SOUTH KOREA: FORGET ABOUT SILENCING THAT ANNOYING BABYSHARK TUNE

JOSEPH LITTAUA WRITES — Most popular songs have a lot of things in common. For example, whether it’s a soloist or band song, most songs will have a short, catchy melody that gets stuck in your head, like Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” or One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” Others might have a popular dance connected to it, such as K-pop songs like Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” or any of the major releases from BTS, SEVENTEEN, or iKON. But perhaps the most interesting, and somewhat infuriating, side to all these songs are those that annoy you or get stuck in your head for all the wrong reasons. Today, I’m thinking of Pinkfong’s Baby Shark song and dance.

For those who are somehow out of the loop, the Baby Shark song and dance was released globally on June 17th, 2016. The song was not well-known, actually, since Pinkfong is a children’s educational brand in Korea and the song itself is mostly a twist on a traditional nursery rhyme and rhythm from France and Germany. What explains the explosion of the song’s popularity? Kevin Seunghyun Yoon attributes it to the #BabySharkChallenge. Starting in 2017, famous K-pop groups such as Girls’ Generation, Red Velvet, and GOT7 were dancing along to the Baby Shark song. Then they showed up dancing on national television and even on tour.

The song will likely forever be played at family meetups and children will very lovingly (but also annoyingly) continue the tune of “doo doo da-doo doo doo.” However, I do have some alternative suggestions for tunes to listen to that might be easier on the ears. For example, the most recent rendition of the song released on Pinkfong’s channel is one presented by Luis Fonsi of “Despacito” fame. His voice makes the song sound more like a pop song single than the children’s song that it is, which alone makes the song much catchier than it already was. Another set of Baby Shark possible alternatives include the many different versions created by songwriter, singer,and producer Desmond Dennis. Dennis’ R&B cover is the most famous of the different covers and, to me, it does feel like the version I would much prefer to listen to over the original. The melody/background track in this version sounds like it could have been produced by well-known old head R&B singers like Ne-Yo and Omarion as well as current singers like DEAN, Eric Bellinger, and Tory Lanez.  The bottom line is, there is an abundance of different versions of the song out there, and you should look for a version that fits your tastes.

With Nickelodeon’s production of a Baby Shark animated TV series coming out this winter, it seems that we may never truly get away from this song, now or in the future. To quote Fatherly.com, a website dedicated to helping fathers learn how to be good parents, “As a parent, you won’t be able to escape Baby Shark and its family, so you might as well accept Baby Shark as your new overlord.”

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