By: Yelin Gemma Lee, Peak Associate
I have come to the realization that, since the second global rise of K-pop, the general public believes that South Korea only produces generic-sounding, unfathomably good-looking pop groups like Blackpink and BTS. Don’t get me wrong, I’m part of the Army too — I watch BTS’ reality show when I’m feeling blue because it’s so wholesome and reminds me of home. All that said, Korea’s vibrant music scene expands into more genres like R&B, indie, rock, and alt-pop. Here is a short list of some of my favorites for those summer drives and sun-soaked outdoor gatherings with your vaccinated friends.
Hwang So-Yoon is the guitarist and lead vocalist in the rock band SE SO NEON and she’s also producing genre-bending work as a solo artist. This song is about the insane speed at which the weekend goes by and needing a getaway so bad, you start carrying vacation mentality into your weekday grind. Sound familiar? Yeah, this song is how it feels taking a full course load in the summer semester. It’s got a funky, refreshing beat and makes me want to go for a long drive on a sunny day with all the windows down. When I can’t do that because I’m stuck in a three-hour Zoom seminar, Hwang brings me a little piece of that breezy, carefree energy.
Like this song? Check out “Forever Dumb (feat. SAM KIM)” by So! YoON! and Sam Kim
Junny, an R&B/soul singer with a syrupy and satisfying voice, pairs with pH-1, a Korean rapper, to bring you this absolute hot girl summer bop. Its flirty lyrics and energy will have you grooving and feeling a narcissistic level of confidence in its three minutes and 26 seconds. Even if you can’t dance (at all), you deserve songs that make you feel like hot shit. There are jazzy piano instrumentals in this song that make it feel really classic, although the beat adds a dominant, modern element. As long as you have promising dates sliding into your DMs as smoothly as this song is mixed, you’re all set.
This sweet love song is mostly in English (you’re welcome) and one of the coolest duets I’ve ever heard. Dvwn is an R&B artist with such an unbelievable vocal range that it sounds like he is three different people singing throughout the track. I guarantee this is one song you’ll be singing along to, and adding to more than one playlist. It’s a good karaoke song for when you’re taking a cold shower because you did your readings in the sun for a little too long and almost got heatstroke. Remember, you’ve been indoors for the last full calendar year.
This indie rock band has my heart big time. If you’re down to get in your melancholic feelings and get sidetracked for hours reflecting on good memories, this band will take you there, guaranteed. Almost all of their songs are about love or nostalgia and have the most poetic, charming lyrics. “Big Love” is one of their more upbeat ones and captures the energy of being in love in the purest way. They actually just released a full-English EP that is right on brand with most of their other stuff — save it for a rainy day, or to start winding down in the evening. You don’t need a journaling prompt, you just need a verse by The Black Skirts.