Foreign vs Domestic Composers

When it comes to taking a barely known song and turning it into a megahit, SM are the kings of KPOP. So many popular KPOP songs that have that quintessential Korean sound were actually composed by a bunch of Brits, Swedes or Americans! One of our favourite hit squad is called LDN Noise-don’t sound familiar to you? Then check out their work in this video:

Recognise any songs? 

SM is one of the first big labels in Korea to import writers and producers and they’ve been doing it so long it’s helped create a signature SM style. Check out some of our favourite tracks below to see how the official Korean version fares up against the original Demo. You might be very surprised!

Red Velvet-Ice Cream Cake (2015)

Trinity Music from Sweden (2012)

Wow! For me I’m really feeling the original. When you have powerful songs such as this I  feel they should be released in a few languages. If this was release in the States I know it’d be the absolute summer anthem. Though it seems SM directly commissioned this one and the above demo was just so Red Velvet could get the gist of the melody. Ice Cream Cake was already one of my absolute favorite kpop songs and now hearing it in English just adds another layer of sleekness. – April

EXO-Call me baby (2015)

Claude Kelly – Call Me Daddy (Demo) (Prod. by Danja) (2013)

 

Both demo versions are nice but I prefer the one most similar to the EXO version. The “Call me Daddy” version is so fun and fresh and reminds me of a nice summer day chilling with friends as the EXO version gives off a more cute and fresh feeling. One thing I do love about SM when they’re commissioning songs from foreign writers is that they try and stay as close to the original as possible. Even going as far as choosing a Korean word that rhymes with the English one that’s used at certain parts. A lot of though is put into each song. – April

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Taemin-Press your number (2016)

Bruno Mars-Press It (2013/4)

From the very first moment I heard the original I was in love. Bruno brings in this strong sexual ride while Taemin’s version takes us on an emotional ride. Both bang hard and were on repeat on my phone for a few weeks. I’d even prefer if SM continued to use Bruno Mars songs for Taemin as the smooth R&B side matches Taemin well. – April

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F(x) 4 Walls

4 Walls writers/singers: Tay Jasper, Adrian Producers and LDN NOISE

Now when F(x) released this song it was hot on the heels of SHINee’s epic comeback that was View which already had a UK House sound to it. I feel like F(x) took that House sound to the next level with 4 Walls and it really makes sense as to how they got that sound after hearing the demo and finding out the composer are from my neck of the woods! I prefer F(x)’s version because it sounds light and fun and the demo sounds like Drake-lite music, however I just know if they (Tay & Adrian) bought back the rights to this song and released it in 2017, it would be a hit! All those boys stuck in the friendzone all up in their feelings about getting curved would love this song. Although the ‘4 walls’ lyric would also take on another meaning in the West. Y’all know what I mean…~Girl Davis

I never was a fan of 4 Walls but after hearing the original I’m a bit more into the song. Still not a fan of the F(x) version  but I’d definitely love to hear Tay and Adrian bring their version out. I feel with the lyrics about being in the friend zone can connect with a lot of people. – April

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BoA-Spark  (2004)

Luis Fonsi-Fuera De Control (2002)

As you can hear by hearing BoA and Luis’ track, SM literally took his version, translated it into Korean and gave it to BoA. Everything is the same, from the gravelly vocal inflections to the vocal runs. I remember it being talked about quite openly that BoA covered a Latin-pop song so it wasn’t like SM was trying to act like it was an original track. They even paid further tribute by adding salsa-lite moves to the dance routine. There was never a video for Spark, and glad because I imagine that video would have been full of ridiculous cultural appropriation. I really do like both versions! ~Girl Davis

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SNSD-Genie (Tell Me Your Wish) (2009)

Dineyra-Raqsga Tushgin (2009)

Wow I remember the beef between these two songs back in 09. Basically, this Uzbek version of the song came out first and funnily enough, I actually heard this version first. However because the rights had not been correctly acquired from Universal Music (who own it) it falls into the category of plagiarism, which is pretty sad because Dinerya’s version is pretty good. When we talk about perfect pop music-SNSD’s Genie (and Gee!) come to mind. There’s something so wonderfully perfect about Genie so nothing really compares to it. Both artists released this song in the same year, one just had a bigger machine behind them, crushing Dinerya’s more sexy, traditional sounding version. ~Girl Davis

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Girls’ Generation 소녀시대_I GOT A BOY (2013)

“Shiner On U” (I Got a Boy Demo) – Katy Tiz

It’s funny because even though this demo is by UK artist Katy Tiz-I never really got into her music! But this demo that eventually got sold to SM is pretty dope. When I first heard it a few years ago I realised only a few things were changed in the SNSD version and honestly, I like the simplicity of the original demo. There’s a 3rd verse/bridge in the SNSD version that slows it down to another tempo before speeding up and finishing and while I liked to see the girls serving me Jem & The Holograms realness with their wigs and pink outfits, the demo shows that part of the song was quite unnecessary. Still, I got a boy will always be near and dear to my heart because it came out when I first moved to Korea. I lived really close to Apgujeong Rodeo and  on my second night in my apartment my friend Young-Jun and me took a walk up there and saw the SM promotion building and it had SNSD in their ‘I Got A Boy’ costumes posted up on the massive billboard. I felt I had truly arrived in Korea when I saw that. Then a few months later I went to Dream Concert and they were the headliners-they slayed the hell out of that stage and left ‘I Got A Boy’ for the end. We walked out of the concert floating on air. It was great! But that demo still goes hard. ~Girl Davis

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Britney Spears: Look Who’s Talking Now (2003)

BoA-Look Who’s Talking (2009)

Just like the Luis Fonsi song ‘Spark’, when BoA took this unreleased Britney demo, she just sang it in her own style. It’s pretty much the same damn song as it was on BoA’s English album. Since they’re pretty much the same and both by pop icons (fight me) its hard to pick. But since BoA actually got to release this song and performed it a lot, I’ll have to pick BoA. It’s funny how SM really doesn’t do much to change the songs, it’s like they look for fully realised tracks, add a bit of that SM magic and turn slept on songs into hits. ~Girl Davis

Honorable Mention:

It seems that my picks are BoA biased but that’s my Queen and don’t get it twisted, she’s the reason why your favs can go to Japan and do sellout tours. She’s one of the originators, so kindly put some respeck on Kwon BoA’s name!

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In 2002, BoA recorded Korean and Japanese versions of Listen To My Heart.

The Japanese version was chosen to be the title of her debut album on Avex records (in Japan, she debuted two years before that in Korea). BoA’s 2002 hit was inspired by Bad Boy girl group DREAM’s song, He Loves You Not, just listen to the intro and overall instrumental:

Now listen to BoA’s song:

It’s the same damn song (musically anyway). However I like that Natsumi Watanabe wrote completely new lyrics and Kazuhiro Hara changed the arrangement enough for LTMY to sound different. Looking back on DREAM makes me realise how much has changed musically in the sense that people chastised them for attempting to sing R&B music that black girl groups (mostly TLC and Destiny’s Child) were doing way better at the time. I think if DREAM were to come out now, they’d probably win album of the year at the Grammys…    ~Girl Davis

And what about the domestic songwriter? Here’s a list of some of the most famous Korean songwriters and their songs.

Teddy

2NE1 – I Am The Best

(most of 2NE1’s their entire catalog)

Black Pink – Boombayah

G-Dragon

BIGBANG – Haru Haru

Taeyang – Stay With Me

G-Dragon – Crooked

Almost all of BIGBANG’s songs)

JYP 

Park Ji Yoon – Coming of Age Ceremony

Rain – It’s Raining

Miss A – Bad Boy Good Girl

Wondergirls – Tell Me

2PM – Heartbeat

Song written by Dean

EXO – Black Pearl

F(X) – Pretty Girl

VIXX – Voodoo Doll

Now you’ve heard what we had to say so tell us your thoughts? Domestic or Foreign composed songs? Let us know in the comments!

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