The local’s guide to Kpop

Expand your music taste.

Pim Kruthun, Staff Writer

The average teen has probably heard of Kpop at least once in their life, and some may even be a fan. Asian representation in the west has always been scarce and misdirected, so no surprise to the foreign stigma around Korean music in the U.S. Most westerners reject the genre due to the, “oh so terrible” troubles of listening to music in a different language.

But despite the stereotypes, the Korean industry has grown globally with massive numbers of listeners from the U.S. Groups like BTS and BLACKPINK, which have been two of the few major breakouts for the growing industry. The Kpop industry consists of many genres and many types of artists. Solo artists, duos, and groups can rack up anywhere from 3 people to 23 members.

Kpop in itself is too generalized from an outside perspective. Too often do people overlook the sub-genres: Korean RnB, Hip Hop, Ballads, Rock and of course Pop. The genre is more diverse than what it seems. You may be surprised to find a large minority of the most popular Korean idols in the industry are actually foreigners from neighboring Asian countries, usually East and Southeast Asian.

What sets the Kpop industry apart from the American industry is the vigorous training they attend for years and the strive to perfect the art of performing and upholding the “idol” image.

The Kpop idol career path takes a lot of passion and a lot of perseverance. The industry puts well-rounded artistry first, with flashy performances and catchy songs; this has captured many audiences around the world. And if you wish to not be the odd one out, it’s not too late to try. Here are some Kpop starters for you to explore.

1.)  BLACKPINK, “How You Like That”

What better way to start off than with a recent hit from arguably the biggest girl group in the world, BLACKPINK. You might have heard their song “Ice Cream” on your radio recently. Not only did this summer release break numerous records, but it holds a catchy and powerful tune that will be stuck in your head all day.

Perfect for overcoming recent breakups, toxic friendships, or just someone who really tried you. You know that feeling, of seeing your middle school bully exposed and dragged on Twitter or…is that too personal? Either way, this song is THE ultimate karma song.

2.) BTS, “Dynamite”

BTS is one of the most popular boy bands. Their newest song, that you may have heard on your radios, or seen topping the Billboard charts, Dynamite, is a fully English song pioneered for a western audience.

If you are new to the concept of Kpop, this is perhaps a great place to start. The song has very upbeat vibes, and colorful visuals that will easily help you venture into the boy band’s vast discography, and you might just fall in love.

3.) Itzy, “WANNABE

If you’re looking for a good song that can lift your mood and make you dance, this song by girl group Itzy will surely do the trick. The powerful and eye-pleasing choreography will bring out your inner dancer. Watch the music video and you will be mesmerized by not only the tune but the dancing as well.

4.) NCT 127, “Kick It”

This boy band release from earlier this year is super flashy, and if you’re into that techno-pop type of music, this is for you. If you’re not, fortunately for you, NCT is one big unit group with subunits. So if you don’t like NCT 127, then try NCT U, or NCT Dream.

5.) Red Velvet, “Peek-A-Boo”

Halloween is approaching and I couldn’t help myself but put this 2017 release on this 2020 guide. The song showcases what most assume to be a “lesbian cult” (no one really knows), but it has a very interesting spooky concept and unique sound. If you love jumping to conclusions and making theories, definitely take a look. The song is from the Korean girl group Red Velvet, and if “Peek-A-Boo” is not for you, the tracks from this group are so versatile, you could find something from their discography you would surely like.

6.) Dreamcatcher, “BOCA”

As I mentioned the diversity of Kpop sub-genres earlier, Dreamcatcher is a perfect example.  The group carries unique sounds, with a dash of pop, rock, and metal. “BOCA” is a song that will give you a rush of adrenaline, and so will a lot of songs from Dreamcatcher. If you’re an alternative quirky type of person, this might be a good start for you.

7.) TWICE, “More and More”

TWICE is well known for their pink bubblegum pop style. Although this specific song strays a bit away from a pink concept and features a disco-pop sound, it still stands out in style from the other songs on this list. All of TWICE’s title tracks are nothing but positive and dance-inducing beats, and “More and More” is not an exception.

8.) Stray Kids, “God’s Menu”

EDM beats, heavy raps, and beat drops? Yep, that’s this boy group’s signature sound. Fans of EDM will fall in love with their discography, and maybe even choreography. Lots of energy from this boy band and sometimes when you’re rushing to finish an essay at 11:40 pm, that’s exactly what you need.

9.) IU, “palette”

Now, this release may be three years old, but it is the absolute definition of old but gold in the Kpop world. IU has a soothing, perfect voice that could put you to sleep. “Palette” is such a calming song, it is almost therapeutic. Say theoretically, I failed my biology test, and cried, then listened to this song, and it healed everything. Just theoretically…

10.) Sik-K, “PARTY (shut down)”

This song by Korean rapper Sik-K is a great party song. It includes a head-bobbing RnB style beat, and listening to it will make you feel like you’re inside a club in the middle of Seoul….at the age of 21 of course…If you like artists like Lil Mosey, or Travis Scott, then Sik-K is a must-listen.

That concludes part 1 of  The Local’s Guide to KPOP. hopefully, you found something you liked, remember to stay open-minded and don’t let differences intimidate you.