Wednesday, 28 April 2010

K-pop in the ROK

Working at an all-girls middle school can be quite exhausting. The daily dose of confusion and mood shifts caused by changing hormones and estrogen, can take a toll on the teacher at the end of the day. However, there's also many perks that come with this situation. For one thing, I'm always in the know, when it comes to music and entertainment.

My students' lives pretty much revolve around the latest Korean pop bands and their members. Their unwavering dedication to the boys and girls who sing some of their favourite songs is something not to be messed with... though I sometimes wish they'd put a little of that dedication towards my classes.

In any case, some of you have asked me what the music scene is like, here, in Korea. Well, let's just say that it's an ongoing stream of pop, pop, love songs, ballads, and more pop.

There's a few entertainment companies here, that literally manufacture boy/girl bands, almost every week. Sometimes, they even go to other parts of the world to scout for talent, who they then bring back to Korea; putting them through an intensive program involving music training and dance. The end result? A cookie-cutter, practically perfect in every way, pop band.

The songs are sung in Korean for the most part, save for a few English words thrown here and there for kicks.

To fully understand what I'm taking about, I ask that you check out the next series of videos in this blog. I asked my students for help with this, and they came up with some 'must sees'.

1. Run Devil Run by Girls' Generation
This all-female group consists of nine members; some from Korea, some brought in from the States. They're one of the leading female groups in the country, with a new hit surfacing every couple of months or so. They also appear on various TV shows and at events. The song is about a guy who's a 'super playboy'. The women have had enough of him, and are pretty much telling him to hit the road.

2. Hip Song by Rain
This is the latest song by one of Korea's most famous artists. Rain has been around for a few years and has released tracks that have gone on to achieve worldwide success. Earlier this year, he starred in Ninja Assassin -- a movie that secured his place in the entertainment industry as a double threat. I must admit I enjoy the beat on this one.

3. I did wrong by 2AM
A lot of K-pop music videos tend to take on the same format as that of a Korean drama. There's always a story that goes along with the song. 2AM were introduced to me by a student who has now graduated and gone on to high school. She gave me their album of love ballads as a parting gift, earlier this year. In her letter she said, "Teacher, I think they are your style. I have watched you, and out of all the singers, my thoughts are you will like them." Go figure, I find myself absolutely enjoying their songs, music videos and way-too-metro outfits! This song is about four friends falling for the same girl... and the girl playing all of them like a violin. It's a two part video/drama. You can find part two on YouTube.

4. Follow Me by 2NE1
I must start of by admitting I really enjoy this group. The all-female group consisting of four members is spunky, edgy and a lot of fun to watch. They have a style that parallels that of other female groups in Korea, where they choose Converse sneakers and baggy pants, to heels and mini skirts. And the best part is that every member has a distinct personality, making them easy to pick out. This is their latest single and music video.

5. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Hyori
Hyori is a solo artist who just released her latest single last month. I don't completely understand the music video, but it seems like there's something to do with aliens and UFOs. Regardless, it's a fun video, and she's also pretty edgy. My students all know the dance to this song. I remember the first time they asked me to play Chitty Chitty Bang Bang... I thought they were referring to the old Dick Van Dyke movie, and was so thrilled they knew of it. My mistake.

So there you have it. Five artists who are hot in the ROK right now. What do you think?


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