If you haven’t caught on to the phenomenon that is K-Pop, AKA Korean pop music, don’t fret because we’re here to catch you up! Read on for Hollywire’s top picks, and we’re pretty confident you’ll see why Korean music videos are the best in the world (hint: they go way beyond Psy’s “Gangnam Style”).
One upon a time, I lived in Seoul, South Korea. I taught English to brilliant Korean elementary students, took the high-speed train to quirky weekend festivals, and got schooled on the wonder that is K-Pop.
As crazy as it sounds, K-Pop was actually a pretty huge factor in choosing Korea as my post-grad destination. Before I ever saw a Korean music video, I pictured South Korea similar to North Korea—cold, desolate… perhaps a supreme leader forcing citizens to live in the most inhumane of conditions. My friend got a teaching job there the year prior to my move, and to be honest, I was kind of worried about her! But one day, she sent me a link to a Korean music video, and my whole idea of the country changed. The style was reminiscent of early 2000s American pop—bright, poppy colors, cartoons, and super high budget productions with elaborate dance numbers. It totally changed my perception of the culture-- I was in love, and I packed my bags for Seoul later that summer!
Here in America, each musical artist has a general demographic, but K-Pop music is a huge part of life in South Korea. I had an 8-year old student break out in a Super Junior dance number in the middle of class, I found myself rocking out with early twentysomethings at a Big Bang concert, and once stood next to an elderly Korean man whose phone rang with “Sorry, Sorry” (one of the big K-Pop songs at the time). It permeated every part of the culture.
But I don’t expect you to just read about it—let me show you a few of the most entertaining K-Pop videos in the world.
How can you top a miniature man swimming in a bowl of fruit loops? Or a ride atop a toy zebra? Seeing the boys dance in front of a boxed doll reminds me of the good ole *N Sync “It’s Gonna Be Me” days. I had the pleasure of seeing GOT7 perform at LA’s K-Con last year and was instantly hooked.
Red Velvet- Dumb Dumb
I’m obsessed with this song and video—it’s shot in such a cool way, while inducing laughter over the name and concept. Wikipedia tells me the concept of the song is, “The feelings of a girl who feels like she can't help but act awkwardly around the person she likes.” Hey, we all know that feeling! PS. How great of a band name is Red Velvet?
Big Bang- Fantastic Baby
How cool are the costumes and makeup worn by Big Bang in this 2012 megahit? One super cool thing about Korean culture, and Big Bang member G-Dragon in particular, is how much they embrace androgyny! Hey, guys can be pretty too.
Girls’ Generation- I Got a Boy
Girls’ Generation consists of eight girls, though the number has fluctuated throughout the years. There’s so many of them, they’ve even formed subgroups! “I Got a Boy” has the girls singing bubblebum songs in fun street style looks, and crazy cool sets!
2NE1- I Am the Best
2NE1 is probably my favorite of the girl groups (Park Bom is such a babe!). If you like “I Am the Best,” it’s worth checking out their other tracks, too. Singer/rapper CL has branched out and is gaining notoriety as a solo artist and fashionita as of late.
Tiffany- Just Wanna Dance
‘80s synth vibes get me every time! Girls Generation singer Tiffany Hwang branched out with a solo track, and she’s killing it with the melancholy pop sounds. Doesn’t everything about this seem like it could be straight out of America or Canada? The look of this video goes more for a fun, beachy, decades-old style of music and fashion than other styles of K-Pop.
J.Y. Park- Still Alive
41-year old music honcho Jin-Young Park (founder of massive record label JYP Entertainment)) released “Still Alive” where he dances past a wall of LEGO bricks, brags of his long-standing successes, and cockily tells listeners he hopes their idols last through the decades like him. No self-confidence issues here!
GD x TaeYang- Good Boy
“I am a good boy.” Bet you never thought you’d get that statement stuck in your head! But after this song, you will G-Dragon and TaeYang—two members of K-Pop’s biggest boyband Big Bang—teamed up for this ridiculoudly catchy song and video!
Super Junior- Sorry Sorry
Say hello to “Sorry Sorry”-- one of the biggest K-Pop songs of all time (the music video has 65 million views). When I attended K-Con in LA last year, it was such a treat to see Super Junior dance it out to the addicting melody in their suits. The little hand swishing choreography to this song is something many Koreans are familiar with. Don’t understand all the lyrics? “Sorry, Sorry” is all you really need to know!
Big Bang- Loser
Ever heard of the genre emo hip hop? This song should catch you right up. Big Bang are the kings of K-Pop, and their song “Loser” showcases a perfect blend of self-doubt and good beats. It’s a bit more subdued than other videos, so let’s just hit play and cry this one out.
Twice- Cheer Up
Girl group Twice reached more than 25 million views on their video for “Cheer Up” in the first two weeks alone! The girls embrace personas of miserable partygoers, varsity babes, geishas, and cowgirls. Yee-haw!
F(x)- Rum Pum Pum Pum
How rad is the style of this music video? The set, lighting, and outfit make me wish I was born in Korea with a singing ability so I could join f(x)’s gang! How fun is this?
Hopefully that’s enough to get you started. If I missed your fave K-Pop video, tweet me and I’ll be sure to check it out! (LINK) Let’s catch a flight to Asia, shall we?
What was your favorite K-Pop music video?
Carly Henderson is an Emmy-nominated host and producer of Hollywire's Weird This Week. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @CarlyHenderson_, and be sure to tweet her any strange news stories you'd like to see covered on the show.