Line Out Music & the City at Night

Friday, November 18, 2011


Posted by on Fri, Nov 18, 2011 at 2:31 PM

I had that moment the other week where I saw a Pitchfork article about something I was sort of embarrassed about liking, and then I felt less embarrassed about it. Stupid, right? I know.

That thing was K-Pop. James Brooks explains:

South Korean pop culture (often referred to as "Hallyu", which means "Korean Wave") is a fresh-faced phenomenon. The record companies that currently dominate the country's music industry date back only to 1995, which means that K-Pop, as a genre and a business, is probably younger than you are. It certainly sounds young—even if you ignore the fact that most K-Pop groups are made up of teenagers, there's a wild, enthusiastic spirit evident in the way their producers gobble up and spit out sounds like Britney/Gaga Eurotrance, Auto-Tune, rapid-fire rap, swooning Final Fantasy strings, breakbeats, and industrial-strength synths. This music can be flat, derivative, and sometimes really, really annoying. It can also deliver the kind of senses-shattering, hands-in-the-air euphoria that's a defining marker of great pop.

He embeds a bunch of videos, which are really part and parcel of the music's appeal, including two of my favorite K-Pop songs, 2NE1's "I Am the Best" and GD&TOP's "Knock Out."

It's my favorite kind of absurd, energetic joyfulness, this sticky-sweet pop, filtering American pop culture through a Korean lens and into the blender of their music business, and what comes out is two dudes with multicolored eyebrows and hair riding Segways and sitting in plastic butt chairs while they rap, or a bunch of skinny pop stars walking poodles in fetish gear and wearing ice cream hats and Misfits back patches while they shoot all their records with machine guns. I always feel like "Um, what just happened??!" after watching. Which is refreshing. Also, it should be said: K-Pop makes excellent workout music.


Comments (2) RSS

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That article was surprisingly great and Brooks' band Elite Gymnastics is awesome
Posted by cbatson on November 19, 2011 at 1:31 AM · Report this
bunnypuncher 2
Oh shit, love those elite gymnastics EPs, gotta read this article.
Posted by bunnypuncher on November 21, 2011 at 9:26 AM · Report this

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