Confession: every morning before work, I turn on Channel 20 and watch Korean music videos as I get dressed and make breakfast.
The official reason is that I can practice Korean with the lyrics that appear, karaoke-style, in Korean script at the bottom of the screen.
Let me say, I'm hardly suffering here.
K-pop may be saccharine, repetitive, and sometimes far too sexy for the kids and tweens who parrot the dance moves in school talent shows. Still, I like the stuff.
I'll tell you why, and share some favourites. Get ready to get hooked, then feel like a nerd because of it.
1. It takes me back...
..to my teenage years of the late 90s American boyband machine. The high-budget videos, the trademark haircuts, the dance moves and lyrics grazing the surface of innuendo but never quite falling into coarseness...
2. It explains a lot about my students.
This is why every English textbook sentence beginning with "You don't..." will be sung by the students. "You don't know me! Y-you don't know me"
This made little sense until I heard this song. K-pop's English-rich choruses are a mixed blessing. Korean youths pick up a fair bit of the language. Unfortunately, phrases like "shut up, boy!" are hardly versatile.
3. The drama!
My life is easy and comfortable. Life in a K-pop video is dramatic and awesome.
4. It's K-fashion, hyperbolized
Korean fashion always seems to me to be a dress-up game of characters.
While I was always taught versatility when it comes to clothes, you rarely see Koreans buy something with dress-it-up, dress-it-down possibilities. Jeans are either baggy and paired with big T-shirts, or tight and paired with silk. Coats are either wool and feminine and worn with dresses, or Goretex and practical and worn with track pants.
Music videos mean fashion gawking at its finest. This one represents Korea's exaggerated B-boy style well. It also trots out a few more weird sartorial gems. Belts around necks! Leopard-print vests! Cosby sweaters!
5. Admit it, this it catchy stuff
A cynic may read this as "gets lodged cruelly in your brain, playing over and over until you want to scream." Well yeah, if you hate K-pop. But pop music in general is all about catchiness, no?
This one gets in my head and stays there. Also, the video has just a dusting of Austin Powers to it. Coolness.