BTS, BLACKPINK, Red Velvet and more: 8 K-Pop groups that sampled iconic classical music pieces

Over the years, many K-Pop groups and soloists used numerous classical music pieces to inspire some of the most iconic and best songs that are popular even today.

Updated on Nov 01, 2022 04:21 PM IST  |  1.7M
BTS’ Jimin, BLACKPINK’s Jisoo; Picture Courtesy: BIGHIT MUSIC, YG Entertainment
BTS’ Jimin, BLACKPINK’s Jisoo

1. Stray Kids- Circus 

This Stray Kids’ Japanese release ‘Circus’ samples the iconic Julius Fučík piece called ‘Entrance of The Gladiators’. It is a military march composed in 1897 by the Czech composer Julius Fučík. He originally titled it ‘Grande Marche Chromatique’, reflecting the use of chromatic scales throughout the piece, but changed the title based on his personal interest in the Roman Empire. Many would have heard this tune in the popular animated film ‘Madagascar’ and we assume that’s where Stray Kids have also been inspired from while creating the song itself. 

2. (G)I-DLE- Nxde 

The latest comeback of (G)I-DLE was definitely extremely pleasing to hear and it's thanks to Georges Bizet’s ‘Habanera’,  an aria from his 1875 opéra comique Carmen. It is the entrance aria of the title character, a mezzo-soprano role, in scene 5 of the first act. The slow yet haunting scales create a seductive tension to the song itself, which is otherwise peppered with fast paced raps and vocals. It features a jazzy instrumental rhythm with a grand bass line consisting of shuffle rhythm and sarcasm lyrics on the provocative views on the word 'nude', accompanied by whispering vocalizations by (G)I-DLE. The song builds around dynamic piano soundscapes, high-pitched strings, and background percussion, and is characterized by its intentional disruptive musical cacophony. 

3. BLACKPINK- Shut Down 

BLACKPINK’s newest release ‘Shut Down’ heavily focuses on the tune from the legendary violinist  Niccolò Paganini’s ‘La Campanella’. This piece has been widely regarded as one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano. From minute 1 of the song, one can hear the gliding yet loud tunes of ‘La Campanella’. BLACKPINK members complimented the song in the modern sense as they sing about their achievements and how they are just starting out in life. It described the song's title as intuitive but strangely tense, noting that Shut Down is a word that means the closure of a certain space. Lyrically, the song sees the members clap back at their haters.It seemed that throughout the track, the girls take turns telling their haters and doubters to take a seat.

4. ATEEZ- Symphony No. 9 (From The Wonderland) 

This amazing performance by ATEEZ for the competition ‘Kingdom’ is an ode to Antonín Dvořák’s ‘Symphony No. 9’.  It is one of the most popular of all symphonies. In older literature and recordings, this symphony was – as for its first publication – numbered as Symphony No. 5. Astronaut Neil Armstrong took a tape recording of the New World Symphony along during the Apollo 11 mission, the first Moon landing, in 1969. The song itself added so much flair to the performance as the members, dressed as pirates, took on various missions and came out as winners. 

5. Cherry Bullet- Hands Up 

Probably Cherry Bullet’s most known song, ‘Hands Up’ used Beethoven’s most iconic piece ‘Für Elise’. It was not published during his lifetime, only being discovered (by Ludwig Nohl) 40 years after his death. The piece was used in the best manner in the song as it was the drop of the song. It is an energetic trap and dance track. 

6. BTS’ Jimin- Lie 

The melody from ‘Lie’ by BTS’s Jimin comes from ‘La Vida Breve’ by 19th century Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. It is an opera in two acts and four scenes. Only an hour long, the complete opera is seldom performed today, but its orchestral sections are, especially the act 2 music published as Interlude and Dance, which is popular at concerts of Spanish music. The original is the only piece played on a Spanish guitar and it adds a beautiful flair to the song itself, as heard in ‘Lie’.  

7. Red Velvet 

‘Feel My Rhythm’ was composed by Jake K, Maria Marcus, Andreas Öberg, and MCK, while the lyrics were written by Seo Ji Eum. Musically, it is a dance-pop song that samples the Bach arrangement ‘Air on the G String’, featuring delicate and elegant string melodies, intense trap beats, and fantastic vocal charm. The song draws inspiration from Bach and ballet, blending modern pop sensibilities with classical music. The music video shows the dark scene features psychedelic references and classical music in the background. The music video for the song was also inspired by Air on the G String and produced in the form of an opera that pays homage to a famous artwork. 

8. GFRIEND- Summer Rain 

The song samples instrumentals from Robert Schumann's ‘Robert Schumann, Dichterliebe Op. 48:1,’ interlacing them with propulsive beats. It blends new jack swing with the K-pop girl group’s representative twinkling synths to create a throwback track fit for the season. The video features the members of the group in pouring rain scenes, intercalated with dance scenes. Billboard noted that the video's costumes return GFRIEND to a softer, more flirty school uniform look that offers up a maturing of some of their earlier style choices.

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Credits: BIGHIT MUSIC, YG Entertainment

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Nov 08, 2022 12:34 AM