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Weekend Recs: K-Pop

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week.

Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Happy Easter Break, Wildcats! No longer relegated as a “fringe” interest, K-pop, or Korean pop music, has become a thriving mainstream musical genre with millions of U.S. listeners (and rightfully so). Built off the growth of 1990s and 2000s K-pop artists, groups like BTS, Blackpink, and Red Velvet (to name a short few) have demonstrated the thriving potential of K-pop, and newer groups, such as Gen Z favorites Stray Kids and NewJeans, have continued to prove their worth.

Truly a genre to be watched (rather than simply listened to), K-pop boasts masterful choreography, aesthetically-pleasing music videos, catchy hooks, and illustrious idols. Thus, unsurprisingly, you cannot understand K-pop without discussing the diehard fandom it fosters, who show their love and support through fan edits, merch, and even activism. This weekend’s recs are some fun ways to explore K-pop for seasoned fans and curious newcomers alike.

If you have 22 seconds…and have yet to see a K-pop fancam, or fan edit, on your FYP, watch this TikTok.

Photo from Mduangdara on WikiMedia Commons

If you have 2 minutes and 44 seconds…and want to listen to one of the most popular K-pop songs in the U.S. (from one of the most popular groups), watch the music video for “Butter” by BTS. This was one of the most popular songs of 2021, with a record-breaking run on Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs and a Grammy nomination. With its English lyrics and its catchy chorus, it’s also a decent introduction for newcomers.

Bonus: if you want to know more about BTS and its idols, read this book, available online through Falvey.

If you have 3 minutes and 26 seconds…and want to see a recent performance, watch Stray Kids perform “Maniac” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Bonus: if you dig their blend of pop with hip hop, check out “God’s Menu” by Stray Kids, my personal favorite.

If you have 10 minutes…and want a quick introduction to K-pop and its generations, read this NPR article. Many of the “household” names, such as BTS and Blackpink, are a part of the 3rd gen, while more recent groups, such as Stray Kids and Ateez, are 4th gen.

If you have another 10 minutes…and want to learn a bit about K-pop online activism and the experiences of Black stans, read this article. K-pop stans received some media attention during the summer of 2020 for their comic yet effective actions during the Black Lives Matter protests. Yet, Black K-pop stans maintain that racism and biases in the fandom need to be addressed.

If you have 15 minutes…and don’t know much about K-pop and its fandom, read this Vox beginner’s guide, including all the basics, like context, lingo, and plenty of watchable examples.

Bonus: Stuck on some of the lingo? Check out this ultimate K-pop dictionary for a brief explanation on key K-pop fandom vocab.

Photo from Divine Treasure on WikiMedia Commons

If you have 33 minutes and 28 seconds…and haven’t heard of some of the darker parts of the K-pop industry, watch this Youtube video essay. The K-pop industry is notorious for its predatory-at-best (slave-labor) contracts and the control they have over its stars. (Trigger warning for discussions of suicide and SA).

If you have 1 hour and 14 minutes…and are a podcast person, listen to the 235th episode (or any episode) of the Ask Me About KPop podcast. This episode features a top 15 ranking to the K-pop of 2022. While many of their later episodes might be more geared towards K-pop fans (casual or otherwise), their early episodes are great for beginners.

If you have 2 hours and 30 minutes…and want to explore the genre, listen to this Spotify playlist. With some of the current big hits, you might just find some new music to add into your next road trip or morning commute.

If you have 6 hours…and want to support K-pop academia, read Kim’s K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance, available online through Falvey. In a highly mediated environment, Kim examines K-pop’s liveness, while broadly exploring the genre and its history. (You can find more K-pop books and articles available through Falvey here).

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.




Last Modified: April 7, 2023

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