Sunday, August 3, 2008

Travelogue #46: A Snapshot of Korean Pop Music, 2008

<---Travelogue #45: Why A Korean Man Told Me He's "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA!"
--->Travelogue #47: Shabbat Shalom - Jewish Korea on a Friday Night, Part 1

I sing Korean pop songs to my students. My fans gasp in oh-my-God recognition and say, "very good, teacher," while my foes cover their ears and call me "uhm-chee", the word for bad singer. Sometimes I pretend my class is an adoring audience, one that shows its fanhood more by being confused than by shouting "Encore!"

Only when my students are too quiet do I pipe up with a verse of mispronounced words sung with absolute conviction. If nothing more, it's an attention-getter. The tunes I've butchered over the past nine months have given me a window into the 2008 Korean pop scene. I've mocked some songs, and I've bopped my head to others.

Join me now for a quick look and listen at a few inescapable hits that you'll hear every time you walk down a street in Seoul. The cell phone vendors and coffee shops aren't playing the "I Kissed a Girl" song, they're playing this:



SG Wannabe "Lalala"

I would be lying if I said I hadn't chanted this one many times: "Sarang-hey-yo...la la la!" The lyrics basically say, "I love you," in multiple variations. I didn't know this fact, so when I sang this to ten-year-old Sally in one of my lower level classes, I could have been asking for a lawsuit.



Epik High "One"

I have a strange relationship with this song. The first time I heard it was in the GS25 convenience store in my apartment building: I was microwaving some spaghetti when suddenly I heard-

TIME IS TICKIN' T-TIME IS TICKIN' TICKIN'!


I thought I was having an epileptic seizure. This music was EAR-BRUISINGLY LOUD. But, for some reason, the song faded out after the first verse. Weird, I thought. I turned back to my spaghetti and -


TIME IS TICKIN' T-TIME IS TICKIN' TICKIN'!

I jumped. What the hell was going on? The song again faded after the first verse, lulling me into a false sense of security -

TIME IS TICKIN' T-TIME IS TICKIN' TICKIN'!

The cashier was not fazed by this sudden start and stop and restart of the same goddamn song and the same goddamn verse. Was I losing my cheerios? Or was I getting Punk'D? I kept waiting for the Korean Ashton Kutcher to tackle me into a shelf of ramen, but he never arrived.

I heard this song later, and was surprised to find I kind of liked it, as long as I wasn't made to listen to it under GS25's Clockwork Orange conditions.





The Wonder Girls "So Hot"

And finally....The Wonder Girls. I'm not a fan. "I'm so hot...I have charm...everybody's watching me." That's the rough translation of the lyrics, as seen in the above subtitled video. This "song" makes me wants to download Rhianna's "Umbrella" for pop music with more steak and sizzle. Did I just endorse Rhianna on this blog? Hey, I'd take her over The Wonder Girls or Girls Generation. When it comes to bubblegum songstresses, I have to give it up for the Yanks. My apologies, Korea.

One more time -

TIME IS TICKIN'! T-TIME IS TICKIN' AWAY!

<---Travelogue #45: Why A Korean Man Told Me He's "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA!"
--->Travelogue #47: Shabbat Shalom - Jewish Korea on a Friday Night, Part 1



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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alex,
Did David leave you in charge of delivering''Notes from Korean Underground'' to american masses?
You did a great job!
But I want a CD next time.
Mom.

Anonymous said...

You have the voice of an angel.

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