Every English-speaking K-pop fan had a relief moment when they realized they could sing along to their favorite songs because they had lyrics they could understand. These, however, did not always make sense. More than being coherent sentences, they were more like words in English that sounded good or rhymed. We have come to call this Engrish and K-pop is plagued with it. But instead of it being a ridiculous thing, fans have come to cherish this practice in songs. That’s why this week’s playlist is about exactly that.
I’m sure we all have our favorite Engrish phrases from Korean songs; some in which will make you question whether or not if what you were hearing was indeed an actual part of the song, while other times the phrases just makes you chuckle every time you hear it. BEAST’s (also known as B2ST) Shock makes me do both. This song is full of silly Engrish phrases from beginning to end, with lines such as everyday I just can’t control, every night the loneliness my love (so beast in the cube), to it’s signature line everyday I shock, every night I shock, and my favorite part, which is the closing line to the song, this song is not over, get shock. Until this very day, I’m still not quite sure how relevant the word shock is to the actual meaning behind this song, but due to the fact that I enjoy listening to it and it’s humorous lyrics, I’ve decided that none of that really mattered!
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EXO’s debut song MAMA has an opening chant full of Engrish that we are all familiar with and love to chant along. “Careless, careless. Shoot anonymous. Anonymous, heartless, mindless, no one who care about me.” But what are they really trying to say? It’s really funny to actually watch the video. And why you may ask? The video opens with a narrator with perfect English explaining the legend of The Tree Of Life. Then the song starts and the funny Engrish chant comes along. Even if it’s grammatically incorrect, it still makes a little sense. If you really think of EXO as aliens from EXOPLANET, then you can make a story that they barely speak English and they are trying to communicate to Earth as much as they can. Either way, we still dig the track and just laugh when that now iconic part comes on in the song.
SHINee’s Ring Ding Dong is an extremely catchy and fairly easy song to sing along. But with that there are some English words that don’t quite fit. Aside from the chorus of ring ding dong representing the sound of their heart (intersting noise), the fantastic and elastic parts of the song are obviously there because they rhyme, but the meanings of them don’t fit with the song. You can make a case for fantastic, but what are they referring to that’s elastic? Also the line we wanna go rocka rocka rocka…. Again, one can speculate what they mean there, but rocka isn’t actually an English word. In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter that these words don’t work in the song. Ring Ding Dong is a great song, Engrish and all.
SM Entertainment does not have the best track record for Engrish, sadly. While other companies have their own noteworthy, cringeworthy Engrish (U-KISS may win overall with “Don’t deny our r²π), TVXQ’s Purple Line is my particular favorite for its total over-the-top ridiculousness. It’s less the grammatical part of the Engrish, and more how cringe-worthy TVXQ was back in the day with Yoochun’s infamous and seemingly out of place, line, “Really wanna touch myself.” And Yunho’s “I’ll show you what’s in between.”
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For syntax purposes, Donghae’s line on Super Junior-M’s Super Girl makes sense and has almost perfect grammar — “he’s not Superman, he must be mama boy.” However, it’s the combination of words together what makes the English sentence funny and, therefore, Engrish. Of course Super Junior has many worser Engrish lyrics (Sexy, Free, and Single or Mr. Simple, anyone?), but it’s that line on that song which makes me giggle every time I listen to it –which is a lot because it’s awesome.
What are your favorite K-pop songs with Engrish ? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.