I absolutely hated K-pop. Or so I thought. The truth is, my initial exposure was very limited; and it turns out that I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.
You see, it all began in late 2014. My oldest daughter was twelve years old at the time. It was a Saturday. She was supposed to be cleaning her room. But instead, she spent what seemed like hours taping up a bunch of printed pictures of feminine looking young Korean guys.
I’m not even kidding. They were really feminine looking. So I asked, “Who are the funny looking Asian Chicks?” I knew they were really guys. But, being the tease that I am known to be, I couldn’t help myself.
“BTS! – And they’re guys dad!” was the reply. I won’t say what words I came up with for each letter in the acronym. Needless to say, she was not at all amused. In fact, she was really offended and her feelings were pretty hurt.
I really didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. But, I must confess, I was more than a bit bothered that she wasn’t hanging up pictures of any of the punk rock bands that I had shared with her over the years. If I’m completely honest, part of me felt betrayed. I mean, who was this BTS? And how could they even earn a spot on her bedroom wall? Because they couldn’t possibly be that cool.
My daughter not only began defending her love of BTS and K-Pop in general, she began laying out some of the reasons why she was so in love with THIS Korean Boy Group.
“Dad they’re so talented.” “Dad, they’re so hard working.” “Dad, they don’t give up even when they want to quit.” “Dad, their music has a really positive message.” “Dad, they sacrifice for their dreams.”
And then she hit the home run that would change everything. “Dad, they’re really committed to helping people.” “These are things you should really relate to.”
She was right. As a best-selling self-help author and personal development coach, these are all things that I respect and admire in people. These were things I could really relate to.
So, my investigation began.
To be clear, my real intention was to find some dirt that I could use to justify my resistance to K-pop. Because they couldn’t possibly be that cool.
I began by reading several articles about the K-Pop industry. I explored the journey that these young guys go on to become Idols. That was probably the worst thing I could do – or the best – depending on your point of view.
And what did I discover?
Well, as it turns out, yes they can be that cool. And they are that cool. And I’ll tell you why.
These guys really are the entertainment equivalent to Olympic athletes. The amount of sacrifice and commitment in time, energy, effort, and the level of dedication to their craft is equivalent to any high level athlete working toward Olympic Gold.
They can dance. They can sing. Many of them can act. And nearly all of them excel in one or more athletic event. Whether it’s Korean Wrestling, Archery, or Track and Field, there is something outside of entertainment that they do really really well. And, yes, some of them even write and produce their own music. Impressive.
On top of it all, they strive to live up to a strict set of social and moral standards, when compared to Western pop stars – well, let’s just leave it at that.
I have to say that the most compelling reason I had to check out BTS, is because of the difference they have made in the life of my daughter. Several of her amazing achievements are the result of the influence that BTS has had on her life.
I’m sure you can guess that I already had some exposure to BTS music. But only very little. I had never felt a real desire to take a deep dive. And because of my negative comments, my daughter generally only listened through earbuds.
Until one day.
As a musician and serious music lover, I’m always (well, at least almost always) willing to explore new styles of music. And after such a compelling list of reasons why she was so into BTS, and what I had discovered in my investigation, I now had a real reason to check them out.
The first song I checked out was DNA from the Love Yourself: Her, Mini album release.
So… Wait for it… I really was blown away.
From a composition standpoint DNA is truly brilliant. The melodies, the transitions, and the time changes are a musical journey across multiple genres.
I was sold. I wanted to hear more. Because this was music that I could really enjoy listening to while driving in my car with the windows down and the volume cranked.
In short, this music made me feel – well – younger.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the details. But, you’ll be happy to know that BTS (among other K-pop groups) holds a place in my regular play list.
I mean. What can I say. They’re just that cool.
-Gregory Downey aka kpop dad