PSY – GANGNAM STYLE M/V
I was flipping through channels late one night and happened to see a music video that looked really interesting, I had never seen anything like it before. What caught my attention at first was the neon preppy type of clothing the singers were wearing, that and their rather effeminate looks. After getting over the shock from the over the top fashion and styling, I began to listen to the music and realized it sounded very familiar, almost like R&B of twenty years ago. The more I listened, the more I liked it. It reminded me of what I used to listen to when I was that young, only these were asian kids singing it. Not only were they mimicking an 80’s R&B style, they were doing it extremely well. I picked up tones of Luther Vandross, R Kelly, Riahanna, Hip Hop and other such accustic alchemy. They were dazzling in their production and a pleasure to listen to. All the videos are different, but the greatest variety are among the female groups. They sound great, they look great and they all dance very, very well. It’s refreshing to see real artistry and genuine talent back in music again. Can’t say I agree with the materialism, drug dealing nor the overt sexuality of some of the videos but the artistry is very impressive. So, these are some of the videos I have seen that really impressed me for all of the qualities mentioned above. If only I could speak and understand Korean.
BIGBANG – FANTASTIC BABY M/V
2NE1 – CAN’T NOBODY M/V
G-DRAGON – ONE OF A KIND M/V
[MV] ORANGE CARAMEL (Catallena)
Ailee – Singing Got Better
Practically an unknown quantity at the start of the decade, K-pop is now a household name around the globe. In recent years, the Western media has all but overflowed with a rising tide of South Korean pop, from fashion spreads to viral ads, Lorde pull-quotes to Grimes tweets, music video analyses to industry think pieces (and, of course, the most popular piece of content on the internet). And yet, so little of this attention has paid much mind to the music itself. If K-pop seems like the fad that never ends, that’s probably because it never really started, either.
K-pop treats a song as just one of several interlocking aesthetic parts, which typically include corresponding choreography, a music video, novella-thick liner notes, the occasional corporate tie-in, and an overarching “concept” that brings it all together. These tend to be conceived in tandem to a much greater extent than in Western pop, so to divorce a K-pop single from its context is to engage with it only partially. For example, the absurdist satire of “Gangnam Style” wouldn’t make total sense even to someone living in Gangnam without its attendant video and “horse dance.”
The Korean music industry—for all its bright color schemes, plastic sheen, and frankly commercial raison d’être—has quietly produced some of the most intelligent, adventurous, and accomplished mainstream pop of the past few years. It’s a world where songs with whiplash tempo cuts, Punjabi-via-Korean lyrics, and irregular beats exist as hyper-realized pop commodities, but connect with audiences on a mass scale.