By Han Sang-hee
Many singers are crossing the line between writing and acting, but some are actually trying different genres, particularly traditional trot.
Singers like Seo-hyun from Girls' Generation, Dae-sung from Big Bang and Kim Jong-kook, Sung Jin-woo and even Kim Sung-soo from pop group Cool have released singles that carry the famous trot beat.
Trot is a traditional pop genre based on a simple and cheerful beat and rooted from the Japanese genre known as ``enka.'' The delightful melody soon met distinctive vocals in which the voice lilts and makes drastic flips and turns, and it has become one of Korea's best-known and loved genres.
Mostly enjoyed by older crowds, the simple melodies, fun and entertaining lyrics caught the young generation's attention with the debut of relatively young trot queen Jang Yoon-jeong in 2004, and the craze has moved on to many more singers over the years.
The first to approach the genre with a younger and edgier taste was Dae-sung, with his solo song ``Gui-soon Look at Me'' in 2008. The song, like traditional trot songs, was catchy, fun and cheesy, which made it more popular among fans looking for something fresh amid the cute and hip-hop trends on the music scene. Recently, he performed his new trot song ``It's a Big Hit'' at the group's concert with the same ravishing smile, sparkling jackets and catchy lyrics.
``I was actually worried my song might bring down the group's image. But now, I think its good for us to try out different genres and trot is just one of them,'' Dae-sung said in a press release.
Girls' Generation's Seo-hyun joined veteran trot singer Ju Hyun-mi and released ``Jjarajjara'' complete with a music video based on the Korean classic love story ``Mother and a Guest in the Room of Master.'' The collaboration was carried out as Ju requested a duet with the girl group. After the group's agency, SM Entertainment, discussed who'd fit the part, Seo-hyun became the lucky member to work with the trot singer, 30 years her senior.
Meanwhile, balladeer Kim Jong-kook also revealed his trot number ``Hook Me Up'' at a concert last March and also released a digital single carrying the song. Sung Jin-woo, who made it big back in the 1990s with the rock ballad number ``Don't Give Up,'' made a comeback after a five-year hiatus, transforming into a trot singer with an edge.
``The melody (of the song `That's It!') follows trot, but the rhythm and arrangement are more like rock and electronic. When I was young, I wanted to work in a particular genre, but now I want to be one of the best-known trot singers in the business,'' he said.
Pop group Cool member Kim Sung-soo also joined the trot wave with his new numbers ``Mean Woman'' and ``Mallang Mallang.''
Kim, who worked as the rapper in the group, released a solo album, his first in his 16-year career as a singer.
``I always enjoyed listening to trot, and I thought the songs would be lovable to everyone, from young students to older listeners,'' Kim said.
The traditional trot scene is indeed going through a transition, with more singers, such as Kim Yoon-ah from the group Jaurim, looking into releasing an album dedicated to the genre.
``Trot is one of the best genres that expresses Korean emotions. Thanks to Jang, the genre, which was only appreciated by veteran singers like Song Dae-kwan and Tae Jin-ah, has become younger and fresher. As album producers started to realize that trot is no longer an old-fashioned genre, many of them, along with singers, have started to jump into trot,'' pop columnist Kang Tae-gyu said.