5 Favorite K-pop MVs of 2018

We had lots of videos from some heavy hitters this year, plus one surprise League of Legends crossover.

1. “POP/STARS” by K/DA

This one is a little complicated, but just watch the video and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

K/DA is a virtual band whose members are the League of Legends game characters Ahri, Evelynn, Akali, and Kai’Sa. But the vocals are provided by real singers, including two K-pop idols of the group (G)I-dle, Soyeon (rapper/Akali) and Miyeon (vocalist/Ahri).  Basically, Riot Games wanted to promote some new skins for LoL characters and ended up creating the most awesome music video of the year.

Soyeon is one of the fastest rising stars in K-pop right now; she’s a great rapper, has amazing stage presence, and is a wonderful leader for her rookie group (G)I-dle, which had two hits this year.

See also:

2. “Sober” by Hyo

I’ve been thrilled to see Hyoyeon, the main dancer of Girls Generation, putting out more solo stuff.  This video just makes me want to dance around the house every time I watch it.  Also, I appreciate the diversity and body-positive visuals.

3. “Idol” by BTS

You knew BTS had to be on this list somewhere.  I love this video for its spunk and energy, its Korean cultural influences, and its drawings of leader RM with kitty ears.  This video was so good it got a Bad Lip Reading treatment.

4. “Egotistic” by Mamamoo

K-pop follows US music trends, so it’s no surprise that many singles this year featured Latin music influences; Mamamoo is one group that did it very well and will have you yelling “bicho malo” right along with them.  They are such a wonderful mix of talent and confidence, and their live performances are some of the best in K-pop.

5. “Ddu-du Ddu-du” by BLACKPINK

Another killer hit by one of my favorite girl groups, BLACKPINK.  I don’t know what else to say about this except that it has all the swag you’d expect, including a glittery tank, and that Lisa is about the only person alive who could make those green gloves look cool.  Rapper Jennie also released a solo with a great MV this year.

Live Performances:

I’ve been watching more live performances from music shows and awards shows this year, so here are a few that I thought were really special.

  1. “Woman” by BoA on KBS Music Bank.  The legendary BoA makes her entrance by walking upside-down, then flipping over and performing the whole song live with the energy of idols half her age.
  2. “Latata” by (G)I-dle on SBS Inkigayo.  Can you believe these girls are rookies?? I can’t!  I think I watched every single stage promotion of this, their debut song.
  3. “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” by Key on You Hee-yeol’s Sketchbook. SHINee’s triple threat Key had a solo debut this year, and while promoting his song he also performed this lovely Coldplay cover.

Just try to get either of these out of your head

I know this isn’t my typical subject matter, but two things I love have come together, and I have to share this with someone, and you guys are it.  One of my favorite K-pop groups, BTS, recently released a new single (or “comeback” in K-pop parlance).  You may have seen them performing it on America’s Got Talent.  Here’s the music video:

There is also a version for their collaboration with Nicki Minaj.  Both great videos: crazy, but entertaining.  The song is super catchy and has great, positive lyrics.

But wait, there’s more!

I’ve previously featured the Star Wars episodes of Bad Lip Reading, which is a YouTube channel that is exactly what it sounds like: the producer re-dubs video based on what it looks like the actors are saying.  He also occasionally makes songs out of it, and they are really good songs.  So thanks to him, BTS is now singing about a “Sample of My Pasta.”

My favorite part is at 0:43 where V yells “Cute bird!” because that seems like something he would do anyways in real life.  He is my favorite singer of the group (aka my “bias”) because he’s kinda weird and crazy (a “4D” personality).  He’s also sporting what looks like lemonade-colored hair in this video.

I’m happy to talk about BTS all day, so I’d love to answer any of your questions in the comments 😀


K-pop MVs (Star Wars Special): 2NE1’s “Follow Me”

We’re finishing out this series with my favorites 2NE1…and a surprising Star Wars cameo!

This is a typical crazy K-pop video, featuring motorcycles, fun dancing, and questionable sartorial decisions (including copious amounts of colored animal print??).

But then at 1:43…we get “Dara Vader” and her stormtroopers (later revealed to be Minzy and CL).  The first time I saw this, I was like WAIT WUT.  2NE1 and Star Wars together…so random, so awesome.

After watching it a few more times, I noticed that at the end of the video (around 2:55), they are all wearing Star Wars baseball caps!  I noticed Minzy’s R2-D2 one first; also, Bom has the stormtrooper, CL has Darth Vader, and Dara has C-3PO.  These hats were sold at the time of the video (2010) by New Era in Japan.  I would have loved to have one!

The members (in the order they start singing):

  • CL (0:02)—leader, main rapper, lead vocalist
  • Bom (0:44)—main vocalist
  • Dara (0:50)—visual, vocalist
  • Minzy (0:55)—main dancer, lead vocalist, lead rapper, maknae

“Main” is ranked higher than “lead” in these positions.  CL is actually not the oldest but simply has the personality to be the leader.  The “maknae” is the baby of the group.  The visual is basically the most attractive member who does promotional activities.

More from 2NE1:

Also check out EXO’s Star Wars collaboration video “Lightsaber”

K-pop MVs: Infinite’s “Back”

K-pop videos put heavy emphasis on production quality, so sometimes even a lesser-known group can take you by surprise with a really great video; that’s what happened to me with Infinite and their video for “Back.”

It’s another story MV; a group of thugs has kidnapped one member’s sister and now they’re fighting to get her back.  Lots of action and emotion!  It’s pretty cool to see fight choreography in addition to dance choreography in a video for a change.  Also, bonus points for using an umbrella as a weapon.

I love how the song starts out slow, with the action scenes using extended slow-mo type shots, and then when the tempo picks up they mix in the dance chorerography with faster cuts of the action.  The boys manage to look pretty fierce despite how skinny they all are.

I don’t really know Infinite well enough to tell all the members apart, so here’s a cheat sheet.

The members (in the order they start singing):

  • Sunggyu (0:36)—leader, main vocalist
  • Hoya (0:51)—rapper, vocalist, main dancer
  • Woohyun (1:09)–main vocalist
  • L (1:53)—vocalist, visual
  • Sungjong (2:50)—vocalist, maknae
  • Dongwoo (2:53)—lead dancer, main rapper
  • Sungyeol (3:11)—vocalist

“Main” is ranked higher than “lead” in these positions. The leader is typically the oldest, and the “maknae” is the baby of the group.  The visual is basically the most attractive member who does promotional activities.

More from Infinite:

K-pop MVs (Halloween Special): Block B’s “Jackpot”

K-pop is slightly notorious for having some really weird MVs; sometimes they even border on creepy, like this one from hip-hop group Block B.

Warning: there are clowns.  But only at the beginning.

Beyond the awesomely bizarre visuals, I feel like there’s a whole lot of metaphor going on in the video.  This young girl seems to have been kidnapped, brainwashed, trained and made over like a doll; people have speculated that it’s a critique of the idol industry.

The members (in the order they start singing):

  • Zico (0:37)—leader, main rapper
  • P.O (1:06)—rapper, maknae
  • U-Kwon (1:14)–vocalist, lead dancer
  • Taeil (1:21)—main vocalist
  • Kyung (1:53)—lead rapper
  • B-Bomb (2:09)—vocalist, main dancer
  • Jaehyo (3:00)—lead vocalist, visual

“Main” is ranked higher than “lead” in these positions.  Zico is actually not the oldest but simply has the personality to be the leader.  The “maknae” is the baby of the group (P.O doesn’t fit the maknae mold at all lol).  The visual is basically the most attractive member who does promotional activities.

More from Block B:

More Halloween-appropriate K-pop MVs: