K-pop, Mandopop and other Asian pop
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K-pop fans are rediscovering old songs through new remakes by groups like Aespa. Photo: SM Entertainment

Remakes and covers are having a moment in K-pop thanks to Joy of Red Velvet, Aespa, MSG Wannabe and ‘Kingdom’ TV band contest

  • South Korean listeners are into old songs at the moment, and K-pop groups and artists are catering to them with remakes of hits from the 1990s and ’00s
  • Satirical group MSG Wannabe, girl group Aespa and Joy of Red Velvet have all recently issued remakes
Tamar Herman

Some new K-pop songs, including recent releases from girl group Aespa and Joy of Red Velvet, are remakes of old tunes.

Aespa’s single Next Level, issued in May, is a remake of a 2019 song from a Fast and Furious film soundtrack, and Joy’s first mini album, “Hello” – released on May 31 – sees the vocalist recreating some of South Korea’s biggest hits from the 1990s and ’00s. In February, Aespa also released Forever, a remake of a song from the ’00s.
Both Joy and Aespa are under media company SM Entertainment, which has a penchant for remaking songs and re-releasing them. They are two among the many K-pop artists and groups who take tracks by other singers and put their own spin on them.

Satirical group MSG Wannabe – formed on popular variety show Hangout with Yoo – are another music act doing the same. The group is made up of eight celebrities who have existing careers as hip-hop artists, actors and singers.

The songs released by MSG Wannabe – a pun on the name of vocal pop band SG Wannabe – have become big hits. They’ve released remakes of Journey to Atlantis by Laboum, Big Mama’s 2005 hit Resignation and the 2008 song If by Taeyeon.
Both the original If and Resignation are well known in South Korea, and Laboum’s 2016 song has been a bit of a sleeper hit. The MSG Wannabe cover helped push Journey to Atlantis to the top of local music charts, joining another recently rediscovered sleeper hit, Rollin’ by Brave Girls.
At the moment, older songs are finding a lot of love with South Korean listeners. New releases often adopt retro themes and decades-old styles, and SG Wannabe – who also appeared on Hangout with Yoo – and IU are among groups and artists seeing their old songs reappear on Korean music charts when they perform them again.
Popular television show Kingdom: Legendary War is gaining attention for its covers of songs. The show, in which features six K-pop boy bands are competing, has seen artists perform numerous covers both of their own songs and tracks by other artists, including Blackpink and IU.
According to some observers, the coronavirus pandemic has fuelled this musical nostalgia.