Short for Korean popular music, K-pop is a music genre that originates in South Korea. This important part of the South Korean tradition consists of various songs that are popular around the world as well.
Everything about modern Korean popular music began in the 1990s. It became a part of the Korean Wave. It’s a term referring to the popularity of Korean pop culture, TV shows, movies, and music across Asia and other world parts.
K-pop music is specific by the use of English phrases in songs, and many critics believe it’s because of the influence of people who studied outside of Korea. This Korean-American style helped the K-pop genre to become more popular among young people.
K-pop songs are special for hybrid and unique sounds, large groups of musicians, systematic training, and extensive choreographies. They create high-quality music that needs to be on your repertoire because it is a mastery learned and performed very simply.
Gangnam Style – PSY
This catchy song instantly became viral in 2012, and it is hard to find someone in this world who doesn’t know that comedic-cowboy dance-guy singing Gangnam Style! He sings about class, wealth, and materialism, but there is something deeper in these words – describing people pretending to be something they’re not. It’s one of the most viewed videos on YouTube that has won many awards.
Gangnam Style is a must-have on party playlists. The melody is catchy, and you need only the Am, E, F, G, and A chords to play it, while your friends need to learn that viral cowboy dance for more fun.
Gentleman – PSY
Gentleman follows a Gangnam Style pattern and lyrics in both Korean and English. Many people don’t know what the song is about, but its beat makes them dance. And yes, it’s hard to find out if there are any hidden messages in this song, especially for people who live outside Korea. But it looks like PSY wanted to send a picture of how women are treated in a patriarchal society like in Korea.
The same beat repeats over and over throughout the whole song. It is one of the easiest ones to learn and play on guitar.
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As If It’s Your Last – BLACKPINK
As If It’s Your Last is a 2017 song by BLACKPINK, but it was initially written for another K-pop group, 2NE1, under another title. The song was selected as the opening music for Blackpink House, the South Korean TV show. As If It’s Your Last is such an exciting song and will surely win over some new fans.
It’s in the key of E major, and it’s an absolute beginner’s song. It doesn’t require any special skills to play and learn; basic, open chords and a capo on the 1st fret are the only things you need.
Fake Love – BTS
Released in 2018, and was first performed on the Billboard Music Awards stage. The song blends several genres, making it a good K-pop song representative. Everyone loves it and describes it as a true delight.
The music is created in common time which makes it one of the easiest K-pop songs to learn. It features just three basic chords along with a highly straightforward strum pattern.
Love Scenario – iKON
Love Scenario is considered the beginning of iKON’s popularity. Also, it’s a beginning of a love story where the narrator adores a girl he has just met. The song’s start is cheerful and perfectly portrays the feeling of having butterflies in the stomach. In the end, that feeling converts into a tragic love.
The song includes an easy chord progression and a traditional strumming pattern. You don’t need a capo on for this song unless the pitch doesn’t suit your voice. Practice the song diligently, and you’ll learn it in no time.
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Likey – Twice
This song gives a powerful message to the world, especially to the young people who struggle with self-confidence. It talks about beauty standards on social media and how all that makes people unhappy. Likey became a hit and reached number one on Korean and US charts.
It’s in the key of D major and includes the C, Am, Em, D, G, and B chords. If you struggle with reaching the B major chord, put a capo on and practice it on higher frets first.
Dance The Night Away – Twice
Dance The Night Away is a perfect song for summer-night dancing with the breeze in your hair. It reached significant success in Korea, Japan, and United States. A YouTube video consists of a stunning dance and beautiful scenes from the Japanese coast.
Dance The Night Away is a pop/dance song that is beginner-friendly – it only includes basic chords, such as the D, G, Em, and A chords. Put a capo on the 3rd fret to sound more like Twice.
My Universe – BTS ft. Coldplay
The success My Universe has reached says that the BTS-Coldplay combination was the right choice. Both BTS and Coldplay are deep thinkers and have songs with strong messages about life and love. The song won many awards and entered The Guinness Book Of World Records.
This ode to unity, hope, and love is easy to learn, and it’s one of the favorites among absolute beginners. It includes three basic chords and requires a capo on the 2nd fret. Tune your guitar first, put on a capo, check the tuning and start creating the magic.
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Gone – Rosé
Gone is a solo release of BLACKPINK’s member called Rosé. In this song, she showed her talent and strength in her voice. Gone is similar to iKON’s song Love Scenario, as it talks about the beauty of love and its dark, tragic side.
The song doesn’t require any advanced skills. You need to know only the Am7, D, G, and Em chords. The seventh chord is not hard to perform – place your fingers like you want to play Am, and then take the finger off on the third string, and that’s it!
Eight – IU
Many critics compared this South-Korean creation to the work of many successful artists, such as Avicii and Alessia Cara. The band created it together with a BTS member, Suga. He incorporated his ideas into the song, and IU finally had something different from their previous work.
Eight is set in a fast tempo and includes the F, C, Am, and G chords. You definitely should enrich your repertoire with this easy, pop-rock song!
9 And Three Quarters (Run Away) – TXT
Harry Potter fans say this song shows their favorite movie moments. It’s a story about friends exploring the idea of escaping the burdens of life and running away from them. it shows a true friendship, like the one Harry, Hermione, and Ron have.
This magical song contains the F, Am, C, and G chords. The lyrics are half Korean, half English, and that would maybe be the only struggle for you when it comes to learning this song.
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Hellevator – Stray Kids
You won’t be able to hold back your tears while reading the lyrics of this amazing song. It is centered around depression and life struggles, and it’s like an inner talk of a person dealing with those. The music, rap part, vocals, and everything else about the song is par excellence. It’s authentic and also one of the reasons why Stray Kids gained new fans during their live performances.
The required chords are Em, C, G, and D, and you can put a capo on the 3rd fret to synchronize your playing with the voice pitch.
Sure Thing – BLACKPINK
BLACKPINK covered this song, originally recorded by an American artist, Miguel. They performed it on JYP’s Party People. But, it’s not just a cover – BLACKPINK added their unique part to it. People were amazed by their performance, so the song became instantly popular internationally.
It’s in the key of A minor and requires a standard guitar tuning, four chords, and an easy strumming pattern. An F major can be tricky if you are an absolute beginner. In that case, you need to practice it first – move the F chord shape up to the fifth fret or higher, and try to play it with no buzzing. In this case, you’ll be playing the A major, but the point is in learning the F major chord shape somewhere where it takes less pressure to fret the strings. Once you strengthen your muscles, playing on the first three frets won’t be hard anymore.
Sweet Night – V.
Sweet Night was written and composed by V for a popular Netflix drama Itaewon Class, and the words perfectly match the visuals. Fans describe the song as a big, warm hug after crying for hours, and the singer’s whispery voice does give a sense of calm – it’s like he’s capable of healing and putting your troubles away.
It’s in the key of C major and requires four chords – C, Em, Am, and F, played along with an easy, traditional strumming pattern.
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Answer – ATEEZ
Right after its release, this song started to be globally popular and got ATEEZ some new fans. They often post the song’s video on social media, write all the best comments, and suggest listening to it to people who have never heard it. ATEEZ even created the Answer-inspired merchandise, so everyone can wear a T-shirt or have a phone case with their favorite quotes on it.
This song consists of four open chords – Em, C, G, and D. Switching between chords is simple, and even newbies can perform it without struggling.
Really – BLACKPINK
BLACKPINK, a popular South-Korean girl group, released the song Really in 2018. It’s part of their album called Square Up, recorded both in Korean and English. It has over 100k Shazams, which says a lot about its popularity. Also, it reached a notable place on the Worldwide iTunes Chart.
Tune your guitar and enjoy this beginner but mastery song that will make your repertoire more beautiful.
0x1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) – TXT
0x1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) was released in 2021; TXT is one of those bands who wanted to make pandemic days more beautiful and feed our souls with music. The song tells a heart-touching love story that represents some genuine feelings for a person.
It’s a beginner-friendly song consisting of basic open chords and an easy strumming pattern. Also, you have to put a capo on the 3rd fret. If you are a more advanced player, you don’t need a capo, but you have to play the Gm, C, G#, and A# chords to sound like the original version.
Ugly – 2NE1
Ugly is a song that became an anthem for all the girls who struggle with self-confidence; 2NE1 stands out and talks about the fact that everyone has flaws and that social media is not equal to reality. The theme is similar to the one in the previously-mentioned song called Likey.
This pop song became popular instantly among entry-level guitarists because it includes only four open chords.
Highway To Heaven – NCT 127
Released in 2019 as part of the band’s fourth Korean extended play. It was written and produced by many artists, such as Michael Foster, Richard Garcia, and Charles Anderson, who were involved in creating two of Ariana Grande’s hits. The English version was released as a single and reached the top of the US charts.
Highway To Heaven is a beginner song, requiring the Am, F, C, G, and Dm chords. It would be nice if you own a capo to put it on the fifth fret for a more original sound.
Blueberry Eyes – MAX ft. Suga
Blueberry Eyes has one of the most iconic videos; blueberry coming out of the faucet, and the viral engagement in a bathtub full of blueberries with a blueberry-like ring is one of the most popular scenes ever! BTS did a good job, and the collaboration with MAX went very well. Because of this song’s success, they said they wished for more work together.
You have to put a capo on the 3rd fret and play four open chords that every beginner can perform. If playing doesn’t suit your voice, try with the capo on another fret.
Don’t Need Your Love – NCT DREAM
Don’t Need Your Love is half English, half Korean – therein lies the beauty of this song. It talks about a relationship that ended, and obviously, behind those words, there is a tragic heartbreak. If you feel your relationship is like fire and ocean, this song is definitely going to be your anthem.
It’s set in common time, and the tempo is pretty fast. The four basic chords and an easy strumming pattern make this song great for beginners.
Best Of Me – BTS
Best Of Me is a collaboration between BTS and The Chainsmokers, a well-known American DJ duo. The song has a lot of Western-pop elements and therefore differentiates from BTS’s previous work.
If you are a newbie and want to learn this song, do not worry – that is not difficult. Practice a barre chord a bit to avoid fret buzz. The good news is that you can put a capo on to perform this chord on higher frets to reach it more easily.
Anymore – Somi
Anymore is Somi’s first song to be fully in English. It’s a classical love story that is compassionate to all the people who struggle with breakup and disrespect. The official video came out in the year of the song’s release, and it became popular because of its creativeness and scenes that perfectly follow every word of the song.
Anymore begins with a soft vocal and the beautiful sound of the acoustic guitar. In some moments, it reminds me of popular Disney songs. Play four chords along with downstrokes and a capo on the 4th fret.
Thank You – GOT7
GOT7 recorded Thank You for their studio album called Eyes On You. The song lyrics are so emotional, and the music makes you feel calm. Fans say they love guitar intro the most, and the boys’ singing melts their hearts.
The whole creation is impressive, but the second half especially gives you goosebumps. Play upstrokes and downstrokes along with the five chords you can learn in no time.
Lmly – Jackson Wang
It is a song influenced by the ’80s. The title is an abbreviation of Leave Me Love You, which pursues the unrequited love theme. It’s a continuation of Wang’s song Pretty Please. Even the music videos have similarities regarding costumes and the character Wang plays.
It’s one of the easiest songs to learn and play, as it has open chords only. Also, the strumming pattern is not hard at all – play downstrokes while palm muting.
Love Poem – IU
The lyrics of Love Poem touch the listeners’ hearts, along with IU’s soft and soothing vocals. She wanted to write something to support loved ones going through hard times and give them the strength to keep moving forward.
You should definitely learn this song on guitar – it only requires five open chords and a B major chord.
You Can’t Hold My Heart – Monsta X
Monsta X released this song along with their first all-English album, All About Luv. You Can’t Hold My Heart was the right move – it made them one of the four K-pop bands/artists that hit the Billboard top ten. The song talks about retaining the feelings we all harbor in our hearts until we can no longer resist, even pretending.
This ballad is one of the most beautiful among K-pop songs. It has a catchy rhythm, and you can’t resist singing it all day after listening. Play the Am, F, C, Dm, and G chords, and enjoy the beautiful melody.
It’s You – Henry
Released in 2017, and became part of the Korean TV drama series While You Were Sleeping. The song follows up those scenes very well. It’s You is one of the favorite songs among Henry’s fans and was the most-streamed Korean OST on Spotify for two years.
It includes basic open chords and one barre chord that you will be able to play if you do your best and practice regularly.
Pinwheel – Seventeen
The song is empathetic and for those who feel lonely and longing. Woozi revealed the song was inspired by his dream; he was standing on a green field and suddenly saw a pinwheel standing by itself in the middle. He said it seemed like the pinwheel was waiting for someone, which made him pretty sad.
Pinwheel is an absolute beginner’s song and includes only basic open chords and a capo on the 4th fret. Switching between chords is easy, and you will soon be able to play it with no problems!
Decalcomania – Jungkook
Decalcomania is a metaphor for self-exploration and identity. Fans were so happy when the final version was released, but it no longer exists anywhere except in Jungkook’s memory – he deleted the song from social media. You can listen to the demo tape on YouTube, and even though it’s less than two minutes long, it has over 10 million views!
Decalcomania is a song that includes only three chords. So, take your guitar and try to finish the work that Jungkook has never finished.
Our Summer – TXT
Our Summer is a nostalgic story of two referring to the time they had one summer together on Magic Island when they were kids. It describes an ideal summer – waves and sun rays.
You can play it on the beach with your friends or in a cozy winter atmosphere while thinking of those summer days. You have to learn a simple strumming pattern consisting of downstrokes only and four basic chords if you want this song to be in your repertoire.
Losing You – Wonho
Losing You is an enchanting song performed in English. It’s about the narrator protecting a cherished love no matter what happens. You can see a strong, unconditional love for a girl, especially in the sentence ‘Cause losing me is better than losing you’. I wish everyone has someone like him!
Wonho’s falsetto and the piano make the song more beautiful. You definitely should learn this song on guitar – you can play it in some romantic moments – why not?
Smile Flower – Seventeen
Smile Flower is a song that talks about the importance of hope and positivity. Its title is a Korean phrase that symbolizes how a smile blooms into laughter on your face.
Take your guitar and start playing this song that gives you the strength to keep going forward no matter what. It will make a smiling flower out of you, that’s for sure.
Walk You Home – NCT DREAM
Walk You Home is one of the most popular summer songs ever. It offers everyone a dose of sun rays, hot sand, and summer breeze, makes you more relaxed, and fulfills your head with positive thoughts.
You have to learn an easy chord progression for this song – advanced skills are not required. You can play it along with the original version to practice the right tempo.
Slump – Stray Kids
Slump was released in three languages, and it’s known as one of the best anime songs of 2020 – it appeared in the anime adaptation of the popular Korean comic called Tower Of God.
This absolute beginner’s song has pop and rock elements. Play the Em, C, G, and D chords with a simple strumming pattern.
K-pop is a music genre that originates in South Korea and is unique by the use of English phrases in songs. They are a mastery learned and performed easily.
It’s enough for you to know the basics about strumming and the chords to have a lot of K-pop songs in your repertoire.
Remember that different songs from different cultures build you up as a musician.
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