K- pop and Korean Ballads

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Even before coming to Korea I was very vocal about how I’m not going to fall prey to the ridiculous K-pop culture which promotes endless good looks and underfed youths. In my first month here I succeeded. I refused to play my students any Korean music, especially K-pop. I also refused to participate in any discussions with my co-workers involving this subject. BAH! At the end of month one, my husband started telling me about the funny things he sees in K-pop videos, and how he cannot believe that children are allowed to see some of this stuff. I got intrigued, just a little bit. Each day after school he would share some K-pop moments. Girls will cry, fake faint and start banging on windows when their idols come on. I got fascinated by this extreme show of fandom, and how these kids behaved. There was even a 17-year-old student who spend an amount equal to my paycheck to send one of his idols, some girl from the Kpop Band IOI a platinum necklace with diamonds.  That is when I realized that in order for me to understand this I will have to start listening to this music and watch the videos.

My first introduction to K-Pop was back in RSA when Psy released Gangnam Style. It was impossible to escape since literally every person would play it and any idiot with half a brain tried to do the horse dance.psy-gangnam-style-1

As with all things Kpop related, the trend did not last forever. Since then Psy released a couple of catchy tunes, but it never really ‘left’ Korea to meet the West like Gangnam style. If you are interested, listen to this one: Mother Father Gentleman.

So now that I am in Korea, and really want to understand what this whole thing is about I had to start somewhere. It is important to know that K-pop moves at a rate that will blow your mind. When a new song comes out it will be popular for about a month or two, before the next big thing gets released. The important thing about K-pop is not the music. Yes, you did not misread. K-pop is about the artists (sometimes all 100 of them), and about the dancing. The music is like the tray on which the artists and dance moves are served. The music is designed for you to like it, and possibly get addicted. There is a more sensitive side to K-pop, which is where the Ballads come in. You will be astonished by the sadness that can be trapped in one song…this is more about the lyrics than about the composition or melody. The singer or band remains to be the center of attention, though.

So here we go with some suggestions to get you started:

Popular K-pop bands which have a dedicated fanbase, with songs that are popular right now. And with dedicated I mean they will sell their souls to save one of their idols.

BTS Blood Sweat and Tears

I.O.I Very very very

SEVENTEEN Very nice (Nice)

INFINITE Bad

BIG BANG  Bang Bang Bang

BEAST Butterfly (Ballad style)

The last two thing you need to know is that K-pop music’s not gender specific, meaning that you will get die hard I.O.I fans which turn out the be 17-year-old boys, even though it is clearly a very girly-girl vibe. And lastly, the music video does not at all have to relate to the lyrics, or meaning of the song – remember that the song is not the important part, the important part is the artist and the dance.

Listen to as much K-pop as possible, it is a great way to learn Korean pronunciation, and to connect with your students.

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