Reminiscing about 10 Years of Big Bang

Image courtesy of BIGBANG and LiveNation
Image courtesy of BIGBANG and LiveNation

Two articles I read recently inspired my writing (recently being relative in this case). First, one by Chris at KoreanIndie (a great site about Korean indie music) challenged me, and others, to write more about Korean indie music (which spawned my “Music I’m Listening To” series) and then another by Tamar who runs KultScene (a great Hallyu site) inspired this one, although it was actually one of the articles she wrote for Billboard.

She wrote about Big Bang celebrating their 10 year anniversary this year which made me realize that I had been listening to them for 10 years. Yep, I have listened to Big Bang since they debuted and they are the only K-pop group, and one of the only bands from any country or genre, that I can say that about. Thanks goes to my middle school students in Korea for introducing me to them. Actually during my 3 years teaching in Korea, my students introduced me to all kinds of interesting aspects of Korean culture but that’s another story… or two.

Big Bang Teddy Bear - Tae Yang I suspect - at Skinaniversary
Big Bang Teddy Bear – Tae Yang I suspect – at Skinaniversary

Memories of Big Bang

I have a lot of memories of Big Bang – from living in Korea, from seeing them in the US and Canada, and even from friends poking fun at me as they are the only K-pop group I’ve ever fangirled over. And if I’m honest, they are one of the few bands of any genre I’ve ever truly fangirled (okay, that’s not a word but you get what I mean) over. I can’t explain it. I’m not even really into pop music (although they do blend genres and aren’t just pop) but there was just something about Big Bang that grabbed me and never truly let go. From the first time one of my students played them for me I was hooked, I even went out and bought their first EP after listening to it in the classroom. They were my introduction to Korean music of any genre and the first, but certainly not the last, Korean CD I bought – and just for that, they have a special place in my heart.

Like many fans, I had a favourite member. But unlike some, it changed after a year or two before solidifying. I suspect that many of my friends don’t realize that GD was my fav originally but my love of Taeyang is well-known among those who know me well. I always feel slightly bad about it changing allegiance but when Taeyang’s first solo album, Solar, came out there was just something about his smooth R&B voice that sucked me in. Since then, it’s been Taeyang, even during his crazy hair stage during Alive – seriously, what was he thinking with the odd devil’s horn curls? Don’t get me wrong, I still like GD but Taeyang’s voice (and his abs if I’m being honest) is my kryptonite. I may not be the fangirl I was four or five years ago but yeah, I’m still hooked.

It’s been fun watching them grow and seeing them perform in different situations/venues – from accidentally catching their soundcheck in Olympic Park in Seoul (I lived nearby and was out for a walk) near the start of their career to seeing them perform at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for 14,000 fans in 2015, it’s been a trip. I love that I can say I was there from the start. From paying $225 (US dollars) to see them in New Jersey with friends in 2012 to covering them as media in Toronto last year (oh yeah, that was super cool), I have a lot of fond memories of Big Bang.

I may not fangirl as much anymore, writing about music has cured me of that, at least out in public, but they are still the only group I’ve ever bought a lightstick for. Or own socks with cute cartoon pics of them…

Getting in touch with my inner fangirl
Getting in touch with my inner fangirl (2012)

My top 10 favourite Big Bang songs

This list includes solo songs as well… because how could I not. They are as good solo as they are as a group. Some of my favs would make most people’s top 10, and some might surprise you but these are the songs that stick with me the most from their 10 year career. Songs are listed in alphabetical order as there was no way I could rank them.

Bad Boy

This song showcases each member so well, both individually and as a group. And come on, who doesn’t like a “Bad Boy” and want to be their ‘lady’?

Butterfly

One of the singles from G Dragon’s first solo album, this song is just so sweet and the whimsical music video compliments it perfectly. Even years later, it still makes me smile and want to fall in love.

Crayon (크레용)

I’m a dancer, or I was when I was younger. It didn’t matter if it was a dance floor, a club or my living room – certain songs just speak to me and I can’t help but dance. This is one of those songs that I – and many others – just can’t stop moving to. So infectious and well… cray!

Eyes, Nose, Lips (눈,코,입)

Come on, you knew there was going to be a Taeyang song in here. I like a lot of his solo music but this song, the emotion in it… it made me cry the first time I heard it and even after playing it probably hundreds of times, it still squeezes my heart. I may sing the Tablo version of the song more in a noraebang (노래방, Korean private singing room/karaoke) but that’s just because I sing anger better than sadness. Oh the feels.

Fantastic Baby

I can’t tell you how much I love this song. It just makes me happy and want to dance. In fact, I can’t count how many times I’ve danced my ass off to it. It’s so much fun and that’s without even thinking about the music video. The MV is both hot and crazy, which all adds to the sheer fun of the song. Did I mention how much fun the song is?

Haru Haru (하루하루)

The sadness and emotion of the song and music video keep this song on my playlists years after it was released. They were so young but damn, there’s just so much emotion.

How Gee

Bet you didn’t expect this song! Okay, it may not make a lot of ‘top 10’ lists but it has special memories for me. You see, whenever I used to mention I was a BB fan at a noraebang, people would suggest I sing this song, thinking it would be easy for me as it’s in English. Unfortunately, it’s probably the hardest of their songs to sing –  for me anyways, I can sing their Korean songs way better – so I always end up flubbing the lyrics, which results in much laughter (and a horrible score). And that’s why it’s on my list… so many memories. Plus it has a super cute video. (FYI – theirs is a remix of the original “How Gee” by Black Machine)

Lies (거짓말)

One of my all-time favs, and my first fav BB song, this was the song that truly hooked me on them. I often joke that singing this song at a noraebang with friends helped my Korean reading skills more than studying from a textbook. It’s still one of my fav songs to sing at a noraebang. Plus, this is the song that truly established BB as the group to follow.

Ringa Linga (링가 링가)

Yes, the mohawk is back. I mean, this is a great song to dance to. Actually it is, the rhythm of the song is fabulous for anyone who likes to lose themselves in music on the dance floor. “Don’t kill my vibe.”

Stupid Liar 

For the life of me, I could never figure out why I like this song but from the first time I heard it, it wormed its way into my heart and playlists and it never left. Like many of their songs, it’s fun to dance to (although not the dance they do to it, lol).

Final Thoughts

I don’t listen to a lot of idol music, or any kind of pop music for that matter. I never have. But there was something about Big Bang that grabbed my attention and never let go. While I may not be as crazy about them as I once was, they will always have a special place in my heart… and playlists. Plus 10 years is a long time for a boy band to not only be around but be popular and putting out new music. Of course, that may all change now that they’re starting to do their military service but still, it’s been an impressive career so far.

What are your favourite memories of Big Bang? What songs do you love? You know I’d love to hear from you, our lovely readers so please leave a comment below. ^^

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

We want to hear what you think!

%d bloggers like this: