Every few years my obsession with Kpop (Korean Pop Music, if you will) reasserts itself with a vengeance.
This time around, my love of Kpop has popped up again at a time that coincides with my current favourite boyband, GOT7, dropping the music video to their song “Hard Carry” – so I am going to congratulate myself on, for once in my life, being vaguely topical.
The video, much like many Kpop videos, is not something you’d want to show to young children. Not because of any dubious or illicit content or anything. Kpop is about as wholesome as music can get. Just because there are so many flashing colours, strobe lighting effects, and general noise and activity that it could seriously impair the cerebral development of a young infant. [Note: These claims are wildly unsubstantiated and are backed up by me having no authority and having done no research on the topic of the effects of noises and colours on the cerebral development in human young. I’m simply trying to make a point about how much a Kpop video overstimulates the senses].
For most of my homies, when I say “Kpop” you are either going to stare at me blankly or groan and say “Ohhh, not that Gangnam Style guy” on account of how Gangnam Style is a lot of people’s only experience with Kpop (in the same way that Daddy Yankee’s Gasolina is a lot of people’s only encounter with reggaeton).
While Gangnam Style was a fine example of all that is Kpop in that it was irritatingly catchy with a music video that was fantastically overproduced, and a dance that everyone can join in on – it actually really only scratches the surface of the whole industry. Personally, I believe that the true beauty of Kpop lies within its boy groups and girl groups.
Let’s face it, for much of the western world it was in the 90s that the pop group reigned supreme. Excepting One Direction, the pop group concept hasn’t really made a significant comeback. Sure, Fifth Harmony are some hot little mamas – but they’re not the All Saints.
No one has ever come close to competing with the Spice Girls, and no one ever will.
But in dear old South Korea, this is not the case.
In South Korea the pop group still reigns supreme.
Over there they recruit young talent, put them through years of singing and dance training, shuffle them into pop groups and then “debut” them. Their fans call them “idols” and they lap it up.
I lap it up.
It’s a recipe for success. You take a bunch of really attractive youngsters (and if they aren’t naturally beautiful then you throw plastic surgery at them like nobody’s business), that can sing and then you make them dance all day until they’re pretty darn good at it, and what do you get? A Kpop idol group!
I’m so into it.
To be fair – I’m more into the boy groups. Sometimes the girl groups are a little bit too cute and it can get irritating quite quickly.
I do have some qualms though.
For instance, sometimes there are just far too many members in each group. Take, for example, the legendary Girl’s Generation (pictured above) which has 9 members. Or Super Junior (below), who peaked at 13 members.
That’s simply too many people!
It’s too many people to keep track of and I genuinely believe that by this point what you have is not a pop group, but rather, a choir.
Five is the ultimate number for a pop group I think. With the odd exception, of course.
My logic may be based on the legends of yore, such as the Spice Girls, Westlife, The Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, *NSYNC, and of course Five; but I don’t care.
How many members has GOT7 got?
GOT7 has got 7 members.
I see the logic in their naming system.
My other issue is that the members of these groups are quite often hard to tell apart. And that’s not a race thing, because I couldn’t tell the Backstreet Boys apart either.
But bear with me while I explain myself…
For comparison I will use One Direction, a fairly well known recent boyband who have had a fair amount of worldwide success; and Big Bang, who I genuinely believe are the greatest band of all time (Kpop or otherwise).
In One Direction from left to right we have the blond guy; we have the guy with brown hair and blue eyes; we have the hot guy with the really dark hair; we have the guy with the brown hair and brown eyes; and we have the one with the boofy hair who, throughout the years, looked progressively more and more like he needed a thorough shampooing.
For the five years that they were a band it remained pretty much the same. All in all, it’s pretty consistent.
In the other corner we have Big Bang. Five guys with naturally dark hair and dark eyes.
They clearly have different faces, but the way they make it challenging is by constantly altering their hair cuts and alternating their hair colours. In other words, the blond guy in one music video is not necessarily the same guy as the blond guy in the next music video.
I’m not complaining. I too like to mix up my hair colour. I’m just saying that it can be hard to keep up with all the changes for all but the most attentive of fans.
Here’s some photographic evidence to back up my wild claims.
This is what they looked like in 2008 in their music video for Haru Haru:
From left to right we have G-Dragon, T.O.P., Taeyang, Seungri, and Daesung. Pretty much all just with variations on the dark-haired vibe.
In 2012 they changed their hair every time they released a new single…
Same thing in 2012…
Not to mention all the other hairstyles they tried out willy nilly when they each had their own successful solo careers.
Either way, they’ve all taken turns being the guy with the bleach blond hair. Compared to some other groups that come to mind, this isn’t even a significant amount of change.
All of this led me to conclude that the hairs on the head of a Korean pop idol are virtually indestructible. To be able to deal with that many colour changes and still be recognisable as hair seems unheard of, so I humbly ask that they immediately divulge their haircare secrets. Personally, I’m stuck with green/grey hair because I had purple hair and my hairdresser can’t strip it out without frying it.
Forgive me if I sound a little bitter about it, but I am a little bitter about it.
At the end of the day though, One Direction NEVER had a beat drop like this one…
If I am going to be completely honest though, one of my biggest reasons for loving Kpop is purely aesthetic.
Kpop stars are all ridiculously attractive.
Somehow they manage to pull off being both hot and adorable and they seamlessly switch between the two in a way that does all sorts of things to my insides. They’ve redefined the meaning of the word “cute” with their cheeky grins, their perfect white teeth, and their cheekbones that you could cut butter on. They can all sing and dance too – and we all know that a sense of rhythm and tuneful vocal chords are universally attractive qualities.
On top of this they are constantly filming extra material, which gives rise to gems like the video below, in which the boys of GOT7 have apparently been shut into a room to sing a live version of their song Confessions, but it somehow devolves into Jackson poking wheat(?!?) into everybody’s orifices.
It makes for excellent viewing and, if you’re a fangirl (or a fanboy), all this “candid footage” makes you feel like you’re properly getting to know your favourite idols – and that you should spend all of your life savings on CDs, merchandise, and concert tickets.
I don’t begrudge them their income though. They definitely work hard for it. The have TV shows dedicated to pitting their favourite idols against one another and making them compete in absurd challenges like doing all of their dance routines at double speed. It’s like James Corden’s Late Late show or Jimmy Fallon’s show on steroids.
The western celebrities that we are forced to tolerate on our TV screens seem somewhat dull by comparison.
Ultimately you may or may not agree with any of this, but like I said – every few years I become reobsessed with Kpop again. It does always eventually go away again though. The music can have a tendency to all sound the same (not unlike country music).
But I wouldn’t be too surprised if one day I snap out of it to find myself residing in Korea having dedicating my life to attending Kpop concerts.
If you fancy, check out what a bunch of famous youtubers have to say about Kpop in the videos below.
Otherwise, you’ll hear from me again soon.