The New York Times: A K-Pop Primer for Olympic Listening

Posted February 9, 2018 by

The last time the Olympics came to South Korea, in 1988, Korean pop music was awash in soft-focus ballads, a gentle and demure version of the sounds that were taking hold elsewhere in the world. This year, the country is hosting the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and is greeting it with a vastly evolved approach to pop music and culture.

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Here are 10 songs spanning two and a half decades of K-pop history, an incomplete and highly abridged history of the genre from its most serious to its most colorful.

• Seo Taiji and Boys, ‘Nan Arayo’ (1992)
• H.O.T., ‘Candy’ (1996)
• Diva, ‘Yo Yo’ (1999)
• g.o.d., ‘Lies’ (2000)
• Rain, ‘It’s Raining’ (2004)
• BoA, ‘Everlasting’ (2006)
• Girls’ Generation, ‘Gee’ (2009)
• 2NE1, ‘I Am the Best’ (2011)

• G-Dragon, ‘Crayon’ (2012)
Witness K-pop as postmodern theater. G-Dragon — a member of the essential boy band BigBang — is one of the great pop synthesizers of the 2010s, and also a key figure in tethering K-pop to high fashion. “Crayon” is like Southern hip-hop on creatine, brought to the racetrack, then struck by lightning.

• BTS, ‘DNA’ (2017)

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