So sit back relax and enjoy suho_ftw's k-pop tale.
He's my ultimate bias. This post would not be complete without him.
First, you should know a little bit about me. I'm seventeen, African-American female from Chicago. One of the most, if not the most violent city in the United States. I don't come from a rich part of the city however I'm not dirt poor or anything however, it is pretty violent. So stereotypically speaking, you wouldn't expect me of all people to like k-pop at all. So how did I find it?
I went to elementary school way on the other side of the city, where it was pretty diverse and household incomes were pretty decent (another story as to how I got into that school but that's not relevant) and I had tons of friends of different races. I joined the sewing club in the fifth grade because I thought sewing was cool (and still do) where I made lots of friends, which was a given because I was a painfully shy kid to begin with.
In this club one day, when we had free time, my Korean friend showed us a video on her phone of this really popular nine-member girl group:
You thought it would have been "Gee" right? Nope. She showed us "Run Devil Run" to point out the funny "running arm" dance, however I didn't expect the song to be totally stellar! I was a big fan of popular artist in America at this time, however there was something about SNSD that was so great to me. I was eleven at the time with little to no information on what music does to you.
When I got home that day, I looked at songs like "Gee", "Oh!", and "Genie." I liked them all. Then I found SHINee and I was hooked.
I only really kept up with SNSD and SHINee, mostly because, and don't laugh, scared of going deeper. SNSD came out with "The Boys" the next year (2011) and I loved it. I was honestly surprised many people didn't like it, but that was before I found out that the fast talking parts in idol songs are "raps."
Then "Gangnam Style" came out in 2012 and I was sold. It was then I discovered Eat Your Kimchi who got me interested in great groups like Big Bang, 2NE1, and F(x). Oh yeah speaking of F(x)...
This song made me an instant fan of this group. I remember thinking "Who are they? Why are they so awesome! OMG THIS IS AMAZING!" When I found they came from the same company as SNSD I was skeptical if that was a lie or not but nope, they are. What did I like about them? For one the song was everything. Catchy chorus, great melody, driving base, and lots of singing. I also liked their style. YES, I liked F(x)'s fashion. Sue me. I thought they were quirky, fun, colorful, and pretty. I also thought I could relate to them because, at the time, I dressed myself very similar and got made fun for it, and people made fun of F(x) for dressing like that so that was all the connection my fourteen-year old self needed. I still kind of do. Maybe that's why I'm single(ha). I went back and listened "LA chA Ta", "Chu", "Pinochio", and "Hot Summer". F(x) became my favorite girl group right after that. All great songs and F(x) has remained releasing great music since.
I don't know how SHINee's 2012 comeback slipped through my mind that year, because they were (and still are) my favorite boy group but they released "Sherlock" and well I must say...
Solid. From. Start. To. Finish. How in the hell could SHINee get more retro then they already where? Beats me. Not only does this showcase one of Onew's best stylings, but it sounds like an 80's dance battle song with a bit more modern twist on it. Now that I'm listening to it, BTS's "Danger" is basically the hip-hop version of "Sherlock" no wonder I like that song so damn much! And that freaking chorus! Oh god that chorus! The "fast talking bits" or the "rapping" was actually good in my opinion, the singing was on point. The dance was freaking amazing, the bridge was great, from start to finish, "Sherlock" is an iconic song in k-pop and my favorite SHINee song to date. Oh I still like their more recent songs (sans "Why So Serious" that song is just a Pass) however "Sherlock" holds a very special place in my heart.
That same week I watched a BubzBeauty video (I was just getting into makeup back then) and heard the instrumental to this amazing song:
Was instantly sold. I had heard "Mister" before and liked most of their songs, but THIS song had me spiraling into the Kara fandom. This is by far one of the most unique sounding k-pop songs, and a very unique music video as well. The synths are a type that I still haven't really heard in k-pop. They sound sinister and kind of scary but in a very good way. The drums are being hit with power, the little guitar that pops in and out is a great touch, the urgent sounding violins are amazing, the horns that bump up and down during the chorus sent me into fucking utopia. Also Seungyeon's high note in the end-chorus always gives me chills. Kara are awesome, and have continued being the stellar group they are even with their recent struggles.
So fast forward a few months (say around October) I wanted to find some solo artist. I found BoA and instantly fell for her. She's the literal definition of "cool." I first saw "Only One" and was amazed by her presence as a dancer and overall performer. I checked out "Hurricane Venus", "Copy & Paste" all leading me to this, very interesting sounding number:
What I loved this song was how bass heavy it was. Seriously it had been a while since I had come across a good bass-driven song and this song was very excellent to me. I really loved the horn [riffs?] during the chorus. I also like the interesting auto-tune used in some points to make her voice sound very cool. This video also reminds me a lot of Madonna (well both musically and visually.) Very dirty, retro 80's looking and it was just really cool to me, making it one of my favorite k-pop releases ever. BoA damn sure deserves the title "Queen of K-Pop" not just only for her great music, but also for what she's done to make it possible for some of these groups to get the recognition they have gotten.
Fast forward two years, 2014. I'm looking for some cool tunes, my friend recommends BTS. I had heard of BTS. I had been into groups like B.A.P and Big Bang that had a hip-hop concept, I thought they were just going to do the same thing as they do so I didn't really pay them any attention around their debut because I thought I had seen it all from hip-hop groups.
Oh boy, was I wrong. So wrong it's not even funny. Just. Look. And. Listen.:
Blew my mind. Not kidding. I wanting to throw a brick at my own head for waiting nine-months after this groups debut to start giving a fuck about them. Back in the days of H.O.T (first generation idol group) a lot of groups had the "Struggles of the Korean school system" theme, but that got washed away sometime before the Hallyu even started, so I guess BTS took advantage of an unused theme and boy was it perfect. What do I like about the song? Everything. The bass line that is down right stolen from the Golden Age Late 80's and 90's rap music, the modern drum track that is places under, the actually decent rapping, lyrics that actually had some thought and meaning put into them instead of some bullshit that was written on the toilet while having massive diarrhea. What do I like about the MV? Dance is great, sets have some great symbolism in them (that you don't need to watch seven thousand times with a microscope and binoculars to see), seven really hot boys (NOM! JIMIN!) Putting their everything in their debut. Here I am not even a year later after watching this and have three of their albums. Good God BTS is great, in fact their so great that they became my second favorite (I count SHINee and F(x) as both #1) idol group overall.
So there you have it, five(six) examples as to how and why I like k-pop: music quality is a priority. Seriously I can't tell you how many times I cringe at how many songs sound so underproduced on the radio with so obvious little effort put into making it good. Why? Because they already have fans that will worship them no matter how shitty their music becomes (of course I'm discarding those who actually like the songs because they're not who I'm talking too. Yeah, K-Pop fans are delusional like that too but anyway) K-Pop is rarely "lazily put together", and what I get out of it as a music fan is what made me a K-Pop fan in the first place. Sure the idols are hot and all, but if the music wasn't as good as it is, then I wouldn't be a fan of this genre in the first place.
And there, you have it. That's why I like K-Pop. Any further questions?