Also known as Korean Pop.
“Eeeeh, sexy lady!”
If those words do not get a certain Korean billboard chart topper stuck in your head, then you have been living under a rock for the past year. This song is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the growing phenomenon of Korean music not only on our fair campus but the whole world. As a faithful Korean music listener, I am excited to present a very user-friendly guide to the latest craze so that you too can become a Shawol, E.L.F., or V.I.P. too!
If I were to compare Korean pop music with our own in North America, I would say K-Pop is a weird fusion of both singing and rap along with pop, rock, hip hop, R&B, and electronic music. With their slick dance moves and sugar-coated pop lyrics, it’s hard to not tap your toes to these catchy K-Pop beats.
But besides the music itself, something that I immediately found intimidating was the sizes of some of the more famous Korean pop bands. Take Super Junior, for example, which has twelve members. Yes, you heard me right: twelve! Why so many do you ask? Surprisingly, there are reasons behind these excessively huge boy and girl bands.
The first reason is that SM Entertainment, one of the three powerhouse entertainment industries of South Korea, started it due to company expenses. With millions of excited young Koreans entering their industry in hopes of fulfilling their dreams and aspirations, the entertainment industry eventually realized they needed more money in order to train and fund them all. As a result, larger sized bands were produced. While the large bands are out making the big bucks, more trainees were able to be funded and eventually the entire industry is able to fund itself.
Another reason for their sizes is that these groups create their own subgroups that specialize in other genres or languages. Take Super Junior again for example, or rather SuJu as the fans call them for short. SuJu contains not only the twelve member total but has three or four subgroups that specialize in other genres, such as SuJu K.R.Y. and their ballads. SuJu M, another subgroup, performs Mandarin translations of their songs and promotes the band in mainly China. In this way, larger bands are able to entertain larger fan bases and languages as well as share the limelight with some members to showcase their talents more than they would have in the twelve-member band.
Have no fear though! K-Pop groups do have ‘normal’ size bands. The most common sizes range from four to six with each band consisting of ‘personalities’ like lead rapper, lead dancer, and leader. Take my favourite Korean band, SHINee, for example. This pop band has five members, each taking on a ‘role’ within the band it self: a leader, maknae (i.e. youngest member), lead rapper, lead dancer, and lead singer. With SM Entertainment and other leading music industries producing so many bands and chart topping melodies, creating such diverse bands with unique personalities better provides for more diverse and different fan bases.
So in the end, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my own understanding of the Korean musical world. But I recommend searching ‘K-Pop’ next time you find yourself on YouTube and discover the catchy music I have come to appreciate. Whether it be SHINee or B1A4 or Girls’ Generation, I am sure you can find a song or two to add to your study mix.