There are many reasons why fans around the world have come to love K-pop, like its exceptionally good-looking idols and memorable choreographies. What first drew my attention was the music, and it’s still the most important factor in deciding whether or not I like a given artist or group. But one of K-pop’s most defining factors is the inseparability of song, image, and performance. Albums and the promotions for a single are based around concepts, and a group almost reinvents itself with each new release. Certain visuals based on those concepts are forever tied to the songs with which they are paired, and the same is true for “point dances” or standout sections of the choreography. It’s nearly impossible to hum Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” without rubbing your hands together, or to think of Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” without picturing fresh faces and colorful skinny jeans.
You can enjoy K-pop solely for the songs, but you can’t fully understand it by sound alone. That’s why this post will be full of music videos, and why what makes them great is more than the beats and melodies. My aim is to introduce you to the general essence of K-pop as a whole, and for me, the videos included here meet that goal, covering the bases of song, image, and performance.