To start off this blog, let’s talk about one of my current obsession: K-Pop. K-Pop stands for Korean Pop. Which is pop music from, you guessed it, Korea (South Korea, specifically). A few years ago, hallyu wave (a term used to describe the sudden surge of Korean entertainment in the market) hits globally and people are embracing K-Pop more than ever.
K-Pop is awesome for so many reasons and a lot of people has written blogs about it. Hence, I want to try to focus on some things that people doesn’t really talk about when they talk about K-Pop. By taking unique angles in appreciating K-Pop, I hope this “Reason to listen to K-Pop” series will make more people give K-Pop a listen. For the first part of this series, let’s begin with one of the more familiar K-Pop territory, retro concepts.
No other people done retro as fabulously as K-Pop. K-Pop was born as a carbon copy of Western music scene, hence, it’s no wonder they have such a high penchant with retro stuffs. Nostalgic music (and music videos) are aplenty within K-Pop. With their modern production and high budget music videos, retro have never looked or sound better.
Let’s start off with the hallmark of retro concept in K-Pop, Roly Poly by T-ara.
Just one watch of the music video you will be immediately able to tell that they are heavily influenced by the 70’s disco era and Saturday Night Fever. Heck, their mini album for this song was called “John Travolta Wannabe“. The dancing, make up, hair, outfit, and of course, the disco set and lighting are all on point, lending credibility to this homage of the 70’s. If this doesn’t make you wanna boogie, I don’t know what will.
The roaring 20’s was golden time for flapper dancers, fringe dress and tap dancing shoes. The recently released Lion Heart from Girl’s Generation is a good (although not as great as other examples in this post) representation for the 20’s.
I don’t really feel the 20’s vibe from their storyline plot in the MV, but I could say for sure that the dance scene with the fringe dresses and faux tap dancing feels totally 20’s. Those things are best appreciated through their live performances where we could see the choreography and dress movements in full effect.
I just love how the fringed dress really accentuates their movements. Also, this one is not really a released single, but Girl’s Generation did a Moulin Rouge inspired stage for the aptly titled song called Show Girls. This performance is just gorgeous.
New girl group MAMAMOO represents the piano Jazz music in the 40’s with their second single, Piano Man.
MAMAMOO is known as the “vocal group” and here I feel that their vocals complement the jazzy piano perfectly. Although, as with every MAMAMOO single ever, they are much better appreciated through their charismatic live stages.
Let’s move on to the 50’s and check out the best homage for this era, Shy Boy by Secret.
Just look at those dresses at 00:05, so pretty! And when you look closely, the pattern behind them dancing coordinates perfectly with their skirts and the 50’s theme. Secret’s travel back in time to the 50’s is completed with the awesome swing music. This MV looks so happy and bright I just want to get in there and drink milkshake with them.
Spica’s You Don’t Love Me is one of my favorite retro concept done by a K-Pop group ever.
As a make up lover, the immaculately designed and flawlessly executed 60’s make up on Spica’s members are heaven on earth. The perfectly flicked cat eye and big wavy hair are just so fabulous. Thanks to these two lovely ladies, I managed to find out that the make up and hair were designed by a nationally recognized make up artist. This music video for the 60’s soul music by Spica also got major bonus points for member Boa breaking a banana with a totally dead stare.
As for what this symbolizes, I’ll let you figure it out by yourself.
And of course, the hilarious butt padding!
The flagship group of K-Pop, Girl’s Generation, also did a homage to the 60’s but with Twiggy’s mod flair. Hoot by Girl’s Generation was one of their biggest hits during their peak era.
The concept for this music video was aptly described as “Bond Girls“. As one of the biggest girl group in K-Pop from one of the biggest agency around, they spare no expense with the hair, make up, costume and music video set to emulate the 60’s. Even the close-up shots starting from 02:30 screams totally 60’s to me.
K-Pop seems to really love the 60’s era as here we have another homage to the 60’s by Wonder Girls in Nobody.
As I have said before, K-Pop is a carbon copy of Wester music scene, this one in particular borrows heavily from The Supremes’ Stop In The Name Of Love.
Wonder Girls’ Nobody was one of the biggest K-Pop hits ever. And with those 60’s television show set and vintage standing microphone, they deserved a spot in this list.
Wonder Girls also has another homage to the 60’s in their single Be My Baby.
This single is not as popular as Nobody, but you betcha this is also a flawlessly executed retro concept.
If there is an era that K-Pop loves more than the 60’s, it’s definitely the 80’s. There are so much releases that ranged from inspired to full blown 80’s. Let’s start off with a rip off of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams by the group Dal Shabet with Big Baby Baby.
Those shoulder pads and electronic music… Gaaahh, so perfect!
The group that can’t seem to keep their member lineup consistent, Nine Muses (also known as
9 8 7 8 9Muses) is also a group that has a lot of 80’s inspired releases. From Gun:
Good thing that at least that the one thing Nine Muses is consistent about is good music releases.
If the 80’s era is synonymous to colorful for you, then Kara’s Step is for you.
And of course, the pinnacle of 80’s homage, Wonder Girls’ I Feel You.
This is an example of full blown 80’s release and everything in this release just screams 80’s. From the cheekily upside down MTV logo (it now reads as WTV, see what they did there?):
To the grainy and flat cinematic style which emulates the 80’s cinematic style, the swimsuits (Baywatch, anyone?), 80’s make up:
Everything in here is the perfect homage to Robert Palmer.
When I first heard the song and watched the music video, all I wanna do is grab my exercise gear and do the aerobics.
Something For Everyone!
Wonder Girls’ I Feel You and Spica’s You Don’t Love Me hands down are two of my favorite retro concept releases from K-Pop (that is, until something else more amazing comes along).
But don’t mind my favorites. If you ever feel that this era sucks and you’d rather live in a different era, or in this case, if you ever feel that this era’s music sucks and you’d rather listen to music of a different era, then give K-Pop a listen. What I have listed down here are just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty more of retro concepts releases from K-Pop that I’m sure there will be something to satisfy every taste buds.
Hope you enjoy my first (long) post!