And happy Thanksgiving fam <3! This time I’m bringing you a post on Latino influenced K-Pop. You wonder why? First of all, I’m a latino guy living in Vancouver so it’s about time to proudly show my roots. And secondly, this week all Latino countries celebrate the Hispanic Day which commemorates the same event as North America's Thanksgiving - the “discovery” of the American continent. Although we all know we were here before the Europeans came, we still see this event as the mix of two big continents.
Now, let’s focus on what we all care about here - K-POP!
There are tons of K-Pop songs and groups that have Latino influence in their rhythms, dances and music videos as well. There are only a couple of songs both more and less famous or even entire albums where we can notice some Latino influences. From a Spanish flamenco, an Argentinian tango to some Caribbean rhythms, you’ll be surprised with the amount of Latino-influenced songs you can find in Korean music.
Mamamoo - Egoistic
This 2018 summer banger released by Mamamoo opens with a Spanish guitar and lyrics very similar to many female-Latino songs - focusing on a story about a guy playing with singer’s heart with no serious intentions with her whatsoever (call it a “Latin Lover Syndrome” if you want). As the song progresses it adds some Caribbean beats and hips-movement into the choreography. The whole song gives a typical Latino vibe where all you want to do is to stand up and dance to the beats. My favourite part comes when Mamamoo calls the player guy “bicho malo” which literally translate to “bad bug” but it could be understood as “mean bad boy.” Good job Mamamoo!
Gain - Esperando
Son Ga-In released her first solo album back in 2010. The whole album had tango influences in each of her songs. The first single on the album is called Irreversible. My personal favourite though is definitely “Esperando” which translates to waiting, for its tango-rhythm and sexy lyrics. Sadly, Gain never released a music video for this song so if you listen to it you can only think of how great that MV could have been. Good news is that the song is out there for you to enjoy this awesome mix of English-Spanish and Korean lyrics. We need more of this sexy tango K-Pop Gain, please!
BTS - Airplane pt. 2
Say hi to everyone’s favourites! With their huge fan base in Latin America, BTS couldn’t be left out on our “Latino influence” list. The second part from J-Hope’s solo album track Airplane is heavily inspired by many Latino rhythms that are hard to describe but perfectly combined. BTS stayed true to their brand though, singing about the unfairness and how hard the band members must work in order to live their dream, and yet at the end of the day all of that is worth it. As big BTS fans we already knew it was worth it when you get to hear Jimin, Kookie, Jin and V singing in El Mariachi. That’s all we needed.
Here you can see BTS performing the song in The Ellen Show:
SF9 - O Sole Mio
Sensational Feeling 9 is what SF9 stands for. These guys are amazing and they’ve been killing it mainly in Japan, which is super cool. They also, believe it or not, have a huge fan base in Latin America, where they have held tons of fan meetings. O Sole Mio song from their 2017 comeback is a remake from an old Italian song. O Sole Mio is using different rhythms in it with lyrics merging Korean, Spanish, English and Italian. What else could we have asked for? Spanish guitar, Torero choreography and spectacular view are what you can see in their music video, which is perfectly executed by the way. SF9 we wish you a very successful career! Keep killing it out there!
NCT 127 - Regular
We've heard them before singing a few sentences in Spanish but trust me, nothing like their most recent comeback. Since their main goal is to go abroad and show the world what Seoul and Korea have, this single in English is completely well executed. The Latino influences are super clear, that Salsa beat behind is sweet and gives you some calorcito, as we would say in Spanish; then listen to these kids singing in Spanish with their beautiful voices is a dream come true for most of us. NCT 127 is doing it big, currently having a media tour through the States and giving interviews and performances in talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel. NCT 127 is coming with everything and we just can't wait.
I’d like to pause here and tell you about two groups that are well known for their Spanish lyrics as well as many of songs in their repertoire where Latino influences are very obvious.
1. Old favourites: SUPER JUNIOR Well, you already knew that, didn’t you? SUPER JUNIOR is killing it with so many new projects. They have shown us Latino influenced songs since Mamacita or even more recent projects like Animals, where the Caribbean influences are very clear and spectacularly put together. Then we have collaborations like Lo Siento featuring Leslie Grace, an American singer with Dominican parents. Or the most anticipated album ever: One More Time (or at least super anticipated by me) as the five tracks on the album are packed with Latino rhythms very similar to Lo Siento. The single One More Time features one of my favourite childhood Mexican bands: Reik. I’m not going to say more about this comeback. You can watch it with your own eyes and make your own opinion.
And you’re welcome!!!
2. New favourites: KARD
We can’t have a discussion on Latino influenced K-Pop without mentioning KARD, am I right? Since their debut, they’ve made it clear how much they love Latin America and how much influence Latino rhythms have on their music. This influence is very apparent in songs such as Oh NaNa, Don’t Recall but especially Rumor. Then they decided to go bolder with Hola Hola and in their most recent comeback they totally went Latino crazy with the track Ride on the Wind. They also came up with a song featuring majority of lyrics in Spanish (including the title): Dimelo, being one of my favourites from them of course. KARD just finished a Latin American tour with so much success that we just hope they can come up North again!
Listen to a live version of Dimelo on Arirang Radio here:
The list doesn’t end just yet; here are some other songs I’ve found on my search through Latino K-Pop. I hope you guys enjoy them and if you have some more, please include them in the comments below.
IU - Havana
GFriends - Me Gustas Tu
Shinee - Senorita
U-Kiss - Te Amo
These are just few reasons why K-Pop is so big in Latin America recently, besides the fact that Korean and Latino cultures are very similar in many ways. It’s hard to believe right?
See you next time guys!!! Besos - JorgeAO