K-pop is a popular genre of music that originated in South Korea. It has since spread to a variety of other countries, and it’s now considered one of the most profitable genres worldwide. In this article, we will explore all aspects from its origins to its influence on today’s culture.
We’ll start by finding out what K-Pop is and how it came about, before exploring some reasons for why you might want to listen to it as well as some things that you should know beforehand. Lastly, we’ll take a look at where K-Pop stands in relation to Western pop music today.
Table of Contents
What is K-pop?
What does K-pop mean?
K-pop, or Korean pop music, is a genre of music that originates from South Korea. K-pop is characterized by upbeat melodies and catchy hooks, often accompanied by rap verses and an urban sound.
Some of the most popular K-pop artists include BTS, EXO, and Red Velvet. K-pop has become increasingly popular in recent years, with groups touring internationally and gaining a large following online.
While K-pop is often associated with catchy tunes and flashy visuals, the genre is also known for its complex lyrics and often tackles social issues. For many fans, K-pop is more than just music; it is a way of life.
Many South Korean artists are signed to major labels such as SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Antenna Music, Starship Entertainment, and more, although K-Pop isn’t limited to these specifically.
While the genre began with small local entertainment agencies in the late 90s/early 2000s, they’ve all now expanded across Asia along with their male groups who are extremely popular there too.
Is K-pop just for Asians?
It’s true that many of the artists, especially idols in boy bands are all of Asian heritage, but this isn’t exclusive to them by any means! While some groups may have members who are exclusively Korean.
Many non-Asians have also done K-pop covers which have helped expand their music into the Western market.
Why should I listen to K-pop?
You might be tempted to ask why you should listen to K-pop in the first place. Some people enjoy it for more of a visual appeal with their music videos and synchronized dance routines, while others simply appreciate the catchy tunes. If you’re skeptical about jumping into this type of music, there are 1 point we can suggest: variety.
The sheer amount of different artists with different styles is what makes K-pop so appealing. There’s definitely a group or soloist out there that appeals to your personal tastes! Whether it’s the impressive and often technologically advanced music videos, fun stage concepts, or simply catchy tunes, there’s something for everyone.
But I don’t like pop music
It might be that you aren’t into the cutesy concept of the majority of idol groups or simply prefer rock or metal, but K-pop can still appeal to you! If it’s not your preferred style then why not try using the lyrics as a way to learn Korean? Artists often use metaphors and allusions to other things in their pockets that will help guide you through the song and give helpful context when listening with English subtitles on YouTube. You could even try adding K-Pop songs onto your playlist when studying. Not only will they hopefully motivate you to study, but you can also learn Korean while still jamming out!
What makes it different from western pop?
One of the first things you may notice about K-pop is the choreography, as groups are often noted for more complex or impressive routines than their western counterparts.
You might also think that it feels very structured with many artists having similar sounds and concepts.
This is because idol groups in Korea tend to follow strict regulations where they must be trainees somewhere between 1-10 years, debut on Korean national television (KBS) before releasing albums through two music shows (MTV The Show and M Countdown).
Despite this, there has been a steady growth in new smaller agencies opening with fewer restrictions compared to larger ones which leads to an increase in variety in idols and their music.
Is Listening to K-pop a Good Hobby?
K-pop can be a hobby. If you listen to K-pop for the dancing, the vocals, the visuals or just because you enjoy it, there are some things that you should know beforehand.
There are many reasons to listen to K-pop.
It can be a hobby, or just for fun. Whatever your reason for listening to K-pop, there are some things that you should know beforehand.
- There are lots of different groups in different genres which you can listen to, so there’s something for everyone out there.
- If you’re new to Korean culture, this is a good way to get into it because it’s in your own language! You can learn more about Korean culture in general through the lyrics and music videos by the artists themselves. This has helped me understand Korean culture more when I was in South Korea too!
- Listening to K-pop will also teach you Korean, which is a very useful language.
- The producers and composers behind K-pop are incredibly talented at what they do! You’ll gain an appreciation for the music itself, even if you’re not listening to it specifically because of its origins.
- They may also introduce you to other genres of music too!
- It’s fun to learn about what other people like and find out why they enjoy it. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy listening to K-pop too!
- The music videos are very aesthetically pleasing, so listening to K-pop could be a relaxing way to wind down after a busy day for many people.
- The people in the groups and their commitment and hard work is inspiring!
- There are lots of different things to discover, such as K-drama actors who may appear in multiple dramas or songs, Easter eggs hidden in music videos (e.g. they might reenact a scene from another drama, etc.), or games that you can play as you listen to the songs.
How to Start a Collection of Albums/Photocards
Make sure you are financial capable
Find a hobby you enjoy and that can sustain your collection. If it’s not financially possible, then the collector will end up feeling guilty for spending money on their hobby when they should be saving or investing.
Choose your level of commitment to Kpop albums and postcards based on how much time you have available each day This may involve taking an extended break from a job or quitting altogether in order to commit more hours to this new venture.
Find a group you like
The first step is deciding what kind of K-pop album and postcard collection you want to start. There are many different groups out there that release albums, so finding one you love can be difficult without some guidance. If you know anyone who listens to K-pop on the regular or if you’ve been listening to K-pop for a while, you should ask them which group they love the most. There are so many different groups out there and it’s good to find one that has something special about them that speaks to you.
Find their albums online
Once you decide what kind of album collection YOU want, then it’s time to go hunting in your favorite music sites or stores (depending on how old school – aka retro – you’re feeling). You’ll have plenty of options here! If this is your first time buying an album as opposed to streaming songs individually from YouTube or Spotify, make sure not only to buy physical copies but also get digital downloads too; some places might even offer free samples with purchase.
Find a group you don’t like
The next step is to find an album that you don’t care for at all so it can be your “other” K-pop collection! You’ll want this because when collecting albums, sometimes there are ones they release with only one or two good songs and the rest of them will end up being just okay; having something to fill in those holes will make your collection seem more complete. Think about who might have popular artists that aren’t very appealing to you.
Collect postcards too
Once you’ve found some great K-pop albums, it might be time to collect some postcards too! Postcards are usually sold separately from albums and you can buy them at any K-pop concert or fan event. They’re a great way to get pictures of your favorite group without having their faces scribbled out by an overzealous fan in Sharpie pen – which is never cute when they start taking selfies with the card, for example.
Get album covers printed as art prints
If you didn’t already know, there’s someone who makes beautiful art prints based on album covers that look like something straight out of a museum catalog; she even takes requests if you want one made specifically for your collection (which I highly recommend). It doesn’t matter what kind of album you collect, this artist has them all!
Collect albums from different eras
This is an optional step but if you’re a hardcore K-pop fan then it might be worthwhile to not just focus on recent releases by your favorite group or artists and instead go back into their archives too. Usually when groups release two new albums at once like BIGBANG did with ‘MADE’ in 2017, they’ll have one that’s more upbeat and fun to listen to while the other will be slower and sadder – sometimes even ballads. It can really give you a better sense of who they are as people (or at least what moods make up their personality) so consider buying both albums for example.
Find albums that are special editions
There’s always going to be a few K-pop groups out there who release “special” album versions of their newest releases which come with additional merchandise – usually posters, stickers and sometimes even collectible cards for games or trading card collections! They’re the perfect things to buy if you want some extras from your favorite group but don’t know where else to find them; it can also make great gifts too if you have friends into collecting like you are.
Get some K-pop merch too
If collecting physical copies isn’t your thing, there are always other ways to show off your love for K-pop without having it exist only as data stored somewhere online. Tshirts, mugs, keychains… if anything ever goes wrong with these items then you’ll have backups waiting around which means more time spent with your favorite K-pop group!
Get stickers and pins
Collecting items in the physical world is great but there’s also a whole digital side to this too; consider buying some cute fanart or badges that you can put on your phone, laptop, bag – anywhere really! The best way to do so is by following accounts of artists themselves who usually have tons of artwork for sale as well as album releases coming up you’ll want to know about. You don’t need much money either because they’re not very expensive (maybe around $15-$20USD) and if it makes you happy then what more could we ask for?
Organize your collection and share it with friends
Collecting K-pop is a fun and easy hobby that doesn’t require much time or money – but it can get awfully messy if you don’t know how to organize them. If you’re serious about collecting then make sure you’ve got some nice, spacious containers for all your albums (or find ones that fit in nicely on your bookshelf if you want to keep them visible) and use labels for all the different categories. Take pictures of your favorite albums, share it with friends who are also into collecting for encouragement – because they’ll know exactly what kind of search terms to look up on eBay when they find something new that’s out-of-stock!
Common K-pop Terms
- Aegyo: means cute behavior or doing things that are adorably shy. It’s something to show your love for someone, but it doesn’t have a specific meaning like “love” because of the ambiguity in what type of love you’re feeling.
- All-Kill: When an artist wins all the daily and weekly music shows for that day.
- Bias: is a term used to describe your favorite member or group in K-pop culture. You can have multiple biases (so long as you like them all equally) but it’s usually just one.
- Bias wrecker: is a term used for any member of K-pop that has the power to make your bias look bad (or just downright worse). It can be considered as an insult, but when you’re fangirling it’s always good to have more than one person on your list.
- Comeback: When an artist releases new music/performance.
- Co-ed: typically means an environment where both male and female artists can come together without any gender discrimination, but this term also applies for groups that have members with different genders.
- Daesang: Award given at the end of year award show (Korean equivalent of Grammy)
- Dongsaeng: means younger sibling in Korean, so if you’re older than your brother or sister then they would be considered as your dongseng (older siblings have a different word for their younger sibling).
- Episodes: refer to the regular releases of episodes for an upcoming show. For example, we’re two episodes into the new season of The Bachelor and there are 16 more to go!
- Fangirl: to be overly obsessed with something or someone
- Fan chant: is an impromptu song to cheer on their favorite singers/groups at live performances.
- Fancafe: A place where K-pop fans gather and discuss about their favorite artists. You can create private rooms as well so only people who know the password will be able to see them.
- Hoobae: Term for junior (someone who is newer at something than I am).
- Maknae: means youngest sibling (though this term also applies for other groups).
- Netizens: People that are active on the internet to comment and discuss about things they like or dislike, which usually includes K-pop culture. To be a netizen is to belong in this group of people
- Oppa: Korean for older brother; used by females as term of endearment when talking about their favorite male artists.
- Perfect All-Kill: When an artist achieves a perfect score of 100% on all music charts, which is rare to happen because it’s hard to please everyone
- Sasaeng: is a term for an obsessive fan that will do anything to get close to their bias, even if it means stalking them or breaking into their homes. It can be considered as a negative thing in K-pop culture because of the potential consequences these fans may have on the likes and privacy of singers/groups.
- Shipping: refers to people who want their bias/favorite artist(s), real life friends, celebrity couples etc., to date each other because they would make great couple material. It started out as just being used for stories written online by fans, but has expanded into actually shipping them IRL too. The act of shipping is like a small window into your own imagination, where anything and everything could happen.
- Sunbae: Term for senior (someone who’s experienced more than what you have)
- Subunit: is a term for a smaller group within an existing K-pop group. For example, TaeTiSeo (TTS) or Momoland’s JinJoo and Nancy are both subunits of their respective groups.
- Trainee: refers to those who work hard with hopes of becoming an artist someday; there are various ways of becoming a trainee.
- Variety Show: is when two or more celebrities (usually from the same industry) are invited to talk about various topics in front of a live audience; it’s similar to having your own personal chat show!
Popular K-pop Genres
There are many genres of K-pop, but the most common ones you’ll hear are pop, dance, hip-hop, and ballad. These styles are broken down into subgenres which can be either typical English language labels (such as R&B) or more specific Korean names which help show recognition for its originators.
Pop is one of the most popular genres of K-Pop with countless artists releasing singles every week it seems! It often contains up to three main vocalists who harmonize together with a mixture of melodic lines blended with autotune along with one or two rappers to provide some rhythm.
Pop music usually uses the same instruments that you’ll find in any other pop song, such as synthesizers and drums.
Male idols will often use falsetto singing (high pitches which could only be sung by males), while female idols tend to stick with mid-range vocals. Popular subgenres include but are not limited to electronic pop, tropical house, Europop, dance-pop
Dance is a very broad category where artists will typically focus more on synchronized choreography rather than vocals alone. It can either be fast-paced like something you’d hear at the club or more laid back for TV performances; it all depends on what they’re trying to achieve!
Hip-hop is a very diverse genre with many different kinds you can find in K-pop. Generally, it contains rappers who use their voices to talk about things they’d normally talk about as well as other members using more melodic singing.
You’ll often hear synth lines as well as an electronic dance beat underneath the vocals.
Ballads contain slower-paced songs which showcase a singer’s voice and emotions through acoustic or piano instrumentals along with soft synths and drums which may be used throughout the song.
Ballads are popular for those who love listening to stories and romance through music, with many idols singing about heartbreak or being in love.
Of course, there are many other genre categories that idols have come from such as rock, dance-pop, alternative, and more! As K-pop continues to expand into the world we’ll be able to discover new musical genres along the way. There will always be something for everyone in this genre of music.
There are not only good reasons to listen to K-Pop but also great opportunities too! Whether you’re learning a different language, dancing at home, or just letting loose at a party these steps will help get you started on your new hobby. You can even expand into other cultures by looking up fan blogs online which may have posted about that particular group in the said country! Although they seem pretty simple there’s still much more information you’ll learn about once you start listening!