Kpop Music Monday #1: Wonder Girls, “Tell Me”

I’m calling this section Kpop Music Mondays and while it is a nod to EatYourKimchi, my co-worker and I usually play kpop when we work together Monday mornings.

For some it was Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” For others it was BTS’ “Mic Drop.” For me it was Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me.”

Sometime in September of 2007, YouTube recommended a Korean music video and your unsuspecting heroine clicked on it.

It was a cute video. The youngest member of the group is secretly Wonder Woman and saves an elderly woman pushing a baby pram from being run over by their school bus. Later, she saves the girls from a perverted flasher in their locker room and helps a bullied classmate.

But what stuck with me was the chorus, “tell me, tell me, dut dut dut dut dut dut tell me.”* I couldn’t get it out of my head and thanks to the internet, I was able to download the rest of the album.

It has all the makings of a stereotypical Korean pop music video: attractive singers, a charismatic rapper, an adorable “막내” (maknae = youngest member aka Wonder Woman), fully synchronized dance moves that almost seem easy enough to learn yourself, bright colorful backgrounds, fashionable outfits (or what we thought was fashionable at the time), and most of all, a sense of humor.

It was a fun video with catchy English lyrics. I was surprised to hear the song coming from a Tibetan friend’s cell phone when I was living in India. When I returned to the States in May of 2009, I was armed with fast internetmand a handful of names, such as Girl’s Generation, TVXQ, Super Junior, etc. Some groups whose debuts I watched are now disbanded but new artists always pop up in their place, offering something new or perhaps tried-and-true.

Whenever someone finds out I listen to kpop, the first word out of their mouths is usually “BTS?!” I feel like an 아줌마 (ahjumma = middle-aged woman) because I was listening to kpop before BTS was even formed. I consider myself to be a fan of the second generation of kpop, which is something I’ll explore in later Music Mondays.

What was your introduction to kpop?

*They’re actually singing “tell me, tell me, tell tell tell tell tell tell me” but it’s hard to hear clearly.

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