*This post is written by Nicole and is the first of her new monthly K-pop posts*
How I First Discovered K-pop
When I was in my last year of high school I was working at a bookstore called Chapters. I became friends with a really quiet Vietnamese girl with whom I worked. One night she sent me a song called “Sorry Sorry”. She told me Super Junior was a famous group in Korea and I should listen to this song because it’s so catchy. So I did. I loved it right away. A few nights later, we went to Mandarin for a staff party, where she showed me A.MI.GO (아.미.고) by SHINee (샤이니). I loved them even more than Super Junior. It was the first time I’d seen the music video, so I had no idea who anyone was, but I could not take my eyes off of Key. Right from the get go he was my favourite.
Since I loved Key so much, and I kept re-watching the A.MI.GO music video, I decided to check some related videos on the side. I watched SHINee’s Juliette, Replay (누나 너무 예뻐), Love Like Oxygen (산소 같은 너), and then I came across Minho featured in SNSD’s (소녀시대) Gee. I never really liked SNSD all that much, but when I found the videos of Key and Taemin dancing to Genie (소원을 말해봐) I fell even more in love with Key. I actively searched for videos where he was dancing to other girl groups’ songs. It was because of Key and his amazing dancing abilities that I learned about K-pop female idol groups, and because of him that I started my obsession with learning K-pop dances.
K-pop is completely different from American pop in so many ways. In Korea idols are recruited by an agency, trained for years on end, and then finally, if they’re lucky enough, get thrown into a group with other members. The groups can have as little as four members or as many as thirteen (like Super Junior), but the average seems to be somewhere in between – five, six, or seven.
Another big difference is the amount of intricate choreography incorporated in K-pop. The performances are not simply the idols standing there and singing – they are really performers. There is choreography for every K-pop song. Some music videos even have a “dance version MV”. So fans’ hobbies became learning these dances. Agencies will post the idols’ dance practices and certain people will mirror them and sometimes even slow and mirror them so that fans can watch the videos at home and learn the dances. You can even find K-pop dance tutorials on people’s YouTube channels.
This is how I learn K-pop dancing. I watch the mirrored versions of live performances and/or dance practices and try to memorize each move. I’m really not that good, but I find it enjoyable. K-pop is so enjoyable because the dances are so much fun! I will admit that some lyrics don’t really have that much meaning and so simply listening to the song can get boring. It’s like trying to listen to the beats and reggae music you usually dance to in a club, while not dancing. It’s a little weird, isn’t it? You want to get up and dance to it! That’s how a lot of upbeat K-pop songs are! And because there’s choreography, you can learn the exact same dance that the people who perform it do! Although, I will admit that there are some K-pop songs that have amazing lyrics. These days I’m obsessed with Infinite (인피니트) and their songs entitled: BTD (Before the Dawn), 내꺼하자 (Be Mine), and Paradise (파라다이스). Dancing-wise, though, Miss A (미쓰에이) is my favourite! I think I’ve learned every single Miss A dance, except for the latest – I Don’t Need a Man (남자 없이 잘 살아), which I am actually in the process of learning now.
Just for fun, I will share my cover of what I believe is almost everyone’s favourite Miss A song – Bad Girl Good Girl:
I even did a couple of performances – one last October with Hallyu M.I.C (한류 M.I.C), and one this past summer with my friends Dhiani and Lainey (who are members of K-pop cover group Mitzi) in Richmond Hill at Summer Carnival. If you like SNSD you will probably enjoy this performance:
I used to teach K-pop dancing for the U of T Korean club. If you want to have some fun, I suggest learning K-pop dances, even by yourself at home. They’re so fun!
Lastly, I want to talk about some of my favourite Korean songs and why they’re my favourite. Obviously, you can tell from the title, that they are my favourite because of the lyrics. For me, if a song’s lyrics relate to me or attract my attention then I can’t ever stop listening to the song.
Some of my favourite K-pop songs are: Infinite’s Paradise(파라다이스), 내꺼하자 (Be Mine), and BTD (Before the Dawn); Miss A’s Bad Girl Good Girl, Touch (터치), and I Don’t Need a Man (남자 없이 잘 살아); and G-Dragon’s That XX (그새끼), and Missing you. There are an infinite amount more that I love to pieces, but I only mentioned a few and I will tell you the lyrics that drew me in for only one song by each of the groups that I’ve mentioned:
1) Infinite – Paradise: 니가 있어야만 여기가 파라다이스; 영원히 함께 할 수 있는 파라다이스 (If only I have you then this is paradise; a paradise where we can be together forever)
2) Miss A – Touch: 닫힌 내 가슴은 누구도 사랑할 수가 없다 그렇게 믿었는데 어느새 내 가슴이 열리고 있어 (My heart closed heart can’t love anyone. I believed that but without my realizing my heart is opening)
3) G-Dragon – Missing You: 난 여기 있어 아님 혹시 다른 사람과 다른 사랑하니? 보고 싶어. (I’m right here. Or do you have another person whom you love? I want to see you)
That’s all for today! But since I got to talking about lyrics, I have a feeling that next month I will let you in on my favourite k-pop songs and what their lyrics mean!
See you around 😉