Everywhere you go in Korea, you’ll hear K-pop songs. They’ve become so popular that you actually hear them around the world. K-pop or Korean pop is a musical genre from South Korea that is popularized by idol groups. It plays a major part in the Korean Wave or Hallyu (한류) that’s sweeping the globe.
I am far from an expert on K-pop. When I like a song, I take note of the title and artist then add it to my playlist. The most memorable songs are the ones that are associated with a special event or experience. Nevermind the lyrics, these songs I play again and again to keep me upbeat and to remind me of good times.
Here are my favorite K-pop songs from the past 3 years of living in Korea:
1) Hey Mr. Big by Lee Hyori
Hey Mr. Big is the song that got me turned on to K-pop songs and more importantly, K-pop Youtube videos. It’s catchy and Lee Hyori (이효리) is so sexy, you wouldn’t want to take your eyes off the video. Perfect tan, great toned body, wonderful smile…just wow!
My husband understands my fascination with this beautiful woman. ㅋㅋㅋ
2) Oh! by Girls’ Generation
Not satisfied with just one pretty girl? Here’s nine!
Girls’ Generation (소녀시대) released the song Oh! in late January of 2010. This song introduced me to another meaning of Oppa (오빠), which is a respectful term used for men older than you. Though when said in a flirtatious intonation, it becomes an endearment that girls call older men they’re romantically involved with.
3) Run Devil Run by Girls’ Generation
While Girls’ Generation were cutesy in Oh!, they are badass in Run Devil Run. This song is so catchy, it got stuck in my head many times. Whenever I need to goad someone into running faster, this is the song that comes to mind.
4) Nobody by Wonder Girls
The word ‘nobody’ was never the same after I heard the song by the Wonder Girls (원더걸스). Every time I hear the word nobody, I immediately think of this song’s chorus and I almost always say ‘nobody, nobody but you’! The video is so funny with JYP running out of toilet paper. Who hasn’t been in that situation?!
5) Abracadabra by Brown Eyed Girls
Cross your arms and sway your hips! Abracadabra by the Brown Eyed Girls (브라운아이드걸스) reminds me of my friend Tonita, who would dance whenever she heard this song. It also reminds me of my friends dancing at the third bar (or was it fourth?) of my bachelorette party. Fun times.
6) Ring Ding Dong by Shinee
Now here’s how guys should shake their hips! Shinee (샤이니) has many popular K-pop songs but Ring Ding Dong is my favorite of theirs. Fantastic? Elastic? Forget the lyrics and just enjoy the beat and the pretty boys.
7) Sorry Sorry by Super Junior
Have you ever tried to apologize to a friend for a not-so-serious offense? It’s never easy to say sorry but doing it the way Super Junior (슈퍼주니어) does will make it seem like a breeze, sexy even: rub your hands together, move it from one side to the other, and say ‘sorry, sorry, sorry’ at the same time.
8) Roly Poly by T-ara
Roly Poly is the best K-pop song that you can line dance to. The video reminds me of Saturday Night Fever but instead of John Travolta, we get the pretty girls of T-ara (티아라).
9) I Go Crazy Because of You by T-ara
I Go Crazy Because of You is another song by T-ara that I like. Like Girls’ Generation, they shed their cutesiness and show their darker, badass side in this video.
10) Good Day by IU
Two years ago, I enrolled in a kickboxing class at a Taekwondo academy. I was the only student so unfortunately they had to cancel it after my 3-month session. Every kickboxing class started with running laps around the studio. They had a playlist of K-pop songs that they play every single time. Good Day (좋은 날) by IU (아이유) is the most memorable song of them all. It kept me pumped and has stayed on my exercise playlist until now. Lee Ji-eun (이지은), better known as IU, was 17 when this song was released. Such an amazing voice for such a young artist!
11) Black and White by G. Na
Black and White by G. Na (지나) is another song from my kickboxing days. I was lucky to have been taught by at least 2 instructors for kickboxing. One of them was a Taekwondo black belter visiting from Norway. She and I became fast friends and whenever we hear this song, we would mimic it as we run laps around the studio. I also remember timing our punches to the beats of this song.
12) Tonight by Big Bang
Tonight by Big Bang (빅뱅) is the only K-pop song on my list that has a distinct rap influence. The Las Vegas scenes in the video reminds me of countless weekends spent in Vegas with my sisters. I especially get nostalgic with the opening scene–it’s what I miss most about living in the United States: driving and mostly deserted roads in the desert.
Baker’s dozen or lucky 13, if you will:
13) Gangnam Style by Psy
Gangnam Style by Psy (싸이) is the most popular K-pop song in the world right now. Many people are tired of hearing this song but I still like it. It has a distinct rhythm and it always makes me want to do the horse dance! As of 2013, the music video is the most viewed Youtube video of all time. It’s funny and quirky but it also reminds me of many things in Korea. This video probably garnered more interest about the country than many tourism marketing campaigns. It’s simply brilliant!
What is your favorite K-pop song? Please share the video link in the comments below.
For your viewing pleasure, a fun dance number by robots created by DSME:
(3) Sorry Sorry by Super Junior, (4) Ring Ding Dong by Shinee, (5) Ah by After School, and
(6) Choryeon (초련) by Clon (클론)
All videos embedded in the post are in this Youtube playlist.