• kpopfan6

    I can’t believe English is often valued and studied in Korea yet most Kpop songs don’t reflect that at all. Most English lyrics are just a hot mess even though Kpop songs don’t use advanced English words or phrases. Plus, if many Koreans have a basic understanding of English then idols should be able to pronounce English lyrics better. Maybe not as well as a fluent English speaker but at least get the pronunciation right when actually recording the song. 
    Messy English or Engrish doesn’t really help a song and so you’d think the people who make Kpop songs would be more careful.

    Plus many Kpop songs seem to just be taking the safe route rather than trying to actually relate to people. Yes Kpop is pretty mainstream, but how many songs can you write about love or having fun? There’s clearly more to life than that. Or if you’re going to write about the same topics at least do so from more unique or interesting angles.

    • severely

      I have a close friend from Korea, and she said that, while they studied English throughout school, that’s the only time it was ever used. It’s not used as a second language to help people get around. They don’t sit around casually holding lengthy conversations in English for the hell of it. They learn what they need to in order to pass their English classes.

      No different from an American student promptly forgetting their Spanish classes, really.

      • kpopfan6

        Well, I stopped taking Spanish a few years ago but I still remember things. I was never good at speaking Spanish but I can still read and write in Spanish to at least a basic a degree. Either way, I don’t think you can learn a language for several years and then forget 100% of it. 

        In most cases Koreans in the Kpop industry seem to know English words but just have weak grammar and pronunciation skills. So, for example, someone at DSP Media knew a few words to go with “pretty” but one of Kara’s song lyrics turned out to be “if you wanna pretty, everyone a pretty”– which makes no sense even though those are all English words. Then you have cases where the English is right but the pronunciation is really off– like how HyunA says “4 minute slut/slap” instead of the lyric “4 minutes left” or how B1A4 says “joom joom my har like a locket” instead of the lyric “Zoom zoom my heart like a rocket”. 

        Ultimately it’s a company’s fault if their songs have lousy English. Song writers should known how to write the English parts of their own songs properly. Plus, there should be at least a few staff members around with strong English skills to check the lyrics and to even help idols pronounce things well. For example, even though JYJ’s English album wasn’t perfect, they put a lot of effort into making sure the English was solid and they even had English speakers in the recording studio to help them with practically each lyric. 

        If companies just focused a bit more on writing and singing in English then that would fix the main issues with Kpop songs.

    • http://twitter.com/silverukiss Silver

       but from what I understand, most people that study English there probably are studying the wrong pronunciation, or somehow the wrong pronunciation gets circulated so much that is how the Korean people understand it now. I’ve noticed that Kevin (of ukiss), born and raised in the US, when he is talking in English has perfect pronunciation, but if he is talking in Korean and uses an English word, like say the word “believe” he sometimes will pronounce it in the Korean engrish way. I assumed that was so that Koreans can understand the English word he is using.

      Kind of like how we use romanization to try and pronounce Korean words, but the english alphabet doesn’t completely cover all the sounds in the Korean alphabet, so you end up saying the Korean word with an English accent. I’ve seen a kind of ‘romanization’ using the Korean alphabet to try and sound out an English word, but since the two alphabets aren’t really interchangeable, you end up with Engrish.

      • kpopfan6

        I’m actually not sure why the wrong pronunciations could be circulated so much because there must be enough Koreans who learned proper English either from overseas or by decent English teachers in Korea. Plus Koreans seem to be somewhat exposed to English through Western media or music, so they must’ve noticed that their pronunciation is a bit too off to still be considered correct. Kevin modifying his pronunciation for people to understand him isn’t a bad thing, but he shouldn’t really have to (maybe say words more slowly but not have to resort to Engrish). Idk.

        Compared to Japanese romanization which is easier to read/follow for me, I’m not sure why the Korean romanization system is difficult to understand. Maybe it’s just that the Korean romanization system simply isn’t as good as the Japanese system, or maybe Japanese words are just easier for English speakers to pronounce than Korean words.

        • http://twitter.com/silverukiss Silver

           Yeah, I remember reading a few of the romanizations for songs when I first started getting into Kpop. Now that I have taken the time to learn a bit of Korean, and I had a room mate for a little while from South Korea who helped me on my pronunciation, I realize that the way I was pronouncing the romanization was completely wrong. It still messes me up if I try to read the romanization instead of the hangeul. I asked my room mate once why she romanizes the words like that, because it doesn’t make much logical sense to an English speaker, and she said that is just the way she was always taught. (side note, they teach koreans how to write English romanizations of Korean words? why?)

          I have heard from several people that Japanese words are easier for English speakers to pronounce, but Korean is easier to read.

        • velvett

          That is because the Japanese romanization was based on Portuguese orthography. It’s easy to understand because it’s based on simplified syllabic latin sounds that never change.

          Korean romanization was created by the United States. It’s based on English morphemes that when combined can change the sound structure. That’s why it’s so messed up. They should’ve just let the Portuguese create their romanization system too.

          • kpopfan6

            Yeah, the Portuguese seem to know what they’re doing!!! :P

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/R5BKARJWK7NNOXYOIUSP76YJW4 Aj

        I think you are right about them English speakers use Engrish when they are talking with Koreans. I noticed that when Henry of Super Junior M was a guest in Strong Heart and they dont understand each other because of Engrish pronounciations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

    Personally, I think knowledge of both English and Korean would give a listener insight into specific turns of phrasing, but it would not eliminate the problem that most Kpop songs share with their pop counterparts all over the globe. That problem: shallowness. 

    Pop songs in general tend to be, with a few exceptions, very hollow representations of an emotion. For instance, love is just “I love you so much,” and, “You’re a star,” and, “I can’t believe you don’t realize how beautiful you are girl, you are a magical goddess with beauty inside and out, please buy my record…” What most pop, and it’s Korean equivalent, does that often irritates me, is take a subject with complexity like love, infidelity, crisis of conscience, and then barely skim the surface with nonsensical buzz words and very base descriptions. If a song is meant to be merely a guilty pleasure, sing about a party or a fleeting crush. Love, not to put too sappy a point on it, is a subject that DEMANDS some clarification, not just simple terms and hollow definitions.

    You know what would give Kpop songs about serious subjects more depth? Simple delving. In a lot of ways, I find mainstream pop songs the least relatable forms of music out there, because they rarely go into any relevant detail on the subject. Someone broke your heart? How? Did you feel so soul crushed that you never wanted to speak to another person? Did you think, in a momentary lapse of reason, that ALL people were like this one person? You love someone? Why? Was your heart Mexican hat danced on in the past and this person tore right through all your preconceived notions? Did they say something that just opened you up in a way nobody else ever could, or even noticed something about you that nobody else ever noticed and it broke through to your heart? Details, mofo, DETAILS. Those small nuggets of deeper insight make something far more relatable to me than a million songs of, “Ooh baby, you’re one in a million.” Even what I wrote above are base descriptions, because they don’t detail any of the other deeper aspects of love and heartbreak, like feeling so broken that you don’t want to live, or exactly what it was that drew your love of this person besides their “gorgeous smile,” or what part of their beautiful personality got through to you.

    But in all honesty, Kpop, while it does have a decent number of older fans, is clearly marketed toward teenagers. In that way, I have forgiven its shallow tendencies in the past. However, more and more these days Kpop sees fit to move into territory that is anything but childish. Sex, love, betrayal, those things are tinged with colors not meant for the eyes of your 12-year-old — or at least not without some healthy perspective given by mom and dad, or some other responsible adult figure. Those subjects can get f*cking HEAVY — like, do I even want to live anymore, heavy. Because of this, songs that move into this territory should strive to inject more common sensibility into the subject than they currently do — or else, sing about a more shallow topic. 

    How does this relate to Kpop being easier to digest if you don’t know Korean? Because Kpop is like most mainstream pop geared toward younger people — 99% of the time its depth is hardly worth mentioning, so you might as well just enjoy the show, the pretty people, the catchy beat and forget that the song probably says nothing more profound than, “Ooh baby, you’re my kryptonite,” or some other tired idiom.


    if anything I want to understand Epik High’s music

  • creeperfangirl123

    Taeyangs after you fall asleep, you guys should check that out lol

  • http://twitter.com/Zainabalfaraj Zainab

    I think DBSK have the most beautiful and meaningful lyrics out there. From there first album “Tri-Angle” to their latest “Catch Me”.

  • velvett

    “Nillili Mambo” is a phrase used to bring greater energy and enjoyment to a situation.”
    That’s because BlockB said so, don’t need to understand Korean to know that. Now why we don’t ask T-ara what Roly Poly means because I’m fairly certain in English it’s a bug. I have those in my house and every time I see them I don’t “like like that”.

    Let’s face it, most kpop lyrics are completely illogical. They’re just made of random sentences put together with rhyming words at the end. I don’t ask for something meaningful and deep, but I wished most of them made a least sense. There are good songs with good lyrics, but those are the exception, not the norm. And frankly it’s difficult to relate to songs about breaking up or relationships sang by people that aren’t supposed to date irl. Often I wonder if they really understand what they’re singing about. At least most American artists can choose their own songs, but that’s not the case for most kpop idols. 

    I like kpop because it’s catchy, entertaining and full of gossip. Whenever I want serious music penned or commissioned by artists who know what they’re singing about I listen to hip hop or rock.

    • kpopfan6

      Nope, what the article said about Nillili Mambo seems to be true. Plus it’s from some old Korean folk song, so it’s not like Block B just made it up. But I don’t think any of T-ara’s lyrics are legit so … yeah there’s pretty much no meaning to their stuff :P

    • jaehyos

      I’d just like to point out that a Roly Poly is also a toy. You push it over, and it pops back up again. They’re usually pretty freaky looking. So it does actually kind of relate to the lyrics of the song (as bad as they are).

  • k_db

    Personally, I don’t think knowing or not knowing lyrics is particularly consequential in determining “quality.”  

    Do any classical orchestral pieces have lyrics?  It’s quality is determined by emotional impact.  I don’t know why that can’t apply to modern music.

  • http://themissingmasses.blogspot.com.ar/ PAM

    Although I already gave up share my findings on kpop to my friends and acquaintances (who could interest them), I always wonder what might I say about the group that now I like, or about the song that keeps ringing in my mp3. Some songs, even if I don’t know (at first, then, I always look) the lyrics, I’m excited by the way they are being sung. “Interpretation”, that’s the word. And, if we talk about transmission of feelings, varies greatly what kind of song may or may not like it right now, in this particular space-time.

    As a Spanish speaker, I liked both Japanese and Korean groups bands, and has never been a barrier (or a path) language*. Being an “international fan”, and know that you will probably never see your favorite band live, makes privilegies some and give up on caring about others. At the end of the day, it’s just entertainment.

    * Personal experience: I don’t know German, and still struck me Lacrimosa. First, listen to your music, then look for the letters and I like them even more. Finally, I could go to one of their shows! And it was fantastic! And if I have the chance, I will attend another! So ¿is it just entertainment?…

  • http://twitter.com/MissChiaki88 MissY

    Lyrics are how I got into kpop. When I first read the lyrics to Haru Haru of BigBang I cried like a baby: it was as if GD had written all of MY feelings on paper and made a beautiful song out of it. One of the reasons I follow BIgBang and GD are because of the lyrics and the hurtful feeling described in their love songs. They deeply touch me.

    But again, I can enjoy a song with a good beat and dumb lyrics, but its not the song I will listen to before going to sleep.

    And someone said that classical orchestra dont have lyrics… Yes, but try listening to a kpop song without lyrics, it sure hell doesnt sound like orchestra!!

  • http://twitter.com/MissChiaki88 MissY

    Lyrics are how I got into kpop. When I first read the lyrics to Haru Haru of BigBang I cried like a baby: it was as if GD had written all of MY feelings on paper and made a beautiful song out of it. One of the reasons I follow BIgBang and GD are because of the lyrics and the hurtful feeling described in their love songs. They deeply touch me.

    But again, I can enjoy a song with a good beat and dumb lyrics, but its not the song I will listen to before going to sleep.

    And someone said that classical orchestra dont have lyrics… Yes, but try listening to a kpop song without lyrics, it sure hell doesnt sound like orchestra!!