It’s been two years now since I started to become really fascinated with the Korean music industry. Although the music started sinking into our culture ever since PSY dropped his famous “Gangnam Style” followed by “Gentleman” and his duet with Snoop Dogg. I must admit that “Gangnam Style” never caught my eye that much, probably because at that time I considered it to be a mainstream attention seeker. I trust that was the moment that I categorized Korean music as colorful, playful, attractive to the crowds, but in some sorts supernatural and not for me.
My journey started
It happened that my best friend is very much hooked on Asian culture – the music, the art, the fashion and the cuisine. One day I simply asked her to show me one of her favourite Asian band’s songs, just so I can see what’s the hype been about. I expected it to be some type of scientifical experience, that was supposed to ensure me about this Eastern eccentricy being absolutely neutral to my mind. From one video to another, from one song getting stuck in my head to another, without a minute of protest I became as fascinated in the subject as my best friend, or comparably. She’s become my Korean-culture-unnie until I have learnt to discover stuff all by myself.
What I consider Korean music to be
More than the handsome faces we all know it as. It’s a new, synesthetical act of art that is going to become a global cultural act sooner than we think. It’s a combination of different types of music, western influences coexisting with its eastern roots, aesthitically pleasing scenography, fashion and choreography. What I can guarantee you to find there is perfectionism. None of the aspects stays untouched – starting from the song, through the music video up to the album covers even. It’s creative, it’s ground-breaking. It’s something I still find surprising each time I see it.
Welcome to the bright side
Every possible artistic direction has its dark and bright side. It’s the same for Korean culture – there’s the side of mistreated members of boysbands and girlsbands and there’s the side of creative individuals who feel the art. Exclusively for you, I chose 10 Korean music videos that put my aesthetic sense on its highest level. Buckle up your seatbelts, plug your headphones and enjoy this spectacular show of colours, sounds and human creativity.
10. iKON – What’s Wrong?
Any of us that has ever been either in a relationship or in love surely asked him/herself this question while in doubt. The MV by YG Entertainment’s boy group iKON represents male/female conflict as a regular war. Although some of the gestures might indeed seem violent (do not do this at home) I consider the music video to be truly aesthetically pleasing.
9. Lee Hi – My Star
The ultimate sweetheart of the Korean music industry makes me feel like wearing a floral 50s dress and a headband everytime I listen to her latest album called “Seoulite”. My Star, one of the promotional singles of the album tells a simple story of a girl being sweetly in love with a boy. I fell in love with the precisely composed scenography of the music video, all of the 50s associations and the general mood-boosting vibe of it.
8. WINNER – Sentimental
The EXIT-E album released almost a year ago left me SHOOK and still leaves me SHOOK whenever I listen to it. Out of the three promotional singles I find this music video the most aesthetically pleasing. The colours, the outfits and the alegories of a confusing feeling of nostalgia overwhelming the boys thinking about their ex girlfriends is amazing for me to look at everytime.
7. Wonder Girls – Why So Lonely?
Despite not knowing the girlsband quite well, this music video caught my eye this summer. Not only because of its noticeable 70s vibe or the Barbie-doll look the girls were given, but also thanks to an interesting storyline. The girls have enough of one-sided love they’re experiencing, so they decide to drop the solitude, combine their powers and get the Barbie boy to listen. I love the colours, the scenography, the reps they used. I think the music video’s vibe is quite similar to iKON’s “What’s wrong?”
6. San E, Mad Clown – Sour Grapes
I’m a huge fan of San E’s music. Both of his albums: “Not based on a true story” and “A boy who cried wolf” set the bar for k-hiphop very high in my case. The duet with Mad Clown, exceptionally cute as for what San E usually does, goes together with a really detail-oriented music video, not only matching the lyrics very well, but also painting an absolutely aesthetically pleasing picture.
5. Kyung Park – Ordinary Love (feat. Park Boram)
I must sadly admit Kyung Park is not my favourite member of Block B, but despite this fact I like this solo song of his very much. The track tells a story of confusion between a boy and a girl. The music video is full of pastels, subtle special effects and I’ve always found it very nice to look at.
4. NCT U – The 7th Sense
When the time has come to describe this music video I got actually stressed. This music video puts my aesthetic emotions on fire each time. As for a debut song it is, I think it represents an amazingly high level of quality, as a track as well as a music video. Not only the impressive choreo, but especially the usage of plants, the lightning game, the colours they used, make the general impression that the video could be an independent artwork. Watching it, I basically feel like entering Tumblr. The artistic side of Tumblr.
3. Heize – And July (feat. Dean)
Before I start writing about the music video as well as the song itself, I must point out that Dean himself as a person is my aesthetic. No matter if it’s his solo, a duet with Heize or a trio with Zico and Crush, he is my constant ultimate aesthetic. Now, to the point. A man and a woman struggling with their feelings for each other, start showing the emotions off in a way opposite to what it actually is. In the music video we can notice a series of impolite gestures of the couple towards each other, at the same time making it clear it’s incompatible with what they’re feeling inside. I especially like the misleading scene, where Dean gifts a small box to Heize, in which instead of a ring she expects, she finds a chewed gum. Not only I love the story of a strong feeling told, but I also love the technical side of the MV – the usage of neons, the outfits and the scenography.
2. Giriboy – Back and Forth (30 minutes)
Here we are at the first of my two ultimate favourites. I could spend the entire day talking about how much I appreciate this one by Giriboy. Scene by scene, I see through alegories of a boy trying to get a lady, whom by what I have noticed, suceeds in misleading him this entire time. The trio of boys hunting the last piece of pizza, Giriboy sitting on top of a tower made of chairs that is being cut through by a bird, him waiting for a fruit to get in his mouth – each and every picture painted in this music video has a meaning, and I love it. Not only it’s done with a concept, it’s done beautifully, creatively. It’s a combination of seperate pictures that create a whole, and I absolutely love it.
1. Zico – I Am You, You Are Me
Sisterhood of souls is the subject of #1 on my favourite Korean music videos list. Wearing the same clothes, same contact lenses, getting injured at the same time – again, an artist used pictures to write a story of a deep, beautiful feeling. And he didn’t stop at that. The paintings used, f.ex: “Venus of Milo” representing the birth of a gods-created woman, the goddess of beauty. The drawing of a perfect human body simmetry by Da Vinci, representing the perfect sync, a perfect match, a platonic idea. A playing card – the same character turned upside down, showing that no matter how you look at it, it’s still the same. I must admit I am not certain if I’d be able to express with words, what was done with this song and music video. I’m aesthetically and philosophically pleased every time I’m watching it.
Didn’t make it to the list, but are amazing enough to be considered: