

    • Mm, I think in music there are a good amount of famous black foreigners as well. And I think it’s natural to want to be able to understand what people are saying/singing. I do agree though that there is a “cool factor” that is not traditionally associated with Asians and which makes it difficult to get a foot in the door. The accent doesn’t help too. To most Americans, Asia is still probably a strange and mystical kind of thing, and the Asian in America is kind of geeky and negligible and still strange… haha well personality is also another reason why it’s hard for Kpop to make it here too. I think even outside of other areas (music, image, etc.), the Korean company model shapes different kind of personalities based on the culture which don’t come across as well here. I think YG artists would have the most luck, actually.

  1. Pingback: [WS] Footage of SNSD on David Letterman « songprints ⋰ follow the trail

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