BY Katie Vicary

KPOP has definitely made its mark on Western media throughout recent years. 

Groups like BTS and BLACKPINK have become much more well-known, leading to much more interest in KPOP within mainstream media. I’m going to be sharing my experiences and tips for people who are wanting to get into KPOP or people who just want to read about it.

I was first exposed to KPOP in 2014. I was in late Year 7 and one of my friends had just gotten into KPOP. Her favourite group was EXO. She showed me a few music videos and I slowly but surely got into the craze. We soon bonded over misheard Korean lyrics, choosing favourite members, trying to recreate dance moves and poorly singing in Korean. Something that definitely stuck out to me at first was the fact that these were Asians in entertainment who had such confidence and star quality. For context, I’m half-Asian. I grew up away from Sydney, with about two or three Asian families maximum in the area, so I was rarely exposed to Asian media or Asians in the media. For me, this was a really cool discovery.

I found that the music was very well produced and there was a high budget for productions. There was a very distinct style and aesthetic behind every different artist and song, and there was a big drive behind artist/audience interactions. These are all attributes that aren’t always seen in Western music. I’m not saying either is better or worse than the other, but it’s interesting seeing the differences between the two. KPOP has such a focus on fan engagement with fan signs, meetings, hi-touches, online engagements, vlives (similar to Instagram lives). Even their albums are filled with photobooks and cards. The first group I really got into was BTS, who are currently taking over with a global audience. I loved (and still do) their two albums ‘The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt.1 and Pt.2’.

I think a common misconception surrounding KPOP is that if you like KPOP you like all KPOP. This is not true. Like any genre of music, there are people who seem to love everything on the charts but for most people they have their style of music they listen to. For example, my older brother and I both listen to Korean music but we rarely actually converge on artists and songs that we both really like. With this in mind, I treat KPOP like I do every other genre of music. There’s stuff I like and stuff I don’t.

If you’re trying to get into KPOP or explore what KPOP has to offer, that’s where I’d suggest you start. Look at what music you already like and find KPOP songs which fit or are similar to this. After this you’ll find yourself branching out. You’ll find more songs you like and other artists you like. Slowly you’ll fall deeper into the rabbit hole and explore the whole other side of fan/artist culture, which is wildly different to Western artists. When I first starting listening to KPOP, I listened to and knew three artists: BTS, EXO and Seventeen. I slowly branched out, found new artists and new songs, and understood more about the genre.

Here are some of my suggestions for people who like:

The Top 100

  • ‘Boy with Luv’ by BTS (BTS are probably a very good place to start for newbies)
  • ‘Snapping’ by Chung Ha
  • ‘Ddu-du Ddu-du’ by BLACKPINK

Light, upbeat pop songs 

(Think kind of cutesy, bubble-gum pop)

  • ‘Dance the Night Away’ by Twice
  • ‘Hide and Seek’ by Astro
  • ‘Cat and Dog’ by TXT

Hard hitting pop songs

  • ‘Bang Bang Bang’ by Big Bang
  • ‘Bomb Bomb’ by KARD
  • ‘Dionysus’ by BTS
  • ‘Miroh’ by Stray Kids

Ballad style songs

  • ‘Hopeless Love’ by Park Jimin
  • ‘The Truth Untold’ by BTS
  • ‘Miracle’ by GOT7

Low-fi, chill songs

  • ‘I am you, you are me’ by Zico
  • ‘Focus on Me’ by Jus2
  • ‘Long Black’ by Jus2 (their whole album is very chill)

Now as I’ve already stated, I don’t listen to nearly everything in KPOP, so I’m not familiar with every subcategory I created. These are just some songs I know and my ideas for places you could start!

Some of my personal favourite songs

(I’ve tried to choose a span of different songs)

  • ‘Side Effects’ and ‘My Pace’ by Stray Kids
  • ‘HALA HALA’ and ‘Aurora’ by Ateez
  • ‘No One’ by Lee Hi
  • ‘Tomorrow’ by BTS
  • 'One Degree’ by GOT7
  • ‘Twit’ by Hwasa
  • ‘The 7th Sense’ by NCT-U
  • ‘Solo’ by Jennie
  • ‘Kick It’ by Blackpink

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas and starting points if you’re trying to get into KPOP!

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