When it comes to K-pop, either you’re a fan or you just don’t know it yet. This is mainly because within the genre there are so many subgenres that would end up appealing to the general public. From hip hop to pop rock, including R&B, there is something for everyone. I mean, let’s face it, isn’t that how you became a K-pop fan?
Today we’re putting together a playlist that would serve as the ultimate K-pop 101 to present to your non-K-pop listening entourage. It may take a listen or two, but eventually you’ll find a sound that will convince your friends to ride the Hallyu wave or at least spice up their music collection with K-pop jams. Let’s go take it on!
1. Zico – “Any song”
Remember when this one went viral around the world? Me too. Zico is known for producing amazing music, and “Any Song” is THAT song that caught the interest of the general public so much that he researched it and listened to his other tracks.
2. Stray Kids – “God’s Menu”
The Stray Kids are still serving, it is known. What not everyone knew was that “God’s Menu” is a full course that carries the members’ outstanding vocals complemented by Felix’s deeply sonorous and flawless rap performance. Naturally, this bop left K-pop fans and curious listeners in absolute awe.
3. BLACKPINK – “Like it’s the last one”
If you had to choose a song to listen to on repeat for the rest of your life, maybe this single from BLACKPINK is the right choice. Better yet, you sharing it with someone who’s never heard a K-pop song before might just convert them to join the black and pink side, and the entire K-pop world afterward.
4. EXO – “Kokobop”
Now reggae isn’t really mainstream in K-pop, but thanks to EXO’s popular jam, you now have a benchmark. In fact, “Kokobop” is such an earworm that you don’t even have to convince those around you to listen to it. Just play in front of them and watch them beg for more!
5. The achievement of Epik High. Lee Hi – “Here are the regrets”
Some people prefer music that touches the heart and connects the soul beyond the instrumentals. This is where Epik High and Lee Hi come in, especially with this collaboration. Since the track is in English, it’s even easier to listen to it, and by the time it ends, you better believe that the rest of the album will be played afterwards.
6. CL – “Hello female dogs”
K-pop may have promoted the pretty girl image for most of its existence, but many artists have challenged the stereotype. CL is naturally one of those artists who stood out for their style both within his group 2NE1 and as a soloist. The result? A banger titled “Hello Bitches” that would encourage a non-K-pop person to check out their entire discography.
7. BTS – “Blood, Sweat and Tears”
Certainly, BTS is now international. But there was a time when the septet worked hard to make its name known, both nationally and universally. While some of their previous songs have successfully crossed Korean borders, it was âBlood, Sweat & Tearsâ that put them on the map. Now you know where your friends can start!
8. BIGBANG – “Bang Bang Bang”
We can’t talk about K-pop without talking about BIGBANG, who are very important pioneers of the genre. Their discography may be endless as they’ve been around for about 15 years, but three hits is enough to grab the attention of people who’ve never heard a K-pop song before. Talk about global presence!
9. LOONA – “Butterfly”
âStan LOONAâ mean anything to you? Well, it exists for a reason. This fiery band may be from a recent K-pop generation, but they’ve been able to lead the genre as well as their predecessors. The number of K-pop converts who have joined the Korean wave thanks to LOONA is simply insane, so you know you stand a chance with this one. All it takes is one listen – butterfly effect to win!
10. Super Junior – “Black suit”
The beauty of K-pop is that there is a sound for everyone, and that includes a taste for everyone, too. The Super Juniors have had a long and successful career, but the best part about their post-military comeback is that they are always ripping hearts out while experimenting with new concepts. This is living proof, and it’s up to you to conduct your experiment!
11. WINNER – “Really really”
Sometimes all you need is a groovy melody to chill out. WINNER obliges with their various releases, including “Really Really” which sends its listeners on a journey of relaxation and absolute pleasure. If you’ve got a friend who needs to chill out and has never heard a K-pop song before, run them up on this one.
12. MONSTA X – “Heroes”
Choreography is a crucial part of K-pop, and while all of the other tracks featured have awesome dance routines, I have to say the âHeroâ choreography wins me over every time! This seems like the best intro choreo to catch curious minds about K-pop, and with MONSTA X’s mind-blowing musical performance, it’s all set!
13. DreamCatcher – “Fly high”
No, we haven’t forgotten rock or pop rock. DreamCatcher is one of the representative bands that really makes you forget they’re under the K-pop wing. Needless to say, this one goes to your edgy acquaintances who are a little harder to satisfy, because trust me, the DreamCatcher versions are quite the dream catch!
14. KARD – “Oh NaNa”
KARD has been around for about five years now, and my boy has quickly become an international celebrity. If anything, that means their sound is so captivating that it didn’t take long for non-K-pop audiences to jump on the bandwagon and claim the mixed group as their bias. This pre-debut track is just the start of a series of awesome bops!
Which K-pop song do you think would appeal to friends who don’t listen to K-pop? Let us know in the comments below!
Esme L. is a dreamer, writer and passionate about Moroccan Hallyu.
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