Like any other art form, music thrives off of multiple voices and perspectives. One song by one artist can find a completely different sound when performed by another. So, in no particular order, here’s a collection of the original English songs and demos that breathe life into our favorite K-pop tracks.
Remember when we all thought EXO would actually release a song called “Call Me Daddy” for their 2015 comeback track? Turns out “Call Me Daddy” was only the title of the demo track by Dantae Johnson, featured below.
We’ll always wonder what EXO would’ve sounded like had they gone with “Call Me Daddy” instead of “Call Me Baby.” No matter what, though, we’ll still keep jamming to the official version they released.
Before I.O.I brought us to tears with their inevitable disbandment, the girl group rocked the stage with their song “Whatta Man (Good Man).”
I.O.I’s version samples Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s song of the same name with En Vogue — which was a massive hit (and a current classic) upon its release in 1993.
But Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s famous version samples another version, which is actually the original. Check out Linda Lyndell’s “What a Man” track from 1968 below.
Super Junior’s debut music video was one full of spiky hair, smoldering glares, and everything that pretty much characterizes music in 2005. Interesting enough, the veteran group’s first song is actually a remake of boy group Triple 8’s song, “Knockout.”
For memory’s sake (though who can really forget Super Junior’s long hair era), here’s Super Junior’s debut music video for “Twins (Knockout).”
Multi-talented Finnish singer-songwriter, actress, and YouTube personality Saara plays a hand at quite a few of our favorite K-pop songs — including co-writing Girls’ Generation’s “You Think.” Here’s Saara’s English demo of the track.
And now Girls’ Generation’s final Korean version.
If you’ve ever wondered what Jason Derulo’s hit song “In My Head” would sound like in Korean, Brian Joo makes all your wishes come true with his release of the track from 2010.
Here’s the original English track by Jason Derulo for comparison.
More than just recording their own separate versions, Brian Joo and Jason Derulo have even linked up to perform the original together on stage.
Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi released “Keep My Cool” from his English album “Fight the Feeling” in 2002. But before releasing “Keep My Cool” in English, Luis Fonsi originally released it in Spanish as “Fuera De Control” from his “Amor Secreto” album, also released in 2002.
In 2004, K-pop legend BoA released her version of the song — titled “Spark” — for her album “My Name.” So, thanks to Luis Fonsi and BoA, we now have three different languages to enjoy this song in.
American power vocalist Ariana Grande recorded the song “Boyfriend Material” as a track for her 2013 debut album “Yours Truly.” However, the song ultimately didn’t make the album’s final tracklist. Grande later shared the track with fans as a special thank you in 2014.
By that time, the song already found its way onto f(x)’s 2013 album “Pink Tape” in the form of “No More.” The two songs may share the same melody, but the lyrics are complete opposites. Grande’s “Boyfriend Material” is a love song about finally finding the perfect boyfriend, while f(x)’s “No More” sings of a “fox-like” friend who changes her personality with each new boyfriend.
R&B vibes run rampant in many of SHINee’s earlier songs. This is especially true of their song “Love’s Way,” featured on their 2008 album “The SHINee World.” But “Love’s Way” actually comes from boy group 2Much’s song “Hard Time.”
And if you pay attention to the beginning of SHINee’s version, you’ll even hear Minho mention 2Much right before Jonghyun sings.
But if you delve even deeper, both versions sample from The Force M.D.’s 1985 song,”Tender Love.”
Welsh artist Duffy’s “Mercy” topped charts worldwide upon its release in 2008. By the upcoming year, Duffy earned multiple award nominations for the single and a Grammy for her album “Rockferry.”
Girls’ Generation recorded their own version of the song in 2008 as well, titled “Dancing Queen,” but didn’t release the song officially until 2012 — ahead of their “I Got A Boy” album release.
Proving that music knows no language or borders, American band Maroon 5’s smash hit “This Love” was more than just a hit in the states. The song charted high in over a dozen countries around the world, and went on to earn the band a Grammy in 2006.
In 2008, BIGBANG put their spin on the iconic song in the form of a G-Dragon solo.
In 2007, German pop girl group Monrose topped charts in three countries with their hit single “Hot Summer.”
By 2011, SM Entertainment bought the rights to the song and released it as f(x)’s comeback track.
When SM Entertainment first revealed that Bruno Mars would serve as one of the producers for Taemin’s then upcoming solo album, it didn’t take long for fans to locate the original Bruno Mars track “Press It” soon after.
With the help of producing team Stereotypes, Bruno Mars’ sultry “Press It” later transformed into Taemin’s energetic title track, “Press Your Number.”
Music has a way of uniting even the most unlikely of artists together, and no example exhibits this more than Ke$ha’s original demos spawning hits for Girls’ Generation across the world. Notably, Ke$ha’s demo for “Run Devil Run.”
…which, as we all know, became yet another hit for Girls’ Generation.
The great thing about demos and guide tracks is that they provide a base as to what the final song will ultimately sound like. Singer-songwriter J. Lewis’s song “Eternally Lost” serves as the demo for EXO’s “Angel.”
The soulful song, in typical EXO fashion, features both a Korean and Chinese version.
Power vocalist, producer, and all around veteran artist Wheesung added another song to his list of hits when he released his version of “Insomnia” in 2009.
But the original version, sung by Grammy-nominated musician Craig David, was actually already a hit a year earlier.
Before f(x) transformed our lives with their “4 Walls” album, trending artist Zara Larsson dropped “Cash Me Out” in 2013.
f(x) practiced to the Larsson original years before they finally recorded and released their own version in 2015.
A great song is not always limited to one artist and can often find itself in the hands of multiple artists around the same time. R&B singer Marques Houston released the first version of “Case of You” officially in 2009.
SHINee followed suit and released their version (titled “Hit Me”) later that same year.
And Omarion, another R&B singer, recorded his own version of “Case of You” around the same time frame, though it was never officially released.
American actor and Broadway performer Corbin Bleu will forever have one thing tying him to SHINee — his 2007 single “Deal With It.”
“Deal With It” eventually became the unforgettable 2009 SHINee comeback track, “Juliette.”
Do you prefer the original or the K-pop version? Let us know in the comments below!
brookenicole writes from YG’s basement until her (indefinitely) postponed debut. You can find her on Twitter.