As much as I love seeing K-Pop artists with novel and exciting concepts, retro concepts have something I just can’t get enough of these days. My preference for old-school vibes might be partly due to nostalgia (assuming I wasn’t old enough to fully experience the 90s, let alone in previous decades), but more likely it is simply because K-Pop groups know how to turn any genre from any era into a bop. See below for the proof.
IN2IT – “Excuse my English”
I can’t say I’ve ever been in disco culture, but songs like this make me think that their music (and also its social meaning, although this is another time) could be greatly underestimated by many today. “Sorry For My English” is a delightful jam that encompasses the sound and aesthetics – to a certain extent even the movements – of the disco clubs of the 70s and 80s and offers an extremely contagious chorus that is hard to forget.
EXO-CBX – “Hey mom!”
“Hey mum!” is a fun, energetic funk-style pop track that picks up on the 70s and makes them look better than ever. From Xiumin and Chen, who worked at their desks as accountants in the 1970s, to Baekhyun, who looks like he could be the protagonist of an old wartime spy thriller, EXO-CBX shows that they can do everything and their hearts of the fans keep changing the outfit (personally I can’t get over Baekhyun’s pinstripe suit). The colorful, decidedly retro sets give this MV an additional layer of vintage charisma that fits perfectly with the fits of the boys.
NU’EST – “LOVE ME”
This alternative house meets urban R&B track has a groove that is not too different from that of some of the disco-oriented songs listed here, although it definitely looks a bit more modern. Interestingly, “LOVE ME” uses many scenes filmed in and around vintage cars, including a drive-in cinema, that give members a certain old-school charm that’s simply irresistible. Other retro accents such as shiny lederhosen and high tops from Converse further reinforce this charm and ensure romantic, old-fashioned date night vibes.
Yubin – “yaya (ME TIME)”
Oval sunglasses? Check. Satiny slip dress? Check. Bucket hats for everyone? Check. During Yubin’s solo debut title tracklady“Moved the audience back to the 80s with their city pop sound and sparkling vintage outfits. Their newest single is full of nostalgia for the following decade and is full of fashion trends from the 90s from head to toe double denim fits, crop sleeves with cap sleeves or just a few oversized hoop earrings, if it was the trend in the 90s, you will almost certainly find it in this groovy, carefree MV.
T-ara – “Roly Poly”
T-ara really gave everything in this case. With its neon-lit dance floor and pulsating electronic bass line, “Roly Poly” gets the disco of the 80s going again while the girls dance all night, full of youthful energy and independence. The choreography also gives a firm allusion to the dance style of the time, which often included line dance (itself a revival from previous decades) and freestyle. Combine all of this with the members’ outfits and you have an MV that really feels like an explosion from the past.
SHINee – “1 out of 1”
After watching this video, I’m pretty convinced that no one can be as cool as SHINee. Even the bright sweaters and overalls with carnival stripes look like a catwalk when the members show their dance moves in the style of the 90s. Of course, the retro concept doesn’t stop at the fashion and choreo of the members (or the backup dancers), as the track itself was inspired by Swingbeat, a fusion genre that was popular from the mid-80s to the early 90s .
Taeyeon – “happy”
“Happy” is like a portion of honey, warm sunshine and summer flowers that are mixed into a dreamy, soothing track. Warm tones and soft colors as well as a selection of vintage furniture, electronics and home decor give this MV an old but timeless feeling that makes it all the more soothing. I can only recommend this deliciously sweet and heartwarming contemporary interpretation of Doo-Wop the next time you can use a little pick-me-up.
MAMAMOO – “Gogobebe”
Did anyone say retro girl crush? Seriously, who said Hwasa could wear this silver puff-sleeved top as if she didn’t have a commanding presence from the start? What about Moonbyul’s pinstripe suit? Wheein’s neon green windbreaker set and pink bucket hat? Even the plastic-coated hair clips from Solar? Although this song doesn’t have a particularly nostalgic sound, the girls definitely channel some fashion energy from past years and look fantastic.
SNUPER – “Platonic Love”
I love everything about “Platonic Love”, from the subdued color correction that creates a wonderful retro look to the bouncy synth line that carries the song from verse to verse and gives it a distinctly old-fashioned sound. The runway concept of the 80s, which makes the connection of the route with the era all the more obvious, is also cute and rarely seen. I just wish the video contained more scenes where they actually roller skate.
secret – “Shy boy”
I have never seen “Grease” before, but I have to imagine that “Shy Boy” fits one of the numbers exactly. This song takes doo-wop from the 50s and adds some happy K-pop flare, which results in a bubbly track with a chorus that is difficult to sing along to. Of course, the nostalgia of the 1950s doesn’t stop there. “Shy Boy” also includes a sock-hop-ready choreography, an old soda shop, and some greasy-looking characters that these queens understandably can’t take their eyes off.
EXID – “Lady”
EXID Nails’ 90s street fashion on her head in “Lady”, which has to do with her bright, color-block windbreakers, denim overalls (of course only worn on one shoulder) and classic yellow timberlands. The song itself is undoubtedly back in the 90s and brings the popular new jack swing genre back in time in a way that is so catchy that until recently I didn’t know how I slept in this song.
Which retro MVs are your favorites?
see is a software engineer by day and an enthusiastic K-pop concert goer at night. Occasionally she also appears on Twitter (@_seheee).
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