South Korea: the birthplace of a huge music scene and the worlds fastest rapper Having in mind the population of the country (51 million) the popularity of South Korean music is dis proportionally huge and it is still growing. Kpop stands for Korean pop music that originated in South Korea (So NO, they are not Chinese). It gained popularity in the 90s (as part of the increase of the popularity of South Korean culture know as the “Hallyu wave“) and boomed 2000-2010.
Companies (for example SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment-the top companies) make auditions and thousands of people join them and some train for 3 to 7 years and sometimes still don’t get in.
How is the style different from usual pop music?
Dance is an integral part of K-pop. When combining multiple singers, the singers often switch their positions while singing and dancing by making prompt synchronous movements. Also, B-boying enjoys a great deal of popularity in South Korea.
A little about Korean rap: As the underground hip-hop scene became increasingly popular throughout the 2000s, people became interested in various subcultures within hip-hop. With ciphers in Hongdae playground and annual freestyle competitions and/or events like Freestyle Day and Freestyle One, freestyle rapping really caught on to the underground listeners.
FACT: the fastest rapper on earth is a Korean (Shin Ok-cheol, 신옥철, stage name: Outsider), but he did not get into the Guiness Book Of World Records only because he doesn’t rap in English (which doesn’t make any sense because he still raps 24 syllables per second). Here is an example: https://youtu.be/DG4OkB9Lw_U (The song is called ‘Loner’) You can start from 1:56 if you’re too lazy to listen to the whole thing (although we highly recommend the full song).
Fashion: G Dragon from Big Bang
and Key from SHINee are fashion icons in Kpop. They create the trends. There are also certain beauty standards. For girls: Pale skin, V line, skinny, big eyes, straight brows, long legs. For guys: preferably V line (not always though), pale skin, tall. And “Flower boys” (They’re guys who don’t fit the typical look of manly looking men. They’re usually skinny, have gorgeous hair and have feminine features, no facial hair) were made popular through Kpop. Facial hair and extreme bodybuilding are considered unattractive in South Korea.
Here are some groups we recommend to listen to, if you want to get and idea about what this style is:
Big Bang (빅방)
Debuted in 2006, has 5 members (Leader G-Dragon, T.O.P., Taeyang, Seungri, Daesung). Internationally popular and are both extremely well received by music lovers both as Big Bang and as solo artists (The most successful are G-Dragon and Taeyang).
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAbokV76tkU (Fantastic Baby)
Other good songs: Bang Bang Bang, Sober, Blue, Lets Not Fall In Love, Loser, We Like 2 Party.
Debuted in 2011, 9 members (formerly 12). Divided into EXO-K who sing in Korean, and EXO-M who sing in Mandarin. They sing and promote in Korea and China. Broke numerous records like selling their concert tickets the fastest and their former member Luhan getting the most likes in history on Weibo(A Chinese social network like Twitter)
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3dezFzsNss (Growl) (Korean version)
Other good songs: Call Me Baby, Overdose.
Debuted in 2013, 7 members. Dorks, but hella talented. Have been getting really popular recently, won the Rookie Award. There are 3 main rappers: Rap Monster, J-hope and Suga, who released three songs with the name Cypher (3 parts). Main dancers J-hope and Jimin and singers Jin and V. And then there’s the Golden Maknae (Maknae- youngest member of a group) Jungkook who can do everything (and by everything we mean EVERYTHING: sprinting, wrestling, B-boying, female style dances, the worm dance etc.)
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVwAVbKYYeM (쩔어 A.K.A. Dope)
Other good songs: I NEED U, RUN(only listen to RUN after listening to I NEED U), Boy In Luv.
(*screaming in the distance* “MANSAEREU MANSAEREU MANSAE YE”)
Debuted in 2015. 13 members!!! (Yeah, we know, that’s a lot). They’re split into 3 teams, the Hip Hop unit (S.coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu, Vernon), the Vocal unit (Jeonghan, Joshua, Woozi, DK, Seungkwan) and the Performance unit (Jun, Hoshi, The8, Dino). Won the rookie award for 2015. Also a bunch of super talented dorks!
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M7k9ZV67c0 (만세 A.K.A. Mansae)
Other good songs: 아낀다 (Adore U), Shining Diamond, Q&A, Fronting, Rock.
Girls’ Generation (소냐시대)
Debuted in 2007. Originally 9 currently 8 members.
Broke NUMEROUS records, extremely popular, Korea’s biggest girl group, also called nations girl group.
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq7ftOZBy0E (I Got A Boy)(The song is different from the intro)
Other good songs: You Think, Lion Heart, Gee, Oh! (The last 2 are hella addictive so we warn you)
Debuted in 2009. The group is composed of four (formerly five) members: Victoria, Amber, Luna and Krystal (and formerly Sulli).
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4j7Umwfx60Q (4 walls)
Other good songs: Red Light, Hot Summer
Also debuted in 2009. 4 members: CL, Minzy, Dara and Park Bom. Their music is basically every style.
We suggest for first listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLbfv-AAyvQ (Come Back Home)
Other good songs: Gotta Be You, I Love You, Crush.
Debuted in 2010. Also 4 members: Hyorin, Bora, Soyou, and Dasom. They kinda saved Starship Entertainment and made it more popular.
We suggest for first listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9-TIy7WPQI (Shake It)
Other good songs: Touch My Body, Alone
Now that you know stuff, you should watch these (suggested by Jisoos):
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skxqAaKrhYo&feature=youtu.be (how to get into kpop)
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9kkE3WqLXg&feature=youtu.be (how to get into kpop #2)
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpQpRqUoLwQ (K-POP Fans vs Normal People)
Cause these people know the feeling of being a Kpop fan. And now some personal suggestions from other idols/groups that we didn’t talk about
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yki3X1pG3ZE&feature=youtu.be (Gotta Talk To U by Seungri from Big Bang)
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_F9HUTYnl0 (Hate by 4minute)
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nCLBTmjJBY (Crazy by 4minute)
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8T6771Sdj8 (Coup D’etat by G-Dragon from Big Bang)
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ULhmadHkg (Crayon by G-Dragon from Big Bang)
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grrpg_r1Nb8 (NalinA by Block B)
Well, that’s about it. What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments!