Written by Shelby, staff member, Halifax Central Library
Whether you're wondering what all the buzz is about, or a forever fan, we're here to help you dive even deeper into KPop.
New to KPop? Well, let's start with the answer to the obvious questions, and go from there...
Jump to topic:
What is KPop? Why is it so KPopular?
KPop is Korean Pop Music! An industry that is taking over the world.
It’s BIG...But, it was not well-known ten years ago. Now, we’re hearing KPop songs on the radio, and we’re seeing KPop at the Grammy’s, winning awards at the BBMAs, merging with western music companies; and it's gaining new fans every day all around the world.
Why has KPop become so popular in the first place? There are a LOT of reasons. Here are a few appeals from a fan perspective.
Top tier performance
Even before entering the limelight and debuting as a performer, KPop idols (performers) train in the performing arts like singing, rapping, and especially dancing. Group choreography is a very important aspect of the performance. KPop choreography fascinates the audience with intricate and difficult dances that, together with the music and styling, weave a story.
A feast for the eyes
The KPop visual aesthetic is unlike any other. It’s almost movie-like. Unique, and sometimes brightly-coloured costumes, makeup (for the guys too), intricate sets, and computer graphics are used to create a visual delight.
A feast for the ears
KPop has become well-known for mixing genres. Sometimes, even in the same song! The Girls Generation song I Got a Boy is famous for featuring genres like hip hop, EDM, bubblegum pop, contemporary R&B, and others—all in the same track! It’s common to see KPop artists changing their musical themes and styles with every comeback. A lot of artists take an active role in songwriting as well. Almost every song is guaranteed to be exciting.
All of these aspects combined, puts KPop on a whole new level of performance, captivating audiences all around the world.
So, if you’re intrigued now, experience it yourself with some music video recommendations, borrowing lists, and during May 2021: Library events!
A KPop playlist
Dynamite by BTS
This all-English song took the world by storm in 2020. It lifted our spirits during the pandemic with its disco vibes, and had us “shining through the city with a little funk and soul.” This song had an historic debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100!
Note: You can also check out more of BTS’ music from our catalogue—on CD!
I GOT A BOY by Girls Generation
This 2013 viral hit is a KPop chameleon with its changing styles. Girls Generation (or SNSD), is arguably the first KPop group to make a big splash in the west.
Gangnam Style by PSY
Everybody knows this hilarious viral 2012 song! Not only is it catchy and danceable, but it features many Korean comedians to give it that extra punch of humour.
BANG BANG BANG by BIGBANG
This 2015 banger feels like it should only ever be played at full volume. The exciting dance beat will have you moving your body. The music video visuals, with its flashing lights, cool cars, and face glitter, will have you feeling the larger-than-life rockstar style.
Kill This Love by BLACKPINK
This 2019 aggressive breakup anthem features iconic choreography and trumpets! The stunningly beautiful visuals show intense scenes of the group members hunting versions of their former selves in a phoenix-like rebirth storyline of liberation.
POP/STARS by K/DA
This 2018 anthem for gamers was a smash, featuring avatars from the popular game League of Legends. This hard-hitting tune will give you the confidence to take on the world (and win!).
Life Goes On by BTS
KPop isn’t always about being flashy. This song, released mid-pandemic, is a soft and comforting reminder of the relentless march of time. BTS are dressed in their PJs and show us brilliant lyrics with beautiful and consoling imagery as if to say “this too, shall pass.”
KPop in our collection
The Library can help you explore further, with the KPop content in our catalogue.
- Learn more about KPop history and style with non-fiction books
- Check out some KPop Fiction, opens a new window
- Stream a selection of KPop albums and download e-books via hoopla
All about polco
You may be wondering what “polco” means. Polcos present positively pleasant polaroid pictures!
A clever combination
In other words, pol = polaroid and co = deco or decoration.
KPop fans have been known to decorate polaroid photos of their favourite idols (artists) with tons of fun stickers. It may sound simple, but this activity is so much fun! Getting the chance to choose your own photo, and then picking out and placing the stickers is so satisfying. We highly recommend it!
How the trend began
The origins of this trend are rooted in the popularity of KPop photo cards. When you buy a physical KPop album, it usually comes with a random photo card of one of the group members. (If you’re interested in the phenomenon of physical KPop albums, I'll be sharing another blog soon all about this!) The photo card usually looks something like this:
The popularity of photo cards is bigger than one might think. There is a significant culture around buying, selling, and trading photo cards. Some photo cards may carry a certain value depending on how in-demand they are and how rare they are. This is similar to other trading card hobbies.
It is possible to decorate official photo cards. Check out BTS decorating their own in the video below!
When you use printed polaroids instead of the official photo cards, you not only get the benefit of picking your own photo, but you get a border for more sticker placement, and likewise, you get to save those official photo cards for viewing or trading.
Alternatively, some people also decorate a top loader or a card sleeve. Stickers go on the clear plastic sleeve itself, keeping your official photo card clean.
Time to polco
Looking for more inspiration of how to decorate your photo cards, polaroids, or card-stock idols? Check out the #polco feed on Instagram, opens a new window or TikTok!
You can also share in the fun by registering for our Polco Party on May 26, 2021. If you can’t make it to that virtual event (or if you’re just looking for more idol polaroids), you can also pick up one of the free polco kits at any of our Curbside Pick-up Library locations, starting in late May, while supplies last. Our polco kits come with a random cardstock polaroid, a mini sticker pack, and supplies for making an origami polco holder.