Every K-Pop Video Clip You Need to See
As our more savvy readers are aware, there is a musical revolution afoot. Sumptuous visuals, ridiculous insertions of English, ridiculously good looking people, and a unique production style that is both unsettling and enthralling. Their clip includes some of the most cutting edge costume and stage design you’ll ever see and they make you wish the everyday world was a more colourful and absurd place. It-girl, Grimes constantly cites it as a big influence, Al Jazeera have noted it’s significance and links to organised crime, and I’ve got my mouth around its creative pipe-hole.
It’s K-Pop. Or perhaps more geographically accurate, SK-Pop. But we’ll stick with K-Pop because i’m not scared of you Kim Jong-un!
The biggest label squeezing out these hyper-energetic cultural diamonds is SM entertainment, which was last valued at AU$1.24 billion. That means a lot of money for music videos: and you can see it. The production value on a lot of these clips is astounding; god knows how long these groups need to rehearse, or how many die in the process, but their moves are TIGHT. SM Entertainment is one of the ‘Big Three’, alongside JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment that have the high budget pop scene reasonably stitched up.
The meme’s might not know it yet, but there's definitely more to K-Pop than Gangam style. Here are just a few of the standout specimens from the last few years of Korean pop music.
Bigbang ‘Fantastic Baby’.
Mixing an apocalyptic vibe with a message straight out of Kevin Bacon’s Footloose, this clip features some of the oddest (i.e. amazingest) haircuts you will ever see. I sure hope those people in gas-masks won their revolution, because I want more. An end-of-the-world atmosphere permeates a lot of the clips coming out of Korea, perhaps because they’re in a state of permanent war with North Korea. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, armageddon shouldn’t mean style goes out the window. As Bigbang would say, “Boomshackalackah!”.
For more Bigbang, also see ‘Beautiful Hangover’ a song you shouldn’t listen to if you have a hangover, beautiful or otherwise.
G-Dragon is the real star of Bigbang; here’s his solo work. Crayons are cool again.
Also check out G-Dragon & Top - ‘Knock Out’It features tanks, much like our next track.
f(x) ‘Hot Summer’.
Pink tanks, a wonderful ‘Heyyyy-ohhhh’ sample playing throughout, many, many outfit changes, moar dance routines and beautiful people. What else do you need? A killer chorus? You got it. It’s a cover of a 2007 German pop song by Montrose that no one gives a monkey’s arse about.
For more f(x), see ‘Nu Abo’ which has the fattest dance beat ever produced by Korea. Fact.
Hyuna ‘Ice Cream’
Oh look it’s Gangnam Style’s Psy! And Hyuna is a total babe. And the universal language of slapstick is happening. And more amazing outfits. All this equals an icy cool recipe ready for your digestion.
Also check out her song ‘Bubble Pop’
Wonder Girls ‘Like this’
Every Wonder Girls song is great, but I chose this one for the flash mob K-dancing, its catchy-as-crack chorus, and the dancing kids. The Wonder Girls throw it down ‘Like This’ yo!
Here are three more wonderful Wonder girls tracks:
‘Be My Baby’. Rip off Beyonce and make it better? Why not.
‘Nobody’ where they want nobody apart from a Jew. Can’t get enough of those Jews.
And the world’s second song about irony, which is called ‘Irony’. Ironically, I can’t understand it because it is in Korean. Not sure if that’s ironic. Which is ironic.
Girls’ Generation ‘Mr Taxi’,
So many members! Girls Generation seems to employ half of Korea. Now that’s a good career. Sorry, wanted to work that pun in somewhere and that’s the best I could manage. Anyway, the following catchy song is very relatable as it’s about catching a taxi. Could be a metaphor about something? As a group, they’re pretty safe and middle of the road, which is probably the reason why they’re the number one group in Korea. They’re so generally loved that they’re affectionately referred to in South Korea as “The Nation’s Singers”.
“Shi-Nees Back!,” the breathless narrator announces. And thank my Korean god. Look at those synchronised dance moves! (my favourite is the folded arm strut). And then there’s the man in parachute and the amazing mullet fringe thing; That’s a 2013 style tip, my friend. I hope the next Sherlock is Korean and he sings, “i’m so curious!,” while solving crimes. Signed to mega-label SM Entertainment, the lyrics to this song, and their new album, are penned by a Professor (Domestic Science at Seoul University), proving you need smarts for silly pop this good.
2NE1 ‘I am the best’
With their spiked baseball bats and general in-your-face attitude, 2NE1 scare me a little bit. They emerged out of a partnership with Bigbang (see above) on an LG Electronics commercial, so you know they got street cred. 2NE1 combine the ultra-rich culture of Korea, Gaga-esque fashion, and a disaffected youth punk vibe. Oh, and they shoot guns and sit in diamond encrusted chairs marked ‘The World is Not Enough’. You’ll be seeing more of them as they’ve got a plan for a big interntional push in 2013, and are well positioned for it with the New York Times labelling their recent performance in New Jersey as one of the “Best Concerts of 2012”.
Also see ‘I Love You’ which has one of the catchiest anthems this side of Gangnam.
So apparently, and forgive me if I get any of this wrong, there was once tree of life, then evil was created that wanted th tree, so the tree divided in half and was hidden, then time overturned, then space was made askew. Following this the 2 parts divided in 12, then the 12 all stood on different grounds and saw different skies in two worlds that seemed alike, then the legends will greeted each other (the day the red forces divide and the 12 forces reunite and a new world will open up). Or something. IDK Korea! Throw in a Latin / Gregorian chanty sounding chorus and we’re done here I guess.
Junsu is a bad-ass with a big heart. He has spiked shoulder pads and cool chair. You probably don’t have either of those things. Originally a member of TVXQ, he and his boy-bandmates took their massive label, SM Entertainment, to court and won release from their ‘unilateral disadvantageous’ (i.e. exploitative) 13 year contracts.When not learning entrancing dance choreography, he is heavily involved in philanthropic projects, primarily building homes for the impoverished.
I don’t what’s happening, but i’m pretty sure looking into holes in the ground is a bad idea. Oh and nuns and menstruation and something.I couldn't find the name for this track or the last one.
Secret - Shy Boy
The fifties vibe and adorable dresses in this clip are so cute I think I need decontaminating. It’s like I just ate 50 copies of Frankie magazine and then dove into a pool of kittens.
Miss A - Breathe
Breathe. You know you want to. Get a gas mask if necessary.
T-ara - ‘Cry Cry’
South Korea has been producing some of the best gangster films since the nineties and here we see a pop song that is yearning to stretch into an entire movie. Hot cops, love, people getting shot in the head, revenge: it’s great, but you’ll need 15 minutes and maybe some popcorn.
Psy - ‘Right Now’
Since he kicked off this whole discussion, it seems fitting to end with the now world famous, slick-haired, oddball Psy. Here’s a pre-Gangnam Style clip in which he seemingly recreates the film Falling Down, but with less shooting down helicopters and more amazing dancing. It’s a call to arms against Korea’s overworked corporate culture. Psy-five dude!
Well there you are, a comprehensive list of all the K-Pop you didn’t know about and maybe some you did. If your appetite for this nonsense is not yet sated, here are some more that made the shortlist: