Curated Playlist: 5 Best K-Pop Songs That Used Sampling

Edited by Yoon
Translated by Hana Lee

BLACKPINK made their long-awaited comeback with their second full-length album, and their title track “Shut Down” is enjoying immense popularity upon its release. Sampling Paganini’s “La Campanella,” the song successfully creates a dark and mystical atmosphere that captures the unique charm of the girl group.

Often used in popular songs, sampling in music involves taking a section of audio from an existing song and then reworking it to create a new track. Samples may be classical music, arias, classic folk songs and just any other existing music. Such reuse of a sound recording makes a track more interesting and unique, and it allows it to appeal to much wider listeners.

Here we rounded up the five best K-pop songs that cleverly used sample songs. Take a look!

Shinhwa – T.O.P. (Twinkling Of Paradise)’ (1999)

The title track of Shinhwa’s second studio album, “T.O.P,” is the first K-pop song that used a sample song. Unlike the first studio album, which did not live up to its hype, the title song made the group and their distinct musical color known to the public. They used the famous Tchaikovsky piece from the Swan Lake and inserted it in the intro, interlude and smooth in the chorus to make the song sound even and compelling. Despite proactively using the famous sample, the track has the distinct feel of Yoo Young Jin’s music, and the rapidly changing notes and melody in the bridge are often seen in many of latest K-pop songs, such as aespa’s “Next Level.”

GFRIEND – Summer Rain (2017)

Sampling Schumann’s “Dichterliebe, Op.48-1” in the intro and interlude, “SUMMER RAIN” overflows with GFRIEND’s very own emotions. The wistfulness and poignancy of the song reminded many fans of their early song “Rough” and connected deeply with their following releases — “Time for the moon night” and “Sunrise.” While bearing a melodic similarity to “LOVE WHISPER,” The song created a different vibe with clever sample use. As opposed to their previously released summer-themed songs, “SUMMER RAIN” became the perfect autumn song that makes us nostalgic about the long-gone summer season. The serene dance moves that go perfectly well with the track’s overall vibe are also something to look out for as they temporarily broke away from their ‘powerful yet feminine’ style of choreography.


Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” is an internationally known classical piece and is probably the most sampled record of all time. Countless K-pop songs, including Yangpa’s “Love.. What is it”, HELLOVENUS’s “Would you stay for tea?” and AKMU’s “LAST GOODBYE,” have sampled the piece, and among them, AKMU’s “LAST GOODBYE” became the most popular track. “LAST GOODBYE,” the title track of their second studio album, shares a glimpse of AKMU growing and maturing into adults as they transition into the next chapter of their life. One of the most astonishing key takeaways of the song is Lee Chan Hyuk’s brilliant producing skills. “Canon” is often called the “money code” in the industry as it has been used repeatedly in many different tunes. As the piece has a highly familiar melody, it can easily make a song sound boring and bland when included as a sample. However, the producer successfully recycled the melody and created a new and different song by pairing the classical piece with different yet heartwarming lyrics.

Red Velvet – Feel My Rhythm (2022)

The title track “Feel My Rhythm” included in Red Velvet’s fifth EP The ReVe Festival 2022 sampled Bach’s “Air on the G String.” The overall vibe of the sample made the song perfect for a clear spring day that opens up their new mini album. How it was sampled on the track is similar to what Shinhwa did in “T.O.P.” The subtle discord created throughout is what distinguishes it from other songs that use samples. Although it proactively uses the classical piece, the melody does not perfectly blend in with the vocal, and that’s where the magic happens as the discordance creates a unique vibe on each tune. In a way, the track can be described as much more of an experimental piece than their typical music.

IVE – After LIKE (2022)

“After LIKE” is the latest K-pop song that used a sample and is the title track of IVE’s third single album. Unlike other songs on the list, the track inserts a pop song as its sample instead of classical music: the song both uses Gloria Gaynor’s hit “I Will Survive” and Robbie Williams’ “Supreme.” As the two samples are worldwide hits, their new song became the center of attention even before its release. “After LIKE” shares the same theme of “narcissism” as “LOVE DIVE” and creates colorful rhythms and melodies of disco as the song progresses into its chorus. This is a cleverly interpolated song that enhances the artists’ image while following the disco trend that started a few years ago.


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.

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