When I first took Korean lessons, I hadn’t paid attention to KPop (whereas a lot of people in our class were taking Korean because of KPop). But I ended up listening to KPop while searching for new music (and with a side benefit of hearing more Korean).
Initially, I was a bit perturbed that the pop in KPop sucked. Pop is manufactured, and it felt as though the KPop celebrities were manufactured, so shouldn’t the music be better? I kept finding clone after clone of Britney Spears. After some more indepth searching, I did find some great songs and here are a few that I found this year:
Trouble Maker – Trouble Maker
Trouble Maker is a duo formed from one of the dudes from a KPop boy band called Boyfriend and HyunA of 4Minute fame (and who has a fledgling solo career and a cameo in Gangnam Style). This is their lead single of their lead album and is a really catchy song. The whistle-hook is perfect and the video is great too. To me, this was the first example of how KPop can get it all right and compete with the best American Pop.
JY Park, Taecyeon, Wooyoung, Suzy – Classic
I didn’t think very highly of this song when I first saw the video; in fact anything I see with JYP in it I find kind of annoying as he gives me the impression that he tries to get his hands into everything so that he can live the life of a celebrity (he’s the aging head honcho of the label where all these people are signed to – he was also the guy on the toilet in the Wonder Girls’ Nobody video).
Anyways, the song grew on me even though there is nothing spectacular about it (OK hook, OK video/story). In essence, it is almost the epitome of Pop music because it is generic and catchy at the same time!
2NE1 – I Love You
When I first came across 2NE1 I wrote them off as another Britney clone, but I came around to several of their songs and this is one of them. What’s great about this track is that it is heavily produced and has a beat that would make David Guetta jealous (well it’s close at least).
When I read that KPop is making inroads into Japan because their female singers are more “independent”, I imagine they are talking about 2NE1. All four members seem to have character (while also seeming exactly alike which is a strange juxtaposition).