Typically people link K-pop to sugary goodness, and admittedly a lot of K-pop songs are indeed shallow if not meaningless (I’m guilty of loving some of those very songs). Supposedly, we as humans are meant to connect on a deeper level with each other and with ourselves through music. However, if some of the song lyrics don’t even make sense to Korean listeners themselves, how can we really make sense of how strong our emotional attachment is to K-pop as a genre?
Thankfully, this is because there are some K-pop songs that, despite having a mainstream target audience, still manage to touch upon a deeper meaning to the heart as well.
Here are some songs that I dug up that have personally moved me. (Also note I’m not going to include songs by non-K-pop idols because we all know what they can do.)
2NE1 — It Hurts
Most of us know 2NE1 as the confident 4 ladies that kick ass… and trust me, their dance songs do get me moving. However, even though they are more well known for pumping out music that would sound awesome if played in a club, I’ve come to appreciate them for their more mellow songs as well. I particularly love “It Hurts” because it showed us 2NE1’s vulnerable side, which was a pleasant surprise.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t choose “Lonely” or perhaps “Go Away,” it is because when they came out, they did not have the same first impact and surprise factor that “It Hurts” had. I felt a particular connection to this song, and also really liked its composition. It may not be at the very top of my list of emotional songs, but it is a good start for these girls. An added bonus this song has is the Tim Burtonesque music video where not only the girls, but even the male model looked like a character from one of his movies.
BoA — Moon and Sunrise
I’ve grown up with BoA, having listened to her material all the way since No.1. If you really listen to her albums, you’ll actually notice that they are of a caliber that few K-Pop artists seem to achieve nowadays. This song in particular moved me because of her live performance in Japan (the song is in Japanese, but there is also a Korean version if you want to look for it). In this particular live, everything is pretty much stripped away except the piano and BoA. It manages to outshine any overly produced song because we get to see the raw talent and genuine emotions that we don’t get to see on display very often in K-pop. You can tell that she really sings this with all her heart because she personally wrote these lyrics when she was a teenager, away from her family and everything she knew. If you can find the footage with crowd shots, it is priceless to see the reaction of the audience, who is just sitting there crying because they were also so moved by BoA’s performance.
G.O.D. — To My Mother
I can’t watch the music video without getting emotional or even tearing up. This song personally moves me because the relationship between the son and mother is similar to me and my mother. When I was growing up, I bonded with my mother a lot since my father wasn’t around much, and I think this is an experience similar to that of a lot of Koreans sons: our mothers did everything for us. Sometimes they felt awkward to blatantly say “I love you,” but it was apparent through their actions. They would do our laundry, cook for us, and pray for us when we weren’t around. As a child I would take that for granted, but now as an adult, I cherish all those moments that I get to have with her. In this song the mother ends up dead, and I think that’s when I just lose it because I’m afraid of that moment happening to me. It’s one of those scenarios where just thinking about it makes you tear up and be thankful for what you have.
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Those are just some of the K-pop songs that have managed to pierce through my heart. What are some songs that get you emotional?