K-Pop Like A Rock Star: A rock-influenced K-pop mix


The idea of a rock-influenced K-pop mix was suggested by Trevor a few months ago, and it stuck with me. I thought a research-oriented approach would be best, starting at the beginning and working my way through to the present. As such, the tracks are arranged in more or less chronological order, with some fudging to accommodate the categories I want to discuss.

Rock music came to South Korea via the United States military around the time of the Korean War. That’s how Shin Jung-hyeon first heard it, while he was performing for the American troops in the late 1950’s under the stage name Jackie Shin. Shin would go on to more or less found psychedelic rock in South Korea, but his influence was not long-lasting in popular culture. After he demurred from writing a song celebrating president/dictator Park Chung Hee in 1972, his music was frequently banned for being “vulgar”, and he was arrested on vague drug-related charges and banned from all public performances in 1975. Following Park’s assassination in 1979, Shin returned to find that popular music had changed: “It was all ‘Let’s work hard’ and ‘Let’s be happy’ kind of stuff. It was completely physical, with no spirit, no mentality, no humanity.” (source) Nevertheless, he did work with some artists of this new era, such as a young, pre-dubstep Kim Wan Sun, whose track “리듬 속의 그 춤을” (The Dance In That Rhythm) he wrote. With this background in mind, this mix will cover the modern era of K-pop (from the 90’s to the present), which is not only descended from the music of singers like Kim Wan Sun but incorporates and synthesizes outside influences like American R&B and pop.

What I found was that rock is generally used for two things in K-pop, and those two things should not be surprising to observers of North American popular music: It was initially used to signify transgression, aggression, and individuality, but over time it has also come to represent artistic credibility and authorship. Of course, sometimes it’s just used as a new and different texture, especially once the definition of rock expanded outside of metal to include pop-punk and alternative rock. Currently there’s a move toward idol musicians having more artistic control, and in an era where rock acts can top the American Hot 100 by the grace of Spotify, the line between indie rock and idol pop is getting fuzzier in Korea too. (The definition of “rock” I am working with here is, admittedly, vague: basically, a general feeling of what “sounds like rock”, along with the use of electric guitar and a 4/4 drum kit sound, and sometimes a guitar-bass-drums rock band setup.)

Track list:
1. Seo Taiji and Boys, “난 알아요” (I Know) (1992)
2. Seo Taiji and Boys, “교실 이데아” (Classroom Idea) (1994)
3. H.O.T., “아이야! (I Yah!)” (1999)
4. DBSK, “Tri-Angle” (2004)
5. Super Junior, “Don’t Don” (2006)
6. EXO-K, “Mama” (2012)
7. SNSD, “힘 내! (Way To Go)” (2009)
8. C.N. Blue, “외톨이야” (I’m A Loner) (2010)
9. Infinite, “BTD (Before The Dawn)” (2011)
10. G-Dragon, “악몽 (Obsession)” (2010)
11. B1A4, “O.K” (2011)
12. 2NE1, “Ugly” (2011)
13. FT Island, “신사동 그 사람” (The Man From Sinsadong) (live on Immortal Song 2, 2011)
14. Jeong Jinwoon, “라라라” (RA RA RA) (2011)
15. Wonder Girls, “Me, in” (2011)
16. Miryo, “Party Rock (feat. Gary of Leessang, The Koxx)” (2012)

Download (.rar, 78MB)

Detail on the tracks, lots of YouTube links, and recommended further listening/viewing under the cut.

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This is what I’ve been working on for the past three months.

This was posted 2 years ago. It has 44 notes.
  1. andrewtsks reblogged this from maddieloveskpop and added:
    I never understood the lyrics to this song at all until now. Thank you for this.
  2. raxn reblogged this from maddieloveskpop
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  8. noaesthetic reblogged this from maddieloveskpop and added:
    This is what I’ve been working on for the past three months.
  9. jennargibson reblogged this from maddieloveskpop and added:
    A great mix of two things that I love: K-pop and rock.
  10. roboseyo reblogged this from maddieloveskpop and added:
    I’ll always go for a good kpop mix. I like these kinds of curated ones.
  11. ophulsian reblogged this from maddieloveskpop and added:
    I haven’t read through this completely, but just so you know, maddieloveskpop is my hero.
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  13. maddieloveskpop posted this