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Which song to discover K-Pop?

BTS, Epik High, G-Dragon…: find here some tracks to discover this energetic and colorful musical style which has met with growing popular success for ten years – and this while it is almost absent from the radios and sung in a a language that remains relatively little practiced in France…

In this screenshot posted March 14, BTS’s RM, V, Jungkook, Jimin, J-Hope, Suga and Jin perform onstage at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards (aired March 14, 2021) ©Getty/ Theo Wargo / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

What is K-Pop? Well… Even if you think you don’t know anything about it, you probably already know a little, actually! There’s a song you’ve probably heard, which was the most viewed video on Youtube for a long time: “Gangnam Style” by Psy (and which was also broadcast on our antenna at the time of its release). “Psy is an extremely respected figure” specifies the journalist Marie Palot, “where we thought it was more a parody of music, somethinga little “what the f*ck“(and that’s what had terribly pleased at the time)”.

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But beyond this title, when you are not particularly familiar with South Korean groups, which K-Pop songs to listen to? Here are some tips given on the air in “Blockbusters” by Frédérick Sigrist with Matthieu Pinon, journalist specializing in Japanese pop culture, Christelle Pécout, comic book designer, Pascal Lafine, editor-in-chief of K-World magazine and Marie Palot, presenter of the magazine Zine Zine on FranceTV.

Some K-POP songs to discover

Christelle Pécout recommends G-Dragon’s “Coup”.

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Marie Palot advises Epik High“a hyper emblematic group that is part of the K-HipHop and which released monstrous nuggets. One of the rappers of the Epik High formation is called MYK, he released his own group, a little folk / pop rock, saltnpaperthat’s wonderful.

For Matthieu Pinon, musical discoveries are made thanks to dramas (Korean TV series). A song he loves? Seventeen’s “Go”discovered in the Korean series “Record of Youth”.

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The journalist also recommends “an electro track that makes you want to dance” from Steve Aoki and Monsta X and Wanna One’s “Energetic” (“really good too”).

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As for Pascal Lafine, editor-in-chief of K-World magazine, he admits: “Me, I discover a lot of K-pop thanks to the girls I work with. “BTS” because for them, it’s “mainstream”, “everyone knows”, “it has no interest”…

Matthieu Pinon, on the contrary: “Precisely, I would advise “Map of the Soul: Seven”, which is BTS’ latest album and which is, in my opinion, the best gateway for a Western audience who has never heard of K-Pop and who wants to know what it is. Because we are on something that is still very, very accessible for a Frenchman who has been fed up with American hip-hop… If not the most representative, it’s a very good introduction”

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And, in the same vein, a final suggestion, by Frédérick Sigrist: “Mic Drop” by Steve Aoki

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Behind the success of K-Pop

How to explain the popularity of a genre that is absent from radio in a language that remains relatively unused, particularly in France? “It’s really thanks to YouTube that all this has exploded” believes Marie Palot: “just before BTS and not to mention Psy, the advent took place around 2012, 2015. We know that Youtube is the media for young people… It’s really from that moment that the K-Pop exploded and went completely without radio broadcasting.”

Matthieu Pinon adds: “I think we’ve really moved into a new generation in terms of musical consumption and production. In the 1970s / 1980s, we were looking above all for “guitar hero” musical performances, especially rock’n’roll. We really wanted cutting-edge musicians. Today, what we are looking for are producers. And there, in Korea, there is no comparison: those who are behind the consoles, it’s the icing on the cake itself on the pompom… We are on top of the top and it shows.

That’s also why any piece of K-Pop that arrives has been perfectly programmed, calibrated… We can’t fight against it.

Go further

🎧 Listen to Blockbusters – Supreme K-pop

“Slave contracts”, dictatorship of performance… The less than stellar backstage of K-pop

🎧 2012 report on K-Pop schools flourishing in Seoul

🎧 Without forgetting Pop&co on K-Pop, an hour of broadcast by Rebecca Manzoni to better understand this musical and social phenomenon

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