So today, we’re not just coming out of left field as we’re talking about a completely different sport, altogether. I think it’s racquetball, but your mileage may vary. Yes, my tastes in music go beyond indie rock/pop and you’re correct in realizing the song I’m recommending isn’t English. K-Pop, for me, started as an interesting genre that was “too foreign” or “too flashy” for me to enjoy. The music is obnoxious, everyone is in a group of beautiful men and women, and there’s a shallowness to all of it.
There’s also quite a bit of controversy on how the music industry in South Korea handles their artists. I’m nowhere near an expert of any kind on the subject and I don’t think it’s my place to say what South Korea should and shouldn’t do. However, I will say that I personally think there’s a glass house argument to be made where the United States glorifies similar practices. I’m oversimplifying a complicated industry, but the point is that we have problems of our own yet we still view the music as separate from the background that brought it to life.
So let us set aside the subjects that I don’t know about and go to what I do know: the K-Pop genre is a lot more varied and interesting than the original impression I got. I’m a sucker for lots of colorful songs that are bombastic and ready to bring the show to you. I’m all for that. Out of all the artists that make up the K-Pop scene, my favorite is easily Hong Jin Young. I have a hard time fully describing her style other than while it still has many of the pop characteristics that match her fellow K-Pop artists, she has an interesting blend of traditional Korean music, polka, disco, and a bunch of other comparisons depending on the song being described. Her genre is called Trot, which is a type of Korean folk. Okay.
Today’s pick is “Good Bye.” It’s one of the more recent songs she came out with, with this one appearing earlier in the year. The polka is real in this song. I come from a Russian background and I’m positive Verka Serduchka will be most please to hear this song. It’s got a hodge podge of sounds and flavors going into it, which some might find off-putting, but I see it as incredible exciting and fun. I will say though that it is a breakup song, which feels a little bit tonally inconsistent.
Want something more low-key? How about this.
I wish I can show you more of her songs, but alas, I shall pick one: “Cheer Up.” It leans heavily on the traditional side of Trot music. From an outsider’s perspective, the music sounds close to what you’d expect old-fashioned Asian music to sound like, but there’s definitely a uniqueness to this song: her voice. Young is a terrific singer and she performs this song beautifully. Credit also goes to the lyrics, which goes into how you shouldn’t bring yourself down even if you are having a bad day or if you think everyone is doing better than you. For the internet age, I think it’s important to remind yourself of that sometimes. The video for the song is also very sweet.
If you liked either of the songs, I recommend listening to more from her as all the songs range somewhere between the two and I love pretty much all of them.