3 min read

find more kpop you'll actually like (other music too)

find more kpop you'll actually like (other music too)
Photo by Hiu Yan Chelsia Choi / Unsplash

The members of BTS are serving in the Korean military. Understandably, they haven't been putting out as much new music. So fans like myself have begun to fill the gap with other artists.

Personally, I took this chance to assess how I'm discovering new music.

Here I want to discuss the "channels" through which I discover new kpop, especially the interesting ones.

Many of these channels aim to give me "emotional hooks" so I can enjoy the music more. Music videos, choreo, artist personality, cultural context, personal associations all help with this.

First, newsletters rock because music, like so much else in life, is more fun when a friend can tell you the tea. Whether it's the deep cut on the sultry vocals of BTS member V, a compilation of Tiktoks on the Aussies in Stray Kids, or the significance of a debut group making the Billboard charts, you need newsletters like bunni pop and Let's Talk About K-Pop.

Next, music shows rock too — they're the most efficient way to reach "escape velocity" affinity for an artist. Aka they let you develop enough of affinity for a soloist or group to want to listen to their stuff, in often just 20 minutes.

This is powerful stuff. I might not have fallen down the kpop rabbit hole if I hadn't offhand listened to the BTS Tiny Desk in the summer of 2021.

Here are some music shows for kpop:

  • Lee Mujin Service — I'm partial to this one. I discovered artists like Seori, Le Sserafim's Chaewon, NewJeans' Hanni, Stray Kids' Han on Lee Mujin's show.
  • Killing Voice is great too, I love the one with IU.
  • Show Me the Money — I haven't watched this but I try to listen to the latest season playlist on Spotify. This show has a pivotal spot in Korea's hiphop industry and it's nice way to get familiar with artists in the scene.

After music shows, I also like to discover music IRL — this is wonderful because you develop an association with the song from where you were when you discovered it. Mostly I discover not Korean music IRL, but I have gotten a lot of satisfaction from discovering music through kpop dance classes 🤗

I also discover a lot of songs and artists through kdramas (so TV shows). Kdrama OSTs have been some of my favorite music over the last few years (25 21 I'm looking at you). You develop such strong emotional associations to the music over the course of 16 episodes. Many Korean artists will record OST songs.

Now to some of the more boring ways to discover music, e.g. through Spotify.

  • Spotify curated playlists. I like TrenChill K-HipHop and TrenChill K-R&B and K-Pop Ballad Hits most, but KPop On is the canonical one and I keep an eye on it too.
  • Spotify algorithmic recommendations. It's delivered me bangers in the past, but I don't use this often because I just have a distaste for it.

Avid kpop fans also think a lot about top charts. I listened to a three hour podcast about Korean top music charts once lol, the rabbit hole is real deep. That said, what I simply try to do is listen to the Melon Top 100 domestic to get a sense of what the Korean general population is listening to.

Finally, the most important investment you can make to get new music for yourself - doing dedicated deep dives on artists. In life, you get out what you put in.

Sometimes you need to go to Youtube, and spend an hour looking up "Stray Kids members" "Stray Kids funny moments" "Stray Kids gym episode" "Stray Kids vlogs" "Stray Kids favorite songs" to develop that emotional affinity with new groups and soloists.

Unless you do this, everywhere you see a group's song, you'll just skip it to get to artists you already know. I'm kicking myself for not doing this earlier. In the past I only did this for 5 groups in 3 years.

This week I did this for Stray Kids and StayC, and bam, now I'm keen on the full discographies of two new groups.