Every girl or boy group has at one point plastered on dubious amounts of eyeliner, black clothing, and leather accents. But can a Kpop dark concept be reduced to only an aesthetic or does it go further than that? How does it come about and which Kpop idols are best known for dominating the dark concept?
Hopefully, by the time you’re through with this article, you’ll be better enlightened when it comes to the Kpop dark concept as a whole. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be on one of those edgier music videos, we got you covered! We’ve put together a handful of dark-inspired outfits that you can recreate at home.
What’s a Kpop dark concept?
More than a gloomy aesthetic, the dark concept in Kpop is better characterized by its inherent themes. Violence, sexiness, intrigue… These seem to recurring motives but the pattern we seem to recognize in all of them is a more mature image. But, of course, mature can be done in a multitude of ways, it’s just that in this case specifically, it more obviously strays away from PG elements and the infamous aegyo.
Most K-pop connoisseurs will agree that perhaps the pioneers of the concept were Brown Eyed Girls. They rebranded themselves multiple times since their debut in 2006. But it wasn’t until 2009 that they decided to explore a more provocative side with ‘Abracadabra’. But even then, it wasn’t quite the dark notion we’ve come to know and love.
However, in 2011, B.E.D. came back with ‘Sixth Sense’. It was the darkest and most sultry of the time, especially amongst girl groups. It’s a female empowerment anthem, sure, but what stands out is the radical military storyline. There are still a few elements of ‘girl crush‘, sure. But it’s the charismatic nature and effortless sex appeal that set the two apart. And you’ll notice similar aspects when it comes to boy groups, as well.
Kpop girl groups/artists known for the dark concept
No one stays as true to a dark concept in Kpop as these girls do. They even debuted on a Friday the 13th with a single named ‘Nightmare’! Some groups don’t necessarily match their sound to the music video. However, Dreamcatcher is well established for their heavier rock sound and signature nightmare-ish storytelling. They brought back a concept that isn’t so widely used in the industry and have stuck to it seamlessly.
If Taemin is the king of the Kpop dark concept, then who’s more deserving of the queen title than Sunmi? She’s his female version in many ways. She also debuted at an early age with a group. And Sunmi also had her solo debut with an image much darker than what we were used to. ‘24 Hours‘ told us the story of a toxic, borderline obsessive relationship. In fact, most of her songs touch on the less glamorous side of life. For example, ‘Noir‘ depicts this generation’s fixation with social media and its downfalls.
And finally, we have the girl group that climbs the charts every time they came out with a darker release. CLC are very versatile and have reinvented themselves over and over again. But none of their comebacks were ever able to touch the angst of ‘Hobgoblin‘ or the irreverence of ‘Black Dress‘.
And who could forget that unpredictable switch at the end of ‘Devil‘? It’s a hard reach as most of the video and the song are quite colorful, but the dark undertones are there.
More dark concept Kpop songs
Many are those who’ve given the concept a try, especially as an attempt to graduate from a more youthful image. Some have continuously used dark themes in both their music and the videos. A few even debuted into the concept…
Here are a handful of people who have certainly made a splash and a name for themselves in the Kpop industry with the dark concept:
When it comes to the dark concept, VIXX is considered royalty in the K-pop world. They have plenty of comebacks that fit the genre but ‘Voodoo Doll‘ is unarguably the darkest. And again, it’s got a powerful and intense sound that matches the video accordingly. It’s full of gruesome imagery and plenty of elements that will certainly leave you with goosebumps.
Despite having dabbled with the dark side in a couple of Shinee projects, his individual work definitely stands out for it. Taemin is a K-pop powerhouse in his own right. He has a unique melancholic, dark, dramatic flair that perfectly fits his charismatic stage persona. From the music to the videos and even the choreography, every aspect of Taemin’s work is a perfect reflection of the Kpop dark concert.
EXO is a great example of groups that aren’t quite known for the concept itself. However, it seems to be a recurring theme for comebacks throughout the years.
EXO first debuted with ‘Mama‘, a K-pop classic best known for its dramatic, ominous costumes, and pray-like chantings. Another great example is ‘Monster‘, arguably their most famous song, whose video stands out for the intriguing, rebellious storyline.
The most recent entry to the dark catalog is ‘Obsession‘. The beat and sound of the music are specifically architectured to keep you coming back to the song. Freaky, right?
So, these K-pop groups might not be as consistent with the dark concept… Nevertheless, some of their dark comebacks are pretty remarkable, and as such deserving of an honorable mention.
BTS [Fake Love, Black Swan]
(G)-IDLE [Oh My God, Put It Straight (Nightmare Ver.)]
ONEUS [Valkyrie, No Diggity]
Red Velvet [Peek-A-Boo, Psycho]
Get the dark concept look!
We’ve gathered a few of our favorite dark concept outfits that you can recreate at home and wear on a daily basis. Get some inspiration and give the edgy look a try!
Unarguably the darkest decade, here we see a perfectly 90’s inspired outfit worn by Sunmi. Recreate it at home by wearing a pair of loose dark jeans, a masculine blazer, and some chunky boots.
You don’t necessarily need to go monochrome and could very well balance out the dark with lighter tones like beige or white, without losing the mysterious feel.
And just like Red Velvet’s Seulgi, you can always add a pop of color. Pick a colored statement piece or a smaller one like a bag, a hat, or even your shoes.
Just don’t be afraid of blurring the lines of socially acceptable and experiment with your personal style.
We can only hope you’ve learned something new today and that you feel convinced enough to give the Kpop dark concept a try! And if you want to draw inspiration from different aesthetics, we recommend you take a look at our Kpop Girl Crush article or our Kpop Concert Outfit Ideas post.
Until next time!