Kpop is the most recognized music genre in Korea. However, it isn’t the only favorite of the Korean public. Although many do not know it, trot (트로트) is one of the genres preferred by the older generations. Trot is described as the ideal musical rhythm to enliven the atmosphere of gatherings and noraebang nights. Despite the fact that for the new generations the trot sounds old-fashioned, in recent years it has captured the attention of many. Next, discover the history and characteristics of this very particular genre:
Trot, the genre of music recognized as the oldest form of Korean pop. Originating during the Japanese occupation of Korea, from 1910 to 1945, this rhythm developed under the influence of the Japanese genre enka. Likewise, it is affirmed that due to the presence of the United States Army, certain North American rhythms contributed to its evolution. However, it is important to recognize that its popularity grew when the genre began to evolve on its own.
During the 1960s through the 1980s, trot was characterized for containing sad and tragic lyrics. Later, in the 90s, with the appearance of Kpop, its popularity decreased. Fortunately, during the 2000s it revived its popularity with fresher compositions. Thus the tragedy was left behind, focusing on happy and ideal compositions for celebratory moods.
But what makes trot such a particular genre? Well, trot is characterized by its lively and repetitive rhythm. This contagious rhythm is accompanied by a singing in which the vocal inflections, also known as “꺾기” or broken voice, are the main element. This vocal technique brings energy, passion, joy, and fun to songs. Regarding the content of the lyrics, this is mainly based on themes related to love and party.
Returning to the phenomenon of repopularization of the genre during the 2000s, the entertainment industry was in charge of keeping its promotion alive in order to support its evolution. Subsequently, from the 2010s to date, television and radio programs have created diffusion spaces for the most recognized singers of the genre.
Precisely, in 2019 the Miss trot contest was created, an audition program where 100 contestants compete. The winner receives a cash prize and also the opportunity to record a single. Thanks to the success of the innovative program, a second edition was held in 2020 with male competitors called Mr trot. By surprise, due to the beginning of the confinement, this version exceeded the audience of the first one. As a consequence, it gave way to the creation of various contest formats around trot, increasing its popularity not only among adult audiences, but also among the youngest.
The history of trot confirms the importance of keeping traditional elements of culture alive, since its objective will always be to create spaces for interaction and fun. We invite you to enjoy Korean musical products from another genre, indeed, from the genre that gave life to the audience favorite, Kpop.
Written by: Laura Fino
Edited by: Mónica Pinzón