POPSOUNDS 007: THE (K)POP GROUPBy Ilirjana Alushaj
When I was kid growing up in Sydney, when I wanted to buy clothes I'd always end up in Chinatown. At the time it had all these crazy stores that sold clothes from Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. I was really into being a bit eccentric and so probably more than half of my wardrobe was gathered from unknown Korean labels. They were slightly strange pieces ranging from skinny suits to Vivienne Westwood knock-offs. My mother would constantly plead with me to dress normal, but I was way more excited about dressing “un-normal”.
My appreciation of K-style didn't stretch over to the music. The shops I frequented always played music I would make faces and scoff at. I was still on that a post-punk, synth-wave, "kick me in the face” diet, and saccharine sounds were terrifyingly abstract. Ironically, the most commercial of music made me feel the least comfortable.
It hasn’t though really been until recently, after I started writing music myself, that I’ve accepted pop music and the skill it takes to write it.Like all regional music, there's something distinct and special about K-Pop. The look and sound is all encompassing and pure. And it isn’t just me taking note. Bands like Elite Gymnastics have recently heralded K-Pop. I feel like a lot more bands are secretly inspired by the genre (Lady Gaga anyone?).
Here are four of my favorites:
"Bbiribbom Bberibbom" by Co - Ed
The name suggests a troupe of teen boys and girls. This song has a repeating hook that bears no real meaning. In Korea this equates to a song being ridiculously catchy.
"Knockout" by GD & TOP
Oh damn this song is so good! And with that The Percolator sample, I’ve listened a billion times. The video is also genius, made by some minimalist version of Hype Williams.
"Gee" by Girls' Generation
They're one of the biggest acts in Korea, and have massive songs. So much pop in Gee that I was distraught for a while. Honestly, I'm jealous.
"Bang!" by After School
I haven't figured out how many girls are in this band (maybe 8?), but you know what? That doesn't matter as they each have a little bit of the amazing sequined Gwen Stefani inside of them all.
For better or worse, I know that a lot of these acts were prepped and pushed to enter pop idolatry within little neon printed talent camps... but whatever magic it is, I am still into what K-Pop is trying to present.
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