Impressive stages in stadiums filled with thousands of fans, amazing choreographed performance on live TV, random props, interesting use of English and the Big . . . Three?
We're not talking about Eurovision but the world of K-pop, one of South Korea's biggest cultural exports.
K-pop music and award shows often feature stages just as big – if not larger – than Eurovision where tens of thousands of fans support their favourite groups.
Where Eurovision has its big five in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, K-pop has it’s big three production agencies in SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment.
But rather than similarities we want to look at the connections that bring the world of K-pop and Eurovision together.
The Australian Connection
Australian singers and songwriters have made contributions to both the Eurovision stage and the world of K-pop groups.
When Eurovision fans hear of South Korea, it’s likely that their first thought goes straight to Australia’s most successful act to date – Dami Im.
While Dami Im isn’t a K-pop legend, there was no way we weren’t going to give her a most honourable mention in this list.
Dami was born in South Korea in 1988 before her family emigrated to Australia when she was just nine years old. Dami taught herself English by listening to the Spice Girls, as you might remember from her interview with Petra Mede at the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm in 2016.
Dami has also competed on South Korean reality show ‘King of Masked Singer’, the original version of ‘The Masked Singer’ franchise that has become popular worldwide. She portrayed the Statue of Liberty, and came runner up to Lee Hyun of 8Eight and Homme.
Tania Doko’s first foray into the world of Eurovision was actually as a songwriter for Australia’s second appearance in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. She co-wrote Alexa Curtis’ ‘We Are’, which finished fifth on the night.
Following this, Tania became one of ten acts to compete in the inaugural Australia Decides in 2019 with her entry ‘Piece of Me’, which was the last song performed on the night, finishing in eighth place. She also co-wrote Jordan-Ravi’s 2020 Australia Decides entry ‘Pushing Stars’.
And she also has a connection to K-pop. She was a contributing composer to ‘Feel Good’, a track on the EP ‘Monster’ released by a sub-unit of hit K-pop girl group Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi. Despite only being out for a few weeks, the EP has already sold in excess of 200,000 copies in South Korea alone, with music videos, dance videos and live performances from the EP amassing tens of millions of views on YouTube already.
While the name of Louis Schoorl may not be instantly recognizable to the average Eurovision fan, his work surely is.
Louis worked as a songwriter for Guy Sebastian’s ‘Tonight Again’ for Australia in 2015 and Benjamin Ingrosso’s ‘Dance You Off’ for Sweden in 2018, both songs resulting in top ten finishes. He also worked on Diana Rouvas’ ‘Can We Make Heaven’ for Australia Decides in February, which place seventh.
In the world of K-pop, he contributed to ‘My Oh My’ for one of the biggest South Korean girl groups of all time – Girls’ Generation. The music video for 'My Oh My' tops over 40 million views on YouTube, more than five times as many views as ‘Dance You Off’.
Swedish songwriter Aleena Gibson worked together with Vanessa Amarosi when it came to writing her newest album ‘Back to Love’, including her Australia Decides entry ‘Lessons of Love’. The song came third on the night behind Casey Donovan’s ‘Proud’ and Montaigne’s ‘Don’t Break Me’.
Aleena also has a lengthy history with Swedish national final Melodifestivalen, singing at the competition in 2003 and alongside Stefan Andersson in 2007. She has also written Melodifestivalen entries for Sanna Nielsen (in 2008) and ‘The Story of Fire Saga’s Molly Sandén (in 2012).
She also worked on Olga Lounová’s ‘Dark Water’, which competed in ESCZ this year, the national final for the Czech Republic.
Aside from her work in Australia Decides, Melodifestivalen, and ESCZ, she has also worked on songs for Girls’ Generation as well.
Mattias Lindblom worked together with previous Australia Decides 2019 entrants Tania Doko and George Sheppard to work on an entry for the talented Jordan-Ravi at Australia Decides in 2020, and together, they wrote ‘Pushing Stars’.
However, he has also written for K-pop megastars Girls’ Generation with ‘Two Blocks Down’.
The Eurovision Winners' Connection
The composers and songwriters of winning Eurovision entries have made contributions to some of the biggest K-pop groups of all time. And it’s not just songwriters, but a winning singer as well.
Famous for being the most recent winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Duncan Laurence has composed more than just his winning Eurovision entry. He also worked on the track ‘Closer’ for one of the longest-running boy bands in K-pop history, TVXQ.
'The Family' – Linnea Deb, Joy Deb, and Anton Hård af Segerstad
Collectively known as ‘The Family’, this trio has written dozens of Melodifestivalen entries for everyone from Ace Wilder and Wiktoria to Måns Zelmerlöw and Loreen. They’ve also written entries to Melodi Grand Prix, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, Krajowe Eliminacje, and Dora.
Their most famous Eurovision entry would be Måns Zelmerlöw’s ‘Heroes’, which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015. They also wrote Robin Stjernberg’s ‘You’ for Sweden in 2013, Saara Aalto’s ‘Monsters’ for Finland in 2018, and Ben & Tan’s ‘Yes’ for Denmark this year.
They have also worked with K-pop’s Luna for ‘Free Somebody’ and ‘Keep on Doin'’, and AOA’s ’10 Seconds’.
Charlie Mason is one of the songwriter’s behind legendary Eurovision winning entry ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’ by Conchita Wurst. He also worked on memorable entries such as Maraaya’s ‘Here for You’ for Slovenia and Bojana Stamenov’s ‘Beauty Never Lies’ for Serbia, both in 2015.
In the K-pop world he wrote Girls’ Generation bop ‘I Got a Boy’, whose music video has amassed over 200 million views on YouTube.
Iain James Farquharson
Another songwriter of some memorable Eurovision entries of the last decade is Iain James Farquharson. He was a songwriter behind this years British entry, James Newman’s ‘My Last Breath’; Belgium’s 2013 entry, Roberto Bellarosa’s ‘Love Kills’; and the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011, ‘Running Scared’ by Azerbaijan’s Ell & Nikki.
He has also written for one of K-pop’s biggest boy bands, EXO (and sub-unit EXO-CBX), and TVXQ’s ‘Wrong Number’.
Other Eurovision Connections
So, what about some other Eurovision connections to the world of K-pop?
Benjamin Ingrosso is the singer best known in the world of Eurovision for being behind Melodifestivalen 2017 entry ‘Good Lovin’’ and Sweden’s 2018 Eurovision entry ‘Dance You Off’.
He also wrote ‘You Calling My Name’ for K-pop boy group GOT7.
Slovenia’s 2011 entrant Maja Keuc is known in the Eurovision community for her entry ‘No One’, which prompted the BBC’s Graham Norton to refer to her as “Slovenia’s Christina Aguilera”.
In the world of K-pop she has contributed four songs to South Korean girl group Red Velvet, including one of their biggest hits in ‘Russian Roulette’, which has almost 200 million views on YouTube. She’s also contributed to SHINee’s ‘1 of 1’.
So two juggernauts of music in Eurovision and K-pop have some interesting links and hopefully we'll see more crossover like this in the future.