Twice a week, my school holds a graduation ceremony to celebrate the students’ completion of the 3 or 5 day program and to celebrate their hard “work” and “studying” efforts. Sitting through numerous graduations proves to be monotonous after a while, as the dialogue is always the same. “Congratulations” by Cliff Richard is played on loop as the Excellent Student award is presented to the best English speaking kid oneach team (and as I am tortured by this extremely cheesy song.) The headache gets worse as a slideshow of pictures plays and hundreds of children scream whenever they see an image of him/herself, a friend, or a close-up shot of classmates shoving spoonfuls of the mystery lunch meat into their mouths.
Just as I regret not taking a Tylenol prophylacticly, I remember what comes next. The dance competition that follows makes the throbbing headache bearable- takes it away, even. The kids are invited to the stage to dance off to popular Korean songs, usually one from a girlband and the other a boyband. Each time I witness ten year old girls performing the borderline racy choreographed moves, or the boys’ serious faces as they risk losing their dignity, I cannot help to think back to my teeny-booper days of highschool-er, junior highschool. But surely I’m not the only one. Everyone knew the Britney Spears’s “Baby One More Time” dance, right??Unfortunately, America has seen the phenomenon of bubblegum pop fade over time.
K-pop, or Korean popular music, unlike its American counterpart continues to dominate the music scene here. While there are similarities to the USA’s genre, Korea takes it to the extreme. Boybands and girlbands are the top-sellers here and their songs are played from the streets to the grocery stores to the post office. Big Bang is hands down the most popular ensemble and is currently trying to break through to the American audience. Considering their English is close to flawless, and their music is heavily influenced by hip-hop, I think they will be successful in doing so. About 80% of my conversations with my students involve Big Bang; every girl wants to date G-Dragon (the frontman) and every boy wants to be him.
The Wonder Girls, though starting to lose their popularity, are the female equivalent to Big Bang. Their hit song “Nobody” is one of the catchiest, and I found myself singing singing along to it only two weeks after being in Korea. I even know the dance, as sad as I am to admit it, but my kids think I’m cool, so whatev. 🙂 Check the video out here… it’s my favorite.
These posters of Big Bang and 2NE1 cover every window of cell phone stores, which are everywhere.
The impact of K-pop on Korean culture and way of life is undeniable. It certainly shows no signs of fading away anytime soon… or leaving my iPod playlist, for that matter.
To experience K-Pop for yourself, click the links in the above post for music videos of the mentioned songs.