My Newfound Appreciation for Foreign Pop, Explained


Photo courtesy of Billboard

A scene from the music video for K-pop group Seventeen’s Don’t Wanna Cry

Anuj Khemka, Staff Writer

My venture into Korean Pop only began a few weeks ago. Procrastinating on a homework assignment due the next day, I scrolled through the depths of Youtube when the music video for BTS’s DNA popped up in my feed. Five minutes later, years of an inherently negative perception towards the music genre had disappeared, and I was entranced. The fast paced EDM, outlandish music videos, and stunning dance choreography pulled me in. However, it wasn’t as if Western Pop music lacked these things — rather, my inability to understand the lyrics allowed me to appreciate the other elements that made up the song.

Without meaning to assign to the words of a song, the other aspects such as the tempo and beat jump out at me. I’ve always appreciated a catchy beat more than anything else. As a result, I enjoyed listening to the Chainsmokers on repeat until I finally got tired of the same thing, even as critics derided the group’s songs for its generic nature and shallow meaning. Similarly, I was just never able to bring myself to like rap music regardless of how hard I forced myself too. Nonetheless, although I enjoyed pop songs with catchy beats, the generic, often poorly written lyrics presented a distraction from the elements of the piece that made me appreciate it. Therefore, with my introduction to K-pop, I found the perfect combination of emotion, style, and catchiness in a song without the meaning of the lyrics to serve as a detriment to my view of the song.

The elements that make K-Pop great are not just exclusive to just that genre. A week ago, I began listening to a playlist of classics in Latin Pop and found the songs just as enjoyable as those from BTS and other K-Pop groups, and as I begin discovering this newfound appreciation for foreign pop, I know I’m not the only one. K-Pop songs continue to land near the top of the Billboard charts, with two BTS albums topping the Billboard 200 in one year. Additionally, the record-breaking run of Despacito is an indication that many people enjoy foreign music, not just in spite of the lack of understandable lyrics but because of the lack of the understandable lyrics. So, as you grind homework this weekend or maybe just relax after a long semester, I encourage you to try listening to some of the songs on my favorite Spanish and Korean pop songs playlist below to focus or loosen up.