K-Khmer pop on the rise

K-Khmer pop on the rise

120629_13d

K-pop, the Korean take on hip hop that has swept through Asia over the last decade, may be facing a fresh challenge from singing sensation Khemarak Sereymon, whose latest single blends the Korean word for “love” (Sarang) with the Khmer word for “you” (Aun) in the ballad’s title.



Call it KK-pop, K-Khmer, or whatever you want, but what’s undeniable is that the swiftness with which it surged to the top of the Kingdom’s charts signals that Khmer artists can rise above K-pop imports just as Koreans learned to make the hip-hip brand and other generic western imports distinctively Asian.

Sereymon’s luxurious voice is at its best when he’s in agony, though its full range has yet to be tapped and there’s a hint of Sam Cooke in there. He’s a singer who continues to soar above his lyrics, like he’s awaiting a songwriter who can hear the depth of authenticity he pours into songs that more often than not are banal.

The video for his latest video also jars with the purity of his vocal appeal: it’s all dressed up in ostentatious clichés – business suits, a run in with a gang of cell-phone snatchers, a chase that leads to a ballerina, a slap across the face followed by a kiss, and a date on a yacht that ends, apparently, in a drowning.

Khemarak Phearun, the singer’s brother and a songwriter at Sunday Production – which manages Sereymon – told 7Days the use of a Korean word was meant to grab attention. “It’s like adding a bit of foreign spice to enhance the taste of local dish.”

“What makes Sereymon special is that he always sings with all his heart,” Phearun said. “When you put your heart into your song, it comes out so perfectly. People can’t imagine how much effort we have put into the production of each album.”

Sereymon is adored by Cambodian youths – it doesn’t hurt that he’s a delight to the eyes – and is being carefully marketed as a symbol of their aspirations.

It’s a shame his managers haven't looked beneath the surface of the younger generation’s dreams, but Sereymon has a voice that can survive the cheap appeal it’s being subjected to so far.

The video for Sarang Aun is here.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said