Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Diff'rent Strokes

The listening class I mentioned a while ago did not respond well to my initial musical selections. Apparently, adolescent Koreans aren't into Barenaked Ladies or Cake. Funny, since I consider those some of the more accessible bands in my library (I can't imagine how they'd react to Blood Sweat & Tears or They Might Be Giants).

To be honest, I had hopes of channeling my inner Jack Black and giving my kids a School of Rock-esque crash course in music, assuming they'd be thrilled about this new thing called "rock 'n roll." It cut me a bit deep when it became obvious that life is rarely, if ever, like the movies.

Alas, this wasn't to be.

So I present a revised playlist, designed to cater to teenagers' insatiable desire for mediocre pop music—all of this based on their positive reaction to Katy Perry. Like my earlier attempt, this is definitely subject to revision. For example, I've already duly noted that they don't like Lou Bega. (If I wanted to be mean-spirited, I could say that, given Lou Bega's heavy Latin/mambo/salsa etc influence, they probably found it too bizarrely ethnic and simply lacked the capacity to put it in any context, but to be fair, Lou Bega isn't exactly great music.) And they love Britney Spears. The difference between this Version Two and the original Version One is laughable. For all of you baby boomers playing along at home, if you know more than seven songs on this list, I'll be impressed.

  1. Womanizer (Britney Spears)
  2. I Got a Girl (Lou Bega)
  3. Hot 'n Cold (Katy Perry)
  4. Fever, Fever (Melody Club)
  5. Bad (Michael Jackson)
  6. Mambo Number 5 (Lou Bega)
  7. Crazy in Love (Béyoncé)
  8. (You Drive Me) Crazy (Britney Spears)
  9. Four Minutes (Madonna & Justin Timberlake)
  10. I'm Electric (Melody Club)
  11. Ring Ring (Abba)
  12. Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) (Béyoncé)
  13. SOS (Rescue Me) (Rihanna)
  14. Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson)
  15. Let's Get Retarded (Black-Eyed Peas)
  16. Everybody (Backstreet's Back) (Backstreet Boys)
  17. Umbrella (Rihanna, featuring Jay-Z and Chris Brown)
  18. One Plus One is Two (Lou Bega)
  19. Pump It (Black-Eyed Peas)
  20. Take a Chance On Me (Abba)
  21. Prayer For the Weekend (The Ark)

Two sad/funny things to note. One, whatever current pop music is in there, I pretty much only know courtesy of what they play at clubs in Hongdae—I had to get in touch with American pop music by coming to Korea. This would suggest that the typical Korean (or at least, the typical Korean who frequents Hongdae) knows more about "my own" current pop culture than I do. Two, I'm so out of touch with current/recent pop music that I had to reach back for Michael Jackson and Abba to round out my playlist. (Though I might nix some tracks, namely Lou Bega, to make room for more Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys. And throw in a song by Kanye West, just to see how they react.)

Also note that Melody Club and The Ark are actually Swedish pop groups—but their English is good so it's totally kosher. The heavy presence of Lou Bega is due to the fact that I actually own the A Little Bit of Mambo album and that was the closest I got to being into pop music back in the day. And of course, he's the one American pop artist on there who I actually like*.... and my students couldn't give two figs. Of course.

*Yeah, I don't really care for Michael Jackson unless he's ten years old and still black.


  1. can you say "Hannah Montana..."
    what about some classic Beatles???

  2. Hannah Montana might make it on Version Three. They also already have an appreciation for Lady Gaga, whom I neglected to include in this new, improved playlist.

    As for the Beatles...I suspect that might be too "old school" for their tastes.

  3. You've heard K-pop, right? No wonder they like American pop, especially from the boy band era. I think Asia in general is a few years behind America, musically. If you find any good K-rock or K-(not pop), tell me.