A (Relatively) Pain-Free Introduction to K-Pop

I know, I know, this blog is supposed to be about writing. Piffle, I say! Actually, I don’t say that, because a huge part of my writing “technique”, such as it is, is listening to and being inspired by music … and the musical genre that’s had its claws gripped around my heart for a few years now is none other than Korean pop music!

Stop running for the hills, people, it’s not as terrifying as you think. For example, think of Gangnam Style — not a half bad song when you think about it, even though they overplayed it quite horrendously.

What I have for you today, friends, are five K-Pop songs that will introduce you to the genre without making you cringe and try to valiantly contain your tears. I’ll explain why they’re amusing/interesting/awesome, as well as give you a one sentence run-down of what the song’s actually about, since it’ll be in … you know … Korean. Onwards and upwards!

#1: The first K-Pop song I ever heard

… was aΒ cute song called “We’re With You” by the unbearably adorable girl group Kara. It’s about Kara explaining to the boy(s) they’re interested in that they love him and want to be with him tomorrow and (hopefully) all the tomorrows after that. Feel free to sing along to the “Shake it, shake it, baby” and “Bounce, bounce” parts. No one will judge you. Unless you’re in a public place. Then I’d suggest keeping your voice down.

#2: Possibly the most famous K-Pop song ever (besides Gangnam Style)

… is a song by Girl’s Generation, a huge girl group consisting of approximately seven bazillion members. The song is called “Gee”, and it’s about the girls falling in love for the first time and being really overwhelmed and excited about it. Best sing-along moment = “Gee, gee, gee, gee, baby, baby, baby. Gee, gee, gee, gee, baby, baby, baby”. (Note: actual song starts at 0:21)

#3: Time to get post-apocalyptic, semi-nude, and funky

… with Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby”. This is pretty much one of my favorite songs ever. It’s catchy and rockin’ and awesome. It’s about … well, basically they want you to dance and have a kick-a** time. Best sing-along lines = “Wow, fantastic baby. DANCE! I wanna dance, dance, dance, da-da-dance” and “Boomshakalaka. Boomshakalaka. Boom-boomshakalaka.”

#4: Hopping back to the girl groups, we find four fierce females destroying stuff

… in 2NE1’s (pronounced “twenty one”) hit single “I Am the Best”. It’s about them being the best. There’s no English in the song, but it does feature a girl in skin-tight leather and spikes walking a standard poodle down a runway, so … yeah, it’s pretty phenomenal. For the chorus, what they’re saying is “nay-gah chay challah-gah”, which means “I am the best”.

#5: Last but not least, a rather bizarre and highly addictive rap song

… called “Knock Out”, by Big Bang rappers G-Dragon and TOP. TOP is the bleached-hair guy, and G-Dragon is … well, the other guy. Similar to song #4, it’s about them being awesome and the best, and how all the ladies want them and the guys want to be them. Look out for the gratuitous use of the Playboy bunny symbol, which G-Dragon and TOP have adopted as their symbol for some reason. For anyone wondering what the heck they’re singing in the chorus, they’re saying “bunk-ee-guy-oh”, which means “knock out”. This is used both to reference how you’ll be knocked out by the rappers’ awesomeness, and also referring to how insanely attractive the girl they’re singing about is.

And that wraps up today’s (relatively) pain-free introduction to K-Pop! All the groups mentioned above are extremely popular in Korea, so feel free to name-drop them at your next social gathering and watch how impressed everyone is. In all honesty, they probably won’t know what you’re talking about … but that doesn’t mean you can’t respond to something they say with, “Wow, fantastic baby” and then start laughing hysterically while they eye you warily and edge away.

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Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “A (Relatively) Pain-Free Introduction to K-Pop

  1. Why isn’t “Bubble love” on your list???

  2. The garish color aesthetic in those videos penetrates Korean culture in many ways, from the painting on Buddhist temples to the lantern parades to the neon-drenched shopping districts in Seoul and surrounding cities. Lots of eye candy when you walk around at night.

  3. Love K-Pop. My favorites are probably the Brown Eyed Girls. I listen to them quite often while writing. Since I don’t speak Korean, their voices just become another instrument to me.

    • That’s exactly the thing!!! K-Pop is so great for writing because you can’t understand a word they say! You, sir, have excellent musical tastes πŸ™‚

  4. Jo Svensson

    Great that K-pop gets some more attention. Don’t miss out SHINee, old school DBSK, or Exo-K!! BigBang rocks the most though – saw them live last year – magical!

    • You saw them live??? Lucky πŸ™‚ I had a ton more songs I wanted to include, but I just went with these five as a very basic primer. I was really tempted to include Exo-K’s Mama, because it’s so intense and has such a hilarious opening, but sadly I chose not to. Next time!!!

  5. Gwen Stephens

    Well, I learned a new word today. K-Pop. Hadn’t heard that term before!

    • Huzzah! There’s also J-Pop, which is Japanese pop. So there you go … next time someone starts singing Gangnam Style, you can be all, “This is an excellent example of K-Pop, or Korean pop music, although having listened to several other K-Pop songs, I feel that, while Gangnam Style is an amusing song, it certainly isn’t the only great piece of music to come out of the land of the morning calm.” And then your friends will be like, “… that’s nice.”

  6. I can’t help but love Shinee and Exo K. My boyfriend catches me bopping around listening to them when I’m doing chores…more often than I generally like to admit. xD

    • Hahaha awesome πŸ˜€ I wasn’t a huge fan of Shinee until I found out they wrote Stand By Me — that song from Boys Before Flowers? LOVE that song. And thus, I love Shinee πŸ˜€ And Exo K’s got some really great songs — pretty much everything they put out I enjoy … especially that new one, Growl? Soooo good!

  7. GASP. I didn’t know they had new music out. I am now forever indebted to you for this. Listening to it now, and yes, I’m a fan. ^-^

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