Playlist Sunday: Favorite ‘90s K-Pop Covers

kpop playlist 90s cover exo

Newer artists doing covers of famous songs by beloved artists of the past can be a tricky thing to pull off, not just in K-pop. However, why focus on the negative when we can just enjoy what we’re getting, new music by the artists of today that we like. That’s why for this week’s playlist we’re putting together a list of our favorite K-pop covers of ’90s hits by contemporary groups.

Although I was barely old enough to appreciate the good music at the time, H.O.T’s 1997 hit single “We Are the Future” is forever one of my most adored ‘90s jams. So when I discovered that their junior group under the same company EXO delivered their own contemporary take of the single, I seriously thought that I had hit the jackpot. For the 27th Golden Disk Awards held in Kuala Lumpur, EXO paid homage to their predecessors by performing a remix version of the song that stripped many elements of the original, such as the chimes and futuristic reverbs, and replaced it with some new sounds, like a piano melody which gave the song a bit of a cleaner feel. And while remixes can be risky business, EXO was still able to maintain the nostalgic boy band feel of the era with the electronic instrumentals and synchronized choreography. But above all, what I love about this cover is the vocals distribution. Members in the past who have largely gone unnoticed, such as lead vocalist Xiumin, were finally given solo parts and were able to showcase their talents, which I am sure fans are very appreciative of. The only sin here is that EXO has not released an official full version of the hit yet.

— Shelley

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What better way to pay your respects to those (idols) who came before you than to cover one of their most notorious choreography? With their polished suits and alluring visuals, the six members of B.A.P took the audience in a time machine when they covered Shinhwa’s infamous “Wild Eyes” on Korean pop music TV show, “You Hee-yeol Sketchbook” in 2014. There have been a number of idol groups, both male and female, who have covered “Wild Eyes” throughout the years; some were able to mimic the choreography pretty well, but lacked the intensity and charisma and vice versa. Whereas in B.A.P’s case, they evenly distributed their energy into both their singing and dancing. Although this may be wishful thinking, but it’d be pretty darn spectacular if Shinhwa were to cover a B.A.P song somewhere down the line. I would definitely pay to see that!

— Tam

Before I knew that H.O.T had originally made it, I was already in love with Super Junior’s “Happiness.” It’s one of Super Junior’s early songs from 2007, and when I first discovered it way back when, I was obsessed. The video for “Happiness” is tons of fun and one of the few prior to Kyuhyun joining Super Junior, so I particularly enjoy it because some other members get a chance to shine vocally (even though I do love Kyuhyun’s voice). The song is an amazing pick me up, and will cheer anybody up from a gloomy day. The Super Junior version of the remake is essentially the same thing as H.O.T’s original, but the two groups are so different that the remake is just as much Super Junior’s song as it is H.O.T’s.

— Tamar

I always found it weird that Girls’ Generation had a song titled “Girls’ Generation,” but assumed it was their manifesto or something. It wasn’t until much, much later that I learned it was a cover, and even more that it’s originally sung by Lee Seung Chul, a man. The song came back in 1989, and the girl group used it as one of their lead singles in 2007 for their debut album. The contrast between the two versions is stark, with SNSD making it uberly sweet, while Lee Seung Chul is a rock anthem. The girls tried to embody his persona by mock playing instruments as in a band, which they mostly pulled off.

— Alexis

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I always think releasing a cover of a classic song is a lazy route for groups to go. Even though pop music is not exactly the go-to for originality, it’s still frustrating that there are covers of songs only twenty years old. That being said, I did enjoy Red Velvet’s second single, a cover of S.E.S’s ‘’Be Natural.’’ The strange thing about it is that they did not change a single thing about the song. Usually, this would annoy me even further, but here, it’s not necessary. The song sounds thoroughly modern and at ease in today’s environment. Maybe tastes have come full circle and we are merely listening to the same music as back then. Whatever the reason, the song holds up. It’s the sultriest piece of lounge R&B you’ll ever hear. Red Velvet’s whisper sultrily over slinking guitars and horns. It’s probably SM Entertainment’s most outwardly sexy concept ever and the girls can pull it off despite being relative newcomers.

— Joe

What’s your favorite ’90s K-pop cover? 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.

Playlist Sunday: ‘90s Jams

The ‘90s were a monumental period for K-pop. Idol groups were just beginning and hitting it big with the teenagers and younger generation of the time. Aside from the popularity of the singers, the music, clothing, and music videos perfectly depict the trends of the ‘90s in South Korea, which was similar in different parts of the world too. Many of us at KultScene grew up in the ‘90s and still remember the sounds and styles that will always create a nostalgic feeling. Get ready to be transported back the decade of the ‘90s.

I began listening to K-pop well into the 2010’s, so my ‘90s Korean music knowledge is limited to singers who used to be part of groups or obscured images that sometimes come on variety shows. So for this week’s playlist, I had to do some digging and decided I would start with some lady I had seen in a recent Roommate episode. As it turned out, that woman was S.E.S’ Shoo, and Sunny and Youngji made a big deal out of dancing to her song, I’m Your Girl. When I looked it up, the song sounded and the music video looked like all the Mexican and European girl groups I loved back in the ‘90s — the hip hop and pop hybrid beats paired with soft vocals, the cutesy, funky choreography. I just knew that if I had known of S.E.S back then, I would’ve liked them too. Even if you don’t know I’m Your Girl, like me a day ago, everything about it evokes nostalgia and sounds familiar to all us ‘90s kids.

— Alexis

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g.o.d’s debut song To Mother is what made them a group known for its heart wrenching lyrics. Every child has felt this way at one point, when they’re thinking back about the times when they acted bratty towards their mother. g.o.d sings about being a son of a single mother who cannot afford a lot of food and who works hard and belittles herself because of problems that he causes. But before he can ever say “I love you,” she dies from exhaustion. A song that everyone can relate to, g.o.d’s To Mother is one of the most poignant K-pop songs from the 90’s.


Nothing brings me back to my childhood better than the sounds of the ‘90s. And H.O.T’s Candy is no exception. The music, the clothes, the synchronized dancing embody all that makes a boy band from the ‘90s amazing. Not to mention that H.O.T is credited as one of the first idol groups in K-pop. The song itself boasts catchy beats and lyrics that many still enjoy listening to today. From the video, it’s easy to tell that during the time of ‘90s Western boy bands, such as NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, Korean boy bands (like H.O.T) had similar clothing and music styles. Even if you weren’t familiar with this group during their time together, Candy will bring you back to their heyday and help transport you back to the ‘90s.

— Tara

Park Jin Young’s Honey became a sensation in 1998. It was part of JYP’s fourth album, and the music video went to become iconic. The song has an R&B and soul feeling that makes the song to sound still modern and still influential. SM Entertainment even tried to recreate this mixture of sounds with TVXQ!’s Something. JYP’s lyrics are always very catchy; he surely knows how to make a hit song. The ‘90s were all about experimenting with music, especially in pop music. Each band was trying to create their own unique sound, and JYP managed to create his own staple sound which always evolved, but also always had that R&B influence that he loves so much.


Each of the big groups from the ‘90s were responsible from some sort of style or genre permeating throughout the rest of K-pop to this day. While the cute image was popular with many groups at the time, it was Fin.K.L’s sound on Forever Love which has had a lasting effect on girl groups to come. The twinkling piano melody coupled with an orchestra or electro synth riff has become the go-to sound for cute songs ever since. It was even referenced in the very similar sounding Wonder Boy by one time After School sub-group After School Blue. Also I love the unprocessed vocals; they sound terrible, but it’s cute. It’s what all groups would sound like today if they didn’t rely on producers and MRs.


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SHINHWA made their debut in 1998, and Eusha! Eusha! (으싸! 으싸! ) (which was a remake of Manfred Mann’s song Doo Wa Diddy) was their second single off of their debut album. This is probably their cutest concept to date; a fun and upbeat song that gives off a bouncy feel, which will make you want to get up on your feet, wave your hands in the air and dance around continuously. As a proud Changjo, Eusha Eusha introduced me to the K-pop world, and my life has forever changed.

To portray the uplifting music, they filmed most of the music video outside on a beach. And for someone who lives in the Northeast, like myself, where there’s currently 70+ inches of snow outside, it’s fantastic because I can listen to this song anytime of the year and feel completely warm. Nowadays, it’s rare to see music videos being filmed outside, as a box concept and fancy CGI have become the norm. This video, however, gives off a more ‘real’ feel and personally, I feel more connected that way.

— Tam

What’s your favorite ’90s K-pop song? Share your faves on 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.