By: Yelin Gemma Lee, Arts & Culture Editor
So, you’re at your desk late at night again working away at an article for The Peak (this could be you!). You’ve overplayed your Lo-Fi playlists and frankly, they make you a little bit sleepy. I have a roster of Korean vocalists, whose voices are so clear they will tickle your brain — in a good way. Their voices will help you feel like you can breathe easier when you’re racing against the clock and your increasing fatigue.
“안녕 Goodbye” By DIA
This song has been on repeat since I found it this month and is an absolute jam. I was shocked to find DIA is still a fairly unknown artist with only about 36,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. The production on this track is refreshing and her voice is like a clear night sky full of stars so stubborn you can see them through the city smog. The Korean phrase “안녕” (Annyeong) means both hello and goodbye. The song uses this duality to talk about bittersweet feelings associated with the past: how to remember and honour the past, but also let go and live in the present. Some of my favorite lines translate to, “Hello (goodbye) my childhood memories / I have so many words I couldn’t say / I would go back in time just so I can say them / Our beautiful past days are hanging in the sky.”
“Dandelion” by BOL4
I’ve loved everything BOL4 put out into the world so far. Anh Ji-Young’s voice is clear yet quite distinctive and she’s known to produce some of the most beautiful ballads. This beautiful track is one that I always come back to, with its simple lyrics flexible to interpretation. Rather than a break up, I believe it is about remembering a loved one that passed away. The chorus translates to, “You are the yellow dandelions / You visit my heart and then disappear again / After venturing the sky for a long time / I hope you come back and stay here.” BOL4’s voice reaches the high notes so easily as though she’s simply breathing. While the lyrics are melancholic, this song is a dose of endorphins for me.
“Snow 눈” by SURL
SURL’s androgynous and unique voice paired with the industrial indie instrumentals is my go-to for any mood, especially when I need to de-stress and stay awake. His voice engages the listener tenderly in “Snow 눈,” and his lyrics are so poetic that English translations always fall short of capturing it. This song is about navigating loneliness, melancholy, and depression during winter holidays. SURL’s collaboration song titled “Don’t Say No (feat. Jay Park)” is another beloved track by this artist, and a little bit more upbeat if that suits your fancy.
“0310” by Yerin Baek
Yerin Baek is one of my favourite artists and not just because of my bias towards an artist with the same Korean name as me. She has a powerful yet gentle voice and the engaging production on her songs is sure to stop you in your tracks. Accompanied by beautiful instrumentals, Baek croons about a passionate but unsustainable love that needs to come to an inevitable end.
“Everest (with Sam Kim)” by AKMU
AKMU is a sibling duo that surfaced into the music scene and was signed after winning SBS’ K-POP Star 2, a music competition show in Korea in 2013. This cheerful duet only features one of the siblings (Lee Su-Hyun) who has the voice of an angel. The electric guitar accompanied chorus has me taking mini air-guitar breaks at my desk. This track is literally a love letter to Mount Everest which I think is super cute. Symbolically, it’s also an encouraging song about perseverance and courage. The AKMU siblings, Lee Chan-hyuk and Lee Su-hyun, harmonize flawlessly and it is sure to put your mind at ease. Another one of my favourite tracks by them is “Happening.”