Way Back Wednesday: Best Dances 2001-2003
This will be the final part of the my look at the best dances from back in the day. I usually consider 2002 and early 2003 as the end of the "old school" era of K-pop because it was a transitional time for the music. Many of the original K-poppers had ended their lengthy runs and the industry began to see the growing influence of the next generation of stars but also familiar faces from your favorite groups out on their own and taking the next step in their careers.
For me, this period of music was the end of my initial fanboy love of K-pop. After this time, I kind of drifted off into the wilderness for a few years and wasn't paying nearly as much attention as I had previously. While I'm back now and love K-pop more than ever, the music and dances of 2001-2003 have a special place in my heart and I can't think of a better way to end this series than by bidding a fond farewell to the best era of K-pop.
g.o.d. - I Need You
I said last week that g.o.d were never really known for their dances but like other dances from JYP Entertainment, each of their songs does have a move or motion that is recognizable and easy to imitate. This song is no different as I remember that little shuffle thing that Kim Taewoo does as he begins singing his part of the song. More than that, the funk rhythm of the song makes the listener want to dance and that's always a plus in my book.
Psy - Bird
Before there was "Gangnam Style", a little known, pudgy singer with a weird name unleashed his craziness onto K-pop. Psy debuted with this song and it was so fun and new that I immediately loved it. The style of dance was also something that had never been done before in K-pop. It was truly a game changer, like that end motion he does with his arms out like wings and the crossed feet; brilliant. The man is an absolute physical genius when it comes to his dancing. Great song, great dance and for my money, if I could see one singer in concert, it would be Psy.
Shinhwa - Hey Come On/Wild Eyes
The early 2000's is when Shinhwa really started coming into their own. They had been in the shadow of H.O.T for so long but following their break-up, Shinhwa stopped the weird stuff like the poor man's Brandon Lee 'Crow' face paint and started to be more, you know, normal. These songs started to really showcase their dancing ability as they started their climb into rarefied air as true K-pop superstars. "Hey Come On" was a huge hit and was the start of their change to heartthrobs but it was "Wild Eyes" that might be their best known dance. That chair dance has gained more and more steam as it's been performed over the years on variety shows and has taken on a life of its own. Two really fun songs with a great beats from the legendary boys of Shinhwa.
Chakra - End
I was never a fan of Chakra (sorry ladies) because I just didn't like their music and the whole Indian, Pacific Island weird gimmick they had going on. I do remember this song though and the video below is a performance that I watched and thought, "this is just too weird to not like". Like the Samoan guys on-stage during the performance, what must have they been thinking? Did they have any concept of who these random Korean girls were and how much do you think they were paid for this? So many questions I have that will never be answered. I do like the hand shaking dance thing and of course the Egyptian snake arm dance thing. It was fun music with a fun dance and I had to at least acknowledge them as they were a big part of this era.
Boa - No. 1
Finally we get to the princess of the new era of K-pop. Boa had debuted earlier but this song which was released during the summer of 2002, as the World Cup was in full force in Korea and Japan, became her breakout hit. Boa went from cute, tween singer to international superstar. Think what you want about her but the girl can straight dance and she is still one of the best in K-pop to this day.
Baby V.O.X - Chance
Of their many big hits, I think this just be up there as my favorite. Always underrated and in the shadow of some of the other girl groups, Baby V.O.X was able to survive and thrive with their own style longer than their rivals. This song was infused with a little Latin flavor and that carried over into the dance as well. It's great to see many of the members still going strong on their own as well as the rare times when they get back together and perform as a group.
Psy - Champion
I had to give this song it's own space so didn't group it together with "Bird". "Champion" was huge and prior to "Gangnam Style" going nuclear, this was his best known and most loved song. In fact, it's still my favorite song from Psy and one that I listen to all the time, especially when I need a little energy boost. The dance, the sound, the beats, it was all there. How the man thinks of this stuff is beyond me. Oh by the way, look at the outfit. I mean, is that freaking awesome or what?
NRG - Hit Song
"Hit Song" was almost the rebirth of NRG as they had been kind of in obscurity for a number of years. The upbeat song had a cool dance with the kind of disco pointing action going on. The members of NRG would go on to have success individually in variety shows but this was probably their last big hit song, pun intended.
Lee Hyori - 10 Minutes
One of the biggest solo debuts for a former idol group member ever. This song transports me back to 2003 when Lee Hyori released her first single album and men across the world were turned into mush as we watched the icon herself dancing to this song. I remember staring at my computer screen watching the music video and instantly trying to work out how I could move to Korea and marry Hyori. The word 'sexy' in Korean should just be officially changed to 'Hyori'.
Rain - How to Avoid the Sun
This was the song that introduced me to who would become the first true international K-pop breakout star. Rain was able to fuse R&B sounds and dance with a Korean sensibility and was really groundbreaking in the type of music and dance he was doing. It didn't hurt that he was being mentored by J.Y. Park who had a good sense of this type of music but it was the Rain's ability to pull it off and make it believable that made him a star. The dance is like a literal telling of the song through movement and is incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible, to imitate.
There were so many others that couldn't be covered here so be sure to suggest your favorites!
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