Girls’ Generation Bring K-Pop To Letterman

A few months ago, this New York Times article sent me on an hours-long YouTube binge of Korean pop videos. K-pop is a relatively young genre, and if you give yourself over to it, it works as a deeply fascinating funhouse-mirror reflection of the last few generations of Western teenpop. K-pop groups tend to include ridiculously huge numbers of singers, all wearing very complicated haircuts, all singing factory-pop songs put together with absolute precision by teams of professionals. The ultra-glossy high-budget videos are compulsively watchable even when the songs are boring ballads, and the entire genre is a big enough deal, apparently, that a K-pop showcase can sell out Madison Square Garden.

My understanding is limited, but apparently the nine-member Girls’ Generation is the biggest girl group in Korea, and they’re also huge in Japan. And now Universal is making a respectable attempt at breaking them in the U.S., releasing an Anglicized version of their album The Boys and getting them booked on last night’s episode of the Late Show With David Letterman. Below, watch the band performing the English version of their ridiculously catchy monster hit “The Boys,” a song that was better when only its chorus was in English but which will probably be stuck in your head all day regardless. As a special bonus, you get to see Bill Murray and Regis Philbin reacting to the spectacle exactly as you’d expect. And also below, check out the track’s original Korean video, which could well send you on a YouTube bender of your own.

The U.S. version of The Boys is out now on Universal. Don’t sleep on “Mr. Taxi.” And for a pretty good K-pop primer, check out this Elite Gymnastics mixtape.