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K-Pop Rewind: H.O.T 'I Yah!'

By Adrienne Stanley | June 21, 2014 12:36 PM EDT


In recent months, SM Entertainment has been the focus of many headlines, with its boy group EXO at the center of attention.

Many new fans to K-Pop may not realize that SM Entertainment was one of the early drivng forces of K-Pop,with its group H.O.T serving as leaders in modern day Korean pop.

With their genre bending sound and intricate dance moves, EXO often draws comparison to H.O.T.

H.O.T were pioneers in K-Pop as a boy group that was created specifically to appeal to the Korean teen market.

Otherwise known as High Five of Teenager, the five members of H.O.T combined to lead K-Pop through an amazing journey into the future.

H.O.T was created by Lee Soo Man and debuted with SM Entertainment in 1996.

Most international fans are familiar with their song "Candy," which is most often played during couples holidays such as White Day.

As H.O.T matured, the group ventured away from its initial bubblegum boy band sound to embrace an edgier rock style.

The 1999 release "I Yah!" exemplies the evolution of H.O.T as the group developed into more serious musical artists.

H.O.T did not hesitate to release controversial songs and "I Yah!" was a track which emphasized social awareness.

"I Yah!" provided commentary on a horrific Korean school fire in which kindegarden students were locked inside their classrooms by negligent teachers.

In a twist similar to the recent SEWOL Ferry tragedy, the teachers in the fire reacted similarly to most of the ferry crew, which yielded tragic results.

"I Yah!" reflected the disillusionment of the youth of Korea, who could not comprehend the tragic events. Lyrics which encapsulate this sentiment include the phrase "Who gave the permission to turn out the children's flame that couldn't even be burnt."

H.O.T adopted a rock concept similar to the Japanese style Visual Kei.  DBSK would also adopt this style and musically, EXO would  replicate the sound with their debut track "MAMA."

The impact of "I Yah!" and the tragedy which inspired the song are best displayed through their October 1999 performance on MBC "Music Camp."

While earlier footage of H.O.T performances included enthusiastic fans, the audience in the footage for "I Yah!" can be heard delivering synchronized fan chants.

H.O.T disbanded in 2001, but their back catalog is worth exploring. Fans of groups such as EXO and SHINee will find their past music of particular interest, as it is representative of what is now considered to be the trademark SM Entertainment sound.

Tagged :  H.O.T., SM Entertainment, I Yah, k-pop rewind


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