Spilling over into the American music charts on all streaming services and flooding every avenue with extreme splashes of color and Koran models, K-pop has claimed the lives of so many unexpecting music fanatics, and it continues to steadily grow with each new debuting group. Attempting to dive into such unfamiliar waters may prove to be a disastrous venture, but there’s actually very little to lose in beginning the journey into K-pop and so much to gain.
K-pop has far surpassed its niche roots over the past decade or so. Groups such as the impossibly huge BTS, the bold and rising Blackpink and the untimely beautiful and elegant Twice have crossed into the mainstream of the U.S. conscience, implanting themselves as regular, if not overhyped, K-pop groups that millions of Americans have come to enjoy as their primary source of musical entertainment.
BTS made history last May in releasing the first K-pop album to debut number one on Billboard’s album chart. Blackpink will be the first K-pop girl group to perform at Coachella, alongside megastars such as Childish Gambino, Kahlid, Ariana Grande and Tame Impala. These milestones only prove that there is much-welcomed space for bursting K-pop groups and their rabid fans.
Of course, one could easily fall into any one of these huge groups, browsing their accumulated songs until he finds one that suits his taste. However, this method is for those that merely wish to dip a toe into this cast world of beautiful teens and odd fashion choices. For the blissfully ignorant, music videos are the only way to truly fully embrace this strange, influential world.
Performances are where K-pop groups really shine. I still remember the day I mindlessly stumbled upon Twice’s “What is Love” music video and was instantly hooked by the girl group’s synchronized dances over a vast array of green-screened venues.
So what if you can’t understand the language? So what if you don’t know one member from the other? Lose yourself in the winding, glorious tale that this group wants to relay to you about falling in love in different stages of their lives. Never mind the fact that the members most likely didn’t write the song and worked for several break-less days to nail every instance of the choreography at the risk of being dropped by their label.
To really get into a specific group’s fandom, however, you’ll want to seek out a debuting group, one whose first EP is either coming out soon or just released. A personal recommendation is the boy group Tomorrow x Together, whose first EP “The Dream Chapter: Star” dropped March 4 of this year. Kind of an offshoot of BTS’s edgier “sensitive bad boy aesthetic,” TxT members proudly display their more playful, color-obsessed sides in their “Crown” music video.
Soon enough you’ll be able to pick out each member of your favorite group simply by listening to their vocals on a track. Learning the song’s set choreography will become a daily routine. You’ll purchase merch, rummaging through long-forgotten piggy banks because you just have to own BTS’s limited edition poster that they all signed on their first American tour.
Truly, becoming a K-pop stand is a commitment that isn’t to be taken lightly. However, going in with an open mind on a search for fun and personality will take your leagues into this world.
photo courtesy Pitchfork