Kpopalypse Nugu Alert Episode 63 – Iris, Gwon.u, YSJ

Nugu Alert November is nearly over, and soon Kpopalypse will be entering pre-Christmas list compilation mode, so let’s now look at the final crop of nugus for 2021!

K-pop is a style which is always beholden to trends, and one trend that I’ve really noticed a lot in k-pop specifically over the last couple of years is increasing reliance on the English language.  Of course a key focus on English language use is nothing very new to k-pop overall, with English often being used to deliver the hooks to well known k-pop songs, with the results being of varying musical quality as well as various linguistic quality, but now it’s much more common to see entire songs in English.  I don’t really know what this trend means, nor am I making any judgement on whether it’s a positive or negative development – you can decide how you feel about it for yourself, I’m just noting it as a trend that exists, for better or worse.

However what I have noticed is that where English language use has really increased heavily over the last few years is with nugu groups.  Go back ten years and you wouldn’t see too many people with under 20,000 views on their songs fucking around with a lot of English, or bothering to sub videos in English etc.  Nowadays the nugu end of the k-pop spectrum is much more keen to cater to English speakers in a more comprehensive way, so let’s take a look at how some of them are doing it, with the following videos.

Usual rules apply:

  • Less than 20,000 views on official channels
  • Won’t be found under ‘examples’ when looking up ‘k-pop’ on your favourite encycopediac website
  • Relevant to Kpopalypse

Let’s now look into the last nugus selected for 2021!


Iris – Manners

Let’s start off with Iris, who turns up the aegyo to eleven for “Manners”, a song about how it’s rude to not pay for what you break, so therefore you must pay for Iris’ heart because you apparently broke it – aww, how could you, heart shape boing boing etc.  How this payment is to be received of course isn’t specified, although Kpopalypse suggests that a like, subscribe, and leaving a comment on the video might be a good interim method until we get this directive clarified.  The mood of the music certainly matches the theme with a really cute delivery and light but perky acoustic guitar strumming, I think the only part where they fucked up the aegyo theme just a little bit is the clunky reference to Polo Ralph Lauren because it sounds like the kind of clothes someone would wear in some nonsense trap video so it feels out of place compared to everything else here.  Definitely full marks for effort though overall and a rare example of a track which is going for aegyo and actually generally achieves the desired result instead of just coming off as total cringe.

Youtube views at the time of writing: 1046

Notable attribute: not only that but the video mrcs

Nugu Alert rating: very high


Gwon.u – Kitsch Girl

On very much the other side of the spectrum we have Gwon.u with “Kitsch Girl”, which seems like a pleasant enough shoegazey love song until you cop a load of the lyrics.  It takes until the second verse before the songwriter really starts to show his hand, but once you get to “I’m always trying to be a best friend but no one cares about me” it becomes evident that we are quite possibly dealing with some severe “nice guy syndrome” here.  The ending of the video with a full minute of nothing but the camera pointing at a bridge on a river while no music or dialogue plays also implies a certain angst, like this guy might be threatening to jump off of said bridge soon if you don’t allow him to redeem his Nice Guy card for some “respectful” action.  I reckon that Gwon.u might’ve possibly been one of the guys holding up the protest signs of Hyosung from Saturday Night Live, so I think that if you’re in Korea and some random guy you know gives you a mixtape with this track on it, consider that a red flag.  Hopefully I’m wrong about this dude and he’s actually a true gent, but statistically the odds are slim.  

Youtube views at the time of writing: 1018

Notable attribute: at 1:51 the subtitles rhyme but the actual lyrics don’t, now that’s no way to impress a lady ahem

Nugu Alert rating: very high


YSJ – WCRU (What Color R U)

If you need a bit of help understanding the words for colours in English or Korean, perhaps “What Color R U” (with its helpful dual translation in the pinned YouTube comment) is a song which has been created with your needs in mind.  I initially thought the lyrical colour-naming would help me out a little with my own colour-blindness, until I realised halfway through the video that he started switching everything up and painting a completely different colour to what he was singing about, so actually it’s probably only made me even more confused, however if you don’t share my visual impairment you might find it more helpful.  Proceedings once again get a bit uncomfortably angsty in the second verse where the singer complains that his partner should sort out her own “abstruse problems”, although maybe it’s just a bad translation, and the weird ending where he says he’s going to “paint it black” definitely does kill the “colourful” mood a little.  At least I learned a new English word from this song, now that’s something I can’t credit too many other k-pop songs with.

Youtube views at the time of writing: 772

Notable attribute: rainbow flag at 2:55 suggests that perhaps he turned gay after breaking it off with the Olivia Hye-lipped woman

Nugu Alert rating: extreme

That’s all for this series for 2021!  Kpopalypse Nugu Alert will return next year!

2 thoughts on “Kpopalypse Nugu Alert Episode 63 – Iris, Gwon.u, YSJ

  1. Hey- do you accept nominations for this? If so, is there like a form or something you have to fill out, or is just letting you know via a comment enough?

    • Not something I usually have to worry about given how drastically unpopular the series is, plus how many submissions I receive each week for roundup (hundreds of individual songs). If roundup submissions meet nugu alert criteria they potentially go into that basket instead. Don’t use comments though, best way is via Curious Cat, the livestreams (both on sidebar), or email (in “about”). Please check your submission hasn’t already been covered before, and is eligible.

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