When I first came across K- pop through a friend I was disinterested. It was her sympathetic ‘’have you been living under a rock ‘’ eyes that made me look it up. The fact that the language was completely alien didn’t help but before I even knew it, it started growing on me. K- pop is Korean pop, that is music produced in South Korea. It seemed like I have been living under a rock, after all, because it’s extremely popular around the world. It has some unique features that sharply distinguishes it from western music and for first-time listeners, it would be strange and entertaining at the same time. The industry is not scared to experiment, often successfully combining many genres within a single song. K- pop has some of the most addictive beats and choruses – remember viral sensation PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’? – but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Often the lyrics are peppered with English words to suit an expanding international audience.
There are numerous bands which may contain members that reach to double digits – a very confusing feature. Take for example one of the legendary bands, Super Junior with 12 members or Girls Generation with 9 and the recent Seventeen with 13 and don’t even get me started on the various NCT units. It is almost impossible to remember their names. Just when you think you have -based on their looks or hair- they go and change their hair color and you ‘re back to square one. Each member has a position in the group – the leader, the maknae(youngest member), the visual, the lead vocalist and main vocalist, the lead rapper and main rapper ( I ‘m still trying to understand the difference between these) and so on.
K- pop music videos are the most stunning feature of the industry. K- pop groups are also most often dance groups. The videos, therefore, combine stunning visuals and perfect choreography making it a visual treat. The production value of both the music and the video is extremely high. Then there are the fandoms, the ultimate propagators of ‘Hallyu’ ( or the Korean wave which stands for the ever-increasing global popularity of Korean culture). Move over Beleibers and Directioners, enter Exols( of EXO) and VIPs( of BIG BANG). Recently K- pop made waves when BTS, a 7 member boy band took home the Billboard Music Award for Top Social Artist beating competition from the likes of Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez and a lot of it is due to their loyal fan base – the Army.Once you get used to all this you’ll have to by heart confusing K- pop terminology – which terms a band’s new album, ‘comeback’, even when there was never a hiatus, or ‘aegyo’ which stands for cuteness and often bands have a designated ‘aegyo member'( yes , to show cuteness), or the bias and bias breakers , the stans and antis etc ( it’s a vortex).
BTS who won BMA for Top Social Artist 2017 SOURCE: Billboard
So if you’re looking for some variety in your playlist, combined with high fashion, aesthetics, discovery of a new culture and thumping dance moves, then K – pop is for you. You don’t necessarily have to understand the language, music, after all, has none. Pretty soon you’ll be saying ”daebak” (awesome) a lot. So ”Fighting! ”( that is something like ‘good luck’ in Korean).
Check out this Best Selling K-Pop Audio