Edited by Yoon
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
K-pop, especially K-pop groups’ music, can’t be evaluated just with the processed digital songs. That’s because the music video, the concept and its accompanying outfits, hair, makeup, and the choreography, come together to form a single performance. Here are five of the must-watch best performances in K-pop.
SHINee – Sherlock (Clue + Note) (2012)
This song changed the standard for K-pop performance. From the beginning, the song focused on “watching” more than “listening,” so there were more mentions of the group’s performance than how the song did on the music charts. Especially, the five members’ afterimage and “pausing” choreography made headlines for its uniqueness.
The song not only showed the advancement of K-pop performance, but it also showed the strength and passion of SHINee. In the chorus, they pull off the choreography of jumping forward, and in the outro, they dance the choreography that involves big movements that consume much energy. Plus, seeing that singing the song live, the group positively appealed to many K-pop fans.
BTS – IDOL (2018)
This song proves why BTS is at the forefront of K-pop culture. “IDOL” was their “answer (結)” to the storytelling of “Love Yourself.” The song sings their aspiration of “I don’t care whether you call me an idol or an artist” since the many egos are all a part of me.
The music video and the performance give one identity to the song. European architecture and Korean hanok show up one after another. Member’s outfits include modern hanbok, and Bukcheong Sajanori appears as choreography. It’s a perfect example of perfectly unifying audio and video. The crazy dance moves that pour out in the chorus well express the “exhilaration” that the song aims for.
The outfits are also very colorful in line with the theme of “So what if I’m an idol?”. Although they openly showcase the “colorfulness of the clothes” that comes to mind when we think of “K-pop idols,” the fashion is not rustic or excessive. Instead, it excellently embraces the song. The same goes for the members’ diverse hair colors.
BTS is now at the center of the world with their music and performance, but they were never swayed by the public or the media when it comes to their songs. The release of IDOL and LOVE YOURSELF 結 ‘Answer’ are the biggest achievements made in the K-pop scene.
GIRLS’ GENERATION – I GOT A BOY (2013)
It’s a song that Girls’ Generation, who had nothing more to achieve in Korea, dared to challenge without being complacent. Immediately after the release, mixed reactions poured out in Korea about the song’s ambiguousness. And that criticism also had its point since the 9 members sing about their own stories as 9 separate narrators. They push ahead, insisting that their chatter won’t stop no matter what happens to the song. Mixing arpeggio with dubstep, they even adjust the bpm as they please.
The choreography is also quite unique. Not only do the members move quite rapidly on stage, but they also show their backs to the cameras for the performance. The headbanging or scenes where the members look at each other and laugh remind us of musicals. Accessories and clothes with inconsistent colors are complicated and excessive, but they bring out the song’s mood very well. Plus, giving up on high heels, which was essential for a girl group, and putting on sneakers to pull off busy and fast choreography was a great strategy.
The song won the top spot on the monthly charts and won numerous trophies from music shows. And yes, Girls’ Generation’s popularity must have played a big role in it, but many had applauded the way the group pioneered a new kind of performance for sure.
SEVENTEEN – HOME;RUN (2020)
In the K-pop scene, SEVENTEEN is a group with members who have equally solid dance skills and shine the brightest when they’re together. The biggest advantage of SEVENTEEN’s performance is that it always satisfies viewers’ eyes. And “HOME;RUN” is the best example. When one member is rapping or singing, the rest act as dancers on the side or back. Sometimes, they divide the stage in half and dance two different choreographies. You need to see all 13 members’ fan cam or the groups’ full camera to fully understand the choreography’s details.
SEVENTEEN also pays attention to the details, such as adequately using isolation to suit the use of instruments and considering the melody and song’s length when making the choreography. And, of course, it’s the 13 members that make the charm come alive.
BLACKPINK – How You Like That (2020)
“How You Like That” is a song that raised the bar for girl group choreography that made hits with catchy point choreography and easy-to-follow movements. Even the smallest snare or kick sound became a part of the choreography, and the movements flow smoothly without any breaks (especially in the chorus). The rhythm is not raised above a certain level until the second verse, but the song shows a grand finale after the bridge. Particularly, the choreography in which the members walk forward with their hands pressed up against each other overwhelms those who see it. Overall, the aura of BLACKPINK and the number of dancers were well used. It was also an interesting challenge to actively utilize EDM throughout the song while reforming hanboks for the members’ outfits.
Editor Yoon: I love music, especially K-POP, and I dream of becoming an A&R person, lyricist, artist, etc. I will cover various articles, including song reviews, artist reviews, and K-pop market analysis.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.