New East Digital Archive

Introducing Q-pop: the genre you’ve never heard of causing scandal in Kazakhstan

16 November 2016

So, you know K-pop and J-pop, but how about Q-pop? Meaning Qazaq-pop (or Kazakh pop), this new genre is making waves in Kazakhstan, largely due to its founding group Ninety One.

Kazakhstan’s biggest and first self-proclaimed Q-pop group Ninety One is used to adoring fans in larger cities, but a recent country-wide tour saw a less than enthusiastic response in more remote areas.

Known for their flamboyant look, akin to many K-pop stars, the exclusively Kazakh-language group had particular trouble on 20 October, when the band were due play in the socially conservative southern city of Kyzylorda. Protesters demanded that their concert be cancelled, arguing that the band’s look was “too gay” to represent Kazakh men and that the name Ninety One is inappropriate, because Kazakhstan declared itself independent from the USSR in 1991. In the end, the most determined fans simply sang in the street, even after the band themselves had given up on finding an alternative concert location and returned to their hotel.

In Shymkent, a group describing themselves as “youth activists” took to social media in an attempt to force concert organisers into cancelling a Ninety One gig, claiming that the band’s appearance was an insult to Kazakh heritage. Such tactics weren’t necessary in the central city of Zhezqazghanm where city officials banned the group as a preemptive measure.

The scandal surrounding the tour has unleashed considerable debate on social media, with many fans outraged that protesters would feel the need to act as self-appointed guardians of national culture.

Source: Radio Liberty