Everybody has a K-pop story, and these ten songs tell the most important and meaningful parts of my personal journey! So, for this Thanksgiving season, here is a list of the ten K-pop songs I’m the most thankful for in order from oldest memory to newest memory.
10. “What is Love” – EXO (June 2016)
In June 2016, I was working on a paper for my university and I remember I was incredibly stressed. Somehow, someway, “What is Love” by EXO popped up on my recommendation sidebar on YouTube and I was intrigued by the thumbnail and decided to click on it. What followed was a day filled with no work being done, but endless discovery and learning about K-pop, particularly EXO. Actually, “What is Love” was the first ever K-pop song I ever purchased and featured on my social media!
9. “Why So Serious?” – SHINee (August 2016)
After discovering “What is Love” I only listened to EXO for many months and happened to catch their rendition of SHINee’s hit song, “Why So Serious?” I was curious about the group after I read the lyrics (who knew a song about zombies could be so good?) and I proceeded to watch multiple of their live performances. It was the first time I was really introduced to K-pop music shows and live performances, something that I now watch daily and is considered one of K-pop's most unique features!
8. “Spring Day” – BTS (February 2017)
This song is not only the first song I purposely listened to the day it was released (February 12, 2017), but it’s also the song that completely changed my perspective on K-pop. For some reason, I was stuck on only listening to EXO and SHINee, but after listening to this masterpiece, I knew I needed to invest more time into K-pop and listen and learn about more artists. My life since has essentially revolved around K-pop! It was definitely the turning point in my life and to this day it’s still my favorite K-pop song.
7. “Home” – Roy Kim (May 2017)
Ah, Roy Kim. During one random day at work, I wanted something to listen to that was less "poppy" and more relaxing while I was writing endless social media and press releases for clients. After an intense search on Spotify, I stumbled upon Roy Kim and was introduced to Korean ballad music. It was a big moment as it was my first introduction to something OTHER than K-pop, and made me realize just how truly beautiful the Korean language was and is.
6. “I SMILE” – DAY6 (June 2017)
As someone who used to listen only to alternative rock ever since I was six, discovering DAY6 was a big deal! It was refreshing to see actual instruments and hear the glorious rock vibes I was missing. DAY6 enabled me a way to escape from the pop and diverge back to childhood memories of long car rides with my parents listening to classic rock.
5. “RED FLAVOR” – Red Velvet (July 2017)
This song instantly overtook my day when it was released on July 8. As someone who isn’t big into girl groups, I was surprised by how much I loved the song and I just had to watch their live performances. Red Velvet’s summery hit was the first song that I ever watched EVERY live performance for and it was the first comeback I followed religiously. Each morning I would wake up early so I would have time to watch their performance, which led me to watch other groups performances. Now, its become a habit to watch comeback live performances from all different K-pop groups, not just my personal favorites.
4. “I GOT A BOY” – Girls’ Generation (August 2017)
I was anti-boy for a while after various events occurred in my life (keep reading to learn more about THAT). However, after watching this infectious song by Girls’ Generation, it made me miss being in a relationship and open to the possibility of dating. It's the ultimate girl crush song and embodies the joy and fun that comes with an innocent crush. for the first time in nearly two years.
3. “Palette” – IU (August 2017)
Read the lyrics and it’ll be easy to understand why this relaxing song by IU was meaningful to me. As a woman once suffering from low self-esteem, this song became my anthem and made me realize that I should be proud to love the things I love, like K-pop, and gave me the confidence to enjoy the small things in life. Although I’m not twenty-five (but, I’m close!), it was a song I would (and still do) constantly sing in the car to remind myself that I’m still young, I will make mistakes, and that’s just FINE.
2. “MIC Drop” – BTS (September 2017)
It's easily the most “badass” and “hype” song on the list, but it’s also the one that solidified my decision to pursue a career in the K-pop music industry. Prior to listening to this song, I had sent endless emails to multiple reporters, companies, and executives all related to K-pop, but with little response. I was ready to give up, but after listening to this song I changed my mind. I mean, come on, listen to the lyrics! It basically tells the story of BTS, a group that literally stood no chance, but through their hard work and determination, they were able to have all their dreams come true. Granted, hard work doesn’t equal success, but it’s better than not trying. Am I far? Am I going to make it? Who knows, but dammit I tried!
1. “A SUPPLEMENTARY STORY: YOU NEVER WALK ALONE” – BTS
This song I believe encompasses my whole journey from a teenager to a young adult. Throughout my life, I've faced multiple hardships, including breaking off an abusive engagement, struggling with intense anxiety issues, dealing with a father who essentially abandoned me, spouts of seasonal depression, and now taking care of a sick parent. It's been a fun, but difficult journey and when I first listened to this song I couldn't help but burst into tears. It's true that in life we never walk alone and although the fight can be difficult we need to try to crawl, and then walk, run, and then finally fly towards our goals and dreams. It was a song that moved me in a way I've never been moved before, and it was a song that solidified my love for BTS and K-pop. With this song I can keep moving forward and that's a beautiful realization.
So there you have it, my list of ten K-pop songs I'm the most thankful for! It's been a wild year and a half with K-pop music and I couldn't be happier! Music can truly change our perspective and ultimately change the world. Which songs from my list do you love? Do you have a personal connection with any of them? Let me know in the comments below!
Stay Kurrent. Stay K-pop.
Note: No songs or videos are owned by me.