In Defence of Chad Future… kind of.

Years ago there was a man, a strong and deep man, who proclaimed that haters should leave Britney (Spears) alone. Today I take a leaf out of that very man’s books and proclaim:


chad future

All the ladies be screaming out “Chad OPPA!”

Before you stop reading or curse me (“No more K-Music for you, Sasha!” I hear you cry) give me a second to explain. I’m not a fan of Mr Chad Future. From the first time I saw him in the unfortunate group Heart2Heart I knew that he would forever have a special place in my book of musical shame, and not for good reasons.* But my feelings of contempt for him ended at that. He would never be a bias (I have one and he’s not an idol), nor would I ever be a fan and that was that.

Even when he came back as a soloist and proclaimed that he would be making ‘American K-Pop’ (isn’t that just pop?) I barely batted an eyelid, shrugging it off as another attempt at publicity. Unfortunately I was wrong. Chad came back with a vengeance and over the past few years has built up not only a fan base for himself but also acclaim for his covers of popular songs from the very idols he is setting out to impress. This alone should gain him a little respect.

Even if you detest the persona of Chad Future there should be acknowledgement for the sheer drive and determination that David Lehre has. Despite being constantly mocked and knocked back by both fans and companies he has managed not only to release more songs and covers than most debuted K-Pop groups but even to get his very own self titled show on MNET America with “I AM CHAD FUTURE“. Not bad for a guy everybody loves to hate.

However it would seem that, in the world of K-Pop, to a fan once you are marked as unworthy for their love and attention it takes a little more than Oppa declaring his love for hot covers to get let off from the often stream of abuse he gathers online. And no matter what your perspective of the guy is there really is no need for that. His worthiness as a performer should not be based purely on whether or not he has been okayed by one Korean idol. It’s fine to complain about his music- hell, let your voice be heard on that issue because it’s not the greatest – but it’s another to complain about his race.

Yes, some fans have complained not about the music Mr Future makes but the colour of his skin, and that in itself is wrong. My understanding of music is that it is universal. To quote Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on.” It may be that the issues that arise over Chad being a white male attempting to make it in the world of K-Pop could almost be a gut reaction with fans being taken aback by something they perceive as unusual and uncommon. But as more westerners seek out K-Pop and develop a liking towards it who are we to judge a man by the colour of his skin?

Who knows perhaps Mr. Future could be the Micheal Jackson of our times. I would be willing to put a bit of money on that not being the case but I could very well be wrong. I mean, who else but a musical and lyrical genius could come up with this magic?


That’s right kids, nobody but the majestic force known as Chad Future. What other musician would have the courage to take an entire song from someone else’s back catalogue and change the lyrics to make them all about his own ‘plight’ and strivings for success? (I suggest you read this wonderful analysis of the very song). Only Chad Oppa. So I will, therefore, take this opportunity to declare every day a Chad day and leave you with this wonderful memento of the great man and K-Pop’s great symbol of hope towards a better future.

*Please note that all shameful music is not necessarily bad music.

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Co-founder and Editor at Beyond Hallyu
Lover of Korean hip-hop and indie music...and Unicorns.
  • Seti Tesefay

    My problem with Chad Future is that he has being trying to make K-pop music and did not do one of the most essential parts of making k-pop music and that is learning Korean. Although there is a very minute musical difference/choices that k-pop makes compared to American pop (more sugary bubbly, very big and clean cut production, super heavy on dancing so more performance type music), you still have to speak and sing in Korean to make k-pop. His goal to build the gap between American pop and k-pop seems ridiculous because no one ever said that was a problem and it reverts to what you said being “just” pop. I think Chad future needs to drop the k-pop mantra and call it what it is. An American artists who is trying to break in the Korean market or the k-pop market (because that includes Hallyu and it has international fan bases) by doing pop music same as k-pop acts trying to break into American markets by doing pop music (because they start making songs in English for the American market).

    • nisha

      Agreed. Chad Future’s gimmick is that he is attempting to be the first “American k-pop star”, which – let’s be real – erases and is insulting to the presence of the Korean-American idols ALREADY active in k-pop. Because what Chad Future means by American here is “white”, and in this context I think the colour of his skin is a very valid part of the discussion that needs to happen.

      If “diversity” and more opportunities for non-Koreans is what he is aiming for, then we also need to be talking about the non-Korean Asian idols who have struggled with discrimination, unfair treatment and sometimes flat-out abuse in the industry (most notably ex-Super Junior member Han geng). It’s a much larger and more complex issue than just “anybody who loves k-pop should be able to become a k-pop idol if they want to”.

      And the biggest issue as @Seti points out above, is that while Chad Future professes great love for the k-pop scene, he does not speak Korean, is not well-versed in Korean culture, etc. We could argue about what really constitutes k-pop, but the ability to speak and sing in Korean should really be a pretty important pre-requisite. I can admire his resourcefulness and determination, but I’m not a fan of his entitlement and the way he’s using his whiteness within the context of k-pop as some kind of exotic gimmick.

  • Cee

    My problem with Chad originally was that he just make glorified English covers of k-pop songs (the B.A.P ‘One Shot’ being a prime example along with EXO’s Growl) but as soon as he began singing original music he was decent, but I still wouldn’t call it Kpop. To me, K-pop is special BECAUSE it’s Korean, because the Korean language has a way of expressing subjects with their lyrics that when translated to English, do have a meaning though wouldn’t exactly make it as an English song. He’s not kpop, he’s just… Pop, even when he does try to include actual kpop artists, it just reminds me of Psy teaming up with Snoop Dog (*shudders at the memory*).

    I’ll respect him as a pop artist, but to me, he’ll never be a kpop artist (& and it has nothing to do with his ethnicity. If he sang in Korean I’d consider him a K-pop artist, it’s just the fact that his music IS American, not matter how much he tries to dress ‘kpop’).

  • TheVictoriaFaye

    I’ve seen Chad Future live and he does have talent – so no one can take that away from him, however, I agree with previous comments that singing kpop and being a kpop artist are two completely different things. I think the biggest turn off for most people with Chad is that he comes off as affected, or fake. In person his interaction with people (while not performing) seems aloof and arrogant a la beiber. At least thats how it came off to me. I’d be willing to support his efforts if they didn’t throw show much shade.

    If there was anyone who could be a legit kmusic import, its Shayne Orok – he learned korean, lived and worked in korea, and creates music that is uniquely his style, and he can do it in korean. I don’t know if he’s still signed to Sony Korea, but I love his work, and all his fans love how sweet and concerned he is about them. Mr. Future should take notes.