K Pop on Top…
Korean culture has always been primarily affected by Western society and their lifestyle, especially Korean music, K-Pop. Residing at the heart of Hallyu (the Korean wave), K-Pop is now much more than just catchy melody, smooth choreography, and massive production acts. But what binds all of the K-Pop music is their blend of English words and phrases in their Korean lyrics. To its surprise, there is fewer studies and analysis that explores the extensive use of English like a custom in the K-Pop words. Even though tucking English in every K-Pop lyrics might be more than a coincidence, it might be a secret formula that the K-Pop industry might have been using over and over.
Some General Queries
As my paper heavily deals with the English use in K-Pop lyrics, it tickles the following issues.
a) Why K-Pop culture uses English words into their songs?
b) From the scientific viewpoint, what are the prominent features of English mixing in K-Pop lyrics?
Data and method
For the data, I have collected the statistics from the time of the 2000s to the modern-day K-Pop and analyzed their pattern of English use. I have extracted various songs from secondary sources like YouTube for songs and colorcodedlyrics.com for the songs’ lyrics. I have chosen the songs from 90’s time, Candy by H.O.T. and I loved you by S.E.S. and compared their English use. Likewise, I have also chosen and compared the songs from a boy band, DNA by BTS and from a girl band, Cheer up by Twice and from two solo singers, 10 minutes by Lee Hyori and Rainism by Rain.
From the thorough investigation of songs, it can be found that K-Pop heavily uses the techniques of English switching within their local language lyrics. It is the method of code-switching that Korean culture has been using for various uses and objectives. As summed by Lee (2004), English mixing in K-Pop is the example of intentional code-switching, a predetermined course of action to fulfill the artists’ goals. In the ’90s, where K-Pop was walking its baby steps, the two songs, Candy by H.O.T. and I love you by S.E.S has used the English words in a minimum range. The song Candy does not even have an English word.
Likewise, the song DNA by BTS is heavily influenced by Western words, sliding English words in between the lyrics. While the song Cheer up by Twice also speaks of the same scenario like that of BTS, tucking English words like “shy shy shy” and “Cheer up baby” in between. Similarly, the solo song, 10 minutes by Lee Haori also depicts the same scenario like that of DNA and Cheer up. However, the unique of all, Rainism by Rain has the English words infused to its lyrics at the maximum point.
All shows the heavy use of code-switching and the combination of the global and local culture together in one piece. This all tells about the Korean culture to shoot for the worldwide audience via English words, making them feel at ease and comfort zone but keeping their religion and beliefs intact. Also, the techniques speak about how the Korean culture deals with their different sets of identities in terms of both, local and global phenomena.