K-pop albums offer more than music


Tribune News Service

South Korean K-pop band BTS performs in concert on May 11, 2019, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Taleise Lawrence, Assistant Editor

I’ve always been a big fan of pop music. There’s just something about the catchy and upbeat style that scratches my brain in the perfect way. It should be no surprise then that I fell into the expansive world of K-pop. Decades and decades of music that I had never heard of, save for the few that crossed into mainstream U.S. music, like “Gangnam Style” by solo artist PSY or “Boy With Love” by the group Bangtan Sonyeondan, aka BTS.
With all this new music, I quickly realized one of my favorite aspects of K-pop: the physical albums.
I’m not bashing Spotify or Apple Music by any means. I stream music as much as the next guy. But there’s just something different about having a physical copy of something. Being able to hold an album in your hands and think, “Wow, this is mine” feels pretty cool. It’s also a good way to support the artist and also get something for yourself.
Ever since I was little and we had fancy CD racks in the living room, I’ve loved looking at physical albums. Seeing what pictures the band chose to put in the lyric pamphlet and how they stylized it was interesting to me. Did they choose a simple font with no pictures? Or did they match the pages to the theme of the music? Granted, there weren’t too many options to choose from, but I thought it was so cool.
Imagine my surprise when I bought my first ever K-pop album, which was “Proof” by BTS. I opened it up, expecting the three CDs I was promised and maybe a lyric book as well. Instead, it seemed like a million different things fell out at me. Of course, I did get the promised music, but there was also a photobook, notes from the members, an abundance of photocards and a poster. Every album I’ve bought since then has been much the same.
It was amazing. Here I was, expecting simply the music I came to love. I got that plus so much more. The photocards are like your own personal lottery; there’s a different one in each album. Some people buy multiple albums just for the photocards! They might only be the size of a credit card, but they can resell for thousands of dollars. The most expensive re-sold photocard is one of Jungkook from BTS, which was bought for $3,213.
It’s like being a little kid again. I always loved the little vending machines in malls where you could get sticky hands, rubber ducks and bouncy balls. Buying a K-pop album creates that same experience. You might not know what exactly you’re getting, but you know you’re going to love it. Half of the thrill is simply the suspense and excitement.
I might be biased, but K-pop albums are the coolest collection of audio recordings out there.