Face Off: Should Canto-pop be replaced by K-pop?

Face Off: Should Canto-pop be replaced by K-pop?

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic. This week...

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K-pop group iKon performing in the AsiaWorld-Expo in May.

Tacye Hong, 18, University of Toronto
I am a Hongkonger, so you would probably expect me to support Canto-pop no matter what. However, the truth is that while I am not a fan of Canto-pop or K-pop, I do know enough to say that Canto-pop is not looking too healthy. 

Our government is making no effort to save  Canto-pop, despite having a huge budget to promote and invest in local culture. Much of this funding has actually gone towards promoting K-pop instead. Since 2012, Hong Kong has been hosting the Mnet Asian Music Awards, one of the largest awards shows in the K-pop world, every year. When the government itself does not believe that Canto-pop is worthy of being promoted, perhaps the time has come for it to be replaced.

The appeal of Korean pop music is mostly based on its stunning choreography and the successful branding done by record labels. Canto-pop is severely lacking in both these areas. 

Gangnam Style may have ridiculous moves unlike the usual K-pop routines, but it has inspired enough people to do dance covers. On the other hand, when Hong Kong group FFx created a song called Sugar Baby, Hong Kong people called it a cheap  K-pop rip-off, and even dubbed it as MK-pop – “Mong Kok pop”. This lack of support shows that Hongkongers don’t care about Canto-pop. 

But why is this happening? One reason is that there are no good singers like Anita Mui Yim-fong and Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing these days. More importantly, the Canto-pop music and lyrics seem to lack inspiration. Songs like Gangnam Style are not only catchy, but tap into issues like social inequality by mocking the rich in a very creative way. Canto-pop songs rarely reflect people’s feelings about our society. Songs about love and separation have become dull and repetitive.

With Canto-pop not receiving enough support even from its  small local market, I believe it is fair to say that it should be replaced  by K-pop. 


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Charlotte Chong Hoi-kwo, 18, CCC Mong Man Wai College
In late 2014, the Song of Umbrella Revolution documented the grief and hope Occupy protesters felt for the future of the city. With the comfort and encouragement provided by the song, people banded together to fight for their beliefs. Most importantly, it showed that Canto-pop isn’t just about love songs, but can also unite people for a common cause. K-pop just wouldn’t have the same impact.

Undoubtedly, K-pop is more popular worldwide. Yet, it can never be as influential as Canto-pop in Hong Kong. Canto-pop artists often use their music to address a particular social issue. As local issues are raised in the lyrics, people begin to identify with the obstacles and difficulties they come across in life. To them, listening to music that echoes their feelings is far more important than music with lots of special effects, for which K-pop is famous. Also,  Canto-pop’s cheerful vibes bring you a sense of relief and happiness. This kind of geniality can only be found in Canto pop.

K-pop’s cool dance routines and high-energy electronic music are undeniably exciting. However, this repetitive music style means fans may get fed up with it after some time. And as result, they may listen to music which has a lot of variety – in other words, Canto-pop.

Music can help people through sad or stressful times. However, understanding and relating to lyrics plays a big part in this. With its energy and long history, Canto-pop represents our own identity and culture. K-pop simply cannot compete.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should Canto-pop be replaced by K-pop?

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