Hi guys! I’ve been thinking a lot about the fast-rising popularity of BTS over here in America and while I am of course super stoked for them (and also 3 parts smug that something I have been trying to get my friends into has broken into the mainstream *blows on nails like it was all my doing* haha), I thought this would be a great opportunity to promote some of the other just-as-lovely Kpop boy bands that are working their asses off to bring us the quality bops & jams, daydream fodder, and music video masterpieces. (In Kpop land, we just call those MVs. Look, I taught you something!)
I have probably pimped a lot of these boys out on here over the last two years, but it’s always worth a revisit! I’m going to include two videos for each group and that’s not necessarily to say they’re my favorites, but mainly just the ones that I think would be a good introduction. Just be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole, and if you’re an obsessive personality like me, you’ll come out the other side straight into Korea. Aigoo.
(If you’re already a Kpop fan and don’t see your fave groups here, don’t kill me! There’s a ton more I wanted to include but then we’d be here all day and night!)
These guys are arguably the biggest group in Korea at the moment, yes some would say even bigger and more well-loved than BTS, and this is all without having a single comeback since last summer. No, I mean LAST summer. 2017. Their fans are loyal AF! They’re constantly getting compared to BTS though and maybe it’s just because both groups debuted within a year of each other, but I really think that it’s apples and oranges. EXO can come off having a more late-90s R&B vibe, which really appeals to me. For starters, let’s listen to Ko Ko Bop and a live performance of The Eve so you can get a better feel for their beautiful choreo:
EXO is rumored to be working on a comeback here soon and I know at least one of my friends is chomping at the bit over this! It’s been a long time coming, so it should be exciting!
So if EXO is arguably the biggest group in Korea, then BIGBANG takes the crown for Kings of Asia. You guys know that this is my ultimate #1, my hard stan of all stans, and that their leader G-Dragon is my forever-bias, so you might already know some of their music! BIGBANG had their last comeback toward the end of 2016, and then one of their members, TOP, enlisted in the military soon after. Three more enlisted last winter, and a single was released shortly after, which dominated every chart without a single ounce of promotions – that’s the power of BIGBANG. They still have one member left to enlist, their maknae Seungri, so we probably won’t see a BIGBANG comeback until 2020 (tears just spontaneously sprung from my eyes), but luckily YouTube is a freaking vault of BIGBANG history so maybe take a day off and dive in? That’s just my suggestion. I’ll even write you a doctor’s excuse.
OK, let’s start with my favorite video. I love the colors, the clothes, and of course the song. I think it’s the most easily-accessible one too, for anyone not familiar with Kpop. This was one of the few that all my co-workers all agreed was “surprisingly OK.” That’s practically a gold stamp!
Fun fact: I couldn’t read Korean yet when this video first came out, and then a long time later, I learned that each of their names is hidden in the background of certain scenes, and it was one of the best, most satisfying feelings when I went back and was able to read it!
This next BIGBANG video is maybe their most popular one? I’m not a big statistic person, so I’m just making shit up as I go along, but let’s just say my words are loosely-based on half-assed google searches. Anyway, this was the first BIGBANG song I ever heard, without realizing it was going to someday change (wreck?) my life, back when I first got into KpopX Fitness in 2015. I almost passed out after that workout video!
OK, if I don’t give myself a two-video limit, I’ll end up just posting their entire video collection here and you don’t want that – OR DO YOU.
My #2 group! SHINee makes my heart go so soft, and now I’m tearing up just thinking about how much I treasure them. It’s also hard to find the words, and I think I’m going to break my rule and post more than just two videos for them because they’re worth it, and they’re worth your time. I promise! My #2 bias is the maknae (youngest) of this group, beautiful, precious Taemin. SHINee makes me so happy and sad all at once, because I can’t listen to them, think of them, see pictures of them, without thinking of Jonghyun, their member who took his life last December. I have never been that affected by a celebrity death before and it has been a rough time. So I want to include some videos from when they were five members, and then one from now, when they’re four +1 in spirit. Because they’ll always be five.
Let’s start with their debut video! There is this one recent live performance of Replay where Jonghyun is straight sobbing uncontrollably and this song never made me feel sad until I saw that. So now I sometimes have to skip it when it comes up on my playlist. :(
Taemin was like 15 there!
And this is one of my all-time SHINee favorites; it has such a mature sound and they all look so beautiful:
And because I love their live performances so much, here’s a recent one for a single of their first comeback as a four-member group (I can’t imagine the strength and courage that took):
I watched all of their comeback performances for this song constantly for weeks last June and it 100% brainwashed Chooch, who would walk around the house mindlessly humming it and probably had his dreams soundtracked to it, too.
Their leader, Onew, will be enlisting in the military very soon, so I feel very blessed that they treated us to so many MVs and promotions this year. Long live SHINee. <3 (You can tell me if you don’t like anything on this list today but NOT IF IT’S SHINEE because I am super protective of them and I’ll likely take out my anger on Henry SO THINK OF HENRY.)
OK FINE here’s a bonus Jonghyun solo video:
Ugh, the talent. </3
Please support SHINee. They have given so much of themselves to us.
SUPER UNDERRATED in my opinion, you guys. This boy group is so much fun to watch and they are just consistently great. They’re Chooch’s favorite Kpop group (Bam Bam is his bias) so he’s been pretty happy these last two weeks because they just had a comeback with Lullaby! Also, if you’re into fun facts about members, they’re a multi-ethnic group which I think is so cool because diversity: Mark is Taiwanese but from the US, Bam Bam is Thai, and Jackson is from Hong Kong. You’d have to ask Chooch if you want more facts about them, but I’ll tell you that my Got7 bias is Youngjae.
We’ll start with Hajima, because that’s the first Got7 song I ever heard (yes, courtesy of KpopX Fitness, thank you!) and it definitely stuck with me. Also, listening to this song now makes me realize that I have somehow learned more Korean than I thought?! And here’s one of those complimentary fun facts: the girl in the beginning of this video is Dahyun from Twice (I love her):
“Hajima” was one of the first Korean words I learned (after oppa, probably, lol) and I love to scream it at the cats.
And here’s their newest MV for Lullaby – look how much they’ve grown! I think the choreo is so tight for this song (if that’s your jam, check out one of their music show performances for all of it!) (Also, that’s my bias in the green pants lol.)
It was hard for me to choose a #5 because there are so many incredible and deserving groups out there right now – like Astro, who I will be seeing this Sunday but I just shared several of their videos last week so I figured I would give this spot to another group. I went with Pentagon because they need all the support they can get right now. I mentioned this on here recently, but one of the members, E’Dawn, has been essentially removed from the group after admitting that he’s been dating Hyuna, a solo artist from the same agency. It’s a major Korean scandal, yo. And other one of their members, Yanan, has been sitting out recent promotions due to health issues, so they just had their comeback as an 8-member group and it breaks my heart. These guys have such quirkiness, so much palpable energy, and loads of talent (they write their own songs, Kpop isn’t always that mass-produced hit-factory that it’s often mistaken for).
I’m gonna give you guys three Pentagon vids too because over here at Oh Honestly, Erin, we be makin’ rules just to break ’em. First up is “Shine” and if you don’t immediately smile when this one starts, then congratulations, you’re dead. (E’Dawn is the very first one shown, in case you were wondering. And yes, he’s my Pentagon bias. #GDragonVibes)
Isn’t this just one of the most joyful things you’ve ever witnessed? Chooch and I were screaming our faces off for them at KCON last June.
This next song came out a year ago and went largely unnoticed which is insane to me because the MV is dreamy and the song is strong as fuck.
Lastly, here’s a live performance of their latest E’Dawn-less and Yanan-less song, Naughty Boy. (There is a really great explanation video for this song by one of my favorite YouTube channels, DKDK, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning about the creative word-play that obviously falls short on us English speakers and some insight on how Korean culture and social issues inspired the meaning behind this song, because it’s way deeper than just a quirky bop.)
Please support Pentagon! Watch their videos on YouTube, buy their albums, listen to them on Spotify – just give them your love! They’re going through some shit right now.
Honorary mentions: IKON, Ace, NCT (there are various subgroups for this one and they are all worthy of your ears!), Stray Kids, Monsta X, Seventeen and SF9.
And there we go, something to hopefully help you get through a boring work day, some new jams for your workout playlist, or just some overall intensely sugared eye candy! If you found something you like, let me know! And let me know if you like these kinds of music round-up posts and I will try to do them once or twice a month!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and scream in a pillow because we’re seeing BTS on Saturday and I’m just ready for this. I’M NOT READY!