Judging by the growing alignment of American big media forces around K-pop—within the last two months, The Wonder Girls starred in a Teen Nick TV-movie, Interscope signees Girls Generation performed on Letterman and Swizz Beatz signed a broad production deal with a South Korean television company—2012 seems predestined to be the year the ever-growing genre breaks into the Western mainstream. BIGBANG have been twice name-checked by Swizz as potential Chris Brown collaborators, and on “Bad Boy,” the newest music video from their Alive mini-album, they make the most compelling case yet for why a rising K-pop profile in America is a well-deserved and wonderful thing.
The song opens with a very Slick Rick-sounding, A-yo, Choice, drop it on me, spoken by the group’s leader, G-Dragon, an androgynous man with a delicate, Skrillex-inspired hairpiece and a patched motorcycle jacket with a teal muppet-fur back. Despite spending 6 years being trained for stardom by his record label before debuting with BIGBANG, G-Dragon was indicted by Seoul police last October for smoking marijuana. Either way, he’s totally seamless here. “Bad Boy” is exquisite, with roots in the airiest of hip-hop/R&B summer crossover. Though it’s sung 90 percent in subtly processed Korean, carefully placed English phrases explain the song succinctly—Sorry, I’m a bad boy… you’re a good girl—and provide crucial hooks for at-home singalong. “Bad Boy” floats the way your hand does riding currents outside the car window, in and out of the sun without seemingly any effort.
But perhaps most importantly—and definitely most surprisingly—the music video for “Bad Boy” was filmed in Williamsburg, down by the Marcy Ave JMZ subway entrance. Half the charm of K-pop is that it’s preciously and unabashedly manufactured, but there’s something seriously compelling and refreshingly unforced about weaving dances around Brooklyn subway steps. In our interview last week, Swizz Beatz said, “It feels like Korea is in your backyard, the way the internet makes things.” It’s already past that point. BIGBANG really is in our backyard. They’re on the ground and they’re walking the turf, and for four breezy minutes they’re absolutely killing it.