We’ve performed at a large number of Korean weddings over the years (go here to see a sampling of many of them), and, while we are rarely asked to play entirely Korean pop music as couples planning weddings in and around the New York City area tend to have a diverse guest list and usually don’t want one kind of music to dominate, often Korean music is an important element. The most common form of Korean pop music today is called “K-pop”, which, loosely defined, is dance music with a sound influenced by the beat and rhythms of American hip-hop or R &B, and often performed often by boy or girl groups. (For a more complete guide to incorporating K-pop at your event, go to our blog post here.)
We know and enjoy new K-pop as well as K-pop going back to its roots in the early nineties, and we know well how it can enliven Korean wedding celebrations, whether it’s played here and there throughout the event mixed in with other pop music genres like hip-hop, house, merengue or others, or if K-pop is played in one or two “sets” after many of the guests have had a few drinks and are more inclined to bust out their dance moves and sing the lyrics to a classic K-pop anthem from the nineties by H.O.T or DJ Doc.
But since K-pop really only has been really popular since the early nineties, a lot of older Korean guests like the parents of the bride and groom and their relatives and friends (say, from ages 50 to 70) often aren't very familiar with K-pop. Sometimes they know and prefer American music from the seventies or eighties instead. If these older guests are not as Americanized, though, or have come from Korea to New York for the celebration, often what they respond to is a style of Korean pop called “trot” music, which was the most commonly-listened to kind of song before the rise of K-pop. A recent artist known for playing the trot style are Jang Yoon Jung (pictured at left), and one of the more famous classic trot singers is Seol Woon Doh (pictured at right).
Because a lot of younger Koreans (say, from ages 20 to 40) often tell us they had to grow up listening to their parents play trot music over and over while growing up, often they know of trot but think of it as old-fashioned. However, given that most couples we meet also want to include everyone at the wedding, they do usually agree that it likely will be enjoyed by the older guests, and be the way to get more conservative Koreans - often who can be reluctant to dance - to get up and party a bit.
The name Trot, or “teurototeu” as it is known in Korean, comes from its similarity to the rhythms used in a foxtrot dance. Trot music consists of a simple one-two beat that is repeated throughout the song, and its classic singers, many of whom are in their 50s or 60s today, have a romantic and sometimes playful loungey style, are roughly like the Korean equivalent of revered vocalists like Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald or Tony Bennett – talented veterans whose music might not be as trendy, but who are well-known and respected for their voices and for their songs’ firm place in Korean music history.
Recently, however, just like how American jazz vocal standards have in the past decade or so been re-enlivened by younger singers like Michael Buble and Diana Krall, trot has been re-discovered by some younger Korean artists, some of whom are even from massively popular K-pop groups. This trot "comeback" began in the mid-2000s with a song called “Eomeona” (a Korean expression which roughly translates to “Oh My Goodness”) by Jang Yoon Jung. This song mixed a trot rhythm and trot vocal style with Latin rhythms and was a big hit in South Korea, becoming the introduction for many K-pop fans to the trot style and making trot more "cool" to many younger Koreans.
When we play trot music at Korean weddings, often we find we get an enthusiastic response, from family members young an old, Americanized and non-Americanized, dancing and singing along together to it (much like the right “oldies” song from doo-wop to disco will do for American guests) to it being that spark that gets an older Korean couple to the dancefloor to share slower dance, or simply being a moment that gives the older guests something to pleasantly smile and bounce their heads to at cocktail hour or dinner.
Below you’ll get a sample of how everything old is new again - have a listen to “Eomeona” by Jang Yoon Jung, as well as classic trot singer Seol Woon Doh performing an updated version of a trot song called “Samba” with his son Lee-U, himself a member of a K-pop group.
Cocktail Hour, Dinner Music, dj new york city, dj nyc, djnyc, Fresh Oldies, K-Pop (Korean Pop Music), Multicultural DJ, Multicultural Events & Multicultural Weddings, New York City, nyc dj, Uncategorized, Weddings