K-Pop in the J-Pop World

A K-pop fangirl’s quick thoughts on the Hallyu Wave in Japan and her picks of the best of the best from 2011~

~I guess I’ve become somewhat of a K-pop expert here on Metanorn (or am I just placing false titles?) since my love for the fandom exploded around the time I joined and just hasn’t subsided. I have waited for the day I would have a plausible reason to write about K-pop here on Metanorn, and thanks to the Hallyu wave in Japan, that time, dear readers, has finally come.

The Hallyu, or Korean, wave, hit Japan some time ago, thanks to Korean dramas and the ever famous BoA and TVXQ (DBSK). Over the years, other Korean artists came over and made somewhat of a big splash on the scene (Big Bang and F.T.Island anyone?). However, 2010, continuing onto 2011, saw a trend that no one in the K-pop fandom would have expected to last this long, or make such an impact. KARA and Girls Generation arrived in late 2010 and became overwhelming successful in the Japanese music market, setting all sorts of records for foreign artists on the Oricon charts. For example, KARA’s 2nd Japanese album, Super Girl, not only landed 5th place on the United World Album chart, it set records for first week sales and set KARA as the top selling foreign female group in Japan. By the beginning of 2011, numerous Korean groups were being sent to make their mark on the Japanese music scene, which they have as 2PM,  FTIsland, and SHINee (my flawless lovelies) have all broke records on the Oricon charts themselves. From boy groups such as MBLAQ to other girl groups such as After School, 2NE1, and Secret, it seemed every company had their groups finish their promotions in Korea and quickly haul their fabulous butts to Japan to find the same amount of success. Even now as 2011 has closed, newer groups are proposed to be in Japan in a few months or so.

As a K-pop fangirl, it has grown to be a bit of a remorseful and agonizing time. Exposure is good, as always, and I was actually excited for their advancement into another country’s market. Yet, the music they brought out were simply Japanese versions of their hit songs, that is until finally some companies started releasing original Japanese songs (thank goodness). Then more groups started leaving while groups that were already in Japan stayed. Soon it was one month, then two months, and then six months without certain groups in the Korean music scene. Extremely excited feelings for this expansion have gradually fallen down the irregular slope that is my fangirl feelings, especially since now the attitude is seemingly that of whisking away every group, even rookie groups that have debuted only a few months before, to Japan once they get even a small boost in popularity in Korea. But business is business and there’s no way to stop these entertainment companies from taking advantage of this expansion to make some serious cash. Luckily, as seen through Big Bang’s, Girls Generation’s, Secret’s, and KARA’s comebacks in Korea in 2011, the first groups in the new boom of the Hallyu wave are finally coming back, creating excitable comebacks because of these long absences.

While this trend has become a bit annoying for my crazy fangirl side, it still doesn’t mean I don’t like to give their Japanese releases a try. So now, let’s bring the fun part of this post!

Top five Korean-to-Japanese Remakes of 2011

As I said earlier, it’s common for a lot of K-pop groups entering the Japanese music market to re-do their hit songs in Japanese. An interesting tactic, but a bit annoying for me as I really dislike listening to remakes. However, I managed to get through some out of curiosity to what their Japanese vocals sound like, and came up with my favorites out of the larger-than-necessary bunch (which are listed in descending order):

 05 | Tonight – Big Bang

For Big Bang, Japanese singles mean more English than Japanese. No seriously, there’s ten times more English in this than the Korean version, which I don’t mind at all, but I find it incredibly funny. The English rap from G-Dragon and TOP is actually what had me add this song to the list because it fit well and is simply quite awesome~.

  | May 2011 |

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 04 | Shy Boy – Secret

I originally wanted to name the Christmas-y remake of ‘Starlight Moonlight’ for fourth place but I couldn’t find a video for the song! So instead, I name my second favorite remake of a Secret song: ‘Shy Boy’. I’ve only recently gotten into Secret and while I favor their sexier image more, I can’t help but fall for these cute songs. ‘Shy Boy’ is just…adorable! How can you not love it?

| November 2011 |

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 03 | BANG! – After School

After School’s Japanese company, the ever famous Avex, always adds a little pizzazz to their Japanese videos instead of only tweaking the video and outfits to make it look more modern. This song however is my favorite out of the two they’ve released. I’m incredibly impressed with this remake as the original song sounded incredibly mismatched, but its Japanese version managed to sound more together and more upbeat. Plus, you can’t ignore that awesome drum scene in the beginning. (Their remake of their hit song ‘Diva’ is also a must-see~)

  | August 2011 |

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 02 | Gomen ne (ft. TOP of Big Bang) – Gummy

Sadly I’ve only recently discovered Gummy; by recently, I mean I started searching her up because of this song. This version of her song ‘I’m Sorry’ sounds a tad bit lovelier and sweeter than the original. Her voice even sounds a little softer and less course~ I actually recommend her entire Japanese mini album, which basically contains remakes of her hit songs in Korea, but as I said before, the songs sounds quite lovelier than the originals.

  | October 2011 |

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 01 | Replay ~Kimi wa Boku my Everything~ – SHINee

(What, this is a biased list? I don’t know what you’re talking about…) SHINee’s Julliete remake was okay, their Lucifer remake was down right awful (except for that sexy video, unf~), but Replay, their Japanese debut single as well as their Korean debut single, managed to sound even sweeter than the original. Whether it was the natural, lighter tone of Japanese or something else entirely, I found myself listening to this version more than the original. Not only that, but you can see how SHINee has grown from the original Replay, from their dance moves to their vocals. It truly does make my fangirl self shed a tear at this wonderful change.

  | June 2011 |

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Top five Japanese Original songs of 2011

By the grace of the music gods, certain entertainment companies (*cough* SM *cough*) finally began to promote their artists with original songs in Japanese after testing the waters with remakes, while other companies had started off with originals right off the bat. Out of the few original singles out there, I of course have my personal favorites (also in descending order):

 05 | Baby U! – MBLAQ

I honestly hated their first Japanese single (but it did surprisingly well on the Oricon charts) so I decided to completely ignore any new Japanese songs from them. However, in some research, I actually ended up liking this! While it’s not the best song out of this bunch, it’s still quite catchy and ten times better than their first Japanese single (and the video is just full of so much MBLAQ adorableness).

  | October 2011 |

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 04 | TAKE OFF – 2PM

Hey guys remember how I much I hated this song? Somehow it ended up on this list lol. It honestly got to me because of how silly it sounded and it’s just so damn catchy I couldn’t help myself. The original music video for this should also get the award for Most Ridiculous video, but unfortunately, I can’t find it, so I’m forced to spare you some laughs. Instead, enjoy the dance you all know you secretly want to learn thanks to Ao no Exorcist.

  | May 2011 |

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 03 | BAD GIRL – Girls’ Generation

‘Mr. Taxi’ is a fabulous song, but ‘BAD GIRL’ kicks some serious ass. Not only is the video/dance just so sexy, but the song has an interesting sound that doesn’t make it sound all too pop-y. They actually broke them away from their typical pop songs and gave them something more edgy and modern. The different vocals are great and while the chorus is definitely not as catchy as ‘Mr.Taxi’, ‘Bad Girl’ still manages to work its way into my head (especially when wearing red skinny jeans).

  | June 2011 |

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 02 | Jet Coaster Love – KARA

Fun fact: KARA’S ‘Jet Coaster Love’ single release put them at the Number 1 spot on the Oricon’s 4/18 Weekly Single Ranking, making them the first foreign female group to do so since the Oricon’s creation back in 1968! Personally, I’m a sucker for sweet songs like these (if it wasn’t obvious from my picks in the previous list) and I fell almost instantly in love with KARA’s vocals in this. It’s just so light and cute, and makes me feel happy! I just can’t get tired of this song~

  | March-April 2011 |

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 01 | Tick Tack – U-KISS

I’m not the biggest fan of U-KISS at all, but I just had to bump down veteran group KARA (What?!) because of this surprisingly amazing Japanese debut song. Honestly, I think it’s the most unique original debut song from a Kpop group entering the Japanese market! It’s not trying too hard to fit the J-pop sound mold and is quite intense with a strong beat that I love; not to mention the elements added to the song make it sound just that more unique. I didn’t even laugh at the pronunciation of ‘Tick Tack’ that’s how amazed I was at this song. Props to you, U-KISS!

  | December 2011 |

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And because I need to throw out as much of my favorite music from Korean artists in Japan:

 Special Mention | In My Head- CNBLUE

While I don’t find CNBLUE part of the Hallyu Wave since they actually started out as an indie band in Japan, this song (and whole single really) just can’t be missed. As their first song after going to a major label, I’m surprised the quality of their music hasn’t dropped. Usually when bands go major, they’re formed into this typical mold that makes their music sound repetitive, but CNBLUE has thankfully stuck to their own sound and came out with an absolutely rocking song with catchy lyrics and great vocals and instrumentals.

  | October 2011 |

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~Will K-pop artists continue to try and dominate the Japanese music scene and the Oricon charts? Most likely, seeing as popularity for certain groups surely hasn’t subsided and there’s still lots of cash to be made from not only Japanese fans, but crazy K-pop fans (like me) who are so desperate for something new from their favorite groups/idols, they’ll buy whatever new single or album comes from their promotions in Japan. It seems K-pop’s advancement into the Japanese music market is only its first step along the staircase up to world domination, but that topic is best saved for another time. Until then, I’m out~!

About

A tired, over-dramatic 20 year old college student who likes manga and cheesy Korean boy bands. Prone to succumb to laziness and refuse to work for hours on end.
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21 Responses to “K-Pop in the J-Pop World”

  1. Gecko says:

    OMG YES. (does that show how happy I was to see this?)
    Oh gosh, Big Bang, what was all that English?
    And that drum scene from After School was worth watching. I’m not in love with the song, but the drum scene is killer.
    Now to hunt down more K/J-pop/whatever genre this fits under! Yay!

    • Hoshi says:

      ~Yeah, I’ve heard Big Bang’s previous Japanese singles/albums and literally 75% of them were in English or had a lot of it xD Not that I mind, like I said.

      That drum scene was incredible! It gives me goosebumps when I see it, hahaha. And the song takes some getting used to. I know I didn’t love it at first until a few plays.

      WHOOO~! Go for it! (~ ̄▽ ̄)~

  2. Tofu says:

    It is within my train of thought to not touch upon Korean stuff but I do want to come by and give you a thumbs up because I know you really wanted to write up something like this ^^

    • Hoshi says:

      ~Awww, thank you for braving through a post of Kpop (well technically Jpop) to say that ;~; I won’t press you to listen since we already discussed that xD

  3. Kitty says:

    This post was really appreciated! *bows* Thank you for giving me more crack to dance around the hallway with. The Shy boy video was rather amusing. I’m a big techno fan and therefore love Jpop / kpop because it is Godly like techno. Again thank you its always fun to find new artists from someone else tastes.

    • Hoshi says:

      ~LOL definitely more crack (and I could still find more).
      You’re welcome! I love recommending artists/groups/songs (which is why I had to add CNBLUE to the list last minute) so I’m glad you found some new artists to listen to. (For good techno though from Korea, you’d have to go underground/indie)

  4. Teabie says:

    awwww, it’s so nice to see this post abt k-pop here! man, it’s hit asia big, and every time i return to singapore, i see the staying power of k-pop. some bands from SM even held a mini-concert together in sydney last year. SM can be so scary sometimes, lol. i’m a big fan of SHINee, SuJu and i really enjoy 2PM’s I’m Your Man. Totally original Japanese single, and how could anyone beat that SMOKIN’ MV!?

    it’s totally possible to enjoy j-stuffs and k-things at the same time. :)

    • Hoshi says:

      ~I’m hoping I can write more about Kpop in the future because and not just about the things they’ve released in Japan xD

      SM is scary, and they infuriate me so much at times, but I love all their artists/groups so much I’ll put up with anything. I’m a fan of Suju and a little of 2PM, but SHINee is my absolute favorite Kpop group of all time (I’ll stop there before I go into serious fangirl mode hahaha!).

      2PM’s I’m your Man was pretty good, but it couldn’t beat Take Off for me! And it is possible! I’ve managed to balance it over the years xD

  5. Yippy says:

    Even though I’ve only heard of these bands (from the screams of friends) but not much of their music, I’ve to admire them for their efforts in promoting their music worldwide.

    If only Japanese bands would share their enthusiasm in expanding to overseas markets…*sigh* I guess they’re too content with their huge local market to do anything…

    • Hoshi says:

      ~2011 for Kpop seemed to be this huge effort to expand worldwide (probably because of the success they’ve had in Japan) because they held concerts Paris and the States (specifically Las Vegas and New York), plus Girls Generation and 2NE1 are making efforts to get into the US music market. It’s quite daring, especially for trying to enter the American music scene (BoA tried, and I believe she wasn’t that successful. As for Wonder Girls, I’m not sure either).

      I used to be really into Jrock, so I know how you feel about them not expanding overseas…It’s just a huge risk that I assume a lot wouldn’t want to take, especially if they’re successful in their local market.

      • Yippy says:

        I guess so. But still, some risks are worth taking, no?

        Meh, in the end, you could say I’m just a tad jealous K-Pop fans have almost everything they could want. ^_^;

  6. Trilles says:

    Take Off Official Video ;)

    http://www.4shared.com/video/J91a-j9v/MV_2PM_-_Take_Off.html

  7. kluxorious says:

    How can you talk about Hallyu wave without mentioning Super Junior? O_o

    • Hoshi says:

      ~Well, the post is about the Hallyu wave in Japan, not as a whole (If it was about the Hallyu wave as a whole, of course I would add them there. It’d be a crime if I didn’t lol). I also didn’t mention them because they weren’t actively prompting in Japan like Girls Generation, KARA, etc, were.

      As for my list, I just didn’t like any of the singles they released |’D I almost put Bijin (Bonamona) on my top 5 remakes list, but in the end Big Bang’s Tonight beat it.

  8. anaaga says:

    No TVXQ? NUUUUUUUOOOOOOOOOO

  9. Moni Chan says:

    This post was awesome Hoshi, mostly cuz I have a list of songs to download on my iPod now. The only ones that I had on there from b4 where TONIGHT & Take off. arigato

  10. Samantha Zan says:

    Wow I didn’t know there was a Replay in japanese 0-0. I can understand it more than the Korean version HA XD. Yay for watching too much anime!!! I’ve at least heard of all these bands, though Super Junior is still my favorite X3.

    But anyway, I think the Hallyu wave (didn’t even know it had a name 0-0) is pretty cool. With DBSK doing the One Piece opening and 2PM with Ao no Exorcist. I actually can’t wait to see more of that :)

  11. Alynn says:

    YAY more music to listen to/ download! I’ve recently been getting into Korean music (and by getting into I have maybe only 7 songs… OTL)

    Awesome post, Hoshi!

  12. bakuhasu says:

    Another Reason why I will drop Kpop this year… jk I don’t know.. It seemed in 2011 that I felt the backlash that is the industry itself. To some a good thing, but to a minority it kinda felt superfluous. And that’s what it is. 2011 for Kpop is expanding and I’m too lazy to catch up with the latest memes, inside gossip, and even didn’t care for the newest releases. Well… except for Tablo.

    Oh right this post… Sorry but good post, just man I’m slipping away…

  13. bazerkaX says:

    I wish you guys would post more music related stuff

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