EDITORIALS / K-HIPHOP / K-INDIE / K-POP / KOREAN CULTURE

The Korean Music Industry Has an Obsession with Coffee, Let’s Enjoy It

written by: drowningn00b

You’ve heard songs dedicated to it before – Koreans love their coffee. They just can’t get enough of it. It seems every artist that has a hand in creating their own music (and even some that don’t) have a song dedicated to the brown beverage, or at least mentions it in some way. And as bizarre as it is, there are even artists with coffee drink stage names, like Espresso and Macchiato. I myself am a fan of it, with Americano as my current drink of choice. It has to be black, better hot, with a pump of dark chocolate sauce (wish I was in my coffeehouse right now …). And really, bless Koreans for finding ways to fit it into their music. Everything from love, heartache, writing and poking fun at the current South Korean President, Lee Myung Bak, coffee is more than just a drink; coffee is now a major cultural item in South Korea.

In ode to one of the most caffeinated obsessions and to however you drink your poison, here’s a list of K-Pop, K-Hip-Hop and K-Indie tracks to listen to next time you get a hankering for the caffeine goodness (and maybe a cigarette, though that’s way more bad for your health).

Americano – 10cm

Indie’s chain-smoking and coffee lovers 10cm have a tongue in cheek humor that they were initially wary of. They made “Americano”, but only performed it while promoting their first EP, aptly titled, “10cm, The First EP”. The song was a hit with fans, and they released it as a digital single, thus becoming their signature hit. What I love about this track is how unabashed it is about this drink. They don’t like mocha because it’s too sweet, and an Americano, for them, has to be black with no syrup or sugar to sweeten it. They’ll sing about food, money and alcohol, but nothing beats the original anthem of the coffee-loving hipsters and the weak espresso.


 
Coffee Break – B-Free

While doing research about Hi-Lite Records several months ago, I found B-Free, a rapper from Hawaii, with the look of a stoner. And what better way to show that than with “Coffee Break”, a smooth R&B tune with hip-hop heavyweight Bizzy-B? The humor of taking a break from their hustle is chuckle-worthy, considering the irony of B-Free trying to get the girl and what happens in the MV. The wordplay by Bizzy is one the better ones out there, with “While Bizzy getting’ busy with B-Free, I’ll be free/Whenever B-Free calls me up, I’ll be free/I’m Bizzy-B, but it’s okay to be free”. While not an anthem to any one drink (their sluts that way), “Coffee Break” is the way you should feel whenever you have a good cup of the brown stuff: relaxed, sitting back and enjoying it, not running around doing stuff. Good coffee is like wine that way :)


 
Coffee – One Way

One Way are very busy nowadays after their first album, “Rainy Days”. One of the stand-out tracks was the laid back, full band R&B arrangement of “Coffee” with songbird J.ae. We’ve all been there, waiting for that someone, whether we’re still together or long gone. As J.ae sings, “Holding between my hands, is a coffee just the way you like it. I miss you”. And just as I would think, Young Sky’s white tee gets stained while running around, proving my point. This song holds a personal connection with me because I was that guy waiting in a coffeehouse reminiscing on a past relationship. “Coffee” always takes me back to that moment, so it remains a favorite of mine.


 
Bad Boy – Sunny Hill

Coffee can bring out the worst in people. A best friend of mine was a barista and the stories she would tell me about the jerks that would berate her getting their ultra-specific coffee orders drove me insane. Since then, she’s moved on and I’ve made it my business to respect the barista who makes my Americano. You should too.

What does all this have to do with Sunny Hill? If the lyrics to “Bad Boy” are to be believed, President Lee Myung Bak has an image problem. Mainly, the South Korean president comes off as a West-loving snob. Oranges have to come from California, he loves Tokyo and Washington, D.C. and his coffee has to be “American style”. I don’t know about you, but when I order regular coffee, I don’t add in a country’s style. For instance, my mother drinks her espresso with grated nutmeg, but I’m not going to ask for espresso “Dominican style”. Also, what is American style coffee? O_o Whatever it is, “Bad Boy” highlights the snobbery of coffee aficionados. You can like coffee, just don’t be a dick about it.


 
Talk To Me – SNSD

I shouldn’t like this song. Girl’s Generation presents an image of femininity that is at odds with my own. “Oh!” and its oppa-pandering, the “shot me dead with indifference” of “Hoot” and the “I’ll provide what you want” of “Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)” can sometimes make me gag, but this duet between Tiffany and Jessica adds something more realistic to viewing a relationship. Yes, these two are singing sweetly to bend over backwards to fulfill his requests. But at its core, “Talk to Me” is about communication and the need to tell your partner what you want. It can be as simple as asking “How do you like your coffee?” to more complicated matters like babies and long-term commitments. “Talk to Me” is wrapped in the façade of the doting wife, but its message is a solid and realistic one, something I can’t say for much of their other material. The coffee is only the cherry on top.


 
Origin – Tablo

Tablo’s “Fever’s End” was a big hip-hop release last year. Introspective to the point of “coach by the therapist” confessional, the record revealed a lot about what it was to be Tablo during the time of the record’s creation. “Origin” reveals some of that process, as well as other topics, but it’s the first verse that caught my attention. So far, the other tracks on this list enjoy the drink for what it is or what it represents in another person, but for Tablo, and regular coffee drinkers, the bean is a means to an end. Like an aphrodisiac getting the gears going for sex, coffee facilitates morning rituals like getting ready for work, waking up or erasing the hangover from heavy drinking of the night before. Tablo’s rap style and the scratching by DJ Tukutz bring the track to life, much like a caffeine shot.


 
Hot Shot – Brown Eyed Girls (for those that don’t like the stuff)

This comes as a shock to me, but I know that there exists among you people that are not fans of the stuff. I’m slowly catching my breath after writing that last line. But alas, there’s another liquid that’s just as bad, if not worse, for you. Oddly, Brown Eyed Girls’ “Hot Shot” made it past the censors, considering its main subject is drinking alcohol, whereas B2ST’s “Rainy Days” didn’t because it featured …drinking alcohol. I don’t get it either, but for this list, Brown Eyed Girls had to be on. There are other brown liquids featured on this song, as well as the annoying first world problem of paying attention to the DJ and the bartender at the same time while ordering a drink. Miryo (bless her), makes the request, roughly translated, “… something stronger than coffee and chocolate to get me going”. As a fan of the stuff (and questionable alcoholic), Miryo hit it right on the head. What better way to start a party than a shot of the fermented substance?


 
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Phew! That’s a lot about coffee. I purposefully left out other songs that touch on the drink. If I included them, it would turn me off, and that’s the last thing I want. If you got any coffee-related songs you like, please share below! Spread the love, Neighbours! And for those who don’t like coffee or alcohol, you always have Wheesung’s romantic song dedicated to the breakfast staple, “OJ”. Now let me drink my Vietnamese-style coffee in peace.

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