Though I’ve only been in Korea for a short time, I’ve already started to notice some trends in their radio broadcasts. For the most part I can’t understand any of the songs because they’re all in Korean, but every so often, be it at a restaurant, a grocery store, or coffee shop, an American rap song will find its way onto the airwaves. The best part about this is that since the rapping is an English, the curse words aren’t edited out, so to American listeners they still come through loud and clear. I was in a coffee shop near my house that was full of families and children when a whole slew f-bombs and other colorful turns of phrase came through the speakers courtesy of Dr. Dre and Eminem. Though it was little strange to see children and their parents bobbing their heads to lyrics about getting high and burning down houses, it was a striking reminder as to just how far from home I actually am. In the end, an English swear word in Korea is just a cat with no claws.
Another interesting radio trend is the fact that I’ve heard the song “Vincent” – Don McLean’s smooth jam about Vincent van Gogh that was a big hit back in the 70s – at least 8 times since I’ve been here. The last time I heard that song on the radio back at home was at least, well, never. Not that I’m complaining. The song is pretty killer. McLean’s velvety vocals and flawless finger picking really capture the desperation of the doomed artist. Plus, when was the last time a song about a 18th century Dutch post-impressionist painter ever ruled the airwaves (it’s a well known fact that “Harmony in Red,” – Motley Cru’s power ballad written as an homage to Henri Matiesse – failed to chart). My only question is why all of McLean’s best songs are about dead people. That kind of weirds me out.