When someone asks me to describe Kpop or Khiphop I always pause for a moment to carefully think through how best to articulate my response for that particular audience. My goal is to be as honest as possible, but in such a way as to scrub out misconceptions without setting too many expectations. There are a million things one could say in response to this question…least of which is that Kpop is more than just POP as we know it. Just like Kdrama, Kpop is a general term often tossed around to mean almost any genre of music produced in Korea. It is misleading.
I am not going to talk about that here though…that is another post for another day.
One of the first things that always comes to mind as a descriptor for Kpop is that, regardless of concept, it is often reminiscent of and clearly influenced by music in the US…from the 90’s and early 2000’s. Now, this doesn’t bother me one bit. I still listen to 90’s Modest Mouse like the albums came out yesterday. I Heart the 90’s. But you can’t lead with that when trying to hook someone or justify your obsession…whichever turn this hypothetical conversation has taken. I find that it is always best to have this little life talk with some sort of streaming device available, be it your smartphone, tablet, computer, or fancy 70” TV your husband couldn’t live without. You want to SHOW the fabulous before you have to explain it.
Knowing EXACTLY which songs will make your point without squashing budding interest, now that is the tricky one. You have to be flexible based on your subject’s known tastes and preferences…you don’t want to throw out Block B’s Jackpot when clearly Exo’s Growl would have been a much better starter song for this particular person. You also want to be mindful of the styling in the video. I love BTS so much it hurts, but I am NEVER going to kick someone off with the video for We are Bulletproof Part 2.
Rap Monster with MC Hammer hair.
Have a viewing list in mind, at the ready, before sitting anyone down. It would be better for everyone involved. You will seem knowledgeable and thoughtful. The songs will appeal more to the newbie if they flow, one right after the other, rather than waiting for you to choose. It will just all go over so much better.
I would, however, like to posit that you include TVXQ’s Something on your list. Hear me out:
- The song is old time-y ON PURPOSE – you won’t have to justify why it is so dated…dated is its charm. And there is a lot of charm here.
- The colors in the video are gorgeous, they move from warm to cold, back and forth, and the lighting is so blown out it hurts your eyes a little, and it works.
- The styling is a great mix of retro and contemporary…the short pants aren’t too short. I hate too short short pants. Those are never cool. Ever.
- They dance. They have dancers. The choreography uses props. PROPS.
- There are enough western faces for a hesitant newcomer to feel welcome in the scene.
- The little bits of English used are clear and well pronounced…it feels natural.
- Fake tattoos…yeah..that helps…(real tattoos are better).