Kpop Music Video: Day 24
10 Minutes by Lee Hyori under DSP Media
Lee Hyori can be best compared to Beyonce in American pop due to her similar situation and attitude. Hyori was a member of a four member girl group called Fin KL that debuted in 1998. It was extremely successful and was the driving force behind the expansion of DSP Media, which currently manages the popular Kara, and an up and coming group Rainbow, among other types of talent (like actors and dancers). Fin KL had a 3 year hiatus in 2002 only getting back together in 2005 for one final digital single. During that hiatus, Hyori released Stylish, with the lead single 10 minutes. The song reached number 1 in Korea and the album sold over 150,000 copies. This success while Fin KL was still relevant cemented Hyori’s success after the band broke up.
Hyori is known for her good pop singles, but not for her voice. Her biggest lure is her personality; she has a diva-ish attitude which is rare in Kpop. Most Kpop stars are super respectful and will defer compliments, but Hyori is confident. Her song 10 minutes asks a boy to give her 10 minutes and she will make him fall for her more than his current girlfriend. She remains unimpressed with his current girlfriend and laments that she’s so regular it hurts. If you’re my age or older, this video is in the vein of Destiny’s child or Aaliyah, especially in the way the song sounds and their clothing styles. That blue off the shoulder jersey with the side tied up totally sends me back to middle school.
Fast forward 10 years later, and you have a Hyori that is in a weird position in the industry. Hyori was blessed with a fruitful career until 2010, with 3 albums that went number one on the charts. A 4th was 14th but had 2 singles, one reaching over 1 million digital downloads and the second, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang getting downloaded over 2 million times and was famous enough to be parodied in a DJ Doc song. Then the 4th album was revealed to have plagiarism issues with 7 songs, a rumor Hyori confirmed. Subsequently she stopped all of her album promotions and went on hiatus. Hyori was rumored to come back several times but it wasn’t until 2013 where she finally released her 5th album. Hyori showed that the hiatus payed off; both of her singles from that album went number 1 and sold over 1 million digital copies. Her career appeared to be crumbling with the plagiarism issue, but Hyori showed that she was resilient and still perfectly fine with being on top. Currently, she is part of B2M entertainment, which manages an up and coming group SPICA. She will be a part of a reality series with that band, where the purpose is to mentor the rookie group.
As much as the new bands are important to the expansion of Kpop, especially as the genre is spreading globally, it’s especially important to understand Kpop’s roots. Not knowing the importance of Lee Hyori to the Kpop industry is like not knowing who Mariah Carey is in the American pop scene. Carey is still relevant in today’s pop scene but her heyday was during the 90’s and even while she isn’t releasing songs, her previous singles inspire the current generation of pop stars around the world. It’s not necessary to know or enjoy Lee Hyori’s music to know or enjoy kpop, but if you go by without listening to her songs there’s a whole lot of information on the genre that you’re missing out on.
To understand Hyori’s modern sound, please watch the following videos from her 2013 album:
The pop song:
The rebellious song:
If the drag queens, crazy eyebrows, dynamite and makeup don’t hint that she’s different than other girls, than perhaps the harmonizing with a male soprano in the final video where she does nothing but stand in a red dress might change your mind. Hyori has always had a message. Fight the traditional role, stand up for what you believe in and don’t try to be what you are not until you’ve mastered what you are. In 2013 it’s refreshing to see these songs top in Korea, especially in a day where Kpop is ruled by the box set and meaningless poses with erratic clothing thrown on unrealistic body types. Ideally, this type of music video should have been introduced sooner on my list, but as with any new person to a genre, it takes a while to discover classics, and I admit, I’m as new to Hyori as I am to many rookie groups debuting this year. I hope that she continues releasing meaningful music videos and inspiring the rest of the genre to be so much more than boring.