Let’s Listen to Korean Music.

So I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Korea and as a result I’ve gotten very acclimated to the music here.

When I show Bang Bang Bang (at the time of my first visit the most popular song in Korea) to friends, even other non-Korean Asian-Americans, I’ve been told that it’s weird or effeminate. Most don’t really like it.

Even for me it was initially a little weird to watch and I wonder if it’s because we’ve internalized ourselves as “not being this cool” or if we just don’t have the cultural context to know that this is the coolest group ever and we’re wrong. There are studies that show people become uncomfortable when they see someone of a race defying a stereotype, I wonder if this has anything to do with it.

People outside of Asia often bring up Kpop is effeminate, almost like a meme. While it’s true makeup is effeminate, it’s really the only aspect of these that is, and also it’s not really relevant; music should be music regardless of how normal it should conform to gender norms. Most of the naysayers do not find glam rock to be effeminate either, nor does glam rock ever get the same criticism. I’d hazard a guess and say the perceived femininity has more to do with stereotypes in the west.


I think for things like preference, social proof matters a lot. I would argue our preferences are heavily affected by of the perceptions of our peer groups. I also believe that if people’s initial experience with a song (or person) included seeing others excited about it, that would heavily influence their preference for it.

Anyway here’s a bunch of songs and my understanding of them

Stuff People not into Kpop like:

These are songs that most non-kpop aficionados like after I show it to them. I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’re likely not into korean music, so I’ll start with them.

Wi Ing is a song about how life is impermanent and constantly changing, it’s not pop perse.

Blackpink is probably the biggest girl group after 2NE1 went on hiatus

Psy dabs in this song

Korean Rap

Okey Dokey Yo is a song that was produced during the fourth season of “Show Me the Money”, a Korean rap competition a couple years ago. It’s pretty catchy and at bars long-term foreigners and locals alike will stop and sing along to its pretty simple chorus.

It G Ma (underwater squad) is an extremely high production value breakout single by Keith Ape featuring Korean-American and Japanese rappers. Also long-term foreigners would stop what they were doing, cheer and sing along.

Big Bang
Big Bang was the second most popular group in the world by sales (after Maroon 5) on my initial visit to Korea. I think most westerners haven’t heard of them (myself included at the time). They are seen as gods and have songs transcending many different genres.

Big Bang’s songs were constantly playing when I was there and people would stop what they were doing to sing along and dance. Even now their songs still remind me of the good times, of visiting a country where people that looked like me were the highlight of the media.

Bang Bang Bang was the most played song on my first visit and also their second-biggest, as mentioned earlier, it’s offputting to many with western tastes.

Song that everyone hates because it’s overplayed on the radio?

Also “Shape of You”,”Uptown Funk”, “Despacito”, and “Galway Girl” are also constantly on the radio here.

If you have any suggestions to add, please comment!

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