A few years ago, upon hearing the phrase “K-pop,” the natural associates to the phrase may have only been PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” Nowadays, however, many K-pop groups are in the limelight and whenever “K-pop” is mentioned, one might picture BTS, Red Velvet, EXO, or Twice. After all, the popularity of K-pop, in this current era, can be arguably at its heyday throughout its existence. This fame may be due to K-pop’s detailed music videos, genuine talent, and pure hard work, which sets itself apart from the various genres of music present nowadays. For this, K-pop has much more value to itself than simple, straightforward definition of Korean popular music.
When a K-pop music video starts, the first thing that catches many people’s eye is the beautiful and dynamic colors. Indeed, K-pop has a unique way of incorporating colors to its music videos. From makeup to background scenes, colors are used to synchronize a certain visual arts to the background story of the song relevant to the song. A prime example would be K.will’s song called “Please Don’t.” In the beginning of the video, it shows that Seo In Guk is secretly in love with Dasom, who is dating Ahn Jae Suk. At the couple’s wedding, Seo In Guk is the best man, but is clearly miserable, due to the fact that his dream girl is marrying another man. This demonstrates excellent combination of aesthetic effects with the background story because the lyrics “Letting you go/ is not as easy as it sounds/ I turn away, not being able to see you leave me” from the song ties in with the scenes being played in the video. Almost all Korean music video’s lyrics and videos tell well sustained stories rather than random dance choreography and possibly meaningless choruses performed by artists. For instance, hypothetically, a song may tell a story about a life’s journey into adulthood or a letter to an ex-partner.
K-pop surely exemplifies a visually pleasing combination of choreography and setting aesthetics, which are aspects in the music videos used to convey a compelling story to the audience. Although visually mesmerizing, a question that arises has to do with the comprehension of the content. Some may ask, why is K-pop popular worldwide if some people don’t understand the words? Intuitively, language is the primary mechanism of transferring a song’s story and overall message. If language is then cloaked from the foreigners’ understanding, how can the song still be so memorable? Even though K-pop’s lyrics may be incomprehensible to some, K-pop songs have have a unique style of expressing its songs through their catchy tunes, which can be pleasurably addicting. Despite the language barrier, one will constantly be humming the unforgettable melody of Seventeen’s “Clap” or Twice’s “TT.” This can arguably be one cause to K-pop’s ubiquitous fame despite the aforementioned language barrier to the international audience.
To overcome the language barrier, K-pop artists often sing their song in different languages. They release the same song in multiple versions, such as Chinese and Japanese. The various types of languages help it easier to capture the attention from an international audience.
K-pop certainly has its attractive features, and this claim can be asserted through the thoughts of fans. To explain, many people have a favorite K-pop song based on the meaningful lyrics or the appealing tune. Athallah Rahadian, an 8th grader at Religion Junior High School, says, “My favorite K-pop song is “Five” by Apink because the song is catchy and easy to memorize.” Furthermore, Casey Taylor, a freshman at Oakland University, states, “Right now, ‘Paint Me’ by Mamamoo is my favorite song because I love how it tells a story about love and loss. The song takes me on a journey.”
K-pop artists also nurture popularity as a fruit of their intensive training. Before K-pop artists record their first song, they spend years of time being mentored by managers or agents. G. Soul, a Korean R&B singer, spent 15 years under JYP Entertainment before debuting in 2015 with the track “You.” The many years of intensive training turn the young artists into excellent performers by the time they debut.
K-pop is not just a music genre. It is a culture. The beautiful and catchy tune, along with the meaningful lyrics tied into the theme of the music video, catches people all around the world. This makes K-pop uniquely different from any other genre.
Holly Bae, Grade 9
La Cañada High School