It’s frustrating how people who don’t listen to Korean songs generalize all songs sung in Korean as “k-pop”. I think people forgot that pop is a genre and there’s a lot of other genres that exist out there and the fact that Korea is not a country that’s limited to producing only pop songs.
Of course this is a problem with an obvious root; the role of k-idols and the tsunami-like hallyu wave spread all around the world. It can’t be helped that Korean idols really contribute a huge chunk in globalizing Korean music industry. Groups like Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Big Bang and so on are even known by the non-kpoppers (a term widely used nowadays) thanks to their huge publicity all around the world. I know k-pop is not everyone’s cup of tea. Those who like it really fall for it, and those who don’t really have a lot to say about it. I was once on the sideline, watching and not understanding the whole hallyu wave craze. Who knew it’d be like this today. Heol~
But that’s not my point. I admit I am an avid fan of Big Bang before anyone else in this industry, mainly because it was them who brought me in this whole “madness” if I could put it in an appropriate word. Big Bang is such a big name, a leader in k-pop, a force to be reckoned with. I’m also a fan of Shinhwa, B.A.P and JYJ. These four are very much in the k-pop category. I dare mention these four as I am very much familiar with all the members, their habits, their appearances on shows, songs and albums and fandom inside jokes.
Others, not so much. Well I sometimes listen to new songs that come out either by accident, or if on a good day, by my own will. Some songs got my attention and I’ll download them, some, I’ll just listen once in Youtube and that’s that, or even worse, some I didn’t even bother listening to. The event in which I actually download other idols’ songs is rare. Probably 2/5 chance? I do have my bias in some idol groups and personal favorites, like Junhyung, Onew, Junho and a few others, but that’s only about it.
Now on to the point of this post. I admit I am thrown off by this whole k-pop genre too, at times. Sometimes I understand the feelings of others who hate this genre with their guts. It’s very different from the whole mainstream concept that we grew up with, which is strongly conquered by the North America music industry. Having a bunch of guys in eye-liners and flashy outfits and even flashier hairstyles dancing and singing pop songs in a language that sounds alien might be too much to digest for certain people.
But I have come to accept this.
But I’m not particularly a fan of that. I listen to a lot of songs outside the k-pop genre. Even more than k-pop, too if you minus out Bigbang. I’m probably one of the hugest fan of Epik High, even before they got mainstream after entering YG. I listen to indie bands like Delispice, Standing Egg, Mad Soul Child, Big Baby Driver, Vanilla Unity, Dickpunks to name a few. I love ballads. At midnight I’m always on a search for good ballad songs which is why I like 4MEN, Sung Shi Kyung, M to M, Vibe, Sweet Sorrow and a lot others. I enjoy watching Immortal Songs. I wish I Am A Singer is played on tv too. Sometimes I found songs from legendary singers like Lee Seung Chul, Im Jae Bum, Boohwal, Lee Moon Sae, Cho Yong Pil, Kim Dong Ryul that I like. I listen to them a lot too. I’m a huge fan of Roy Kim and people like him.
Other than that, since I watch a lot of dramas, I listen to a lot of OST, which usually fall into the ballad category. Groups like Busker Busker, Nell, 10cm, Ulala Session are so popular in Korea but not much internationally. These people aren’t in the k-pop circle, but mainstream enough not to be called indie. So what are they? Whatever it is it’s definitely not k-pop. All of this is not k-pop.
The other day I was on Omegle and they had this new feature of typing in a certain keyword and they’ll connect you with strangers that have keyed in the same keyword so you can chat with people that have the same interest as you. I typed out k-pop out of the blue, and was connected with fans of SuJu, SNSD, B2sT and a lot of other idols. I asked each ad everyone of them whether they listened to Busker Busker (I really wanted to share my love of the boys with others) but all of them answered no. Frustrating!
Some people might ask, why do you listen to these korean indie bands/non k-pop groups or singers when you can find other North American bands that play the same genres? I have thought about that and I think it has to do with my love for the language. Even when I hated k-pop before, I have always liked Korean language. I’d follow Korean tourists in malls just to hear them speak. It’s also the fun in learning other language, the satisfaction you get when you understand that language. I’m very much interested in anything Korean. I taught myself how to read and write, and now I can watch shows without subtitles and understanding 70% of it, depending on the contents of it.
This has been a long post, something I have always wanted to let out from me, even if it is in a form of a blog post that might not even be discovered by anyone. If you have reached the end of this post, it is either you can connect with my concern or you just scrolled past all those paragraphs. Whatever that is, I’m glad to have all this typed out.