PSYchotropic: 6 Kpop Songs for Melting the Brain

The appeal of Kpop lies in its enthusiasm. No matter how generic a song may be, it’s guaranteed to be over-produced with an equally OTT video and dance routine to boot. One view of Gangnam Style [MV] pretty much sums up the colors,  dance moves and daft concepts you can find all over the Korean Wave, just with added tongue-in-cheek to soften the brain freeze.

The appeal for me also lies in Kpop’s embrace of electronics. While UK and England fly the flag with watered-down R&B and power-pop, Korea’s producers don’t mind serving their bubblegum with fried microchips on the side. This makes it OK for self-conscious bores like me, therefore, to sneak in a Kpop song or two onto a hipsterious mixtape, and to make lists like this one, which is basically a run-down of the most hyper songs from the Peninsula that dazzle through both audio and visuals. These songs put the ‘Psy’ into Psychotropic – Beware the sugar rush!

Girls’ Generation – Visual Dreams

A song made to promote a new Intel processor? This is the future right here, with your guides being nine air hostesses who may or may not be robotic. How else to explain their clunky clock hand routine? Get into my core, they sing. Indeed, the whole enterprise looks and sounds like a synthesized wet dream. A wet dream on the verge of fizzy malfunction, that is. Love it.

Miss A – Breathe

And who couldn’t love this? If the previous track sounded like your gonzo future, then this one’s more like your toy town past. I can only think of kindergarten keyboards and cartoon sound effects with this song. The video also makes creative use out of zebras, gas masks and video trickery, the latter of which turns the Misses into short-circuiting Mattelic minxes, ones possessed by inanity and the sheer joy-ride that is teen passion. I can’t breathe!

giacomo lee

Giacomo Lee is a London writer. His new book Funereal is out now, a unique novel on death, k-pop & cultural technology in Seoul, South Korea. #한류 #doppelgängnamstyle

14 Responses

  1. amy says:

    4/6 on my iPod. xD I only have one Girls’ Generation song, and that’s Gee because… because… I just couldn’t escape it after years and years of resistance. It’s like crack.

    I listen to Narsha, BEG, Miss A’s Breathe and 2NE1 without remorse, though. And I’ve also compared the Sign MV to Oldboy hahaha, it’s just too much of a coincidence, you know? I like the funny English version of Sign because it’s helped me sing a long to the song. xD

    • Giacomo Lee says:

      @amy, I’ve recently discovered Miryo. What do you think of her? Is she doing well in Korea? And how about Narsha? I’m curious if she flopped with Bbi Bbi…

      • amy says:

        @Giacomo Lee, I don’t think BEG are all that popular in Korea – or not as popular as I would like them to be, but Abracadabra and Sixth Sense were hits. I like Miryo’s raps (she takes me back to my Lisa Left Eye Lopez days xD), but I thought there was something missing from her album this year. I like her better within BEG.

        Narsha seems to be popular within variety shows – like, she’s silly beyond belief. I don’t think Bbi Ri Bba Bba broke any record in popularity, though, even if it’s a great track. Personally, I find it impossible to type the title without copy/paste LOL and I wished she had released more than those two tracks (the other being Mamma Mia) for her debut.

        I’m dying to see what GaIn has in store for her upcoming 2nd solo mini, though. It looks promising.

        And I love JeA, but she’s a ballad vocal girl through and through… and she hasn’t released much on her own.

        Oh, yeah. Can you tell BEG is my favorite Korean group? xD It took me a few years to know who is who though xD No such luck with SNSD. Still don’t know half of them.

        • giacomo says:

          @amy, I have the Sound G album, as bought in an E-Mart back when I lived in SoKo. I really most of those electric tracks, so it was a shame when they changed tack. I was actually going to post up Strange Days in this list but there’s no accompanying MV of course. That track is haywire

        • giacomo says:

          @amy, I’ll check out some Ga-In. As for Miryo, I liked the video for Dirty more than the actual song. Very black humour there (almost Thirst like, dont you think?)

  2. Let me highly recommend the Areia trance remix of Visual Dreams instead of the original. Not just because I think it turns something I frankly found rather wooden and uninspiring into something, well, magical *cough* , but it’s also a much better match for the themes of K-pop embracing electronics and brain-melting!

    -edited out-

    With apologies for the self-plug, here’s my translation of the lyrics.

  3. Thanks. The feeling’s mutual! :)

  4. amy says:

    I actually don’t mind that BEG didn’t follow through with Electronics, and I think their voices fit perfectly with the cabaret-y jazz funk thing they had going on with Sixth Sense as an album. But I really think their roots are firmly planted on ballad and R&B (like their first two albums). JeA being the leader and all, it makes sense too.

    I had a kick with Miryo’s MV, I thought it was quite hilarious in a “i have no idea what is going on” kind of way. As far as Narsha, I’m not sure where she stands musically… like, she seems to be the edgy one but she also does ballads.

    As far as GaIn goes, her first mini – I described it as parrilla argentina because it had a lot of tango influence. The teasers for her latest mini seem to show that she’s going a similar way to some of SunnyHill’s style of music.

    Having said that, I think SunnyHill’s Midnight Circus could be included in the list of Kpop Songs to Melt the Brain xD

  5. Giacomo says:

    Yes, I was going to include that actually!

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