By Bethany Joy Y. Geronimo
You can’t miss them – they’re everywhere. You turn on the television, and there they are. You tune in to your favorite radio station, and there they are. You eat with them at the school cafeteria, bump into them in your office, and sit beside them in the jeepney.
Koreans are everywhere.
And then there is their music. Korean music, more popularly known as KPop (short for Korean Pop) has already invaded the Philippine music scene. As if seeing them in Korean drama series—be it in our televisions or the pirated DVDs sold in tiangges—is not enough, we find ourselves getting LSS (Last Song Syndrome) over these tunes, lyrics of which we do not understand.
We now look into six popular KPop groups, their hit songs, and why Filipinos adore them.
The Boy Groups: SHINee, FT Island, Super Junior
SHINee is a five-member boy group composed of Onew, Jong Hyun, Min Ho, Tae Min and Key. The group came to the Philippines last November 27, 2009 for the Korean-Philippine Friendship Festival held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. During the concert, they sang one of their hit songs “Ring Ding Dong” and caused the crowd to go wild. Filipinos love SHINee because they were the first KPop group to visit the Philippines. They made fans believe that seeing their well-loved idols without having to go to Korea is possible.
This next group came to the Philippines to perform on ABS-CBN’s noon-time show Showtime. They also held a concert at the PICC Plenary Hall last March 6, 2010. Playing the song “Still (As Ever)” from the very popular Korean drama series “You’re Beautiful”, FT Island wowed the crowd. The band is composed of Oh Won Bin (guitar/rap/vocals), Lee Hong Ki (lead vocalist), Choi Min Hwan (drum), Lee Jae Jin (bass guitar) and Choi Jong Hun (guitar). Filipinos love FT Island not only because they are the third KPop group to visit the Philippines, but also because their song will be featured in the said Korean drama series, soon to air in ABS-CBN.
But of course, who does not know of the dance song “Sorry Sorry”? Super Junior is a very memorable KPop group not only because of their music, but also because of their number. They are a 13-member group, composed of Kang In, Kyu Hyun, Hee Chul, Sung Min, Ye Sung, Si Won, Ki Bum, Han Kyung, Eun Hyuk, Dong Hae, Lee Teuk, Ryeo Wook, and Shin Dong. They are also unique because of their subgroups Super Junior U and Super Junior M. Fans are already hyped with their upcoming One-Night-Only concert at the Araneta Coliseum on April 10. Their concert is part of their first Asian tour. Filipinos love them, because, well, they’re Super Junior. They dance, they sing, and they’re good-looking. How can you not love them?
The Girl Groups: 2NE1, Wonder Girls, 4Minute
2NE1 is a four-member girl group composed of CL, Minzy, Bom, and the Philippines’ very own Dara. Debuting last year, informally with the song “Lollipop” (featuring another popular KPop group Big Bang) and formally with the song “Fire”, this girl group took not only Korea, but also the rest of the world by storm. Filipinos love 2NE1 because of Sandara Park, of course. Sandara was a popular actress here in the Philippines before she decided to go back to Korea and pursue a music career.
You’ve probably heard this next group’s song. Wonder Girls—featuring Yee Eun, Sun Ye, So Hee, Sun Mi and Yoo Bin—astounded their fans with their certified hit song “Nobody”, even recording an English version of the song. Filipinos love them because they have brought life to boring Christmas parties, as children danced to the tune of “Nobody” while the adults laughed their hearts out.
You might not have heard of them as much as you’ve heard about the first two girl groups, but believe it or not, their visit here in the Philippines attracted a lot of “fans”. 4Minute is a five-member group with Ga Yoon, Ji Hyun, Ji Yoon, Hyun A, and So Hyun. One of their hit songs is the very catchy beat “Hot Issue”. The girl group came here to the Philippines last February 4, 2010. They performed in different SM malls, offering free music to their fans. Filipinos love 4Minute because they are the second KPop group who visited the Philippines, the first being SHINee.
The “Hot Issue”
This kind of music is not new to us. We have long been dominated by music which lyrics we do not understand, even back in the Meteor Garden days. What used to be “jologs” music to the elite is now something “in”, a trend both the elite and the “jologs” now enjoy.
Why is it that we can’t seem to get enough of these upbeat, catchy tunes? Why do we find ourselves singing these songs in the shower? Is this “obsession” over KPop still normal?
Nico Canoy, a Psychology professor at the Ateneo de Manila University said that it is definitely normal. He said that it is not the entire Filipino population who appreciates Korean music. He thinks that this kind of music caters to adolescents who are usually high school students.
“Regardless of nationality, whether they [the youth] understand it or not, it is actually the beat which hooks them, like any other song. Also, most of these songs are in the form of a dance. It is something extra that you feel beyond the lyrics,” Canoy said.
More of the KPop craze
We have yet to see more of these KPop groups. There is no telling when the craze will die down. In fact, the craze has only officially started. As long as there are Filipinos who will adore the singers and their music, we will hear them more and more in our local radio stations.
This, of course, is an opportunity to learn more about another country’s culture. If we appreciate anything Western, then there’s no point in questioning why we should appreciate the culture of countries closest to home. Still, the challenge is to go beyond the craze. There should be more effort in our part to understand what we can’t, especially if we have time to further understand what we already can. There is no contentment in solely dancing to these beats and singing along with these great singers. Would we not appreciate this music better if we understand it?
We are looking forward to one day singing along to these songs and actually knowing what they mean. This way, we can relate more, and the once unfamiliar language will not be as uncertain anymore.