Original Broadway Cast, 2023 (Masterworks Broadway)  0.5 out of 5 stars (0.5 / 5) In 2021, the South Korean music industry earned around $773 million in revenue, a figure that has been increasing since K-pop as a genre began. Listening to the cast album of the Broadway musical that attempted to celebrate that art form, one question may present itself: Why? Helen Park and Max Vernon’s score does not do much to provide an answer. It’s painfully generic, veering between the cheapest, loudest form of electronic dance music, energetic pop in the style of Britney Spears, and the sappiest ballads heard on Broadway in recent memory, without ever landing on its own style. As for the lyrics, there are rhymes and off-rhymes such as  “America/hysterical/generic-uh.” Like so many musicals before it, KPOP was built around a star — in this case, a Korean musical theater actress and K-pop singer named Luna. She is unquestionably talented in terms of vocal range and power, but neither she nor the rest of the cast members are well served by the material, and because of the ensemble’s non-specific diction, it’s often hard to tell which of the two languages that the show incorporates is being sung. Almost every song in this score is diegetic, performed as part of the concerts-within-the-show. As a result, the musical’s tenuous emotional arc, concerning a pseudo-Mama Rose who has pushed MwE (the character portrayed by Luna) to succeed, is totally lost in an audio recording that eliminates the book scenes. Of course, neither can the Broadway production’s highly energetic choreography or its bright, fun costumes be experienced via the cast album, which removes about 85% of what this show had to offer. Ironically, the album makes it eminently clear that this music was not meant to be listened to on its own, and you may find it difficult to distinguish any particular song from the rest. The one worthy exception is “Still I Love You,” a musical theater-esque song delivered by Luna with great beauty. While the last song of the show is titled “Blast Off,” it may appear to listeners that KPOP never rises above the level of elevator music. — Charles Kirsch