B-Sides: Eastern Musical Influence
In the modern age, music has become a global phenomenon that takes inspiration from all different realms of the world, but more often than not the Western standard reigns supreme globally. Even in K-Pop or C-Pop, we rarely see traditional Eastern music represented in today’s releases. But every now and then we get a few hidden gems that do draw from their musical roots. This week we will highlight a couple of these recent tracks.
“Shangri-La” - VIXX
The most obvious and popular rendition of this concept is definitely VIXX’s legendary comeback in “Shangri-La.” Not only did the song draw from traditional Eastern influences, the members totally embodied their culture with performances in hanbok and in the choreography that made use of fans. “Shangri-La” made a huge impact upon release for all of these elements, since major K-Pop groups had not utilized this aesthetic in quite some time, and just about anything VIXX presents as a final product is bound to be beyond gorgeous.
“Ddaeng” - BTS
A special non-official release for this year’s Festa, BTS’s rap line brought us a jaw-dropping unexpected hip-hop number in “Ddaeng.” For a trio that often releases intense hip-hop beats with immense Western influence, no one was expecting the traditional Eastern melodic influence, which only made the track more impactful. Many were hoping for this type of melody in “IDOL” because of the teasers and were disappointed, but they got more than they could ever ask for in “Ddaeng.” Let’s not forget the legendary Festa performance in traditional hanbok!
“Yamazaki” - Bang Yongguk
While still a member of B.A.P, Bang Yongguk released “Yamazaki,” an unbelievable solo track that no one saw coming for a multitude of reasons. An intense rap track backed by the traditional Eastern melody blends past and present musical trends in perfect harmony, incorporating both Korean and Japanese lyrics. Yongguk even visually expresses the Eastern culture in the music video itself, which is set in traditional housing from ancient times in Korea and features architecture from that time as well. However, do be warned that some gore is associated with this video as well.
“Love Love Love” - EXO
Not nearly as obvious as the previous three choices when it comes to Eastern influence, EXO’s “Love Love Love” still draws a heavy melodic inspiration from traditional Eastern instruments that can be heard throughout the entirety of the song. It’s far more subtle in comparison and is overshadowed for most of the song by the chill R&B beat and romantic lyrics, but it can very clearly be heard post-chorus.
“Should I Do” - Jooheon of MONSTA X
It seems that more hip-hop-influenced artists are willing to mix their modern sound with traditional Eastern influences. The traditional notes are very subtle in “Should I Do,” the first track of Jooheon’s latest mixtape DWTD, and it only makes an appearance a few times mid-verse of Jooheon absolutely going off. Still, that melody adds a level of depth to the song overall that is more than unexpected in the best way possible. In fact, it’s the musical element that makes the song unforgettable, and we wish it had a bigger part in the song overall.