Bangtan Boys–A new KPOP love.

I watched the MAMA Awards (the MNET Asian Music Awards) to see GD and Taeyang of Big Bang perform Good Boy, and to see Block B; little did I know watching this show would lead to an all new obsession. Block B was performing a friendly music battle against a band called Bangtan Boys aka BTS. I felt somewhat sorry for this band I’d barely heard of, to have to go against the energetic and zany Block B. I sat back in anticipation of the performance, feeling smug in the confidence that no one other than Big Bang could out do my Block B. This delusion didn’t last long, from the first dance battle, the Bangtan Boys weren’t happy to just give a left jab and a right hook; they straight knocked Block B’s dancers out. It didn’t end there, while Zico is an amazing rapper and music artist, this wasn’t his strongest performance; he looked nervous. It was a complete contrast to Rap Monster with his cool yet fiery charisma, and incredibly versatile style. When BTS joined their rapper leader on stage for their song Danger, Block B was down for the count. I love Block B I really do, but while they seemed happy to coast through their MAMA performances, BTS came to win it. They definitely won my attention. After the show I had to know more. Who is this Rap Monster, and BTS? And so began my Rap Monster and BTS addiction.

I looked up all of BTS’s music videos, not surprised that I loved all that I heard and saw. I also wasn’t surprised that they write and produce their own music, much like Big Bang and Block B. I naturally drift to music artists that create their own songs, and I think you can usually tell the difference from songs that are personally written, and those that are homogenized for any band to do. Then I moved on to their interviews and behind the scenes shows, and I was happy to see they seemed genuinely nice, happy, funny, and energetic. Big Hit Entertainment was brilliant in finding and putting these seven guys together. They are a serious threat in the kpop world, because they don’t have a single weakness that I’ve seen. They can sing, dance, rap, write and produce. They seem to truly be enjoying their careers and each other, which makes them fun and enjoyable to watch, with personalities that are great for variety shows. Considering they debuted just a little over a year ago and they are already this good…as I said–a serious threat.

BTS’s songs were addictive enough, but then I discovered Rap Monsters solo stuff along with some covers he did (pre-debut I guess) and fell completely in lust with his rapping, which led to a bit of a crush in general. Damn you Rap Monster. He’s one of the best rappers I have ever heard. In a single song he can go from growling out his raps, to rapid fire, to changing pitch, tone, and tempo. I’ve never heard a rapper be so diverse and exciting to listen to. And that’s just rapping; wait till you hear him sing. To quote a Queen Latifah movie, “You’ve got me straight trippin boo”. Warning his solo stuff has a fair amount of cuss words (which is kind of funny coming from such a young angelic looking guy), but it is in these solo songs you see how he can claim the name Rap Monster.

 warning a fair amount of cuss words in this one, but his flow is just crazy good.

If you need something softer…

Based off a track by Drake, Rap Monster wrote his own lyrics, just wow.

So I would suggest extreme caution regarding checking these guys out. With their ages ranging from 17-22 (American age) they are one of the youngest groups out there, but with their addictive music, and just the boys themselves, they will storm your bias/crush lists without mercy.

If you have no desire for self-preservation here you go.

Kpop is much more than Psy

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Most Americans only know Kpop because of Psy, but for those of us that discovered Kpop before him, we know there is so much more. The first Kpop artist I started listening to was Rain (internationally known singer, dancer, and actor from Korea). His Kdrama, Runaway Plan B, was also my first Kdrama. Rain, I blame you for my addiction to all things Korean. Anyways, many people find it strange that someone would listen to music when they don’t know the words, but funnily they don’t find it odd that people all over the world listen to American music and don’t know English.

 

A quick background of the Kpop world—In Korea, much like the old Hollywood studio system, young people are recruited and put under contract and spend many years training. They get singing, dancing, instrument, and language training. You’ll find many Kpop artists who are multi-lingual. The band members are put together by the label and they live together in dorms, which can be great if you get along with all your members. There used to be a five year expiration date on Kpop bands, but no longer. The big three major entertainment labels in South Korea are—YG, SM, and JYP. You will often hear them referred to as the YG family or the SM family. Psy, Big Bang, and 2NE1 are part of the YG label aka family. Shinee, Girls Generation, and Super Junior are part of SM. 2PM, and MBLAQ are part of JYP.

 

An odd bit of info to be aware of—in South Korea when an artist comes out with a new song or album it’s termed a comeback, even if it hasn’t been that long since they last released something. It’s odd to Americans who are used to that term meaning someone who has been out of the industry for a long time. Here’s a fact you might want to know—South Korean males have a two year military requirement, and even celebrities have to do it. They are allowed to postpone up to two times, and then they have to enlist. Most Korean celebrities wait till they are in their mid to late twenties. Rain will finish his enlistment July 2013.

 

Believe it or not many Americans and non-Koreans are listening to Kpop. Why? Speaking in a general sense, Kpop is usually very upbeat and fun. The videos can be very colorful, sexy, fun, theatrical, and/or have great dance routines. Honestly I rarely look up the English subtitles or English lyrics unless it’s a band I really like. If you’re wondering where Kpop fans watch the videos, it’s no surprise, YouTube of course. Kpop is so popular that it’s pretty easy to find the music video you’re interested in with English subs if you want them.

 

Kpop fans are intensely passionate and loyal, and I think a part of that is the fact that Korean celebrity’s lives are much publicized. Take for instance my favorite band Big Bang. From their very beginning YG filmed a documentary of their recruitment and training all the way to their debut, and it doesn’t stop there. There is behind-the-scenes videos, videos where they are followed around in their daily schedule, videos of their tours and music videos, etc. In a way that you don’t see in America, you get the feeling you know your favorite band or actor, and so feel more involved with them. On the good side of that you have fans that become evangelists for your art: passionate, loyal and eager to help with their favorite’s success. On the negative there are the crazy fans that will stalk their obsession in a truly frightening way, although stalker fans are definitely not unique to Korea.

 

For many, the Kpop male style may take getting used to. Not only do most male kpop groups wear makeup, most noticeably eye-makeup, they can also, depending on the group, have very fashion forward style or androgynous style. One last thing to be aware of–in Korea it is very common to be physically affectionate with the same sex, it may look odd to some Americans who aren’t used to it, but after some time, you’ll find yourself impressed with their comfort in showing affection to their friends so publicly.

So are you curious to try out Kpop and don’t know where to start. I can help you with that. Obviously I am going to be biased to my own favorite groups, but I think I will make a whole separate post for that.