Actually, my infatuation with all things k-pop has died down a bit in the past couple of years. I still keep an eye on the scene, but not with the same sense of anticipation as before.
But since I spent a lot of this weekend listening to Girls' Generation, I thought I’d sit down and write a list describing the signs that you’ve finally given in to the allure of k-pop. These lists are all over the internet, but even so they never really reflect how k-pop affected me. So here’s my personal list and maybe it’ll strike a chord with you.
1. When you listen to Western pop, you imagine a Korean act is singing it
Once upon a time, when I listened to a song, I used to imagine myself in the pop video. Not any more. Now I imagine acts like BigBang or Miss A instead. It depends on who I’m listening to, of course, but I’ve definitely noticed a tendency for me to imagine song X is a particular act’s first English release, and then I wonder what the video would be like, their appearance on Music Bank, etc etc.
2. You listen to music every day but you have no idea who is number one in your country
I used to have my finger on the pulse of the music biz. I worked for EMI for four years and I was quite the expert on upcoming acts. Then I lived in Italy for several years, but I still had an idea of who was big in the UK. Then I came back to England, discovered k-pop and then suddenly the UK top forty just seemed unnecessary. I was so out of touch that I didn't even know when a couple of bands I liked (The Lumineers and First Aid Kit) became successful.
3. You get annoyed when people confuse Korean, Japanese and Chinese pop cultures
Seriously, I never used to give a shit about this stuff, but then it started to really get to me (now, not so much. I just assume they’re being ironic and laugh it off). Even stuff like confusing Soju and Sake would annoy me. They’re completely different! If they weren’t different they wouldn’t have the different names! I mean, come on!
4. Saying “aishh” or “aigoo”
This is one that I’ve seen on other lists, and personally I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. But I must admit, if I get annoyed enough with someone saying something stupid, I find myself saying “aishhh” before explaining exactly where they’re wrong. Slightly embarrassing, and I hope nobody notices.
5. You feel sorry for people who don’t like k-pop
This one’s a bit patronizing. I mean, snobbish dismissal of other people’s tastes in music is common in school children, but just looks absurd when coming from a grown adult. This means when I meet someone who says they don’t know about k-pop, I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying “Really? So you have no fun at all?” Western pop tends to look like a dour mix of greys compared to K-pop's dazzling palette of primary colours. Having said that, I genuinely do feel sorry for anyone who hasn't seen The Genius and that's not patronizing: that's a genuine feeling of remorse for someone's misfortune.
6. You get far too excited when Korean TV shows a Korean brand that you use in real life
I admit when I saw episode six of My Love From Another Star where Jun Ji Hyun offers someone a coffee of the same brand that I buy, I felt strangely elated. Like it somehow validated my interest in K-pop, making me feel a little bit more... authentic, somehow.
7. You start feeling like you’re in some kind of social experiment
Ever stopped to think about how weird your situation is? You’ve decided to divorce yourself from the culture that surrounds you and adopt a different culture instead. Your conversational skills drop off rapidly as you can’t discuss the latest TV/music/films that everyone else has seen. In fact, it’s not that different from being old. You find that no one understands your cultural references and when you do speak, people wait patiently until you’re finished and then change the subject.
8. You’re surprised when people say they don’t like songs in a foreign language
This depends on where you grew up, of course, but in the UK foreign pop music has always been patronized, probably due to its connection to the Eurovision Song Contest, which is now more popular for the fancy dress parties it inspires that the actual music. But after years of listening to foreign music, it comes as a shock when I’m reminded that some people have a real issue with songs in another language. Maybe it’s because they can’t sing along. I don't know.
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So that's my list. No idea idea if anyone else feels the same and I guess it's applicable to any xenophile, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway.