Will Trot Continue Its Second Glory Day?
Will Trot Continue Its Second Glory Day?
  • Lee Sang Hun
  • 승인 2021.01.28 20:31
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▲Mr. Trot the Movie's Poster (source=www.newsworks.co.kr)
▲Mr. Trot the Movie's Poster (source=www.newsworks.co.kr)

 These days, when walking along the street, people can easily hear Trot songs. After a trot audition program called Mr. Trot gained popularity, people are becoming interested in trot again. As the Mr. trot gained popularity, Mr. Trot: The Movie was released on October 22. It contains not only the Mr. Trot concert, but also the behind-the-scenes and camping stories of the performers that were not released on the broadcast. In addition, viewers can see stars who have become famous for numerous Trot programs appearing in advertisements with their songs. 

 Trot is a genre of Korean pop songs based on a four-quarter beat, and in English it means walking fast and running with a busy pace. According to the Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture, Trot is a popular song formed by the influence of Japanese traditional popular song Enka (엔카) during the Japanese colonial period. At first, it took the form of an Enka's translated song, but domestic creation began after 1930. From the 1960s onwards, its popularity suffered due to the advent of standard pop and folk music, but trot retained its presence on the music scene by mixing with other musical genres. Singer Lee Mi-ja's Lady Dongbaek (동백 아가씨) is an example of gaining popularity with over one million records sold.

 However, in the 1990s and 2000s, the popularity of trot diminished. The reason why trot's popularity declined in these periods was because there was widespread conception that trot was a genre that only adults enjoy. Music critic Lee Young-mi's book Is the song a song these days! (요새 노래가 노래냐!) says “the generations who love trot are becoming the elderlies these days.” Moreover, book introduced that music genres such as rock and hip-hop have captured the hearts of the new young generation.

 Recently, People can see many trot songs on music streaming sites as well as trot programs such as Ms. Trot and Mr. Trot, TV Chosun’s trot audition programs. As an example, Genie Music, a music streaming service, created a trot chart. After creating a trot chart for Genie Music, Hong Se-hee, in charge of streaming at Genie Music, said the consumption of trot music streaming has doubled. From this, people can see that trot is gaining popularity again these days.

 Regarding the reason of current popularity of trot, Professor Min-Jeong Son of Music Education at Korea National University of Education mentioned two things in an interview with Kookmin university (국민대학교) newspaper. The first is the development of platforms and smartphones. With this development, anyone can easily actively consume and reproduce desired contents using a platform such as YouTube. According to Pew Research, a polling agency in the USA, Koreans' smartphone ownership rate in 2019 ranked first in the world at 95%. Based on this high penetration rate, people can consume or reproduce information about trot. Due to these features, trot was able to gain popularity.

 The success of the audition program is also a big reason for the trot recurrence, Professor Sohn said. Before Ms. trot, there were several audition programs in Korea. From Super Star K to The Great Birth, Show Me the Money, the audition program may have been enough to elicit the sympathy of the younger generation. However, since these programs dealt with musical genres that the older generations are not familiar with, they did not get sympathy from the older generations. In this situation, unlike previous audition programs, Ms. trot and Mr. Trot elicited the sympathy of the older generation as well as the younger generation. This is because young audition participants sang songs of a genre familiar to older generations, drawing sympathy from all generations.

▲Because of the popularity of Trot, it is the Romantic Call Center (사랑의 콜센터), a program created by TV Chosun (source=www.sedaily.com)
▲Because of the popularity of Trot, it is the Romantic Call Center (사랑의 콜센터), a program created by TV Chosun (source=www.sedaily.com)


 As with the advantages and disadvantages, as the trot program gained popularity, several problems appeared. Representatively, there are problems that appear when broadcasters organize a lot of trot programs. After organizing several programs, the same performers appeared at the same time zone. Appearing in the same time zone is a problem because it is a rule that has long been considered a taboo among broadcasters. In this regard, there was a conflict between TV Chosun's PPONG School (뽕숭아 학당) and SBS's K-Trot in Town (트롯신이 떳다). 

 In addition, as the number of trot programs aired increases, viewers are feeling tired. In fact, according to the TV schedule survey company ATAM, the number of broadcasts of trot-related programs reached 1,000 times per month. Seeing this, viewers only see trot-related broadcasts when they turn on the TV. The reaction of netizens surveyed by the Korean economy (한국 경제) shows that they are bored because there are too many trot programs. 

The result of excessive program airing through eating and childcare programs

Until various trot programs appeared on TV like now, contents for Mukbang (먹방) and childcare were frequently aired. Therefore, while Mukbang and childcare content was frequently broadcast, viewers quickly lost interest. As a result, it disappeared without maintaining its popularity. Like eating and childcare programs, trot programs are also in crisis due to broadcast frequently. Broadcasting officials say that trot programs are ruthlessly created in order for broadcasters to collect short-term viewer ratings. If the trot program continues in the same system as it is now, it can disappear like eating and childcare programs.

 Regarding the current situation in trot, popular culture critic Lee Seung-han said in an interview with the Hankyoreh (한겨례), "When a hit product comes out, broadcasters try to compete in a similar format, which can eat up the vitality of the genre." Therefore, critic Lee said that even in the same format, it is necessary to try various attempts to maintain popularity. Trot is music that contains the spirit of our nation. In order to maintain trot's second glory day, trot program must learn from other program’s past mistakes and make new attempts to continue its popularity.

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