girl group mania
September 18, 2009 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Korean girl groups dominated the Korean music charts this summer - Brown Eyed Girls cast a spell with Abracadabra, Girls' Generation is your Genie, 2NE1 is on Fire, 4Minute turn up the Muzik, T-ara Lies.

While Brown Eyed Girls raked in the cash, Girls' Generation captured male hearts, both civilian (watch out for the audience response during the interview segment staring at 3:45) and uniformed (a performance broadcast on KFN, the broadcast network for the Korean armed forces).

Brown Eyed Girls parodied by the Dirty Eyed Girls, composed of members of boy bands 2AM and 2PM. 2PM members join SHINee members and MC Mong for their version of Genie.
posted by needled (31 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I can't remember where we first learned about Gee, but it was a staple in playlists at our household for a couple of months.

Do K-pop groups follow the J-pop (Morning Musume) model and cycle their members out as they grow older?
posted by subbes at 9:02 PM on September 18, 2009

posted by geekyguy at 9:14 PM on September 18, 2009

subbes : "I can't remember where we first learned about Gee , but it was a staple in playlists at our household for a couple of months."

I'm pretty sure we learned about it from fourfour.

I like it.
posted by shammack at 9:17 PM on September 18, 2009

Do K-pop groups follow the J-pop (Morning Musume) model and cycle their members out as they grow older?

Nope, the groups just disband. Speaking of Morning Musume, here's Korean girl group After School covering Morning Musume's Dream Girl.
posted by needled at 9:39 PM on September 18, 2009

Awesome a needled Korean post!
posted by gomichild at 10:11 PM on September 18, 2009

Wow - I watched a couple of 2NE1's videos, and they're rather blatantly ripping off the Black Eyed Peas recent chart toppers.. Ah, that seems to be 4Minute's angle as well.
posted by unmake at 10:18 PM on September 18, 2009

Not a girl group but my favorite Korean song ever
posted by Iron Rat at 10:25 PM on September 18, 2009

My non-scientific study of Korean schoolchildren that I happen to teach proves that Genie is the best group evar.

I'm struck by how darn big many K-pop outfits are. Superjunior has 13 freakin' members.

That really must water down the incomes of the members. Then again, they're pretty much treated like crap anyways.
posted by bardic at 10:41 PM on September 18, 2009

And now my fave, Iron Rat
posted by Mojojojo at 10:45 PM on September 18, 2009

A clip from a much older Kpop girl group
posted by Iron Rat at 10:45 PM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Pussycat Dolls have metastasized.
posted by benzenedream at 10:52 PM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

And here they are all mixed together. (found via 'related videos')
posted by delmoi at 12:11 AM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a bit torn - on the one hand, most of these groups seem to be going for the whole "sexy cute" look, so that seems to be intentional; on the other hand I can't help but feel like I'm like Al Bundy in that episode where he watched the Rap Channel with the sound turned off.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:36 AM on September 19, 2009

Delmoi: wow, everything by that youtube user is excellent.
posted by mek at 3:00 AM on September 19, 2009

Awesome a needled Korean post!

Acupuncture is down the hall.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:39 AM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Does no one in Korea listen to anything other than corporate-produced, assembled-by-committee, eye-and-ear-candy music? What are the underground music scenes like there? Because this flawless, small-pored face is the only one I ever see, and it freaks me out.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:11 AM on September 19, 2009

Check out some p'ansori, 1adam12.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:04 AM on September 19, 2009

1adam12: The greater Asia is very much into modern culture. There's no reason yet to be jaded of the establishment, the state is responsible for removing poverty and corporations are bringing about a massive middle class. There's a deep misunderstanding of western indie culture, many just seeing it as merely fashionable. Why should anyone in Korea be suspicious of corporations and desire authenticity when corporations haven't done anything to warrant that mistrust*? Hell even in the U.S., a mass complete rejection of pop music only started arguably in the 80s with punk (when "selling out" has been a defining concern of that subculture), and that ethic has only been completely realizable with the internet & ipod. Outside of a small part of Japan, if there's any rejection of pop culture it feels more like Ginsberg's America, than some kid's MP3 blog (i.e. you only get commentary on a reaction to the establishment, not creation entirely independent of it).

Because of these cultural factors, you have permission to like corporate pop. Enjoy.

* Labor disputes notwithstanding, their grievances are relatively minor when compared to Korea in the 80s
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:39 AM on September 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

The old standby of covering 80 classics is popular with Korean girl groups.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:17 AM on September 19, 2009

amuseDetachment, punk broke in the mid to late seventies, and was pretty much over by the early eighties (hardcore notwithstanding).
posted by Dysk at 7:41 AM on September 19, 2009

But p'ansori isn't exactly underground music, as it's a traditional genre.

Personally, I've found it rather difficult to find links to the more rock or indie end of the spectrum of music that can be viewed / played through a non-Korean internet connection and not using Windows AND Internet Explorer.

If you have a fast internet connection: go to and do a search for indie to go: Zitten, indie breakouts Jang Kiha and Faces, poppy Peppertones, hot newcomers Mate. Or, try searching on "쌈지 숨은고수" which should turn up audition videos of various unsigned acts trying out for a spot in the Ssamji Sound Festival (I kinda liked The Filmstar).

If you have a fast internet connection, plus Windows and IE, head over to Naver Music and check out the Hello Rookie series, co-sponsored by Naver and government educational broadcaster EBS.

As amuseDetachment hints, there isn't as yet an indie scene in the way it's understood in the U.S. The lines are quite blurry, as indicated in this article. (The MTV Iggy series K-Pop Uncovered overall gives an interesting glimpse of k-pop, as well as links to various k-pop music videos)
posted by needled at 7:44 AM on September 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Brother Dysk: Yeah, I worded the sentence confusingly. In my mind, punk is much more defined by the rejection of "selling out", which occurred in the 80s; that a violent reaction to selling out ("punk is dead") is as much of a component the punk movement as D-I-Y/anti-professionalism. I see the meme "punk is dead" as still part of the punk movement, but that's debatable.

Anyway, when viewing Cantonese/Taiwanese/Korean pop music, it's best to understand it within the context of "HA HA, FUCK YOU POVERTY, WE'VE MADE IT AND WE'RE GONNA PARTAY NOW", which is different than when we all downloaded indie music onto our ipods in the beginning of this decade thinking "FUCK YOU, MUSIC INDUSTRY". It's an entirely different mindset.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2009

amuseDetachment, a lot of protopunk stuff was at least as great a rejection of the mainstream or 'selling out' as hardcore generally managed. Stiff Records, for example. But yeah, your clarified position makes a whole lot of sense (though I might've used the label post-punk for what you're describing, but tom-eh-toe tom-ah-toe).

Also, you mention Cantopop. While it's true that there's a lot of it, and a fair bit of it is the obnoxiousness you describe, Hong Kong has a pretty damn big underground scene, with a few acts that even made it big, most notably the Lazy Mutha Fuckas (who were almost Hong Kong's version of Rage Against The Machine, in a sense).
posted by Dysk at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2009

Very popular Korean hip hop crew Epik High left their music company and started up their own independent label, so there's that. They're very poppy by Western standards but they can get harder. My favorite track of theirs is Flow.
posted by Kattullus at 8:52 AM on September 19, 2009

The is a big youth crew hardcore scene in Korea centered around The Geeks who also run Townhall records There are shows pretty much every weekend in Seoul.
posted by kinakomochi at 10:36 AM on September 19, 2009

Okay, seriously - Does the "Abracadabra" video start out with someone using a nit-comb on a hairy ass?

posted by pla at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2009

girls generation made me feel pervy and in love with korean girls all at the same time.

Thanks,ineeded something esle to loathe myself over.
posted by djduckie at 10:55 AM on September 19, 2009

It's kinda depressing that the music sounds like all the generic electro-house coming out of New York and Miami. Not that I don't love electro-house, but I love dance music that has some kind of regional flavor, like Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Germany, etc.. they all sound different. This just sounds like they cut & pasted from other songs.
posted by empath at 2:16 PM on September 19, 2009

Goddamn; "Genie" is fucking infectious.

In theory, this stuff represents everything I'm against. In practice, I can't stop watching it.
posted by ixohoxi at 8:26 PM on September 19, 2009

If you want to hear something something different that's still more or less mainstream Korean music (although pansori is pretty cool), try Ibadi (Chococat or Neverending Story--I like "Kkokonori" more but it's not on Youtube). Ibadi's lead singer is the same as the female vocalist for Clazziquai; I'd link to a representative video on Youtube but there really aren't any because they're kind of all over the place (from Nova Bossa to Flea).

But it's hard to deny the power of the girl groups.
posted by wintersweet at 12:24 AM on September 20, 2009

In this live 2NE1 performance, I find the reaction of the female audience an interesting contrast to the male audience reaction to Girls' Generation. Girls' Generation song lyrics tend to be about being a cute girl, or in the case of "Genie" being the ultimate fantasy girl friend. 2NE1's lyrics put down faithless men and feckless lovers, and as far as girl group lyrics go there's more of a tone of female empowerment.

(And for those tired of girl groups, here's Winterplay performing "Billie Jean" and their own "Gypsy Girl".)
posted by needled at 2:44 PM on September 20, 2009

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