E is for English Lines
If there is one thing K-pop is known for to the rest of the world, it is its strange use of English. Six years in, and I still find it odd that Korean singers, singing Korean songs, for a primarily Korean audience, feels the need to title their songs in English and throw in English phrase with the Korean lyrics.
As a native English speaker, I often die inside at the cringe-worthy English that is used in these songs. I can forgive bad pronunciation, since they are speaking a foreign language, but it’s the completely inappropriate use of certain phrases that I can’t handle.
Recently however, since K-pop has become more known internationally, the English has gotten surprisingly good. Nowadays, there is even some very clever wordplay that goes on in songs when the singers switch from Korean to English.
In this post, I have compiled a list of my favorite English lines used in K-pop songs. These aren’t lines that I find funny, rather they are moments in which K-pop stars have actually blown me away in how good the English is used. These are ten instances in which K-pop really got it right:
(Click on the artist’s name to hear the line used in the song.)
#10: Amber: Eonni! Attention please.
This one is cute. “Eonni” is what girls would call an older girl whom they respect. This line is like Amber calling all of her fans to listen to her rap.
#9: MYNAME: Somebody call the kukeupcha!
Wordplay! Sort of. “kukeupcha” means ambulance, so this is MYNAME’s creative way of saying that things are about to get crazy so someone should call an ambulance.
#8: Taemin: Do it fast, do it slow; you control the tempo.
This is on the list because I was just shocked at how advanced it was for SM Entertainment. So much of the weird English that is out there comes from SM Entertainment, but this is one time where they not only used the English correctly, but it’s even a bit poetic.
#7: G-Dragon: Get your cray-on!
This was such a creative play on words. The song is called “Crayon,” which is an intriguing enough title. Once you hear the song though, it all makes sense. “Get your cra(z)y- on.”
#6: CL: Karma, karma, karma is looking for you. What you gonna do when they come for you?
This is just such a cool line. CL is fluent in English, and she is so skillful at carrying her lines, whether it be in Korean, English, or switching flawlessly between the two.
#5: Song Ji Eun: I know you’re tipsy whenever you call me.
This took me by such surprise. For someone who doesn’t speak English, in a company in which none of her labelmates speak fluent English, this was a shockingly appropriate line for her song. It uses an uncommon English word, and has so much meaning behind it. The song is about her so-called significant other who doesn’t appreciate her, and this line reflects the idea that the only affection she ever gets out of him are drunken confessions of love.
#4: Jessi: They still look at me like ‘aippeora.’
More wordplay! I’m not sure the literal translation of “aippeora,” but the connotation is akin to “How pretty!” It’s a phrase people say to pretty, innocent girls (and pets :P). The song is about how tough Jessi is, so in this line, she mocks the people who think she is a sweet and innocent girl.
#3: EXO: Someone call the doctor.
The song is called “Overdose,” and this is where they crazily call out the need for the doctor because of how overwhelming their love interest is. It’s a cool line that is so perfect for calling out.
#2: GOT7: Niga hamyeon, good; naega hamyeon, kkeut.
Wordplay for the win! The line translates to “If you do it, it’s good; if I do it, it’s over” with “good” sung in English and “over” sung as “kkeut” in Korean (끝). “Good” and “kkeut” literally sound exactly the same, but when translated in context with the rest of the verse, have opposite meanings. The entire song is about the double-standard the girl has over the guy, where she gives herself a pass for everything, but won’t take anything but perfection from the guy. That idea is reflected so cleverly and poetically in this one line.
#1: Monsta X: Excuse my charisma.
This right here is my favorite English line ever in a K-pop song. This was Monsta X’s debut song, in which they introduce just how cool they all are. When it’s the rapper’s turn to take center stage, he comes at us with this line. It’s so confident and unique that I can’t help but fall for it.
Question of the Day:
What are your favorite English lines?
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