Famous Korean Singers: 5 K-pop Sensations Who Can Teach You Korean
Would you like to have a K-pop idol for a Korean language teacher?
There’s a way to have them teach you Korean without you getting in line for a lottery ticket.
In this post, we’ve put together a list of 5 famous Korean singers who are all must-listens, and we’ll show you how you can brush up your Korean learning skills by listening to their music, so you can get started right away.
What better way to start this list than with Park Jae-Sang, more popularly known as “Psy”?
When he broke into international consciousness with his megahit “Gangnam Style,” he already had five full-fledged albums behind him. The singer, songwriter and record producer is known for his catchy beats, funny music videos, irreverent dance moves and otherworldly concerts.
“Gangnam Style” was such a huge success that it was the most watched video on YouTube and became the first one to hit one billion views. The song and its dance propelled the artist to share a stage with Madonna, have a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and appear in a cameo on “Saturday Night Live.”
Psy is a Korean language learner’s dream. He puts out highly memorable visuals and audio. Take his songs “Daddy” and “Gentleman,” for example.
In spite of the highly-orchestrated videos and scenes, the lyrics to his songs are actually very simple. The lines are simply structured, and they’re perfect for language learners who are looking to see how the words work in context.
The lyrics are informal and approachable. They employ the type of communication you can use for banter with friends.
Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, is one of the brightest Hallyu (Korean Wave) stars. In 2007, he topped TIME’s online user poll of the “100 Most Influential People.”
His third album, “It’s Raining,” topped Asian music charts and cemented his status as an Asian phenomenon, being the complete package—a singer, dancer and actor.
He even made it to Hollywood with movies like “Speed Racer” and “Ninja Assassin.”
Rain’s “Love Song” and “How to Avoid the Sun” are two songs that beginners of Korean can easily learn from. Although the artist is definitely better known for his explosive dance music videos, he slows down a bit in these two.
Everything in these songs and videos is about clarity. Jung Ji-hoon sings the lines clearly and with such resonance that all language learners can make out the vocabulary involved in the lyrics.
The pace is leisurely as well, which means no catching your breath if you try to sing along with him.
Repetition at certain points in the lyrics makes them even more appropriate for language students.
Ailee (Amy Lee) is a Korean-American singer who came to Korea in 2010 and created waves in the music industry. A month after her debut, she won awards like “Song of the Month” and “Rookie of the Month” (from Cyworld Music Awards).
She also received the Best New Artist Award at the Melon Music Awards, Golden Disk Awards, Gaon Chart K-pop Awards and the Seoul Music Awards.
In 2013, she released her second mini-album and her single “U&I” soared to the top of Korean music charts in 4 minutes! That same day, record stores were practically running out of copies of her album.
“Don’t Touch Me” is one of Ailee songs that language learners can mine for vocabulary. Korean songs haven’t only been influenced by American music, they even use English in their lyrics. Use these “English moments” to help you get the gist of the song as well as contextualize the lines.
Another Ailee song worth a listen is “I Will Show You.” It’s a very approachable song. The lines are written in the first person, so it has plenty of “I,” “Me,” “My” and “Mine” sentence constructions which are essential for everyday communication.
If you’ve heard of the Korean boy group Big Bang, you’ve probably heard of G-Dragon.
The Telegraph dubbed this Korean rapper as “arguably the biggest Asian artist in the world.”
Kwon Ji-yong, also known as G-Dragon, trained for 6 years under YG Entertainment before debuting as member of Big Bang.
His “Who You?” and “Crooked” would be ideal for intermediate to early-advanced learners. Early sections of the songs are easy enough to follow and make out the words. This is even helped by the regular rhythm inherent in the lines. Their beats make the phrases very memorable. Towards the middle parts of the songs, up-tempos happen and rap sections begin. If you want to have songs that mimic the pace of spoken Korean, these two would be a good start.
When it comes to popular singers in Korea, Jungkook is a name that cannot be ignored. He’s a member of the world-famous K-pop group BTS, and has become a household name both in Korea and internationally.
“Euphoria” is probably the most popular Jungkook solo song and he made his biggest global move as a solo singer when he performed the song “Dreamers” at the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony.
Jungkook’s songs are often fast-paced and energetic and are full of catchy and memorable lyrics, which can be a great way to practice your pronunciation. Listen closely to how he sings each word and try to mimic his intonation and accent.
Through his music, Jungkook often introduces new vocabulary words that you might not encounter in your Korean language textbook. Look up the lyrics of his songs and make note of any new words you come across.
Jungkook’s music is not only a great way to learn Korean, but also to gain insights into Korean culture. Many of his songs touch on themes such as love, relationships and youth culture in Korea, which can provide valuable cultural context for language learners.
For additional context as well as helpful language learning tools, you can use FluentU to watch catchy tunes from famous K-pop singers.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
So, do you feel like being tutored by your favorite Korean idol yet? They’re on YouTube, at your beck and call.
Check out their songs and you won’t just fall in love with their looks or their dance moves or their music.
You’ll become enamored with the beautiful Korean language.
And One More Thing...
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