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Using Traditional Korean Music In K-Pop: Crayon Pop And ToppDogg Attempt Something New In Their Latest Songs

By Staff Writer | April 03, 2014 03:11 AM EDT

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Crayon Pop, who shot to stardom while wearing helmets, released the music video for 'Uh-ee.' The song is heavily influenced by Trot, a genre of Korean pop music. But Crayon Pop isn't the only idol group to use more traditional genres of Korean music to influence their pop songs. ToppDogg's 'Arario' also takes Korean music and turns it into a catchy pop song.

'Uh-ee' is just as comical, although a bit less catchy, than Crayon Pop's 'Bar Bar Bar' and 'Lonely Christmas.' But they still kept their ridiculous style, this time by dressing up as five ajummas.

Ajumma is the word Koreans call middle-aged married women, and often has a negative stereotype of pushy, unfashionable women; calling a young woman an ajumma is generally considered to be offensive. Ajumma will get jobs cleaning buildings and housekeepers in general are often called ajumma.

The shoes, outfits, and bandanas that Crayon Pop wears in 'Uh-ee' are very typical of what ajumma wear, and the connotation will go unnoticed in Korea. By putting it with an old fashion sound, combining techno and trot, Crayon Pop's 'Uh-ee' draws attention to the old-fashioned stereotypes and draws them to the forefront, proving that they're not outdated.

ToppDogg takes the idea of using traditional Korean music one step further in 'Arario,' where the group mixes traditional Korean elements with an upbeat hip-hop song. The sound of traditional pansori music and ToppDogg's modern style of singing shows that K-Pop isn't only a borrowing of musical styles from other cultures.

'Arario's video also makes use of traditional hanbok and objects, and has the female dancers dress like gisaeng, proving that these things are only out-dated if they are not used in modern forms of art.

This move to combine traditional Korean sounds with new Korean sounds is interesting because K-Pop has been criticized for merely adapting Western styles of music and not really having an unique Korean flavor to it.

Crayon Pop, a high profile debut with unique concepts, and ToppDogg, a rookie group that is continuously gaining more attention, both have attempted to combine uniquely Korean sounds with typical K-Pop style and produced two fascinating songs. If more artists produce music like this, K-Pop will be able to wash aside some of its critics.

However, these type of songs are rare within K-Pop and it seems unlikely to become mainstream anytime soon. Even so, they're fascinating synthesis of different genres of Korean music.

Tagged :  Crayon Pop, ToppDogg, crayon pop uh-ee, toppdogg arario

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