Kpop is an extremely dynamic industry where music trends and outfit styles are constantly changing – and this is only highlighted by the genres penchant for releasing concept-based groups and comebacks. So it’s no surprise that retro sounds can always be found in kpop.
Out of all retro styles, the most popular in kpop is the electronic, synth-based tunes of the 80s as it perfectly suits the upbeat and dance-focused kpop vibe. Here are our top picks for the best 80s inspired kpop songs:
10. Without You – NCT U
NCT U’s ‘Without You’ isn’t as glaringly 80s as some of the other songs on this list, but the chilled out tune is actually very reminiscent of some anthem rock music from the decade such as U2. The staging of this performance is also very retro with stand up microphones and it is the perfect pared back staging to show off the vocalists impeccable harmonies.
9. Platonic Love – Snuper
I feel like it would be impossible to write this list without including Snuper’s iconic track ‘Platonic Love’. We may have been influenced by the music video but we can definitely imagine dancing to this synth heavy tune at an 80s disco or a roller rink. The MV’s bright colours and retro video effects simply emphasize the reminiscent sound and make us think we’re somehow in a time machine.
8. Mamma Mia – KARA
Though ‘Mamma Mia’ might instantly remind you of a 70s song with the same name, the track is unmistakably influenced by the 1980s europop instead. Like many other artists on this list, KARA are experts are releasing 80s inspired hits with songs like ‘Step’ and ‘Damaged Lady’.
7. 123 – B.I.G
‘123’ is another song that isn’t obviously inspired by the 80s since it isn’t as heavily synth-based. However, it is still an excellent reiteration of 80s sounds as the song’s guitar riffs were influenced by disco and funk. Once again, the music video’s colourful outfits, effects and editing just scream 80s too.
6. Lucky One – EXO
This song’s producers created a fresh sound for the group by combining many 80s music trends including disco, pop and funk. Though the music video isn’t overtly inspired by the decade, their stage performances are far more reminiscent of the 80s with their brightly coloured outfits in a mixture of textures. EXO have also released other 80s inspired tunes including non-title track ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Love Me Right’ with it’s Nile Rodgers-esque guitar.
5. I Feel You – Wonder Girls
Wonder Girls made their inspiration for ‘I Feel You’ no secret when they put the date ‘1987’ into the intro of their music video. They even payed homage to MTV which was a staple of 80s culture as the channel launched early on in the decade. ‘I Feel You’ imitates the typical synth rock and dance sound from the era and the leotards and electric percussion make it feel more authentic.
4. Figaro – Nine Muses
With its addictive choreography and infectious tune, ‘Figaro’ is the perfect 80s-esque kpop song to boogie to especially if you have sequined bodysuits like the members. Nine Muses have released many songs inspired by the decade including ‘Ticket’, ‘News’ and ‘Drama’ which combines 70s and 80s retro-funk.
3. B.B.B (Big Baby Baby) – Dalshabet
‘B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)’ is a synth pop song with many identifiable 80s elements and the MV sees the group decked out in power suits which became increasingly popular during this time. Though they have different vibes, ‘Someone Like U’ and ‘Have, Don’t Have’ are also Dalshabet bops which were also influenced by the 80s.
2. The Chaser – Infinite
As a group known for their exceptional electronic music, it’s no surprise that Infinite have released many spectacular, 80s-inspired kpop songs including ‘The Chaser’, ‘Be Mine’ and ‘Last Romeo’. ‘The Chaser’ incorporates an 80s electronic rock and pop sound into a stereotypical kpop song structure with a few rap breakdowns.
1. Brave New World – Brown Eyed Girls
Brown Eyed Girl’s are, once again, masters of retro concepts as they released the 60s American pop-influenced ‘Warm Hole’ on the same album as this out-of-this-world track. Both flawlessly mix the retro sound with kpop tropes and trends – especially with Miryo’s unexpected raps. The music video for ‘Brave New World’ also epitomises the 80s through the director’s use of lighting, geometric shapes and Narsha’s voluminous hair.
What are your favourite 80s-inspired kpop songs?