The story of how we got into K-pop is quite simple. But what dark forces has South Korea enlisted for the genre to spread like a wildfire of catchy synths, fun visuals, and undeniable talent… We heard about it on Twitter.
One word. Shinee. We’ll give you another 2: Lee Taemin. We’d spotted a bunch of twitter followers with the same (ridiculously good looking) Korean man as their profile picture. So we decided to investigate. We found out that this man was called Taemin and he was part of a five-piece: SHINee. One very short and very slippery slope later and I found myself watching “SHINEE BEST DANCE” compilations on YouTube and scouring Spotify for any semblance of this newly discovered “K-pop” genre.
Lucifer by SHINEE became our anthem (which is something we’ve heard from lots of other people, too). By combining the archetype traits of 3rd gen K-pop with the ideals seen in 4th gen (which has brought the genre more in line with Western pop) SHINee appeal to a wide range of listeners and get people hooked for life.
It was weird. As teenagers we’d typically steered clear from what I thought was ‘trashy pop’ – lacking substance, over-produced, cheesy. Now, at the age of 25, I was intrigued by a genre of music which, on the surface, encompasses all of these things… But how wrong we were. K-Pop unites every element of successful pop music, but it does, so fluidly, that listening to it is a breeze. That’s the hook. It was fun. Something we were struggling to find in the UK charts.
‘Don’t you need to know what they’re saying?’ When I was growing up, no one gave a damn about what Enrique Iglesias was saying in his latest glossy pop-hit… and do I even need to mention Justin Beiber’s latest hit, Burrito? (Just kidding.) But what songs like Despacito and Little Mix’s Reggaetón Lento have taught us is that sure, lyrics are important, but music is a universal language (and google translate is your best friend).
Since discovering K-pop, we’ve developed our personal favourites; Sammy’s favourite groups include Monsta X, KARD, GOT7; Niki’s favourites include SHINee, BlackPink, BlockB… However, one band we both enjoy is BTS.
It’s difficult, as YouTubers, to express an interest in something so popular, no matter how authentic the sentiment is. There is a stigma attached to it, mainly because we’ve all seen YouTubers jump on trends before – but our obsession is genuine.
The ARMY is perhaps the most impressive and intense fandom we’ve ever come across. We’ve had some run-ins with them (whenever we tweet them, fans run to ‘protect’ them from verified accounts) but we’ve come to realise that their comments come from a good place with good intentions. And that’s the crux of this article- the K-pop fandom, as a whole, is a good and diverse place sharing a common interest and raising each other up.
We went to our first K-Pop concert at the beginning of this year; BlockB at the Troxy, London. It was the diversity in the audience- not just ethnicity, but age and gender too – which really surprised us. A large majority of the audience were teenage girls but there were older fans too (hey, even if they were parents, they rocked that light stick like it was no one’s business.) This is what is so impressive – pop music with lyrics in a language that, let’s be honest, none of us in the UK are fluent in, can bring so many people from different walks of life together.
In a world that currently feels like it’s falling apart (let’s just blame Trump), there is something special in the togetherness promoted by K-pop. K-Pop is fun and sometimes that’s all that matters. It’s non-offensive, it’s international, and it’s here to stay.
Niki and Sammy are twin Youtubers and presenters from the UK. They are currently doing a ‘Non K-pop fans react to K-pop for the first time’ Youtube series.
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