Why does K-pop attracts so many people all over the world? Gangnam Style isn’t the only reason
Have you ever heard about K-pop? Nowadays, most of music lovers will answer positively. But only 4 years ago the case has been totally different.
Less than 5 years ago, when I played a K-pop song, people were always telling me “Is that your Chinese pop again?” and I’ve always answered “Yeah! the ‘K’ stands for Chinese!”. Sarcastically, obviously. The K stands for Korean, K-pop is Korean pop. That’s a music genre which is very popular all over the world and it’s popularity only increases as time goes by; today the question “Do you know K-pop?” is always followed by another: “Have you ever heard Gangnam Style?!” and then there is no way that the answer will be negative!
“Gangnam Style” is the most viewed K-pop video on YouTube!
Everyone knows “Gangnam Style”, The most viewed YouTube video ever, with more than 2.7 billion views! Who would have thought that from all of the serious K-pop songs and the emotional music videos, the one that will go viral is will be it. Maybe it has no explanation, or maybe it’s way more simple than we think: it has a very specific sense of humor, a self humor, and that’s what our dear PSY has which people love so much.
Self humor has become something that American music just doesn’t provide anymore – you can find it only in parodies or in a very specific videos. In K-pop, and in the Korean culture entirely, self humor is part of the day and sometimes part of the music too. PSY itself is actually making a joke out of himself in his music videos- Calling himself ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’ is quite funny because he’s totally the opposite.
Wait, you probably don’t know what ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’ means… Ok this is going to be our first Korean lesson: As you probably know in Korea and Asia as whole, there is a really high level of respect between people, especially when they are older than you. When a girl is older than a guy, the guy should call her ‘Noona’, you can find a lot of K-pop songs that contains that word in it, like the well known ‘Noona nommu yeppo’ (Noone is very pretty) sentence in SHINee’s song ‘Replay’. A girl that is younger than a guy should call him ‘Oppa’. Lots of fan girls call the idols they like ‘Oppa’, what brings us back to the famous line ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’.
Now, we all know what is style but what is Gangnam?
Gangnam is actually the most famous street in Korea. This is the street of the posh people, which has the vibe of fashion, luxury and very high standards.
The pioneers – H.O.T – Candy
Now that you know what ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’ means, you are ready to be a ״third generation K-pop fan״. K-pop’s popularity has increased over the years, and so does K-pop fans all over the world.
At the beginning, K-pop was famous in Korea only, until one day, a specific boy band named ‘H.O.T’ went viral for their cute, childish attitude and music video. The K-pop fans back then were the first generation of K-pop lovers.
The second generation (like me) are people who found K-pop through Anime (Japanese animation), because K-pop is very famous in Japan and Korean idols are even singing in the openings of some Anime series.
The third generation will be you! Exactly, the big wave of K-pop fans who came right after “Gangnam Style”.
K-pop music videos tend to be very colorful and full of very fashionable (and expensive) outfits, and every K-pop song has a dance that fans already know by heart.
Usually the theme of a K-pop song isn’t deep, it’s just here to cheer you up and makes you laugh, what brings us back to the very noticeable sense of humor in K-pop.
Lines like “I’m like TT”, “Cheer up baby!”, “I am a good boy”, “shy shy shy”, “Wow, fantastic baby”, “I’m the best!”, “every day I shock, every night I shock…”, “Sorry sorry sorry sorry,” “Gee gee gee gee baby baby…”, and a lot more might not be very familiar to you, but you can trust me when I say that every K-pop fan knows exactly which line belongs to what song by which band and exactly which members of the group is singing that part, and even what he’s wearing while singing that with the exact dance moves.
Did you find any of the lines deep or meaningful? I guess not, but it brings so much happiness when singing one of them, happiness that K-pop fans cannot explain.
Girls` Generation(소녀시대) _ Gee
English is not a very strong side of the Korean pop industry, they are making so much funny, ridiculous mistakes, and K-pop fans are not tired of it. for example – “Close your lips, shut your tongue.”, “I promise love I still.”, “If you wanna pretty, every wanna pretty.”, “you got a messaji…”, “The loof is on fire” and much more.
K-pop is being funny without even trying, and when it is trying, you get Gangnam Style.
K-pop will forever be a place of fun, where music is not only lyrics and beat but a way of letting go all of your stress and worries.
2013 K-POP World Festival by Republic of Korea (CC BY-SA 2.0)
About the author:
Sandy Ego, Finalist of the K-pop World Festival 2016 in Korea