It’s safe to say the latter half of 2016 was the era of “TT,” the K-pop song that uses the popular keyboard construction of two uppercase Ts to symbolize a downpour of tears. When JYP’s girl group phenomenon TWICE released the catchy tune, it exploded like not much else did last year. And really, it’s an interesting conundrum. The time of summer bops had long since passed, making way for the cuddles and Eskimo kisses of winter ballads and holiday-infused tracks. To see a song so upbeat and so incredibly full of spring-like inflection have such a commanding presence is not necessarily surprising in terms of the scope of pop music and trends, but it is in terms of timing.
Finding a song so universal that it transcends every other piece of pop music in a saturated market doesn’t happen as often as some may think it does. Taking the microcosm of K-pop, there are hoards of groups — rookies and vets alike — out at any given time, all of them creating music that’s oftentimes very similar, all trying to find that one “thing” that will stir up an entire population of listeners. “TT” was the proverbial “lightning in a bottle,” a song that struck quickly and forcibly, built up an immense amount of energy, and once let loose simply exploded.
A couple of years ago, YG’s Taeyang garnered that kind of immense and instantaneous popularity with his international hit “Eyes, Nose, Lips.” Part of the reason the song had such an overwhelming impact, however, had a great deal to do with Korean musicians themselves. The song was reasonably successful on its own, but when artists like Eric Nam, Akdong Musician, BTS and labelmate Tablo of the legendary Epik High offered their unique interpretations, it took off to the point that Western artists like Michael Bublé started giving their take on the ballad.
In that same vein, “TT” impacted Korean music in such a way that artists and dancers from various genres were enchanted enough to give the track a go in both song and choreography. A slew of popular Korean acts like Taeyeon, Lollipop and Astro were all enamored of the song
Among all the covers, there was one that was truly unique simply because of its alternative construction and execution. On Jan. 10, influential beatboxer KRNFX — along with QuestCrew member and YG producer, songwriter and vocal powerhouse Lydia Paek — participated in KSTYLE TV’s series “Betbacks.” What unfolded was truly magical.
It’s no surprise Lydia is one of YG’s most coveted producers. Her vocal range is astonishing, and the amount of soul she injects into a song that, make no mistake, is as sugary sweet as any other pop phenomenon to come out of Korea is so incredibly unreal it has to be praised. This isn’t to suggest that pop artists can’t have depth and range even in the bubbliest of bubblegum pop. But it’s always a bit of a thrill when someone can competently infuse true soul into something that’s meant to be more saccharine. KRNFX and Lydia Paek’s cover was truly a revelation.