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80s, 90s nostalgia spills over to pop music
By Kim Ji-soo
Even as we live in the high-tech, cutting edge digital era, retro has always been part of the cultural code, various culture industry insiders have said.
But the trend toward retro in Korea prevails this year. What fueled this trend undeniably is “Reply 1994,” a drama currently airing on a cable network. Koreans’ move from rural communities to the cities is popular fodder for stories, and the drama recaptures that in a 1994 setting.
The girl group T-ara is showing off what it does best with the remake of “Do You Know Me?” The song is a 2013 version of the Korean band Sand Pebbles’ song that won it the top prize at the 1977 MBC Collegian Song Contest. One of the original Sand Pebbles’ members recently joined T-ara in the production of the music video.
The song has been remade several times, but Hyomin, Qri, Boram, Soyeon, Jiyeon and Eunjung bring in new elements. The group is well known for retro-themed performances, with their signature hit songs such as “Roly Poly.” In the official music video for the song, the five members feature bold and solid-colored attire that seems represent a combination of the 1960s American diner ambience and the Korean night club scene in the early 1980s. Once again, the members of the group show off addictive dance moves using their hands or doing the horse-step dance that swept the Korean night clubs in the late 1980s.
The new song is part of T-ara’s repackaged eighth album. The song, while based on the intro of the original 1977 version, is recomposed by Sinsadong Tiger and “North Pole Bear.”
“The song will likely tap into the memories of listeners in their 40s, 50s and 60s, while fans in their teens through 30s can enjoy T-ara’s distinctive mix of retro and an addictive dance song,“ the group’s agency said in a press statement.
Actor Son Ho-jun who plays “Haetae” in the cable drama “Reply 1994” also stars in the music video.
A new girl group, the five-member Queen B’Z remade a popular song from the 1980s. “Wish List” (1989) by singer Byun Jin-sup was wildly popular, almost like a national theme song when it was released. Byun collaborated with the group on its remake.
The group’s agency, JS Entertainment, said that, “The album also contains Byun’s other hit song ‘Like a Bird.’ We expect that music fans will respond well to these tracks, which will allow them to travel down memory lane,” JS Entertainment said in a press release.
The popularity of hallyu, coupled with the girl groups’ remakes oddly have also had another effect of bringing back pre-hallyu Korean popular music to the fore.