K-Pop in Israel?
K-pop is loved all over, but what happens when it’s sound is transformed? That’s what artist Ella Lee (אלה לי) explores in her song ”Zot Ani” (זות אני). After her performance on Hakokhav HaBa (הכוכב הבא) she debuted this song on her 17th birthday. Produced by Johnny Goldstein, this teenager puts her own Israeli spin on the K-pop sound. “Zot Ani” blew up in terms of popularity, and this caused people to make direct comparisons to another song, “Hip” by K-Pop star, Mamamoo. For instance, the issue was discussed by Israeli/Korean vloggers Jai Life in the clip below:
Both songs have an incredibly similar sound which leads to the conclusion, Ella Lee copied Mamamoo. Here, watch Mamamoo’s video and decide for yourself:
Another thing you might notice is that in Israel, it’s not unusual for the song’s producer to be credited in the title of the video when it’s uploaded to YouTube. This begs the question of Johnny Goldstein’s role in this. Was the cultural appropriation of a Korean art form, which itself is a cultural appropriation of American pop music, a decision he made? Or is Ella Lee legit a fan of K-Pop? Also, is it just me or is it funny that a guy called “Johnny Goldstein” is an acclaimed and successful music producer in Israel – but in the diaspora he would typically be some guy who hangs out at the bagel shop ordering smoked fish?
Ultimately, let’s not forget that this is Ella Lee’s first single ever, and she’s only 17 years old. She’s managed over 12 million views and she’s undoubtedly talented, professional and fun. As for the charge of appropriation, let’s also not forget that Israel is actually in Asia. Chew on that.