Kicking Back With K-Pop

Hickman students sharing their love of K-pop as it's becoming increasingly popular in American culture.

Lauren VerBrugge and Omar Huesca

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Over the past year, K-pop has taken the American music scene by storm. Korean pop groups have made their way to the AMA’s stage and one group, BTS, just had their song “Mic Drop” (remixed by Steve Aoki) certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, making them the first Korean group to do so. This shows that obviously popularity of K-pop is spreading, and the music has found its way to Hickman students as well.

Ever since the song “Gangnam Style” by PSY became popular, K-pop has grown more and more of a following in America. Social media and the internet has influenced the spread of Korean culture through America.

“I go down the streets or at the mall and I see teenagers walking with BTS shirts or hear them talking about EXO which is really neat to me, but I don’t particularly know why or how it started for BTS or EXO,” Sophomore Brady Chung said. “I think it was trending on YouTube and just the sharing of their videos has really boosted their popularity and now they’re on American radio stations and TV networks.”

Despite the music being in a different language, Hickman students have still found ways to appreciate K-pop.

“I don’t really look into the meanings of the songs, but I do think that music is a universal language,” Junior Katherine Neff said. “Most of the time I don’t understand a word they’re saying but I can still get an emotion from the song. It’s kind of like classical music, or any other song in a different language.”

Others find it hard to make connections to the genre. And many have not even listened to it and may already have a bias, and listening to something for the first time after hearing so much about it can be an eye opening experience.

“I might include it in a playlist or something but I wouldn’t listen to it by itself,” sophomore Megan Wolfe said. “ I like the beat and the music, but I don’t understand what they’re saying. But if someone played it I wouldn’t skip it, ya know?”

Others don’t mind the language barrier and enjoy K-pop in other ways.

“I guess it depends on how much I like the song as to whether or not if I’ll go look up the English translation, but I also just like to listen to it and enjoy it,” junior Gwyn Caldwell said. “It also depends on the instrumentals because those can mess with my emotions too and it doesn’t always have to be words.”

There are many similarities between the two cultures, but also many differences. Especially when it comes to K-pop and American music.

“I like it because it’s very different from American music,” junior Carissa Graves said. “It’s a lot more, I wouldn’t say intense, but it’s a lot of work because with American artists, they just make the music and perform it. But with K-pop music and K-pop artists, there’s music and they make their own choreography. It’s a lot more work and it’s very interesting.”

Even then, music can bring people from across the world together.

“I feel like one similarity they have is the music,” Chung said. “It doesn’t matter if you can’t understand it. Music is music, and if you like it, just keep listening.”

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Kicking Back With K-Pop