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K-Pop Women Celebrate House Music

By: Naomi Rodriguez | 29 September, 2023

K-pop & house influence
Chungha for “Stay Tonight” on X.

Jeon Somi, the nation's pick in Produce 101, had a comeback after two years with her leading song, “Fast Forward.” From the 20-second teaser, many began to hear the House and Eurodance influence. Many even began to compare it to the bridge of Madonna’s “Vogue,” which focuses on ballroom and vogue influence as well. Within the past few years, I’ve remembered some of the most memorable, viral songs from soloists being House-influenced.

First, what even is the House and Ballroom culture? Both genres stem from the underground club scene, especially in Chicago and New York City in the 70s. It arose out of the anti-Disco movement and the advancement of music technology, in result challenged DJs to experiment with beats, synthesizers, and sounds that resonated with communities. It soon became a space for Black and Queer folk to celebrate their existence as a form of resistance during the 80s.

The resurgence of House in 2020 came from artists like Drake and Beyoncé centering their latest singles and albums with contemporary House. It’s about time for the K-Pop world to catch on. And we see K-pop’s most iconic and influential women introduce this genre effortlessly in the industry.

One of the earliest House-inspired artists was Hyuna. Since her debut in Wonder Girls, she always experimented with trending and newer genres through 4Minute and her solo career. Her biggest House songs are “Cause I’m a God Girl” and “How’s This?” Her music plays throughout the streets of Hongdae and in the clubs of Itaewon. However, the more globalized K-Pop became, we began seeing newer soloists have a more Western-style-House sound to their songs–with a few of them collaborating with popular Asian DJs.

Kim Chungha, the main dancer of I.O.I, released two singles after her solo debut that centered on this genre while also paying homage to Ballroom culture. “Stay Tonight,” her pre-release single for her full album “Querencia,” is a love letter to the Ballroom and Drag scene. Her backup dancers in the music video, and those who performed with her live, are a part of the Drag scene in South Korea! In the bridge of this song, she takes a step back and allows her dancers to take the main stage as well, which is best seen in the STUDIO CHOOM version of her performance. A year later, she released “Dream of You (with R3HAB)” which still highlights the impact this genre has on her style and performance as a soloist.

Only recently, more women soloists have come out with their own styles of House-inspired songs. Yooa, a member of OH MY GIRL, released “Selfish.” This song combines House with Bubblegum Bass to highlight the desire to want someone so bad even if they’re cold. JEON SOMI is following these steps of combining House with Bubblegum Bass. She also had some of Chungha’s previous backup dancers for her new track “Fast Forward,” as some of the choreography is Vogue-influenced with simple waacking and angles, boxes, and lines with the body and arms on the beat.

Through the years, the genre has become something on the rise within the club and dance scene in South Korea. One thing that fascinates me the most is seeing the combination of women soloists using their music as a vehicle for Ballroom and Drag performers to showcase their talent on stage with them.


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