Special Features, Original Features
Posted by AllK_Maknae Friday, October 21, 2016

Ranking K-Pop's best 15 retro concepts


K-Pop is known for trying out various concepts and then going above and beyond with it. From sexy concepts to the cute and bubbly, K-Pop groups have mastered any concept imaginable, with retro being no exception!

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With extravagant outfits, quirky beats, among other influences, these 15 artists/groups pulled off the retro concept perfectly. Check and see if your favorite group/artist made the list.


Note: the ranking is determined based on fashion, sound, and overall concept relevance. 

 15. Laboum - "Aalow Aalow" 

Bright and lively, Laboum's "Aalow Aalow" offers a nice retro vibe through its 1950s inspired dresses, vibrant colors, and poppy sound. The song is fun and the concept keeps to the original retro fashion, but it didn't catch my eye, nor the public's, enough to earn them a higher spot. 

14. Lee Hyori - "Miss Korea" 


Lee Hyori's low-tempo track "Miss Korea" offers a nice flair. The grayscale music video paired with the smooth electric guitar strums and light drumming complements this concept well. Not only does Lee Hyori master the retro concept visually but she also acclimates her voice to the concept with a low, almost husky tone. 

 13. PSY - "Napal Baji" 

While continuing to ride the fame wave, PSY continued showing off his crazy sense and turned back the hands of time with "Napal Baji." While the song is quirky and his bell-bottom pants were his key point, this song seemed too comical to be taken as a seriously well-done homage to retro concepts. While PSY is humorous and fun to see, the song is a hit and miss for some listeners. 

12. Ladies Code - "So Wonderful"

Ladies Code crafted their own sound quite well, but once they released "So Wonderful" the ladies started garnering more attention as being "the next Wonder Girls." A dark and sensitive track, "So Wonderful" pulls of the retro theme elegantly with its blaring trumpets, upbeat tempo and playful sounds. The MV visually imitates the Wonder Girls' mic stand routine nicely and they add their own charming fashion sense. Although they worked hard towards the retro vibe, the concept does come across as a bit tame because it utilizes the theme very subtly and mostly borrows from it in sound and the vintage mics. 

11. Dal Shabet - "Have, Don't Have" 

While the song is more of a retro pop-synth style, the girls of Dal Shabet really pay homage to the retro concept through their chic outfits. Each member has sex appeal as well as cute charms by showcasing many timeless styles through a bold mix of 1930s and 1960s American fashion. However, all the clothes made the man in this case. The song has retro influences but also incorporates a few futuristic elements that make it somewhat stray away from its original idea. Just going "ooh ooh" won't seal the deal. But that doesn't mean "Have, Don't Have" can easily go unnoticed. Dal Shabet's own colorful take on retro scores them a spot on this list.

10. TVXQ - "Something" 


The boys of TVXQ maintained a flashy style through many of their concepts. With sexy fitting suits, slicked back hair, and a jazzy sound, "Something" becomes retro gold. The ritzy style is eye-catching, it has a well constructed instrumental and the catchy chorus is almost irresistible to sing. 

9. SECRET - "Shy Boy" 


The lively, cutesy style of "Shy Boy" earns SECRET a top spot on this list. The ladies pull of 1950's fashion effortlessly, and even their sound blends in with the music from that era. The colorful but faded filter give it an old-fashioned quality that is well done and enjoyable to see. The dance routine also showcases some swing-style moves. From head to toe, SECRET owns their retro concepts well. You can see more of their retro flair in songs like "Love is Move" and "Poison." 

8. Nine Muses - "Figaro" 

Sexy and chic, Nine Muses produced a wonderful retro hit with "Figaro." The funky track contains a lot of fusion disco sounds with an electric-synth instrumental that intensifies as the song goes on. The girls put a spin on an earlier fashion sense with a mix of short, floral skirts and flared pants with funky print shirts that highlight their model figures. Sadly, it is still a song that went a little under the radar but it didn't stop these muses from mastering the retro concept marvelously. 

7. Girls' Generation - "Hoot" 

Another sexy and chic track is Girls' Generation's "Hoot." The Austin Powers-like style and groovy track just oozes retro. From solid black and white colors and full body suits to the famous "octopus hair," the 9 ladies pull off this concept easily. The songs Western influences mixed with a synthetic melody and blaring trumpets stand out among the other retro tracks during 2010 - which were mostly heavy disco tracks. "Hoot" is just another part of Girls' Generation unforgettable concepts. 

6. Super Junior - "Devil"

"Devil, ooh ooh!" Not only does "Devil" have a catchy hook but it is also overflowing with swag and smooth, sex appeal. The light guitar strums and strikes of the tambourine during the hook make "Devil" a fun and lively jack-swing influenced piece. The boys of Super Junior complement this retro concept with their stunning suits, sharp dance moves and manly charms making it score high in anyone's book. Other songs like "Spy" pander to your retro needs as well. 

5. Wonder Girl's - "Nobody" 

Nobody can forget "Nobody." Made in both English and Korean, the Wonder Girls own the retro concept and have become icons as Korea's retro queens. The 1920's inspired fashion and simplistic choreography make their stages a delightful blast from the past. The sound is steady with rough clapping, a smooth, shimmering instrumental and funky beat. No retro list is complete without the Wonder Girls, which is why they score so highly! The Wonder Girls keep to their fun, retro style even today with tracks like "Why So Lonely." 

4. SPICA - "You Don't Love Me" 

"You Don't Love Me" needs a lot more recognition than people give it. This retro bop has a lot of fun and sassy sounds ranging from the mix of jazzy brass instruments, playful snapping, repetitive verses, and soulful vocals all on a mid-tempo track. But SPICA don't just stop there - there fashion sense is another force to be reckoned with. While they may look like Daphne from 'Scooby-Doo,' their take on 1960s fashion is fun and lively too. If you are looking for your retro fix, this is a song that can't be missed. 

 3. T-ara - "Roly Poly" 

Quite possibly one of K-Pop's best tracks during 2011, "Roly Poly" revived disco through the magic of K-Pop. Fun, energetic and charismatic, the girls of T-ara revamped and made disco their own with "Roly Poly." Everything about the MV is alive and on point. With the vibrant colors and blend of 70-80s fashion, not to mention the synthetic, disco inspired instrumental accompanied by various "ooh oohs," playful violins and cowbells, no part of the retro concept was left untouched by T-ara, making it score high on this list of retro jams. 


MAMAMOO have been working the retro concept with multiple songs such as "Piano Man," and even on various album tracks like "Recipe." However, "Ahh Oop" pushes the boundaries with its subtle flair and calming instrumental. Their vocals stand out effortlessly and complements this song's piano melody, boastful lyrics and electric guitar. The song still contains jazzy elements well blending a few futuristic styles such as Moon Byul's rapping. Even their clothing is top notch as they match up with 1960s fashion. "AHH OOP!" is playful, empowering and incorporates a real vintage sound and style altogether! MAMAMOO are the trendsetters for all things retro lately, which definitely earns them second place. 

1. SHINee - "1 of 1" 

Everything about SHINee's "1 of 1" deserves the number one spot on this list of retro concepts. Not only is the song a total trip to the past but it also pays homage and incorporates a lot of beautiful past influences from artists like Michael Jackson. From the dance to the instrumental, everything screams retro-chic. The grainy video quality, sexy suits, high water pants and female background dancers decorated in 90's trending pieces make this an aesthetic MV for sure. The choreography is sharp, well constructed, and somehow sexualizes the member in the same way Michael Jackson's dance routines were sexy. The synthetic instrumental, swift violins and echoing bells, elegant falsettos paired with an upbeat tempo makes "1 of 1" one of a kind and worthy of being number one.

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