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 a 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.