David Anthony on songwriting & succeeding in the K-pop market [interview]


It’s no news that many of the songs released by Korean and other Asian acts are written and produced overseas: some of the biggest K-pop hits from the last few years were made by songwriters based in the Americas and Europe. It’s not like you have to have been born or raised in Korea to understand what it takes to write a song that Koreans will love. You can literally sell thousands of copies and have your songs placed with top class K-pop acts such as EXO and Twice without ever really having been in Seoul.

That’s the case of David Anthony, a British songwriter and producer who has placed around 20 (and counting) songs with huge Korean agencies like SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. He talked to KultScene about how he got into the K-pop market and what it has been doing for him.

“You can be in the toilet or in an one million dollar studio, it doesn’t matter. What matters is your creativity,” said Anthony. He’s been in the music business for years, but it was when Korean agency WM Entertainment got interested in his creativity that he saw his life (and income) changing. His entrance into the K-pop market was the song “Liar Liar,” which ended up being recorded by girl group Oh My Girl.

“Liar Liar” would become the first of many times Anthony worked with Oh My Girl – he also wrote and produced “I Found Love” and their latest comeback single “Coloring Book.” “They make happy & positive pop songs, and I love making them because it’s just fun. I would say we are a good match.”

Also on KultScene: Meet iDR, The Man Behind EXO’s “Love Me Right”

In spite of having always been into catchy, fun, and feel-good pop music, boy and girl groups, and all the elements that make a great K-pop song, the K-pop world was something unknown to David Anthony – and somehow it still is. “I’m still learning, to be honest.” It’s only been nearly 18 months since “Liar Liar,” but Anthony is already able to see what makes K-pop so different from other music styles and markets. “First, the openness. K-pop is more accepting, there is so much creativity to be allowed. It’s like a big party. No one is being, like, too cool to listen to this stuff.” Second, but no less important, it’s the financial reward. “Because there’s just so much money to be made and so many productions.”

Anthony certainly understands there’s money in the market: even his non-single cuts gave him remarkable rewards, like EXO-CBX’s “Cherish” and Twice’s “Only You.”

“‘Cherish’ was my first cut with EXO[-CBX], I wrote and produced it on my own, and it was actually the second highest seller song of the album. I was so pleased because it sold around 100,000 copies itself and the album sold about 400,000” “Only You,” in its turn, was featured on Twice’s fourth mini album, which sold incredibly well in Korea, Japan, and also made Twice the first Asian girl group to enter the Top 30 in the United Kingdom. “I got my first Top 30 in my own country due to an Asian group!”

But this wasn’t all: getting a song recorded by the most relevant K-pop girl group of the moment also improved Anthony’s relationship with JYP Entertainment, resulting in him writing and producing the debut track “How Old Are You?” for JYP’s latest act, super young boy group Boystory, in collaboration with JYP head Park Jinyoung. The group’s first comeback, expected for December 2017, is also planned to feature a song by Anthony.

“K-pop for me has been a very natural process,” he said. “When I heard the acts I really wanted to connect with. I knew I could make that type of music. I just needed time, connections.” It seems to be working pretty well for him. But, of course, this doesn’t mean it’s easy. “They just don’t give anyone a cut. You have to be bloody good.”

When asked if his creative process was affected by his relationship and experience with K-pop professionals, he said that he didn’t really have to make drastic changes. “It’s just about doing what I’m doing – and love doing – with a slight tweak here and there to, hopefully, fit what they want. I knew I just needed to make sure that the final product was high quality.”

Also on KultScene: 7 K-pop music styles we’d love to hear more

Well, at least for Anthony, we can assure that the future still holds quite interesting things: besides the above mentioned comeback of Boystory, he’s recently contributed one of the songs featured on B.A.P.’s last mini album, “Blue,” and potentially has upcoming music with Oh My Girl and other Asian acts yet. (The B.A.P track, “All The Way Up” has since been embroiled in a rights controversy, about which Anthony said he wasn’t aware that the song couldn’t be sold to different artists in different countries. According to the CEO of The Kennel, Anthony’s music publisher, Hayden Bell, it was a newcomer mistake. Anthony has since apologized to TS Entertainment and B.A.P. for the misunderstanding).

According to Anthony, both the competition behind the scenes and among K-pop acts explains why few songwriters and producers are getting into this small circle. “Demos these days have to be so good because the competition is so high, so you just have to be on top. [And] in Korea, there are so many products being released, so naturally some are gonna be better than others.” But, at the end of the day, David Anthony is proof that even though, nowadays, the K-pop market might seem a little bit more accessible for non-Koreans, it’s not for everyone, and the bar is surely not low. But Anthony has what it takes to make his music click with K-pop companies and audiences, and will keep doing so as long as he can.

What’s your favourite song written by David Anthony, amongst the ones we’ve mentioned? Let us know your picks and thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Weekly K-pop Faves: Feb. 20-26

The last full week of February saw a lot of new releases from K-pop’s female acts, some of which caught the attention of KultScene’s team. Continue reading to hear which new songs by Lovelyz, TWICE, and Dal Shabet’s Subin won us over.

”Knock Knock” by TWICE (Released Feb. 20)

I’m not a TWICE stan but I can’t deny that their title releases have always been addictive and catchy, albeit sometimes a little annoying. When they made their comeback recently I was expecting much of the same, but “Knock Knock” proved to be a surprise. Yes, it has a concept and melody that we’ve come to recognise as TWICE. But this was the first time I genuinely liked every part of the song (especially the bridge!) and thought it suited the group very well. The accompanying choreography is definitely one of my favourites so far and this no-longer-rookie group definitely feels more comfortable now. Their comeback has felt a little undermined in light of BTS’s immense success but the song has still done remarkably well and I hope TWICE only goes up from here!


Also on KultScene: Is K.A.R.D the future of K-pop?

”Circle’s Dream” by Subin (Released Feb. 23)

It seems like everyone I’ve spoken to about Subin’s “Circle’s Dream” either compares her to Lorde, Lim Kim, or both. The low-key instrumentals–including what sounds like a whimsically plucked ukulele– act as the backdrop of the Dal Shabet member’s vocals, which are somehow simultaneously sonorous and mellow. Even as playful as Subin sounds rolling her ‘r’s and singing sweepings “woos,” the song is actually about being hurt by love. The single’s style–and Subin’s solo work in general– is such a fresh approach to a topic that K-pop’s covered before, it’s really a pity that her solo efforts are getting essentially ignored. Dal Shabet had one of the best K-pop songs of 2016, and “Circle’s Dream” highlighted the fact that it’s not just by accident: Subin is an artist not to be overlooked.


”WoW!” by Lovelyz (Released Feb. 26)

Lovelyz are the best girl group of the new generation. Sadly rethreads of older groups are hogging the limelight so no one really knows this. “Destiny” was one of the most complete songs of 2016 and every single by Lovelyz since their debut has been good or great. “WoW!” is their biggest departure to date although nothing is lost in the transition. Lovelyz retain the synthpop style that dramatizes their potentially overbearing cuteness. On “WoW!,” produced by Lovelyz regular Onepiece, they add a level of quirk. The structure is odd, opening with a rhythmic talk-sing of the title with funky guitars. It then moves onto handclaps and eventually the surprising, but oh so satisfying, chorus. As usual Jiae is the secret weapon of Lovelyz. She perfectly captures the saccharine cuteness while still being totally weird. Her babyish, high-pitched “jyae ippeo” adds another whole level to the song, keeping it constantly exciting as opposed to maybe just a bit different. Lovelyz put effort into their music that goes unnoticed but revives the K-pop cutesy girl group sound every time.


What was your favorite song of the week? 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.

2016 Gift Guide For Lovers of K-Pop, K-Drama, & K-Beauty

KultScene 2016 Holiday gift guide feat TWICE!It seems like the holiday season already began as far back as September, but for many of KultScene’s readers it kicks off in earnest on Thanksgiving day when the Black Friday sales jump into action in the US (and much of the rest of the world!) Every year, we’ve greeted the busiest shopping season of the year with our K-pop-oriented gift guide and once again we’ve put our heads together and come up with some great ideas.

Albums and K-pop swag may be a lot of fun (all the lightsticks and posters!!) for the music fans, and you may be tempted to see if that drama you know they love is available on Amazon, but there’s so much more out there! Along with our recommendations, we’re offering a few discounts and giveaways throughout the next month, so make sure to check back throughout the holiday season!

Scroll below to see our rotating giveaways. Currently we’re giving away a Korea Curated Box, so scroll down to enter!

For The Masking Fiend

There’s a lot of K-beauty-oriented subscription boxes out there (and on this gift guide), but Piibu Subscription Box is the answer to every masker’s dreams. If you know someone who has ever tried the 10 masks in 10 days challenge, Piibu’s box filled with different masks is perfect for that. The monthly subscription box comes with a variety of masks from different Korean brands.

Price: $19-108, depending on the subscription plan

Piibu is offering KultScene readers a chance to win a box, so enter below (begins at midnight 11/24). However, this is only available for those in the US, sorry!

Update: Thanks to everyone who entered our Piibu giveaway! Congratulations Naomi Pangelinan for winning!

For People Who Love Wearing Their Fandom Hearts on Literal Sleeves

Everyone loves T-shirts, right? TeePublic gives artists an opportunity to sell their designs for $20, and there are some really great K-pop themed ones available through the outlet so just dig around a bit. We’re fans of designs by sittinginclover and dekoreate, but there’s a lot more K-related items on the site. The site is called TEEPublic, but you can also get the designs on a variety of items, like cell phone cases and mugs!

sittinginclover Super Junior-inspired "Oppa" Tee

Price: Tees for $20

For the K-pop Inept

Just in case someone in your life is completely lacking all knowledge of Korea’s music industry, Woosung Kang’s recently released The KPop Dictionary is probably a good place to start. Or, you know, take a look at our other fact-finding suggestions.

K-Pop Dictionary

Price: $6 for Kindle version, $13 for paperback copy

Also on KultScene: 2015 Gift Guide For Fans Of Korean Pop Culture

For The Skin Tone Perfectionist

For some people, sunscreen is all you need before leaving the house. For others, you better have your primer, foundation, powder, and setting spray. Most of us are somewhere in between. Missha makes it pretty easy, with their BB Boomer primer setting things up as a great base for whatever you’re dressing your face up with. (Plus, Alexis swears by their Time Revolution Essence!). Everything on Missha’s site is 30% OFF between Dec. 1-27 and there’s a lot of free gifts, including sheet masks and samples of some of their Time Revolution products.

Make sure to enter our Missha X KultScene giveaway! We’re giving three winners a gift set worth $90 featuring the BB Boomer, Missha’s Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator AmpouleTime Revolution The First Treatment Essence. However, only U.S. residents can participate since the prizes must be sent to an address within the country.


Price: Regular $15, but on sale for $9

Thanks to everyone who entered our Missha giveaway! The winners have been notified.

For The Lipstick Loving EXO-Ls

Apparently, Sephora has shades in their Rouge Cream Lipstick line that sound suspiciously like they were named after songs by EXO, like “Call Me Baby” and “Lucky One.” It may or may not be related, but it’s a nice little token with an inside joke for anyone who wants a piece of K-pop in their makeup bag. [Let KultScene know if you find any other K-pop connections at Sephora!]

Sephora Lucky One EXO lipstick KultScene

Lucky One

Price: $12.50 each

For The Lipstick Loving Wino

No, I don’t mean a fan of WINNER (shout out to Inner Circle!). Style Korean has a lot of really cute products, but our favorite is their Labiotte Wine Tints. Or just buy them some soju or plum wine!


Price: $9 each

For The K-pop Fan Always Losing Their Headphones

Psy apparently tested these adorable brightly colored earbuds from Soul Electronics. So if that celebrity endorsement matters to you, here you go! They come in a variety of different neon hues so can suit just about anyone’s taste. (And maybe buy an album or two with them?)


Price: $50

For The K-Beauty Confused

What the heck is the 10 step solution? If your giftee, or yourself, are befuddled by the nuances of K-beauty skincare, the BomiBox is the perfect place to begin. Each box comes with eight full or deluxe sized Korean beauty products, ensuring that you’ll have a diverse range of items to peruse as you dig further into K-beauty.

Bomibox KultScene

Price: $37, but if you use the code KULTSCENE you get $2 off each order you make. For life!

Thank you everyone for entering and congratulations, Briana Fortunato!

Also on KultScene: 2014 K-Pop Inspired Gift-Giving Guide

For The Cuddle Buddy

Zombie Mamma makes some adorable K-pop plushies, specialized upon request. So if you know someone who wants to be able to brag about sharing a bed with their favorite Korean star… Here’s your chance! Contact Zombie Mamma through her Facebook page.

Zombie Mamma K-pop plushies

Price: Prices range from $50-$60, depending on how elaborate you want to get with the hair, outfit, etc.

For The Burgeoning Anthropologist

K-beauty and K-pop is good and all, but is that really what Korea’s all about? Definitely not! Korea Curated and Inspire Me Korea are two different subscription boxes that bring a little bit of Korean culture straight to your front door.

Korea Curated offers subscription boxes featuring Korean items that aren’t typically sold outside of Korea. Each month’s box can feature anything and everything, filled with things such as Korean snacks, toys, artwork, socks, craft projects, and more. (Plus it’s run out of Korea by a married couple, Cory and Marie, which you know it’s filled with love!) If you use the code KULTSCENE, you’ll get 20% off your first order.

Korea Curated boxes KultScene gift guide

Price: $43-75, depending on the size of the box.

Inspire Me Korea, on the other hand, offers the most diverse Korean subscription boxes around with their monthly culture boxes geared to both men and women, plus they also feature a beauty box. It’s UK based, but don’t worry, they ship their boxes around the world. If you use the code KULTSCENE you can get 10% off your first order.

Inspire Me Korea Box KultScene Gift Guide

Price: £13.99-40 (about $18-100 USD), depending on the subscription

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For The Foodie

Watched Let’s Eat or Drinking Alone? There’s so much food, how can you not want to try some Korean food firsthand? We spoke to the women who started Crazy Korean Cooking years ago, but they have these DIY kits that we think would be a great addition to any kitchen pantry.

They also have a great option to get meals shipped directly to your door , and if you use the code KULTSCENE you can get 25% off your first order. Or, if you’re looking for something more stocking-sized, there’s also the A Very Crazy Korean Christmas Gift set filled with some fun items, ranging from food to kitchen gloves. (Literally!) If you’re interested in that, use the code KULTCRAZY to get 10% off. Both codes expire Dec. 18, so decide which delicious looking foodstuff you want soon!

DIY Crazy Korean Cooking

Price: $19-85

What’s your ideal holiday gift, either for yourself or for others? Share your thoughts (and pictures of your holiday shopping!) about this article 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.

The Big Three: K-Pop Record Label Mid-Year Review

taeyeon bigbang twice jyp yg sm

Whether you’re an Inspirit, Pink Panda, Blackjack, S<3NE, B2UTY, or anything in between, you probably know the names of some of K-pop’s biggest record labels. From SM to YG to JYP to Cube to others, each label plays a huge role in the present and future of K-pop’s stars and the industry as a whole. And every year, some labels grow in power while others get closer and closer to obscurity.

Halfway through this year, some labels have tons to work on, while others are definitely killing it. Let’s take a look at some of K-pop’s biggest record labels and talk about their strengths and weaknesses from throughout the year. The evaluation will be based on the following five categories: Artist Management, Artist Popularity, Music Quality, Music Popularity, and Overall Success. For the first part, I’ll be discussing SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment, affectionately known as the Big Three labels. With the biggest overall success, popularity, market share in some areas, these companies are on a separate level than other labels, and therefore deserve an article of their own.

Also on KultScene: Unicorn’s “Unicorn Plus: The Brand New Label” Album Review

SM Entertainment

SM Tiffany Taemin Taeyeon NCT U

The worldwide leader of K-pop entertainment is still thriving. With major artists like EXO, Taeyeon, Red Velvet, and more leading the first half of the year, SM has clearly spared no expense in maintaining its seat on the throne for K-pop kings and queens. It seems like every week or two brings a new album release out of SM, along with actual weekly song releases through SM’s ambitious STATION music project. Collectively, the frequency and efficiency with which SM releases are things other labels can only dream of emulating.

And with that, there’s an emphasis on solos and subunits. So far, we have seen solo releases from Taeyeon, Tiffany, Jonghyun, Taemin, Yesung, Ryeowook, Luna, Amber, to name a few, with rumored solos in the works for Seohyun, Yuri, and Onew. The amount of fanbase power that each artist, whether in solo, subunit or full-group releases, ensures SM’s continued relevance and money-making abilities. Each mini-album sells a few ten-thousand albums and brings the label more profit. Artists are also receiving more creative freedom, with SHINee members Taemin and Jonghyun having extensive control over their own solo releases. With Taemin, NCT’s Ten, and Hyoyeon all participating on Mnet’s “Hit the Stage” in addition to tons of schedules for non-enlisted Super Junior members, Girls’ Generation members, and f(x) members, it seems SM is also doing a good job of keeping its artists within the spotlight.

SM’s only major weakness this year, however, is completely self-inflicted (and also very noticeable). With minimal promotion for some solo releases and a seemingly compulsive desire to dive into alternative and electronic genres, SM is losing the Korean crowd on digital charts. EXO’s “Call Me Baby” made #2 on 2015’s First Half-Year Gaon Chart, proving that “Call Me Baby” was a strong and popular release throughout and beyond its promotion cycle. On 2016’s Half-Year Chart, the highest-charting SM song is “Everytime” by Chen and Punch at #11. This song wasn’t even part of SM’s promotions, as it was part of the “Descendants of the Sun” OST. Aside from a few STATION releases that went without promotion on music shows and 2015’s “I” by Taeyeon, the only SM song in the Top 100 that was actually promoted this year is EXO’s “Monster,” which sits at #100. Clearly, SM is taking horrible losses in the digital market.

It seems, however, that SM knows their songs aren’t demolishing the charts, and seems to value the quality and quantity over digital success and public popularity. While it might be frustrating seeing our faves so low on the charts, SM seems to have an agenda — even with new group NCT, which is aiming for world domination. We’ll just have to wait to see more of what SM is planning. The only other weakness is scandals, which have hurt artists like Krystal, Kai, Victoria, Lay, and Zhoumi. Since we have yet to see the full effect of these scandals in the context of a musical release (except for Zhoumi, but there aren’t many negative effects since he was never super popular in Korea to begin with), these scandals are still only minor losses for SM.

For the first half of 2016, they get a solid 8.5/10 from me.

YG Entertainment

yg akmu akdong musician winner lee hi

Angry fans everywhere can tell you that YG is slacking. The once-great label was home to domestic and international chart-topping groups, with huge fanbase power in tow. Now, it’s another story, and YG is entirely to blame for its mistakes. As expected of a group with ten years under its belt, BIGBANG is slowing down with releases, especially considering the fact that none of the five members have enlisted in the military yet. As a result, we are left with the remains of 2NE1, which continues on a downward spiral of mismanagement, and newer artists like WINNER, iKON, Lee Hi, AKMU, and, originally “by the end of July” now August 8th, Black Pink. These artists are by no means bad, but YG fails to give them the proper management to make them succeed. They still don’t make many TV appearances, and have huge hiatuses between comebacks. Lee Hi lost a lot of traction and momentum once YG delayed her comeback for over three years — WINNER had a similar situation, waiting over a year for a comeback as well.

This isn’t to say that YG doesn’t have some successes this year — while many say that WINNER’s comeback was a failure, this isn’t entirely true, as their one mini-album yielded three top ten singles this year. Lee Hi shot the same number of songs to the top ten with her album “Seoulite,” and Akdong Musician achieved a number-one hit with the catchy “Re-Bye.” Even iKON got into the top three without any promotion with “#WYD.” Not everything is in shambles for YG, as their newer artists are clearly decently popular, but there’s definitely a lot to criticize.

Let’s look at the current situation — 2NE1’s three-member summer comeback is nowhere in sight, WINNER’s E.X.I.T. series, which was supposed to yield four albums throughout the year, has only seen one album release with the year’s seventh month having come to a close. iKON’s July comeback never happened (aside from a few random singles), BIGBANG’s MADE album from last year is still lost in the void, and only the next week will be able to show us whether YG actually puts out Black Pink on August 8th like the company is saying. It seems the only good things about YG this year are the quality of the music (even though it takes an eternity to be released) and sub-label recruitments from HIGHGRND and The Black Label. On the whole, YG gets a 4/10 from me. Burn.

JYP Entertainment

GOT7 JYP Wonder Girls TWICE Baek Ah Yeon Baek Yerin

Arguably the most successful label of the year, JYP has made quite a comeback of its own. I love a good underdog, and seeing JYP rise from the ashes of its pre-2015 decline has been quite exciting. With the explosive success that is TWICE, the label is definitely raking in the dough this year. Based on further analysis of the Gaon Chart, it’s evident that TWICE’s second mini album “Page Two” has already sold more than any previous Wonder Girls or Miss A album, and TWICE’s two mini albums have, in less than a year, collectively outsold the entirety of Miss A’s discography. With tons of CFs and variety appearances in tow, TWICE has clearly given JYP new life.

But TWICE isn’t JYP’s only success this year. With successful releases from Baek Ah Yeon, Baek Yerin, and Wonder Girls, the label is a huge success in terms of musical and artist popularity this year. Wonder Girls is an especially large win, considering that the group was in danger of becoming irrelevant after last year’s “I Feel You.” Through “Why So Lonely”’s breakthrough success (the song still tops charts almost a month after release), Wonder Girls have proved the resilience of both their group and their label. JYP teaches us all that a label is truly successful when both its older and newer groups can make waves in the K-pop world.

Along with profits piling in from TWICE, GOT7, and a successful Japanese release from 2PM, JYP is killing it in all aspects of success. It’s also definitely notable that its artists are being promoted well — many are given creative freedom, constant releases, and stable promotion. Each TWICE member has made upwards of seven or eight variety appearances since debut. While Tzuyu and Sana are currently the most popular members, JYP is taking the time to bring Jihyo and Momo some attention as well, given their recent appearances on shows like “King of Mask Singer” and “Hit the Stage,” respectively.

Keeping all of this success in mind, JYP has taken a few hits this year, specifically in GOT7’s scandal and Fei’s recent solo release. While GOT7’s controversial actions definitely hurt their reputation in Korea and possibly abroad, the group still has a lot of room for upward advancement, given their increasing sales and ability to tour worldwide. Fei was never incredibly popular, and her recent support of China in the South China Sea dispute has really hurt her Korean reputation as well. The result was catastrophic — the single fell off of most charts within a day of release. Recognizing these minor losses as nothing more than, well, minor losses, JYP gets a stellar 9.5/10 from me.

Also on KultScene: An Ode to SHINee on the Eve of KCON LA 2016

And that wraps up the Mid-Year Review of the Big Three. For the first time in years, it seems like JYP has become the overall best label of the year so far. We can only hope that their success continues, while praying that SM can get themselves a hit or two before the year’s end and that YG lives up to at least a fourth of its promises.

The ranking is as such:

  1. JYP Entertainment — 9.5/10
  2. SM Entertainment — 8.5/10
  3. YG Entertainment — 4/10

What do you think of the Big Three so far this year? 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.

The K-Pop Phoenix: The New Generation of Girl Groups

Girl Groups

K-pop is one of the fastest-changing industries known to man, woman, fanboy, and fangirl alike. Just think about it: two years ago, MAMAMOO’s derpy quirks, Sana’s “Shashasha” and GFriend’s stage falls were almost or entirely unknown to the public, Korean or international. But fast forward a few debuts and comebacks later, and the world of K-pop has changed immensely. I recently explained why the Second Generation of K-pop Girl Groups is slowly (and painfully) falling apart. And now, some seven or eight years since the fateful debut stages of legends like Girls’ Generation and 2NE1, the New Generation of Girl Groups is here carry the torch forward.

The advent of a new generation is pretty exciting — it essentially only happens once every few years when a wave of popular girl groups hits the scene around the same time. Starting in the late 1990s, the First Generation consisted of groups like S.E.S, Fin.K.L, and Baby V.O.X. It was about ten years until the Second Generation came around, with Girls’ Generation, KARA, Wonder Girls in 2007, joined by 2NE1, SISTAR, 4Minute and more in 2009-10. Now, we finally see the Third Generation, starting with MAMAMOO and Red Velvet 2014 and joined by TWICE and GFriend in 2015. The exact breakdown and timing of the Generations is something commonly debated by K-pop fans (and believing it breaks down differently than I described is totally cool, too), but it’s pretty clear that, regardless of how you define the generations, a new wave has come to dominate K-pop post-2014.

While our past faves may be beginning to fade, the K-pop phoenix is reborn again with the advent of the Third Generation. And the new groups both parallel and differ from their predecessors immensely. Let’s take a closer look at four of K-pop’s newer stars, and see how they stack up next to top Second Gen groups SISTAR, f(x), 2NE1 and Girls’ Generation.

Also on KultScene: Intro to Red Velvet

SISTAR has quite a reputation in the K-pop world. With unforgettable hit-after-hit, the four member act has asserted its place among girl group royalty since their debut in 2010. Most notably, SISTAR is known for their memorable hook songs, which tend to define an entire season of the year. They are affectionately considered the Queens of Summer Bops, launching 2012’s “Loving U,” 2013’s “Give It to Me,” 2014’s “Touch My Body, ”and 2015’s “Shake It” to the number-one spot on the Korean charts every summer. And, as this is being written, the group’s latest release “I Like That” inches closer and closer to a perfect all-kill as well. Few groups have been able to cultivate such a long string of hits. [ed note. It is currently within the top 5 on numerous Korean music charts.] With so much public recognition for their songs, SISTAR has one considerable weakness in the spectrum of girl group success: fandom strength. Since the group is so known for its public popularity, it lacks a strong fandom to buy up albums and sell-out concerts when the chance comes around.

Sistar and Gfriend

GFriend, a six-member girl group debuted only last year, boasts a similar situation. So early into the game, the group has two very well-known songs: the cute, catchy and stage-fall inducing “Me Gustas Tu,” and the intense and memorable mega-hit “Rough,” which dominated charts early this year, becoming February’s monthly number one song against frighteningly powerful artists like Taeyeon of Girls’ Generation, who released her single “Rain” around the same time. Digitally, GFriend shows a lot of potential, and boasts a lot of public popularity and recognition as well. While they are quickly being noticed as a top girl group, GFriend isn’t exactly known for having a huge domestic or international fandom. While this could definitely change in coming years, and the groups are stylistically and musically very different, GFriend seems to line up with SISTAR’s legacy right now — captivating the public with a stellar title track and leaving the albums to a small, dedicated group of fans.

Like SISTAR, f(x) is one of K-pop’s Second Gen giants, but for a different reason. While SISTAR is more public-friendly and promotes music that people can quickly find fun and engaging, f(x) is known for an experimental style, bringing in exotic musical styles that are less familiar to the Korean crowd. They brought some alternative electronic with “Rum Pum Pum Pum” in 2013, EDM with “Red Light” in 2014, and house with “4 Walls” last year. The now four-member group has introduced and familiarized diverse musical styles among the South Korean music scene. For a K-pop girl group, it’s pretty impressive that they’ve maintained relevance for so long even though their songs aren’t the most public-friendly off the bat. The SM-produced group also has a huge fandom behind it, as albums regularly sell in excess of 80,000 copies and concerts quickly sell out.

f(x) and Red Velvet

And as f(x) enters its later years (it’s now been about seven years since their debut), labelmates Red Velvet are poised to follow in their footsteps. With distinct R&B, alternative and electronic influences, Red Velvet has become one of K-pop’s newest jewels, with multiple top 10 singles “Happiness,” “Ice Cream Cake,” “Dumb Dumb” and, most recently, “One of These Nights.” With a very distinct and eclectic musical style, Red Velvet sets itself apart and succeeds. Much like f(x), Red Velvet has established a unique musical color with a strong fandom behind it, as their two mini-albums and studio album have all topped album charts and sold about 50,000 copies, much more than other girl groups at the moment.

Now we get to the really big leagues — digital and talent monster groups with strong domestic and international fandoms. With the most number-one singles of any act in South Korean history, 2NE1 is exactly that. Iconic hit after iconic hit, the group was known since 2009 for promoting multiple singles from the same album (something very rare in K-pop, but typical of YG groups), and succeeding with each and every one of them. Since their debut in 2009, 2NE1 have launched immensely successful songs to the forefront of K-pop trends, starting with their debut single “Fire,” is one of the best-selling songs of all-time in South Korea. To date, the group has never promoted a single that charted below number four on weekly charts (that totals to seventeen top-four songs), and consistently sold albums into the 100,000s. They are also the only of K-pop’s girl groups to complete two full world tours, demonstrating their fandom power both within and outside of Korea.

2NE1 and Mamamoo

While a stylistic 180 from 2NE1, MAMAMOO aligns most closely with where 2NE1 stood in the K-pop world a few years ago. With a similar four-member structure and powerful vocals, rap and dance, MAMAMOO has the incredible stage presence, talent and personality that made 2NE1 so successful to begin with. The group already has two top-three singles “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and most recently, “You’re the Best,” and MAMAMOO is known particularly for having a large and supportive fanbase. While Daum Fancafe isn’t always the best metric to determine how many fans a group has, the numbers tell us something interesting here: MAMAMOO currently has about 75,000 members in their fancafe and counting. They were the fastest girl group to 50,000, and their numbers exceed other majorly successful girl groups including AOA, 9MUSES, f(x), and even 2NE1. Going off of that, all 8,200 tickets to their first solo concert sold out in only one minute. And considering that 80% of the ticket sales were to female fans, the group is definitely finding its place as 2NE1’s successor.

There are, however, some major differences. While 2NE1 went for badass electronic pop music, MAMAMOO is one of K-pop’s only jazz-influenced pop groups, bringing in some of those elements in “Mr. Ambiguous” and “Piano Man.” The group also regularly performs on shows like “Immortal Song” and makes appearances on varieties like “We Got Married,” something 2NE1 rarely did (another YG custom). With impressive talent and stage presence, MAMAMOO is all set to rise up in the Third Generation of K-pop, just as 2NE1 did in the Second.

Last but the opposite of least, Girls’ Generation epitomizes what it means to be a successful girl group in Korea. With nationwide public recognition, a frighteningly large fandom, international acclaim, and strong digital sales, the group definitely led the Second Generation. Once GG made it big in 2009 with iconic title track “Gee,” no one stood a chance against them in the fight for the number-one spot among girl groups. From Korea to Japan, Girls’ Generation has become a household name and a nationwide craze. Speaking of Japan, GG was arguably the most successful Korean girl group there, as their debut Japanese album sold a whopping 870,000 copies. Even the Korean version of their 2011 album The Boys sold 140,000 copies in Japan — yes, the Korean version — not to mention over 450,000 album sales within Korea itself. As we can tell, it’s pretty hard to live up to a monster girl group like GG. So who is the ringleader of the Third Generation?

Right now, it seems to be none other than JYP Entertainment’s TWICE. Right off the bat, the groups are structurally similar — three strong vocals (Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun line up with Jihyo, Nayeon and Jungyeon), a visual center (Yoona lines up with Tzuyu), an aegyo-centric attention-grabber (Sunny lines up with Sana) and a strong dance line (Sooyoung, Yuri and Hyoyeon line up with Mina, Tzuyu and Momo). The groups also wield a similar, glamorous girl-next-door vibe, looking for love and accessing their femininity. TWICE’s success is comparable as well — in fact, they are the only girl group other than Girls’ Generation to have an album selling above the hundred-thousand mark, which their most recent mini-album Page Two did very quickly. Along with a fierce fandom, TWICE’s digital sales are nothing to laugh at, either. After two months, “Cheer Up” still remains in the top ten of most charts, which is an incredible success in the K-pop world.

Also on KultScene: Let’s Discover: Mamamoo

Going off of these facts and stats, some have been quick to call TWICE an SNSD-copy, trying to emulate their success by emulating the group itself. The differences between the groups, however, throw this accusation right out the window. While TWICE may have successfully become the Third Generation frontrunner for having a similar vibe as SNSD, they definitely aren’t the same. The most glaring is the member dynamic — while Girls’ Generation is all Korean or Korean-American, TWICE has five Korean members, three Japanese, and one Taiwanese, making international expansion that much more logical and accessible for the group. Dahyun and Chaeyoung also serve the roles of Lead and Main Rapper, respectively, which are positions that weren’t very defined at GG’s debut. TWICE title tracks also deviate incredibly from the GG mold as well, employing diverse vocals, rhythm-changes and instrumentalism that GG’s more musically homogeneous tracks don’t use.

Girls' Generation and Twice

Fundamentally, all of these groups show similarities to their predecessors, but the differences make it clear that K-pop isn’t simply repeating itself with the Third Generation. Our Second Gen faves aren’t being replaced and forgotten. Instead, they’re being honored and built upon with new sounds and ideas. Such is the nature of the K-pop phoenix — not only being reborn again, but also with new talents, music and charms to share with the world, learning from past mistakes and successes. As the girl group landscape changes yet again, we can only hope that our new faves become just as well liked as the ones before them, and carrying the K-pop legacy forward for the man, woman, fanboy, and fangirl alike to enjoy.

Who are your Third Generation faves? 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.

Girls’ Generation & The (So-Called) Copycat Generation

Girls' Generation, GFRIEND, Twice, IOI

Nearly two and a half decades have passed since Seo Taiji and Boys’ “Nan Arayo” heralded in the beginning of the K-pop musical genre. Since then, there have been countless singers and idol groups who have made an impacts on K-pop as a whole and one of the most important trendsetters of the past nine years has been none other than Girls’ Generation. They have solidified their legacy with hit after hit and shown audiences one iconic concept after another. And, with such a career, Girls’ Generation is clearly a role model for newer acts. But as rookie groups GFriend, Twice, and the newly-debuted project group IOI have learned, there is a fine line between homage and copying.

It’s this differentiation that is coming to light as K-pop fans around the world criticize rookie girl groups who have clearly chosen to model themselves after one of the most successful acts of the generation. The K-pop industry is small enough that originality is always applauded, and there is plenty of that when it comes to Twice, IOI, and GFriend. But these new girl groups have taken a few lessons from older acts like Girls’ Generation and proved that there is much to be learned. Unfortunately, it sometimes leads to a “wait, was that plagiarized?” moment. There have been multiple head scratching and accusations towards groups who have a concept too similar to one of those of Girls’ Generation, but the question is worth asking: Are these girl groups copying or are they emulating?


Over the past few months, GFriend has surpassed the expectations of many, with successive hits after one another. But while their refreshing image and their pristine performances have set them apart, GFriend’s debut concept had K-pop fans around the world crying “foul!” “Glass Bead,” the first in a trilogy that followed a youthful schoolgirl concept, was attacked for sounding altogether too similar to Girls’ Generation’s debut song “Into The New World.” With similar cadences and an energetic dance while also wearing athletic gear, GFriend was initially accused of trying to garner attention for imitating Girls’ Generation.

Also on KultScene: 8 Misheard K-Pop Lyrics Pt. 5

Now, more than a year later, it’s clear that GFriend hasn’t just mimicked Girls’ Generation –they’ve imitated them as icons of a certain K-pop concept. Additionally, GFriend’s agency Source Music consists of former SM Entertainment staff members. While speculative, there’s no real question that GFriend’s production team took the example of Girls’ Generation’s debut concept and analyzed it to get the formula right. And, with two additional hit songs under their belt, it’s obvious that it worked.


While they’re down to eight members following the 2014 departure of Jessica Jung, Girls’ Generation was the first K-pop female megagroup. Girls’ Generation’s launch heralded in larger girl groups, but even now larger girl groups are far and few in between (AOA is the only other mainstream group with eight members) so Twice’s size was a tip off to the fact that JYP was going to market Twice as a group that has something to offer everybody. I was honestly surprised more people didn’t call out the Girls’ Generation comparison the minute JYP Entertainment (a main competitor of Girls’ Generation’s agency, SM Entertainment) announced that it would debut a nine-member girl group. When it comes to K-pop, size really does matter because it means there’s a higher likelihood that there will be a member to suit everybody’s taste. And Twice certainly has aimed to highlight the different sort of women in the group, with each of their music videos clearly defining individual charms and personas of the members.

But it was less their size and more the teasers for their latest song that got fans in a tizzy; the concept for “Cheer Up” at first glance looked a purple palette take on Girls’ Generation’s iconic pink cheerleading concept from “Oh!” While Girls’ Generation doesn’t own a concept, wearing crop tops, short shorts, knee highs, and letterman jackets while performing in a sports stadium harkens back to “Oh!” Once the music video for “Cheer Up” was released and it was clear that the two songs were stylistically different, the only thing that remained was the cheerleader concept. And, six years later, it’s inspiring to see a talented group put their own updated on an iconic K-pop concept that Girls’ Generation pioneered.


This week’s debut of I.O.I takes us back to “Into The New World” in a way that’s far more obvious than GFriend’s instance. While GFriend first song and music video were stylistically similar to Girls’ Generation’s debut, the concept and music video for I.O.I’s debut song “Dream Girl” harkens a bit close to home.

Also on KultScene: Spiritual K-Pop: Lovelyz & Berry Good Find Their Destinies

Like in “Into The New World,” “Dream Girl” introduces the members of the new group through their own individual aspirations including being successful as dancers, athletes, and fashion designers. Watching the music video, it would be almost impossible to say that “Dream Girl” wasn’t based on “Into The New World” as scenes are set up similarly in ways that make it near impossible to be coincidences. I.O.I’s agency, YMC Entertainment, reportedly told local Korean outlets that the music video was designed with the song’s sound and lyrics in mind, but it truly seems like a 2016 update of “Into the New World” idea. For a group that debuted nearly a decade after Girls’ Generation, it seems natural for newer groups to want to resuscitate the style of an older music video.

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When it comes down to things, Girls’ Generation and their success is something that future girl groups can only hope to achieve. At the end of the day, none of these instances come across as plagiarism but instead appear to be this new generation of K-pop girl group’s imitation of a successful older act. And, as it’s said: Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

What do you think about Girls’ Generation’s legacy? Are the newer groups wrong in stylizing themselves after them? hare 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.

TWICE “Like OOH-AHH” Music Video & Song Review

Twice debut review

JYP’s new girl group, TWICE made their debut on the 20th of October with their mini-album “The Story Begins” and their title track “Like OOH-AHH”. This debut comes highly anticipated due to the competition show “Sixteen”, in which this group of nine members was first formed. Did they live up to their potential with this title track? Here is my review on it.


I love the instrumentals throughout the song, especially at the beginning and when it was building up to a climax. Most of the girls showed off their great vocals as well, in particular members Jihyo and Nayeon. It is a very catchy song and has a youthful feel with the girls cheering lines such as “I want to fall in love!” The chorus has a good hook, is filled with energy and is my favourite part of the song. The track is far from perfect, however, especially because of the massive overuse of autotune for non-vocalist members such as Momo. The rapping done by Chaeyoung and Dahyun was rather underwhelming however, especially because I’ve seen better rapping from Chaeyoung during “Sixteen”. So is the surprisingly sombre bridge, which got the original highly energized song screeching to a halt. It felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the song, which is unfortunate.

On the bright side, the lyrics of the song and cheers are cleverly worded. Apart from throwing in JYP Entertainment references (“Who’s Your Mama?”), there are puns on their name being used as well. Take for example the cheer they shout out before they sing the final chorus.

Better think about it TWICE
Let me see how you gonna treat me
I ain’t no easy
Better think about it TWICE

The song was good as a whole but was disappointing because TWICE has a lot more potential than they showcased. It was a surprise to me as well how the lines were quite evenly distributed, considering the fact that there are nine members in the group.

Also on Kultscene: Which TWICE member are you? [Quiz] 


I really didn’t understand the use of the zombies in this video and their relation to the song, but I’m happy to report that the rest of the music video is solid. It takes place in what is supposed to be a school but ends up looking more like a club. It’s pretty hilarious how there is a gigantic hole in the wall of a classroom and how the toilet has pink and purple lighting complete with glow in the dark scribbling. The video is colourful just like the personalities of the TWICE members and I really enjoyed the transitions from member to member as the specialities of each member was showcased.

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My favourite part of the video would be when the girls were gathered in front of the school bus dancing together with Momo (main dancer) standing inside the bus. Apart from showcasing her awesome skills (she was really shortchanged on the vocal part) it also featured TWICE dancing together as a group, instead of having them separated like they were for a majority of the video.

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The humor incorporated throughout the video also stands out to me because it gave the TWICE members a friendly and cute image, particularly when cheerleader Sana attempted to mimic the flexible movements of her members Mina and Momo and failed horribly at them. When the rest of the members got off the bus coolly Sana also managed to fall on the ground (in a cute manner of course). It just seemed so true to her playful character that I found it adorable and endearing.

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I have two main complaints about the video though. Firstly, the zombies were really unnecessary in the video. I’ve read some explanations online regarding the meaning behind the zombies and how they relate to the song but I would argue that this video would have been better off without them. It didn’t help that they were quite scary looking, or maybe I just have a low threshold for horror, but they somewhat ruined the aesthetic and fun vibes of the video. If TWICE had gone for a truly scary concept from the start the addition of the zombies would definitely have been more logical.

Next, it may be because TWICE are rookies, but there were some instances where the members’ lip-syncing was quite obviously off. While it did not really affect the video very much, it did take out some of my enjoyment of it.

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I absolutely love the styling for this video, be it their academic attire or their rooftop attire. The outfits were vibrant and interesting, in some cases they were even catered to the individual personalities of the members. Jungyeon, her messy hair and her gym tracksuit is a great example of this.

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I appreciate the fact that the TWICE members are not just trying to look pretty but that they want to be unique and have their own style. I can say with satisfaction that they have certainly succeeded in doing.

Overall Thoughts

TWICE was a group that I was expecting a lot from, especially because I had watched them in their trainee days through “Sixteen” and I was already a fan. There were many flaws evident in both the song and the music video, but as a whole I enjoyed it. This may not be the best work put out by JYP Entertainment this year, but it is a great start for TWICE and I hope that they will only grow from here.

Did you enjoy TWICE’s debut? 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.

Which TWICE Member Are You? [Quiz]

Twice feature image

Competition reality show “Sixteen” aired its finale 2 weeks ago and amidst much controversy, JYP’s new girl group TWICE was formed. The group was designated from the start to have seven members, but at the end of the competition two previously eliminated members were added, resulting in the group to have a total of nine people. TWICE is slated to debut later this year, and in an effort to further promote the members, JYP Entertainment have given the group their own social media accounts and even created an online show titled “TWICE TV”, of which two episodes have already aired.

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The members consist of Na Yeon(20 years old), Jungyeon (19 years old), Momo (19 years old), Sana (19 years old), Jihyo (18 years old), Mina(18 years old), Dahyun (17 years old), Chaeyoung (16 years old) and Tzuyu (16 years old). As per the norm of JYP groups having members with a mix of races, ⅓ of the members in the group are Japanese (Sana, Mina and Momo) while Tzuyu is from Taiwan.

twice jap grp

The members are diverse not in their races and personalities but also because they each have their own specialities and talents, making their debut a highly anticipated one. Notable examples (from “Sixteen”) include:

Dahyun’s famous eagle dance

via feeltouchcross on netizenbuzz

Mina’s ballet dancing

via Jazzzz on onehallyu

Sana’s “cooking mama” abilities

Also on Kultscene: 4 Ways to promote a Kpop Trainee

If you didn’t watch “Sixteen” but want to know more about the TWICE members, Kultscene has a great solution for you! Find out which TWICE member you are the most similar to and discover their unique and fun personalities through our quiz now!

Which member did you get? Are you excited for TWICE’s upcoming debut? 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.