• http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Oldfather/575375784 Kristin Oldfather

    LOL Random. There is enough emotion and slurring/voicing of the lyrics, along with a music video that helps with being able to understand if even just a little bit, what the song is about. I’m ok in being ignorant in what the words mean, because it’s just pop to me. Even with English music, I don’t really care for lyrics. I mean yeah, every now and then I go and look up the lyrics. But rarely, do I ever. Back when I was obsessed with Rammstein, it was just Rock music to me and it sounded amazing as hell, but then I went and looked up the lyrics and regretted it instantly. There is nothing wrong in loving the music without knowing the lyrics. 

    • RainOTL

      Rammstein plays industrial metal. Rock is never just rock, metal is never just metal and pop is … outside of my territory.

  • Bookthiefj

    Nice post . Reminds me of my friend and I , the only two ppl who listen to k pop in my class . I care about understanding lyrics and naturally , epik high is one of my favourite groups in kpop . They have killer lyrics . As for friend , its all about catchy songs . So she is a hard core SM town fan !
    To each his own . Doesn’t put me anywhere above or below her !

  • Guest_no2

    Classical and Jazz, no lyrics but plenty more meaning

    • LindsayK

      Thank you for pointing those two genres out, Guest_no2. I was just about to say, what about drum and bass, dubstep, or ambient music (just to name a few more)? 
      I highly disagree with the statement that “No one derives meaning or understanding from a synth, bass, or any other instrument…” I am going to hope that the author simply forgot about all those aforementioned music genres.

  • Music=Love

    I actually feel bad when people get called ignorant and small minded just because they don’t listen to Kpop or any other music because of the language barrier. I honestly see no harm in wanting to know what it is your listening to and what kind of message it’s sending. As conservative as the Korean culture is I get shocked sometimes when I watch variety shows and they play American music with very explicit lyrics. If they had known what it meant they would have never aired it. I most of the time don’t care. I never listen to the lyrics of songs in english anyways and use the melody of the music to evoke emotion english or any other language. 

  • Anonymous

    i’d call it personal tastes and interests 

  • Literati Tempo

    I think it’s important to at least know what you’re listening to in any language. I think the people who listen to music in their own language and pay no attention to the lyrics are just as bad as people who listen to kpop and make no effort to find out what the song is about. IMO a song is a combination of music and lyrics both equally important. So to ignore the meaning of a song is like picking up a book and just looking at the pictures it’s just disrespectful to the artist and to yourself. Maybe because I’m a literature person so the words behind the music are just as important as the music itself to me. We have a decent fanculture of subbers for lyrics (in English which is all I know). So please take the few seconds to go over to google and look it up.  I don’t think one way is better than the other but with out looking up the meaning imo you are missing out on so much.

    IMO that’s the main problem with what happened to the whole kids n kpop controversy. With all the subbed MV’s out there you show them unsubbed ones so they have no idea what’s behind what they are looking at. So of course they have to judge based on appearance and by appearances alone kpop looks pretty damn crazy (admit it) combine that with a language you’ve never heard before and that’s the resulting effect.

    • Arbitrary_greay

      1. Guest_no2‘s comment

      2. Music and lyrics ideally should be equally important, but who are we kidding here, this is mainstream pop music, lyrics are really secondary if not tertiary to the music and the visual.(dance, MV, etc) Most people don’t realize that Gaga’s “Just Dance” is actually not so much a celebration as a portrayal of when a good night has tipped over into trainwreck territory, but hey, who cares, they’re too busy dancing to that irresistable melody. Can anyone tell me what the phrase “rolling in the deep” actually means? 
      The translation to T-ara’s “Bo Peep” is rather uncomfortable, as it appears that the singer is in an abusive relationship with the one she’s singing to. And having read that translation, I can’t not think about that interpretation every time I hear that song. For that matter, did anyone else raise an eyebrow at Rihanna’s “S&M,” considering her relationship history? Yeah… See also Alexa‘s comment. What meaning is there to be found in “ko la ko la ko la ko la ko la ko la so fantastic” anyways? Yoo Youngjin has said himself that he treats the words as percussive instruments rather than an avenue of narration.
      And this extends beyond pop. See  Kristin Oldfather‘s comment. 

      3. In response to “So to ignore the meaning of a song is like picking up a book and just looking at the pictures it’s just disrespectful to the artist and to yourself” 
      What’s wrong with death of the author? A child may pick up a novel beyond his/her understanding, and spin their own equally fantastic story from the pictures. Who’s to say that the child is wrong for doing that? Wouldn’t songs that have been coopted, not the least of which is Yankee Doodle Dandy, inherently be disrespecting their original intent? 

      As for me, personally, I entered into the world of Apop solely on the music and the visuals. I saw a music video, and the song and my memories of the closeups stuck with me for days afterwards, and I just had to come back for more. But then again, I was raised on non-lyrical and foreign language music, so lyrical meaning has never been a necessity in my listening and appreciation of music. I do think it makes me notice more details with regards to the composition and arrangement. 
      Of course, there are “A-ha!” moments when I realize how the lyrical content and the composition/arrangement complement each other, but like I said in point 2, this is by no means a common thing in pop. 

      • Chotto

        You get an instant like for referencing Death of the Author. I fell in love with Roland Barthes at university and have been a consistent post-structuralist/constructivist ever since.

      • Literati Tempo

         Nothing wrong with doing it any other way but personally I think that if a song has lyrics and you have the ability to find out what they are about you should.

        Actually maybe it sucks some of the fun out of some songs but I think that lyrics are important. Maybe T-Ara’s lyricist wanted to say an important message when she wrote that but guess what all people get are cute fluffy hands and butt shaking. Rihanna’s song is disturbing and she addressed that as well (which might even lead to some truth about her being back with C. Brown). It’s a translation so I’m not going to understand 100% of what the intent of is with kpop but I’ll put in some effort because someone sent out that message. There is a large portion of US-Pop that I can’t stand because of the horrible message it sends about women and sexuality. But at the same time I won’t look down on you for ignoring that and Just Dancing.

        Sure creating your own story from pictures is great and there is nothing wrong with it. But think of the author who put time and effort into creating a story that they wanted to share only to have everyone ignore it in light of making up their own stories. That would suck for the author but the illustrator would be overjoyed to his work independently viewed. 

        So in short would I listen to a song with crap lyrics and a great beat NO, do I care if you do it NO.

    • Anonymous

      So you don’t want to listen to a song with good music but bad lyrics? 

      • Literati Tempo

        I wrote a longer response below but to keep it short.

        Would I listen to a song with crap lyrics and a great beat NO,
        do I care if you do it NO.

  • Xenia

    It’s not only a fact that a person can prefer to listen for songs in languages that he/she understands. One may like the sound of one foreign language more than a sound of another foreign language. For example, I like to listen to French, Italian and Spanish songs much more than songs in German, Turkish and Finnish. It’s for no particular reason, I have nothing against, say, Finland (in fact, I LOVED every minute spent there for many occasions… sans customs). But French sounds charming to me and Finnish – doesn’t.

  • Lilkiki3413

    This clearly explains how I feel when I listen to Kpop. I know that I don’t understand what there saying but the flow of the song and the melody always keep me listening. Later I read the translations and get a better feeling of the emotions that the artist was trying to deliver.

    I love this statement that Subi stated…
    “Fans of K-Pop like to comment that people who choose to listen to music only in English, only in a language that they can understand, are being narrow-minded. Whether you can speak English or any other language, wanting to understand, is not narrow-minded. It is a valid and justified preference, not ignorance”

    I use to be one of the fans that claim that people were narrow minded about listening to asian music. At the time I was really into Jpop and people gave me quesitonable looks about my music pereference and I always use to called them ingorant. But I grew to realize that everyone have different taste in music and majority of people when they first here a song(Beside the beat) they want lyrics. That’s why I always say that Kpop isn’t for everyone. Yeah Kpop is very catchy and the beat most times is something to dance to but once they start hearing Korean it slowly becomes a turn off.

  • Anonymous

    Random: If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were trying to bribe me into reading since your last two articles both use TOP’s picture as a cover.

    Personally I think it has more to do with taste. I like pop in general, and idgaf about lyrics in any language (including the ones I understand. In fact the odder it is, the more likely I am to sing it). I don’t think there’s anything close minded about choosing to not listen because somethings just don’t sound that great to certain people. For instance I can’t stand trance, but hey, to each their own.

    • munkie

      i’m guilty to clicking on these posts faster bc of TOP. 

      keep it up subi!

  • alexa

    I think one of the reasons I listen to so much K-Pop is because I can’t understand what they’re saying. I find most lyrics in pop songs annoying, not to mention ignorant, so it tends to ruin my buzz. Granted, I do like being able to sing along to a song without feeling embarassed (I fake singing along to K-Pop, and I shudder at the thought of being caught doing it), but ultimately I really don’t care what language I’m listening to.

    • Lortizfonseca

      i totally love this. you spoke my experience. thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/NotMyBirthday21 Lakeisha

    I only into certain kpop groups that have an American feel to them. Like 2NE1 and Big Bang They speak a lot of English in their Korean songs. I care a lot about lyrics. It’s hard for me to listen to music that I don’t understand. I always look up translations but It still doesn’t feel the same. 

  • Anonymous

    i think the main reason people bash others who shoot down music in a foreign language is pure frustration. if you’re a lover of kpop (or any kind of foreign music) you’ve probably experienced that nagging question, “why do you listen to this if you don’t understand what they’re saying”.

    for me, kpop stands on it’s own and i can enjoy it without knowing the lyrics. there’s the top-notch production values. honestly, compared to the quality of my favorite kpop songs, some american pop songs sound like they were produced in some random dude’s basement. as far as interpreting emotions, i can thank the exaggerated tendencies of kpop for having a pretty good understanding of what the lyrics are trying to convey. for example in jyj’s “get out” i can hear all the anger/sadness of a wronged lover in the tone of their voices. same with after school’s “because of you”. i could feel the heartbreak in that song before i even looked up the translation. and finally (this goes for all modern day pop music) as far as pop music goes, i don’t feel the need to know the lyrics because they usually aren’t anything deep or compelling. the content of a pop song is pretty standard: first love, being in love, falling out of love, broken heart, revenge/angst, partying/clubbing, losing innocence, ETC. we hear these types of songs over and over again because everyone can relate and understand them somehow. 

    that being said, i can still see how some people would have a hard time listening to music in a foreign language. as subi said “It’s our choice to listen to K-Pop; it’s their choice not to.” my only wish is that people would just give things a chance, because they could be missing out on something really great. my favorite foreign language song (not a kpop song) is called “sabali” by amadou and mariam. i think they’re speaking french and i have no idea what the lyrics are saying, besides sabali meaning patience, and it is one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever heard. music can be a very powerful thing and ultimately, does it really come down to knowing the lyrics in order to love a song?

  • happyslip

    I usually don’t have a problem if a person declines listening to a certain type of music because of the language barrier. I don’t mind if the person says he/she doesn’t like to listen to something that he/she doesn’t understand. That’s personal preference and choice, so I won’t find it offensive or narrow-minded, especially if they stated their reason in a respectful or even in a simple manner. I’ve had friends who said that they couldn’t really find themselves listening to Kpop songs because they prefer a song sung in a language they can easily understand (English and our country’s official language) and we never had any problems after that.

    The real problem lies in how the person phrases/states his/her reasons. If someone would call a certain type of music “gay”, “garbage” or something more crude/stereotypical than that…that’s where the ignorance starts showing. There’s a huge difference between “I prefer listening to a song I can easily understand” and “WTF I won’t listen to this ching-chong gibberish from gay groups”, after all.

  • Lady Caca

    A bit off topic, but i would be curious to see if koreans themselves (in korea) listen to ano other music except korean language music. Should we be calling them ignorant or close minded as well?

    Honestly, it’s really not an issue if someone listens to kpop or not, the issue is if people who claim to listen to kpop feel they are superior to anyone else, which a lot of fanatics do feel & project (read youtube comments, etc).

    Music is music no matter what language. Rather than being used as a divisive object (ie me against them), it’s an object to unite. As Queen Madonna sang before: music makes the people come together, yeah!

    • lay

       “Honestly, it’s really not an issue if someone listens to kpop or not,
      the issue is if people who claim to listen to kpop feel they are
      superior to anyone else, which a lot of fanatics do feel & project
      (read youtube comments, etc)”

      really? i would think it is the other way around. i mean, there are people (and you can find such people in this site too) who belittle those who listen to k-pop and k-pop itself. it makes me wonder sometimes why are they so pissed off with those who prefer to listen to k-pop (or any other pop for that matter) to american pop. life would be less complicated if these people just listen to what they like and let others listen to what they like.

      some people think they have superior taste in music just because they listen to a certain type of  music. i remember being laughed at by my own friends for listening to songs by some old singers in my country and for the fact that i can’t stand jazz.

  • Anonymous

    i am one of those ppl who looks up the lyrics to my fav songs. To me, lyrics are important part of the song. 

    That is why I rarely get into rap music cause I do not like the lyrics though they got good beats. 

  • Issy

    I’ve kind of passively learned a lot of Korean from watching movies and shows without really trying to learn the language.  I guess if you hear something enough, it starts to stick in your head.  I like to know the lyrics so I usually look them up and see what they translate to.  However, I am a naturally curious person.  My best friend is not at all.  She’s quite content to never go beyond only hearing a song. 

    I think some of us are just predisposed to being more open to new things than some of our peers.  It’s not a cultural thing though, it’s a human thing.     

  • Mika~

    “Fans of K-Pop like to comment that people who choose to listen to music only in English, only in a language that they can understand, are being narrow-minded. Whether you can speak English or any other language, wanting to understand, is not narrow-minded. It is a valid and justified preference, not ignorance.”

    I completely agree with this statement. It really ticks me off when kpop fans begin to think that that kpop is the absolute best genre of music… In the YouTube video, “Kids React to Kpop”, I saw a lot of comments about how the kids were ignorant for not liking kpop. Now, I would agree if commenters clarified, that the kids were ignorant for not liking kpop because it was performed by Asians, but if the commenters simply meant that the kids were ignorant for not liking kpop because it’s kpop, then even as a kpop fan, I would disagree, because not everyone is going to like kpop, just as not everyone likes pop, heavy metal, rock, etc.!

    It also brings up another point - that some kpop fans find the need to criticize American music in an attempt to show that kpop is better. Usually the comments I see are something like: “Wow! -insert male idol- sings so much better than Justin Bieber!” or “American music is only about sex and drugs, and kpop’s not!” Now this just completely switches everything around, because now, it’s not just that the non-kpop fans aren’t ignorant, but the kpop fans who ARE ignorant.

  • itf7

    I would like to offer another perspective to the subject. What kpop fanatics/uberlovers often forget is that they are not as unique as they believe themselves to be. I was born and raised in France. The music industry is open to many different genres of different languages. I grew up listening to latino, rnb, rap, pop, rock in many different languages (spanish, italian, english, french, carribean dialects, russian and some that i probably forgot) in the mainstream market. Internationally, american stars are recognized and they only speak english, henceforth, there exist a large amount of people who do listen to music whose lyrics they cannot understand. The international kpop community is not some kind of privileged ivy league group who are oh-so-special because they enjoy something different. There exists so many other group of people who listen to music that is foreign to them, but are able to enjoy it. They are no different from the kpop international followers.

    Another point that this article really brought out is the whole holier-than-thou attitude that some kpop fans have. Calling yourself open-minded all the while putting down and discriminating against people who do not agree with you is the exact description of an hypocrite or “the pot calling the kettle black” if you will. What i believe is unfortunate about a good portion of the kpop fans is that they are so engrossed in their passion for kpop is that it causes them to throw any kind of good judgement and objectivity out of the window. As a result, they end up alienating the very people they are trying to introduce to kpop.

    • Music=Love

      Well said my friend, well said.

    • Josh Ng

      Agreed, couldn’t have said it better than myself. My friends liked me for the fact I was asian and they themselves were try-hard-wannabe’s for the jpop/kpop culture they wished they were one (or the other – japanese / korean). But their mindset and “passion” for jpop/kpop was so mad to the point I left them. They’d ‘outcast’ me for the fact I enjoy American Television (from Spongebob, Animaniacs to the good ol’ Looney Tunes), JUST BECAUSE it wasn’t Japanese/Korean. They were mad racists within themselves while I’m laughing at them for thinking sushi’s the only food in Japan. And of course, they’d backfire at me for doing the same thing just because I use chopsticks whenever I eat – I’ve used them all my life, since moving from Taiwan to North America, not because it was a very asian thing to do. And worse, one of them would cry themselves to sleep praying they wake up Japanese one day, being depressed over the fact they aren’t. They’d go all anime emo, acting like the typical anime characters that enunciates/over exaggerates their sighs and such.  It’s funny, sad and really disturbing.

        I left it all behind though it isn’t to say I gained nothing good from it, I still have a good collection of jpop that I listen to on an occasional basis, though Yuna Ito’s really the only artist I listen to in that genre. Something about her is easy to like. Anyway I’m ready to sell Tohoshinki – ayumi hamasaki CDs lol.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t care much about lyrics. 10 years ago I listened to American hiphop music but I didn’t tell me friends and family about it because I didn’t want them to think that did I agree with those lyrics. I did only care about the music. 

    Now I’m bored with American hiphop music so I don’t listen to it any more at all. 

    I’m completely used to sub titled movies, songs, everything…you can find sub titled version of kpop songs on Youtube if you want. The lyrics of kpop songs are not especially good or bad imo. 

  • snowy byul

    in MY opinion,it totally DEPENDS on personal taste. Some people tend to love to listen to a certain music, while some might not feel the same. 

    It’s all because, our brains are actually attracted to a certain type of rhythm/melody. 

    The music that we listen, can be a soothing agent, like making us feel relax more, energize / boost our self mentally/psychically. 

    That’s how our body react to these music – we cry, dance, tapping fingers, and even put us to sleep. 

    No wonders some might found the k-pop pleasure and some become addicted- or even obsess.
    Like me.

    Nothing is wrong for not listening to k-pop. We all have our own choice. I also have seen people that never listen to kpop,but fond to it after listening to the song.[..and the MV too of course.]

    I believe other k-pop fan like myself, would agree with me that k-pop are different in many many ways and will stand on the market high for a longgggggg period. It’s no doubt that these marvelous songs are unique in it’s own way.

    lyrics and translation are just letters. No big deals. With current technology IT, everyone could have the lyrics and translation. 

    As for the culture and other related things to korea [fashion,language, food,etc,..] , are stuff that make us fans feel close to our idol’s. Besides learning 3rd / 4th language ARE an ADVANTAGE.. 

    our brain n heart belong to us, so NOTHING wrong with LISTEN or NOT LISTEN to KPOP.. 

    fwom my heart>> cassie-gurl  :)

  • Dijone88

    I think I’ve always been more open to listening to and watching things that aren’t in my native tongue. I’ve never been bothered by not understanding a foreign language while watching a movie or listening to music. I kind of like different languages and the sounds that make them up. That’s one of the reasons I like Kpop; because I like the way Korean words sounds, especially when sung.
    I don’t really mind if other people don’t like listening to Kpop because they don’t understand the language. They’re missing out in my opinion, but I won’t try to force them to like it.

  • Deepa Kollipara

    If people really cared about the “meaning” of songs nobody would listen to LMFAO lil wayne lady gaga. they sing about the most ridiculous things most average people cannot relate to or “feel”

    • May

      omg specially lfmao

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UZ3GOV4QFCYI3BGIWEDKBVACHY puddlemini

    You can flip this and ask, “Why are there Koreans, who know the language, who blatantly hate on K-pop?”

    I dont think it is ignorance, as a whole, that determines the choice that people make. Nor, does agency show that you are making good decisions based on critical thinking….

    More of it has to due with what “image” you want to project of yourself, personal taste, and preference.

    Honestly, it’s easy to hate on pop (of any kind) and that’s probably where the initial rejection comes from. It’s not a language barrier; it’s a genre barrier.

  • May

    well, Ive always been listening to songs that in other lenguages since I was a child. Isnt american pop something internationally known? I did listen to american artists when I was younger and I didnt speak english so its the same for me if I listen to kpop