Once upon a time (from the time I first got into Kpop as a teenager, and all through my twenties before popping out my fist kid at the age of 29), I used to stalk the top Kpop tunes on Naver Music and Mnet Chart every week.
Before YouTube was a thing — yes, I’m that old — I remember sharing (via burned CDs and Zip drives) and repeatedly watching Kpop music videos with my friends. And man oh man the Korean music videos these days got NOTHING on those classics from the late 90’s to early 00’s. Who doesn’t remember shedding tears over Kiss’ “여자이니까” (Because I’m a Girl)? Or calling their mom to tell her “I love you” after watching G.O.D.’s “어머님께” (To My Mother)?
And we can’t forget the king of sappy MV’s: 조성모 (Jo Sung Mo). His “To Heaven” video may have been the one that started it all, don’t you think? (And yes, that’s actor Lee Byung Hun in the music video below! He actually starred in a few Jo Sung Mo videos.)
Anyways, enough digressing. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I haven’t had much chance to keep up with the Kpop scene since becoming a mother. And the little exposure I did receive failed to impress.
But a few months ago, I came across an article saying that Korean songwriters have been really upping their game with the nation gaining extra international attention via its dramas and beauty/skincare breakthroughs. So I decided, “Why not?” and began to look up the charts again.
And this time, the music made me feel like a teenager/early-twentysomething again.
I figure that there must be others like me amongst my readers — once ardent fans of Kpop who have fallen astray due to changing lifestyles, new responsibilities, little time, and whatnot.
So please indulge me for this blog post as I share with you my top 5 Kpop songs from the past few months…
The first up is “FM” by Crayon Pop, and this song — along with the one below it — may just be my favorite Korean song from the past 5 years. It’s catchy without being overly cutesy, and while it’s different from the overly-energetic, sometimes-silly tunes that Crayon Pop is known for, it still remains true to the group’s image via unmistakable references to Power Rangers and Sailor Moon.
The second song on my list is one you’ve probably heard if you live in Asia, or have frequented Asian establishments in the past month, because IT’S EVERYWHERE!!! And it’s brought to you by none other than Jinusean, a rap duo whose popularity peaked in the late 1990s.
“한번 더 말해줘” (Tell Me Once More Time) is a throwback to Jinusean’s most popular single, “말해줘” (Tell Me) which was released EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO. As a nostalgic fan of old-school Kpop, I can’t help but love this song for its references to Jinusean’s older hits. Not only that, the music video pays homage to older music video styles and trends (even those of Puffy!) while poking fun at themselves for being old!
Not to mention, the song is catchy as hell. It’s such a fun song that makes me so happy to hear it.
While the original track and the MV for “한번 더 말해줘” is accompanied by 장한나 (Jang Hanna), a trainee from YG Entertainment, in the past month Jinusean has been performing the song with various popular female artists. How AWESOME would it be if they could get 엄정화 (Um Jung Hwa) — the original female vocalist from “말해줘” to perform “한번 더 말해줘” with them???? Oh please of please make it happen!
A.KOR’s “Always” is another catchy song that randomly find myself humming when I’m in the middle of a mundane task, or dancing along to it whenever it comes up on my iPod. (Claire likes this song too! ) I had never heard of this group before, but apparently they were involved in a scandal last year for dissing a senior group. (And this is why the YouTube video for “Always” has so many downvotes, a full 6 months after the scandal. ::rolls eyes::) Meh, just as long as the song is good, right?
4Ten released “왜 이래” (Why) early this year and although it’s not a great song, I am once again attracted to it by the fact that it reminds me of old-school Kpop — classic girl groups like Fin.K.L. and S.E.S., in particular! I also like how the music video was filmed in NY amongst people who probably had no idea who they were.
This last song is from one of my favorite female Korean artists, 가인 (Gain), a member of the group Brown Eyed Girls who also has a successful solo career. “Apple” is the first single from her latest mini-album Hawwah which was released in March. It is playful with jazz undertones, and expresses the desires for the “forbidden fruit” in a cute and colorful manner.
I really like two other songs from Hawwah too…so I’m gonna blame Gain for this post becoming longer than I originally intended it to be. Here’s a list of some other recent Kpop songs I’ve been diggin’. Hope you enjoy them too!
- 가인 (Gain) — Paradise Lost
- 가인 (Gain) — 두 여자 (Two Women)
- Dal Shabet — Joker
- EXID — Ah Yeah
- Mad Clown feat. 진실 (Jinsil) — 화 (Fire)
- Davichi — 두사랑 (Two Lovers)
- Blady — 다가와 (Come to Me)
- Dia — Paradise
- HIGH4 feat. IU — 봄, 사랑, 벚꽃 말고 (Not Spring, Love, or Cherry Blossoms)
- Mamamoo & eSNa — AHH OOP!
- Shannon Williams — 새벽비 (Daybreak Rain)
- Take — 어느 봄날에 (One Spring Day)
- 로꼬 (Loco) & 유주 (Yuju) — 우연히 봄 (Spring Is Gone)
- 박보람 (Park Boram) — 연예할래 (Celepretty)
- 1Punch — 돌려놔 (Turn Me Back)
- 4Minute — 추운 비 (Cold Rain)