If you’ve spent time with me outside of class, you’ve probably been gently forced to listen to Korean music. At this point, honestly, that might be the case even if you haven’t spent time with me outside of class.
I very strongly feel that I can get anyone, regardless of their music taste, to nod their head along to a Korean song. Maybe that’s just my ego talking.
But Korean music goes much further than just K-pop. K-pop is the most well-known, but Korean music of every genre exists.
All Korean music is, weirdly, labeled as K-pop on Apple Music despite the genre, but that’s a rant for another day.
Back to the point.
I’d like to think I’m pretty good at choosing the right Korean song to show someone based off of their preferred music genres, so here’s a little guide to getting into Korean music beyond K-pop.
If your favorite genre is R&B…
OFFONOFF is a duo that consists of artist Colde (whose solo music is definitely worth seeking out) and producer 0channel. They only released one album together, but I think their song “辭,” or “Dance” is a good gateway into other Korean R&B.
Another popular choice (and with good reason) is Dean, specifically his song titled “D (Half Moon)” feat. Gaeko. He’s only released one EP, but he’s come out with a long list of singles, including some really solid collaborations, like a single with Anderson .Paak.
Next up is “嬴硫還‘” (“Take Care”) by GEORGE and SUMIN. I only found this song recently, and I don’t know much about either artist, but it was immediately added to a couple of my playlists. SUMIN came onto the scene in 2015 and has a pretty extensive discography that I’ll be looking into after I finish writing this.
If you prefer rock…
I have to admit, I’m not as well-versed in this genre, and I heard this song in a K-drama. But Crying Nut’s “嫘檜 桶歷啻” (“Oh! What a Shiny Night”) quickly became one of my most-played songs of the year. Crying Nut are known as the “godfathers” of the Korean punk scene. I have yet to figure out what their name means, but this song is worth the listen.
Buzz is another good choice. Again, I don’t know as much about the band because I actually found this song, “釭縑‘” (“Trip for Myself”), because BTS was singing along to it in a video. Fun fact: one of the members of Buzz is now a prominent TV personality in Korea.
The Black Skirts is one of my favorite Korean artists, I think. Most of his music has this slow, sad feel to it, but he does it so well. Listening to his song “Island (Queen of Diamonds)” starts in that way, but you’ll definitely be a little surprised if you stick around until about three minutes into this song. Without a doubt one of my favorites.
If you love rap…
Of course, I had to use part of this blog to promote my number ones, so here’s a song from Agust D, or SUGA of BTS. “渠鏃顫” (“Daechwita,” which roughly translates as a genre of traditional Korean military music frequently played to announce royalty) is off of his most recent solo mixtape and is guaranteed to make you want to start headbanging. Whether you speak Korean or not.
You know I had to include a female rapper in this, too, so next up is Jessi. I’m entirely convinced that her song “Cold Blooded” would be all over the radio and the party playlists if it was released by a Western artist.
And just one last one, because I wanted to include one of my favorite songs. Next is Epik High, a hip hop trio that’s been around since 2003. “Rain Again Tomorrow” is a chill, relaxing kind of song, a different pace than the first two options.
That’s all I’ve got for right now, but I really hope you take some time to check these songs out. The Korean music industry is vast, and there are so many good artists you’re missing out on if you only listen to music in English.
Hopefully I’ve done my part and recommended the right songs.