It is fitting that I should sit down to write this as I replay ‘Baby, Don’t Stop’ by NCT U for the sixth time in a row. Like most K-pop fans in the Northeast, when I first started getting hooked on Korean artistes a couple of years back, I was quite certain that I would never be able to find someone who shares the same love for K-pop music as most of my friends or family just couldn’t see the point of listening to music that they couldn’t understand. But with time, things started to change, more and more people started listening to K-pop. Fans across the eight states would agree that the change happened for real when bands like EXO and BTS started taking over international charts. Yes, older bands like Super Junior, TVXQ, Psy and Rain had done it before, but it was the music of the newer, younger bands that hit a chord with the millennial crowd.
It is no doubt that BTS is one of the best known K-pop bands right now. This is most likely due to the fact that their songs always pack a punch. You wouldn’t even know when, where or how you became hooked. Also, you need to have a lot of talent to make it to Billboard and stay there. Although ARMYs everywhere would disagree, EXO is another band that is raking in fans all over the globe. Although the band saw many of its Chinese members leave in the past few years, they have remained strong. Their Billboard chart history is also quite commendable. Not only boy bands, girl bands like TWICE, Blackpink and Red Velvet has also enjoyed success internationally and have a lot of fans in Northeast India.
There are many reasons why youngsters from the region connect to K-pop music. One of the biggest reasons is the look and feel of the music videos that the artistes release; they are aesthetically appealing and fashionable and since youngsters in the Northeast are stylish by nature, they are attracted by the trendy clothes that the idols wear. It also helps that K-pop music tends to incorporate genres that appeal to youngsters like dance music, hip hop and the like. Another reason why K-pop has managed to appeal to an international audience is because they always add a few English words in their lyrics that international fans can sing along to, even if they cannot sing the whole song.
HITS YOU CANNOT MISS
Since K-pop artistes and bands tend to release music more often than international artistes, fans have an ever-expanding playlist. Here are some recent hits that all K-pop beginner should hear –
MIC DROP (STEVE AOKI REMIX) BY BTS: This mix just elevates the already brilliant track to a different level. They even have an English version of this track which became really popular internationally.
I’M SO SICK BY APINK: This is one of the latest releases by one of the most well-loved K-pop girl groups. The video is a treat for the eyes and the band has tried to move away from the kind of music that people tend to associate with them which is why this is gaining a lot of traction on Youtube.
DDU-DU DDU-DU BY BLACKPINK: This girl group from YG Entertainment is one of the most promising girl groups in recent times. Their music is always catchy and even though fans have to wait for a long time for new releases, the girls never disappoint.
BAD BOY BY RED VELVET: This group by SM Entertainment is very good at taking over the charts whenever they come out with a new track. Their songs are always on point and it is such a huge plus that they always look spectacular in the videos.
One thing that proves Northeast’s love for K-pop is the turn-out during the K-pop cover content held every year in India by the Korean Cultural Centre. Numerous fans, boys and girls, take part in the contest where you have to send a video doing a k-pop song cover or dance cover. Once selected, the participants take part in the finale which is held at Delhi. The winner gets an opportunity to attend the K-Pop World Festival which takes place in South Korea. Many talented youngsters from the region have participated and even won. Another way to connect to other K-pop fans in the region is through Instragram, there are many accounts on the app that are dedicated to various groups and artistes where you can meet likeminded people and talk about your favourite songs and the like.
Although it is heartening to see that the auditions for the K-pop cover content is held in some Northeastern states, the fans here do feel that idols don’t visit India enough. Idols and bands visit South-Asian countries like Malayisa, Singapore, Thailand and the like, quite often but K-pop bands have come to India only one to two times. While their music may not resonate with music lovers from mainland India, they will always find eager fans waiting to welcome them in the Northeast. Hopefully soon, the team at the Korean Cultural Centre will find a way to connect fans from this part of the world to their idols in Korea. Till then, fans in the Northeast will have to be content with stalking idols on Instagram and replaying videos on Youtube.