In with the Korean Wave spreading across Asia (and slowly but surely trickling into the United States) rushes a specific dance style and form that is KPOP, or Korean Pop for all you unfamiliar with the term. It’s even found its way into Stony Brook University, which has a large international Korean and Korean-American population. It usually consists of synchronized, group movement that resembles a mix between hip-hop and the classic pop dancing of the boy-band era of in 90’s.
Unlike the United States’ music industry, Korea has clung to their boy bands and are not letting go anytime soon. These bands range in size from about four to thirteen members, all of whom must be top-notch dancers and presumably decent singers (but that is nothing a little auto-tuning cannot fix) in order to make the cut.
The fact that I don’t speak Korean means that I don’t understand many of the words of my favorite songs. Instead, I will latch onto the often-strange dance moves and gestures repeated throughout live performances and music videos. Turns out the population that does this is not exclusively non-Korean speakers. Geunhwa Lee, my beloved roommate and international student from Korea admits that she does not “listen to the lyrics” but can perform a three-minute dance routine from some of her favorite music videos.
One of the more ridiculous dances popular among fans is “Ring Ding Dong” by the band SHINee (video seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roughtzsCDI) . I am by no means suggesting that is musical genius, but I honestly believe the dancing deserves recognition. The dancing does not appear to involve much technique per say, but it takes a fair amount of coordination and musicality. Their rhythm and timing is impeccable.
Another clear indicator to me that KPOP may be more about the dancing is the huge number of singers. These groups are commercially owned and trained, usually by one of three major entertainment businesses, YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment or JYP Entertainment, and consist of an extreme number of members. Girls Generation is a girl group with 9 members in it and Super Junior (seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6QA3m58DQw) has 13 men in it. For a band that doesn’t even play instruments, I see this as a bit excessive. But with these huge numbers, they’re able to create impressive dance spectacles. KPOP is all about the visual experience––trust me.