Introduction to: Kpop – Impact Magazine
In 2020, it is almost inevitable to hear about Kpop: the new South Korean musical phenomenon. In this article, Emily explores how the genre was born, as well as the artists you should consult to learn more about this growing movement.
Korean pop music, more commonly known as Kpop, has grown in popularity in recent years, favoring legions of loyal fans around the world. With elaborate dance routines and music videos, Kpop groups are raising the bar higher and higher for themselves every day. Still, it can all seem pretty overwhelming to the stranger, so here’s a quick guide to help you try and understand the glamorous, ever-changing world of Kpop!
First, a quick glossary of words frequently used by the Kpop fandom:
- Bias = someone’s preferred member of a Kpop group. Some think you can have more than one, but the second favorite idol could also be considered a …
- Bias Wrecker = the idol that makes you rethink your prejudice.
- Stan = A combination of stalker and fan, simply meaning a person who is too obsessed with an idol or a group, but not to the point of dangerous behavior.
Kpop first appeared on the music scene in 1992 with the group Seo Taiji and Boys. The first hit that many of us probably remember, however, is the “ Gangnam Style ” by Psy, which spawned a viral internet dance craze in 2012. The next band to bring the genre to Western ears was Bangtan Sonyeondan, better known as BTS, which is still one of the most popular bands like today.
I’ve always been a fan of bands that incorporate theater into their performance concepts, so when I discovered the band, I instantly fell in love with the music and videos from their 2016 album. Wings.
Created by South Korean entertainment company BigHit Entertainment, BTS is made up of seven members: RM, Jin, SUGA, JHope, Jimin, V, Junkook, and debuted in 2013 with their album 2 Cool 4 Skool. Their Billboard Hot 200 entries helped cultivate their presence in the Western musical sphere, and in 2018, BTS topped the charts with their album. Love yourself: tear. I’ve always been a fan of bands that incorporate theater into their performance concepts, so when I discovered the band, I instantly fell in love with the music and videos from their 2016 album. Wings. In the concept of the project, they repeatedly refer to the Greek legend of Icarus, and are inspired by the coming-of-age novel by Hermann Hesse. Demian. Growth and togetherness are common themes throughout their albums and have helped me make emotional connections with their work while also experiencing the personal growth that comes with my college education.
Made up of four powerful women: Solar, Moobyul, Hwasa and Wheein, the group debuted in 2014 and are best known for their fusion of jazz, R&B and retro aesthetics.
The next group I would recommend as essential is Mamamoo, who was introduced to me by a second-year roommate who surprised me with his love for Kpop when I revealed mine. Made up of four powerful women: Solar, Moobyul, Hwasa and Wheein, the group debuted in 2014 and are best known for their fusion of jazz, R&B and retro aesthetics. One of my favorite songs is “Piano Man,” an electronic dance and swing number that makes you want to strut your stuff, with an equally sexy and stylish music video. ‘Decal’ is another highlight, with a more pop feel.
NCT is not a single group but a collection of units. Founded by SM Entertainment, the group, whose name means Neo Culture Technology, consists of 21 members as of 2019. These members are then broken down into smaller units, the first being NCT U, followed by NCT 127 (based in Seoul ), NCT Dreaming. and finally WayV, based in China. To add to this confusing structure, a member can be part of multiple units, and there have been a lot of roster changes between divisions. There are also avenues for collaboration between units, an example being ‘Boss’, which includes NCT U and a few members of NCT 127. If you are confused by this unit-based layout, you are not alone. They are individual bands with their own styles but within the same company, and it’s a unique but dizzying approach to music marketing in the modern age. When it comes to standout songs, I recommend ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by NCT 127, a collaboration with Jason Derulo, ‘Regular’, also by NCT 127, which has both an English and Korean version, and NCT Dream’s “Don’t Need Your Love” with HRVY, which is much cooler than the other two tracks.
There are so many other bands that I would like to talk about in more detail but I don’t have room in this article.
This is just a little taste of what the Kpop genre has to offer. BlackPink, are another girl group that has grown in popularity recently, with their songs appearing on soundtracks including To all the boys I love: Ps I still love you and Justice League. Exo is a boy group that has been around since 2012 but has had more difficulty standing out among Western audiences. 2012 has been an important year as it also saw the birth of KCon, which was designed to be an affordable opportunity for people to sample several bands around the Kpop world as well as meet their idols and fan friends. There are so many other bands that I would like to talk about in more detail but I don’t have room in this article.
Needless to say, the Kpop genre is still growing as a genre and has pretty much taken over from the American boyband fandom that has been with us for generations. As an Anglo-Asian, it sounds like the musical crossover between East and West that I have always been waiting for.