B-Sides: K-Pop Conversion Step 1
The K-Pop community continues to grow, even here on the other side of the world. With more acts breaking into the Western music scene, more people are becoming aware of K-Pop and thus more interested in it. Maybe you have friends who have expressed interest, or at the very least, don’t outright make fun of you for being into it! Time and time again, a formula I’ve come up with to drag others into the hype of the Hallyu Wave has proven totally successful. And now, for the upcoming couple of weeks, I’ll share the sequence of songs I’ve used to pull others into this movement.
“I’m Not Sorry” - DEAN ft. Eric Bellinger
Start off soft and easy with a catchy R&B track from DEAN that’s all in English and features Grammy-winning American artist Eric Bellinger. DEAN is a great example of an artist who is a perfect balance between East and West, with his musical sound that clearly has Western influences but to which he brings his own cultural background to the sound. Starting with a song in English is always the best for situations like this since a lot of people initially tend to be skittish around songs completely in Korean. Besides, “I’m Not Sorry” is definitely a bop to end all bops; it’ll be hard for anyone to reject this song.
“Don’t Recall (Hidden Version)” - KARD
Still finding your friends or family adverse to Korean lyrics? KARD’s “Don’t Recall (Hidden Version)” is another perfect place to start, as KARD is the essence of K-Pop while performing in English. They also provide the comfort of a co-ed group that may not be as normal in the East, but certainly makes up a good portion of the West. “Don’t Recall (Hidden Version)” is definitely an underrated bop in its own right. The English version is probably overshadowed by its Korean counterpart, but it’s very useful in converting a stubborn Western stan to K-Pop. Trust me, this song in particular worked in converting my stubborn older brother.
“MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix)” - BTS
If your friend is into the music scene, he or she has probably heard of BTS by now, whether or not they’ve wanted to. Disregard any reservations, pull out “MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix)” (the music video version, not the Desiigner featured track because we all know it’s far worse than J-Hope’s verse), and they’re guaranteed to get hooked. “MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix)” may be the most successful East and West collab to date, and it is a perfect example of how K-Pop can have mass Western appeal. No matter your opinion of BTS, it’s hard to deny the power of this track.
“Run Devil Run” - Girls’ Generation
Girls’ Generation’s rendition of “Run Devil Run” could be a hit or miss, as it is was popularized in the West by the version performed by Ke$ha, but some people aren’t so keen on remixes. Still, the familiar beat of “Run Devil Run” has the ability to get someone hooked, especially when performed by talented vocal powerhouse Girls’ Generation.
“All I Wanna Do” - Jay Park
Jay Park is another stellar artist to feature when trying to get someone into the Hallyu Wave, as his brand of Hip-Hop tends to draw influences from East and West in perfect harmony. As an Asian-American native to Seattle, Jay Park is a perfect representation of the spreading of Hip-Hop influence from the West to the East, and an easy artist to get any non-stan hooked onto due to his immense talent. And if they’re receptive enough, you can introduce them to the Korean version that features the sweet and complementary vocals of AOMG princess Hoody and fellow labelmate and rapper LOCO.