Editions of You: Remixes and Covers in K-pop

One of the most appealing things about K-pop is its variety. K-pop is not unique in producing different versions of the same song or having covers, but the differences in versions showcase the complexity of a music type often criticised for being cookie-cutter.

Seo Taiji, “로보트 (Robot)”


Seo Taiji

Seo Taiji is the godfather of K-pop, and so it should not be surprising that he takes the track “Robot” in two different directions.  “Robot” originally appears on Seo Taiji’s 7th Issue (2004) album. This version’s thinly orchestrated intro begins with an odd guitar chord countered by mid-tempo drums. The song then transitions to a more regular rhythm and tonally resonate guitars, which complement Seo Taiji’s recognizeable vocals, all of which give the song a heavy feel.  However, the guitars become less heavy in the first verse, complemented by a less vigorous rhythm section, where cymbals become more prominent.  The song alternates between these two distinct sounds, always overlaid with Seo Taiji’s vocals.

However, when Seo Taiji performs the song live on [&] Seo Taiji 15th Anniversary (2007) album (originally appearing on the Seo Taiji Live Tour Zero ’04 album (2005), it has a completely different feel.  Here, the intro features a softly strumming guitar barely audible over the hum of the crowd.  After 30 seconds, a sole electric guitar comes in, along with Seo Taiji’s vocals, but these are not the vocals of the original song.  Only after a full 40 seconds do guitars play the chords that signal the beginning of the original song. Even then, the song is significantly less heavy than the original.

Epik High, “Paris”

Epik High

Epik High

Veteran hip-hop group Epik High is known for its use of intrumentation in its music, and “Paris” is no exeception.  “Paris,” featuring Jisun of Loveholic, originally appears on the group’s 2005 album, Swan Songs.  The intro featuring female vocals and a single guitar hearkens back to the musical stylings of the 1960s, and then transitions into a light-hearted rap by the group. This rap is complemented by Jisun’s vocals throughout the song.

However, “Paris” on the Black Swan Songs (2006) repackage is radically different.  Jisun’s pop intro is replaced by the more forceful vocals of Epik High, against a more brooding instrumental backdrop.  This intro is followed by thinly orchestrated verses, featuring driving rhythms with prominent drums and bass, the solo rap vocals and strategically placed distortions. As the track continues, the piano from the vocal is introduced against Jisun’s vocals.  Overall, this version is more sonically powerful.

Brown Eyed Soul, “Love Ballad”


Brown Eyed Soul

This kind of musical variety can also occur in other K-pop genres.  Brown Eyed Soul‘s “Love Ballad” single hearkens back to vocally-driven American ’90s R&B with synthesized instruments along with a soft organ and finger snaps over which the group alternate parts of the verse.  At the chorus, they harmonize their voices in Boyz II Men style.

The piano version of “Love Ballad” invests even more heavily in the black male vocal group tradition.  The intro is thinly orchestrated, with only finger snaps that echo on the track, broken only with the introduction of the voices of the group singing in unison. This arrangement showcases the vocal abilities of the members, both in the intro and throughout the song. During the rest of the song, the vocals are accompanied only by the piano and fingersnaps.

Girls’ Generation/Lyn, “The Boys”

Shifts in musical style on a track does not only occur with remixes. Covers also allow an opportunity for alternative arrangements, some of which go far afield of the original.  For example, Girls’ Generation, known for their catchy songs, released “The Boys,” the title track from their 2011 album.  The song begins with the members’ vocals against synthesized sounds, and then explodes into its heavily produced glory, driven by heavy rhythms and synthesizers.

However, Lyn takes the song in an entirely different direction in her acoustic performance. Featuring her lead vocals and vocals from backup singers, Lyn’s version infuses a bluesy feel with the minimal instrumentation provided by piano, bongos and an acoustic guitar.

These alternative versions of songs show that music is central to K-pop.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


“seo taiji-robot.”  YouTube. 27 June 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“Seotaiji – Zero Tour – 08. 로보트 [Live].”  YouTube. 5 Mar 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“Epik High - Paris ft. 지선 {Jisun}.” YouTube. 3 Sept 2012. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“Epik High- Paris (정재일’s Black Swan Remix) [Black Swan Songs Repackage].” YouTube. 9 Jan 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“Brown Eyed Soul – Love Ballad.” YouTube. 1 Nov 2012. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“Brown Eyed Soul Love Ballad (Piano ver.) [러브 발라드 피아노 버전].” YouTube. 11 Jun 2010. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“[MP3/DL] SNSD The Boys (Korean Version) + Lyrics.” YouTube. 18 Oct 2011. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

“Lyn – The Boys (SNSD) acoustic ver. Hamchoonho Yooheeyeol E132 Feb17.2012 1080p HD.” YouTube. 4 Mar 2012. Web. 15 Mar 2014.

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Editions of You: Remixes and Covers in K-pop by CeeFu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Michael Porter and K-pop: An Analysis

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

K-pop is a business, through and through. No matter how original a concept is or how natural fan interactions may seem, the details even down to how much a performer weighs are all calculated.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

This article begins by looking at K-pop through an economic lens, but falls into a familiar trend of boiling the success of K-pop down to profits and business models and echoing the much-repeated mantra about the manufactured nature of K-pop. At the same time, it leaves out the key to the global spread of K-pop, namely the fans, who have exerted tremendous influence on K-pop.

See on seoulbeats.com

The Way Forward: Sam Hammington

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

The entry of non-Koreans in to the Korean entertainment scene has gained a steady momentum in the past few years. These non-Koreans have mainly stuck to the idol industry — debuting with girl and guy groups too many to mention.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

Just some questions: Why is Korean entertainment obligated to embrace non-Koreans in its industry? Are other national entertainment industries obligated to do the same? if so, how is the United States, home of Hollywood, one of the biggest entertainment industries on the planet, doing with embracing international stars into its entertainment industry?  

See on seoulbeats.com

Roundtable: 2NE1 vs. SNSD

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

It’s been a while since we had such a matchup of industry titans going head to head.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

This article features various opinions about the simultaneous comebacks of two of K-pop’s most successful and popular girl groups. Members refer to the "anti-aegyo" discourse often targeted to SNSD, as well as the continued use of the "fierce" concept for 2NE1. Described as a competition between the two girl groups, it overlooks the fact that some fans like both groups. 

See on seoulbeats.com

Super Junior talks to gov’t

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

Super Junior, Left to Right : Choi Si-won, Eun-hyuk, Sin Dong-hee, Sungmin, Henry and Zhou Mi Members of the K-pop group Super Junior visited the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, yester

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

K-pop artists frequently represent not just sources of entertainment for fans, but also participate in government conversations related to Hallyu, the Korean wave. 

See on www.hancinema.net

ICYMI: iFans Update – Girls’ Generation (SNSD) Into the New World Remix Cover Dances

Girls' Generation (SNSD)

Girls’ Generation (SNSD)

The iFans project rolls on with more cover dance!  The second section of the exhibit, Dance Like Everybody’s Watching: K-pop Cover Dances, features Girls’ Generation‘s “Into the New World Remix.”  Click HERE to view K-pop fans from around the world performing one of the most complicated dance routines by a girl group.

Image: 1

The Korean Wave does not really exist

See on Scoop.itKorean Wave

The Korean music scene has changed vastly in the past decade.

Crystal “CeeFu” Anderson‘s insight:

While this article attempts to address the varied uses of the term "Korean wave," it does not address the complex factors that go into the term.  It fails to define the Korean Wave itself, its links to multiple modes of cultural production, such as K-drama and Korean film. The Korean wave is more than a mere marketing tool; it is a phenomenon that has economic, cultural and political implications. Using Psy to make an argument about the Korean wave and its longevity ignores the 20-ish old years of music, television and film that make up the Korean wave, and the fact that K-pop was enjoying global popularity before Psy’s appearance. There needs to be more context provided to make these kinds of assertions about the Korean wave. 

See on beyondhallyu.com

ICYMI: iFans Update – EXO Growl Cover Dances



In addition to the case studies, the iFans project documents other mode of fan activity. The first section of the new exhibit, Dance Like Everyone’s Watching: K-pop Cover Dance, is up! Click HERE to view K-pop fans performing some of the most difficult K-pop dance routines.

Image: 1

ICYMI: Ethnicity, Glamour and Image in Korean Popular Music

Lee Hyori, Promo Image, Monochrome

Lee Hyori, Promo Image, Monochrome

The 1960s girl group concept makes regular appearances in K-pop. While some think that this kind of image represents a lack of ethnic identity in a quest for mainstream acceptance, I suggest that the 1960s girl group image promoted by women of color represents an ethnic glamour aesthetic.

Read the rest at KPK: Kpop Kollective….

What I’m Listening To: At That Time (그 때) (ft. Brian) by Supreme Team

Supreme Team

Supreme Team

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to. I make no distinction between idol and non-idol K-pop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too.

What Is It

Who Does It

“At That Time (그 때)” is from Supreme Team‘s 2010 album, Supremier, and features Brian Joo, vocalist from the legendary Korean R&B group, Fly To the Sky.  The song introduces Brian by referring to his 2009 album, Manifold. 

Why I Like It

This song represents a little change of pace from Supreme Team’s highly respected  hip-hop fare.  The tempo and tone of the song sounds matches the lyrics: it sounds like a throwback to more pop-inspired R&B, which goes to show that we all share the “back and the day” vibe. This is the kind of song that all generations could jam to, mixing Brian’s singing on the chorus with Supreme Team’s rapping on the verses. The combination illustrates the kind of frequent collaborations that occur in K-pop.

Image (1)

“Supreme Team – 그 때 (Feat. 브라이언).” YouTube. 18 Jan 2013. Web. 9 Feb 2014.

“Steady Shaking the Ground”: Lyrical Skill in Epik High’s Music

Epik High

Epik High

Epik High garners respect as a Korean hip-hop group in part because of their innovative use of lyrics.  Because many of their songs are in English, they provide an opportunity to appreciate the complexity of their rhymes and their skill manipulation of language.

While many critics focus on the social and political message of rap, Mtume ya Salaam reminds us that rap is an art, and when done well, “possesses at least one–and usually more than one–attribute such as sincerity, originality, honesty, or creativity” (303).  We should not focus on critique to the exclusion of the artistry found in hip hop.  Looking at the lyrics of a rap song is comparable to appreciating poetry. Both make use of  “simile, metaphor, and alliteration as well as creative expression, originality, and conveyance of emotion” (305).

With that in mind, Epik High songs frequently use creative metaphors and innovative verbal phrases to describe the skill of rapping or critique the industry in which the group participates.  Frequently, Epik High positions itself as cerebral rappers, targeting the minds as well as the feet of their audience.  That stance marks them as unique in the K-hip hop world.

Follow the Flow (ft. Myk, D-tox)

“Follow the Flow” comes from the 2005 Epik High album, Swan Songs.  The track reinforces the intellectual appeal of the track through references to the mental powers of the audience.  Lyrics such as “I just did flipped your lid and gave your brain a kiss” demonstrate that the group targets the way people think and suggests they want to leave the audience pondering their words.  Because of this kind of originality, they diverge from other groups:   “We travel on into unknown don’t follow the roadsign/We just try to form the rhymes that read yo’ mind.”

Epik High frequently also includes plays on words in their lyrics.   “Like an empty hospital/I’m out of patience” uses the word “patience” both in its literal meaning (lacking the capacity to remain calm when waiting) and its related meaning to patient (someone who needs medical treatment) within the context of a hospital.   “I’m a prohibition MC – I speakeasy” uses the context from the 1920 and 1930s to underscore lyrical skill.  In the United States, the prohibition era created speakeasys, or illegal clubs, so when the song references a “prohibition MC,” it taps into the rogue nature of the rhyme.

“Follow the Flow” also uses literary references to celebrate originality.  The song draws from Irish literature to establish his skill as an MC:

Yes I am…the rap game’s voice

Every cat’s main choice, the rap James Joyce

It’s a piece of cake, gimmie a break,

I kill MCs, then speak at they Finnegan’s Wake

I’m much mo’ than a cheap CD

Any student forced to read the Irish writer James Joyce would understand the resonance of the reference. Joyce represents one of the most challenging writers in the English language. His novels, such as Ulysses, are complicated and dense, but also innovative, thus contributing to his reputation as a classic writer. The song uses this literary giant to underscore his own lyrical prowess in the song. The MC is rap’s James Joyce, which suggests that his raps are equally deep and complicated.

Free Music (ft. Myk)

While “Follow the Flow” celebrates the skill of the MC, “Free Music,” from the 2009 album Map the Soul,  is a critique of an overall lack of originality in rap.  In the first verse, MYK contrasts the mental work he puts into his rhymes (“I jog my mind around the writer’s block/Till it’s out of breath and asthmatic”) with the preoccupation with fame he notices in the industry:

I’ve had it with the paper chase, need I mention?

The rap game is all show and lyrical dissension

Pretension, obsession for physical possession

MYK faults the commercialism and quest for money as the primary motivator for some rappers. This has a negative impact on the creativity and artistry of their production. It is all show and no substance.  Tablo’s verse focuses more on his skill:

Temporary relief so I’m makin’ it last

Takin’ it fast, lacin’ buds in raps, tracin’ raps with facts

Steppin’ up the game but not reppin’ for fame

Spittin’ truth up on the booth, then we settin’ it in flames

Here, Tablo focuses on his own skill. He is all business in the recording booth, seeking to be the best for his own sake, not to gain attention and make money. His rap is more substantial, filled with “facts” and “truth.”

In both of these tracks, Epik High seek to distinguish themselves thought their thought-provoking and creative lyrics.

Image: 1


“Epik High – Follow the Flow ft. MYK & D-Tox + Lyrics (HQ) (HD).” YouTube. 29 Jul 2011. Web. 1 Feb 2014.

“Epik High – Free Music (Tablo And MYK) (Ft. MYK).” YouTube. 29 Mar 2009. Web. 1 Feb 2014.

Salaam, Mtume ya.  “The Aesthetics of Rap.” African American Review 29.2 (1995): 303-315.

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“Steady Shaking the Ground”: Lyrical Skill in Epik High’s Music by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The World Turned Upside Down: Social Change in Historical Kdrama

Chun Doong and Gwi Dong, The Duo

Chun Doong and Gwi Dong, The Duo

One of the most common plots in sageuk (historical Kdrama) pits those with power against those without power.  These tensions become even more complicated with friendships and romantic relationships.  Nothing makes the elite more nervous than when the “riff raff” start to question “the natural order of things.”  Historical Kdramas like The Duo and Hong Gil Dong begin with the possibility of social change, but end up reinforcing the status quo.  However, Tree with Deep Roots sustains the promise of social change to the end. Continue reading

The Heirs Inherits From Boys Over Flowers

Heirs, Main Poster

Heirs, Main Poster

Heirs is a worthy successor to Boys Over Flowers as  the ultimate “rich kid” Kdrama. It takes the theme of romance across class lines from Boys Over Flowers to whole new levels.

It’s (Still) a Chaebol World!

Heirs shares the context of the chaebol world with Boys Over Flowers.  Both are stories about romance that crosses class lines within Korean society.  It’s not just that Jun Pyo and Kim Tan‘s families are wealthy; they are wealthy Koreans.  Korean business and family dynamics drives so much of these Kdramas. It’s the reason why Jun Pyo can only defy his mother so much, and why Kim Tan can only give his father so much sass.

It’s even more so the case in Heirs because it affects so many of the relationships. The tension between Kim Tan and Kim Won coms from the way their father introduced Kim Tan into their household. The loathing that Jung Ji Sook has for Han Ki Ae, Kim Tan’s mom, is directly related to their position within the chaebol family.  Ji Sook knows that Ki Ae’s position is precarious because she is not an official member of the family. For most of the Kdrama, people don’t even know she is Kim Tan’s mom.

Like Boys Over Flowers, Heirs does a good job of flaunting the wealth of the chaebol family and showing class disparities. There’s no school bus for these kids! Kim Tan goes to school in a car driven by a chauffeur.  He lives is a house so big that you could not see other people who also live in the house for days.  Despite the size of the house, Eun Sang and her mom are reduced to living in a room that charitably could be called a closet. Their circumstances are even more dire because of Park Hee Nam‘s disability.  Wardrobe also plays a large role. Kim Tan’s “fabulous” sweaters aside, we know the upper class are the upper class because of what they wear. Heirs is even more global with the “exotic locations.”  While the guys  in Boys Over Flowers play in Venetian Macau,  Kim Tan stays in the Hollywood hills in huge house with a pool overlooking Los Angeles

Multi-Dimensional Snottiness

Heirs extends the upper-class snarkiness we find in Boys Over Flowers. While Boys Over Flowers focuses on the antics of Jan Di and F4 in a school setting, Heirs gives us a tour of class arrogance. Because the characters are aware of their class position all the time, we get to see its impact.  The kids each have their own issues and insecurities.  As a viewer, you despise their behavior but also see the pressures that cause that behavior.   Rachel’s obsession with Kim Tan is probably related to how her mother treated her father (and herself as an object to be used in business negotiations).   Young Do‘s bad treatment of others comes from the loss of his mother. Being the heir to a hotel conglomerate and having everything does nothing for that sense of loss.  Ye Sol can be one of the mean girls, but worries (rightly so) about her reputation, as she is the daughter of a hostess.  Lee Hyo Shin cannot convince his parents, even with a suicide attempt, to let him opt out of being a lawyer.

In Boys Over Flowers,  we rarely venture beyond the world of Jan Di and F4.   Kim Bum‘s errant father makes rare appearances, Ji Hoo is an effective orphan (despite his grandfather) and who knows what’s going on with Woo Bin‘s family. In Heirs, the adults are key to the class dysfunction experienced by their children.  The relationships in Kim Tan’s house, the dynamic between Rachel and her mother and the dynamics between Secretary Yoon and Rachel’s mother, shows that the snotty apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  With more characters and more characters whose stories intersect, we get a deeper view of the upper class. It’s not one we want to join.


Boys Over Flowers, Woo Bin and Yi Jung

Boys Over Flowers, Woo Bin and Yi Jung

The relationships between guys is central to both Boys Over Flowers and Heirs.  The tension between Jun Pyo and Ji Hoo drives the plot of Boys Over Flowers. They may compete with each other and  get angry at each other, but in the end, they rely on their friendship. You also care about the dynamic between the other members of F4, like Yi Jung and Woo Bin, which deserved more attention. Remember who got Woo Bin to stop walking on the edge of that bridge!

Heirs complicates this male camaraderie.  On one hand, the blood-related brothers, Kim Tan and Kim Won, have a cold relationship. Kim Tan constantly expresses his affection for his brother, while Kim Won gives him the cold shoulder. Kim Tan is the emotional brother who takes courage to defy their father, while Kim Won gives up on his happiness.   As the Kdrama goes on, you want them to reconcile. You want Kim Won to give Kim Tan just a little bit of recognition, and he routinely just keeps you hanging.

On the other hand, the hyungs, Kim Tan and Young Do, have a complex, love-hate relationship. They do real harm to each other, but they also help each other out when the chips are down. It’s really interesting the way that they do not reconcile either. Kim Tan notes in the final episode that they were not strangers, but they also were not man enough to reconcile.

The Relationship

At the center of both Boys Over Flowers and Heirs is the relationship between the “rich guy” and the “poor girl.”  Jun Pyo has a long way to go to learn how to treat Jan Di properly, but he eventually gets there.  However, for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, Jan Di becomes less likeable as part of that couple. She loses all of her spunkiness and becomes a shadow of her former self.  She doesn’t participate in the relationship, and doesn’t grow as a character. This is in contrast to her side kick Ga Eul, who becomes more interesting because she is willing to pursue her dreams and take chances.

Heirs, Eun Sang

Heirs, Eun Sang

The relationship between Kim Tan and Eun Sang has a different dynamic.  It’s Kim Tan who has to overcome his background and a grouchy and vindictive father to have a relationship with Eun Sang.  When he leaves the United States, his mind is set. We don’t have to endure a process where he has to decide to like Eun Sang.  For her part, Eun Sang has more important things to worry about than Kim Tan, and she is understandably wary of his attention. But I like how she navigates Kim Tan’s attention, Young Do’s “attention,” the mean girl dynamics at school and the dysfunctional Kim family antics at home.  She doesn’t always win.  She endures some nasty behavior.  She sometimes takes too long to appreciate what Kim Tan is doing for her, but she does an impressive job of standing up to the mean kids at school.  Her relationship with her mother is a great addition to her backstory. When both Kim Tan and Eun Sang end up on the apartment floor crying, you feel for both of them. You are rooting for both of them.

In many ways, Heirs is Boys Over Flowers 2.0, taking the themes of class-defying romance and building on them.

Images: 1, 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7

Is “Idol Music” Just Dance Music?

Super Junior

Super Junior

Super Junior‘s “Sorry Sorry” is, but “Sorry Sorry The Answer” is not. f(x)‘s “Nu Abo” is, but “Beautiful Goodbye” is not. TVXQ‘s “Mirotic” is, “Before U Go” is not, and who knows what’s going on with “Something.”  Some want to equate popular K-pop music with dance music, but they may be surprised by the variety in the music produced by idols.

Because idols make up so much of popular K-pop, many equate their music with dance music.   Park Si Soo refers to a National Assembly report that described 82% of the tracks on the Gaon Music Chart as “idol music.”  According to Park, critics seem to equate “idol music” with dance music because K-pop is “dominated by hook-heavy dance music or ‘idol music.’”

Academics believe the popularity of “idol music” contributes to the homogenization of K-pop, causing all the music to sound the same.   Solee I. Shin and Lanu Kim examined the top 20 songs published by Melon Music, an online music service in Korea, from 1988 to 2012 and found “a sizeable presence of dance and hip-hop music in the early to mid-1990s.”

Both journalists and academics limit the kinds of music associated with K-pop idols and equate it with dance music.  Dance music is music designed to make people dance, and the beat is crucial.  Mark J. Butler argues that “rhythm. . . is the raison d’être of electronic dance music” (4).  But that does not mean that all dance music sounds the same:   “There is an astonishing array of rhythmic diversity beyond the beat. . . . fans, musicians and critics  [claim] that all of the myriad genres of dance music have the same meter (4/4) which they tend to link, through implicit or explicit comparisons, to perceived notions of simplicity” (5).

All dance music is not the same.  Super Junior’s “Bonamana” is not the same as House Rulez‘s “Reset,” even though both may be considered dance songs because they share the “four on the floor” rhythm.  “Bonamana” is the type of dance song that Super Junior is known for, but it contains standard elements of popular song, including lyrics, verses and a chorus.   “Reset” is quintessential electronic dance music (EDM):  “Most of [EDM's] genres contain no consistent verbal components [or lyrics]” and are “created by synthesizers and drum machines rather than ‘real’ instruments” (11).

A comparison of songs by idols reveal differences. BigBang‘s “Fantastic Baby” sounds different from Infinite’s “Hands Up,” but both are dance songs.  This is the case even with songs by the same artist.  While Super Junior songs may reflect the trademark “Super Junior funky style,” “Bonamana” sounds different from “SPY.” “Bonamana”‘s rhythm stands out, while “SPY” features thick orchestration where horns are central.

In addition, music produced by idols goes beyond dance music:  “There are many critics who are reluctant to define idol music as a genre, citing a lack distinctive musical identity. They insist idol music is like a “spaghetti bowl” in which various music genres including dance, hip-hop, rap and R&B are all mixed up in one category” (Park).

While charts tell us about popularity based on sales, listening to the music on albums reveals far more variety. A consideration of SM Entertainment (SME) artists show a variety of musical styles. With the largest roster of idols, SME is often cited as a primary producer of “idol music”:  “‘SM style music’ was gradually defined as electronic-based, fast-beat, and strong with  memorable lyrics with repeating ‘hooks’” (Shin and Kim).

It’s clear that SM has its share of idols producing dance music. As the first paragraph shows, artists such as Super Junior, TVXQ, f(x) as well as SHINee and EXO have their share of dance tracks.  However, these groups release albums with songs that go beyond dance music.

Super Junior has had great success with dance tracks like  “Sorry Sorry,” “Bonamana,” “Mr. Simple,” and “SPY.” However, the group’s albums feature other kinds of songs.  “Good Friends (어느새 우린)” is not a dance track.  It feels more like a throwback track to the 1970s with its use of horns and organs.  “Memories” is a song with a slower tempo. “Sorry Sorry The Answer” is an old-school R&B ballad that focuses on vocals:

The same can be said of TVXQ.  We all know TVXQ for their dance tracks, such as “Mirotic” and “Humanoids.” But the group also has a reputation for more pop-inspired fare like “Hug,” rock-influenced songs like “Tri-Angle” and “Athena,” and slower songs like “I Swear” and “Honey Funny Bunny.”

If we take a look at deeper cuts on SHINee’s albums, we see there are different kinds of songs that go beyond the dance fare like “Lucifer” and “Dream Girl.”  SHINee fans always look forward to R&B-inspired songs such as “Excuse Me Miss” and “Symptoms.” But they often have surprises as well, like the acoustic track “Honesty.”

These songs are not only included on albums, they are also featured in set lists when groups tour, suggesting that they are just as important as promotional dance tracks.      The set-list for Super Junior’s Super Show 4 includes “Good Friends” and Super Junior’s Super Show 5‘s setlist features an acoustic medley that includes “Memories.”   TVXQ includes “Tri-angle” and “Honey Funny Bunny” in its setlist.  “Honesty” appears on the setlist for SHINee’s performances at SM Town Week.

Music made by idols runs the gamut. In fact, it is the reason why fans like it. Instead of making assumptions,  just listen to the music.


“Electrifying Super Show.” Seoul Rhythms. 28 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 Jan 2014.


“Super Junior(슈퍼주니어) _ SORRY, SORRY – ANSWER _ MusicVideo.” sment. YouTube. 10 Dec 2009. Web. 9 Jan 2014.

“SUPER JUNIOR 슈퍼주니어 _SPY_MUSIC VIDEO.” SMTOWN. YouTube. 12 Aug 2012. Web. 15 Jan 2014.

“TVXQ – I Swear.” Oumae24. YouTube. 23 Sept 2012. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.

“07 늘 그 자리에 (Honesty) – SHINee (Sherlock).” AmberInJapan. YouTube. 18 Mar 2012. Web. 15 Jan 2014.

“하우스 룰즈 (House Rulez) – Reset (With 안지석).” 3cinquesette. YouTube. 3 Aug 2012. Web. 15 Jan 2014.


Butler, Mark J. Unlocking the Groove: Rythym, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Shin, Solee I. and Lanu Kim. “Organizing K-pop: Emergence and Market Making of Large Korean Entertainment Houses, 1980-2010.” East Asia November, 2013. doi: 10.1007/s12140-013-9200-0.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.