How K-Pop Salvaged My 2020
In spite of the whirlwind that was the last 12 months, everything changed in perhaps the most unexpected way when a new genre of music quite literally took over my life.
Last year was a lot of things. Terrible. Scary. Stressful. Anxiety-inducing. Insane. Whatever adjective you can possibly think of, 2020 was it. In the face of all this uncertainty and anxiousness, I managed to discover something that not only consumed my time but also made my life better in a way.
Yes, K-Pop. I know, I know. That’s random as hell. Trust me, I’m the one that’s been living with this obsession and even I can’t believe that it’s happening.
I’ve known about K-Pop for years, but only got directly acquainted with it back in 2019 when I noticed a group named Blackpink trending on Twitter with the release of their latest EP, Kill This Love. I listened to it and was surprised at how much I actually liked it given I hadn’t been at all impressed with anything I’d heard from BTS at that point. But even after listening to it a few times, it never really sucked me in.
That all changed when they released their first full album, appropriately titled The Album, in October 2020. I listened to it probably five or six times straight the night it released and thus my obsession began. From there I went back and listened to Blackpink’s entire discography, but wasn’t content to stop there. There was just something about this sound that I absolutely couldn’t get enough of. Sure, I couldn’t understand anything at all of what these girls were saying. But whatever they were saying, it sure sounded damn good.
I figured since I already had a girl group bias locked up, I should find myself a guy group to follow. Following a suggestion from a colleague (shoutout to Joanne), I typed “EXO” into YouTube, and boy if you only saw the size of the rabbit hole I fell into with that search. I was all too familiar with boy bands, having grown up being huge fans of NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, B2K, and everything in between. But man, what I was seeing from EXO (and then many, many other groups in the weeks since) just hit different.
From the choreography to the swagger to the vocal range to the flow of the rappers, these guys were just doing stuff I had never seen before. Both my wife and I just couldn’t get enough. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we’ve probably spent about 90% of our free time watching music videos, dance practices, variety shows, award show performances, lyric videos, and anything else we could find on our favorite groups (EXO, TWICE, NCT, Stray Kids, and aespa). Just to put that in perspective, my YouTube watch history clocks in at 28 hours in the last seven days. Call it 30 hours on average and multiply that by the 10ish weeks we’ve been falling deeper into this rabbit hole and well, you get the picture.
Besides the fact that it’s given my wife and I something to binge and bond over during this weird time we’re all living in, perhaps the biggest thing that it’s done is help me curb my anxiety and depression. While I usually tried to get that under control with video games and writing (as I talked about recently over on SUPERJUMP), even that’s been a bit hard during quarantine. I often find myself being overwhelmed with anxiety while playing just about anything these days, making it hard to enjoy gaming to the extent I used to. This usually manifested itself in this restless feeling that forced me to hop around between games every couple of days, which did nothing but exponentially bolster my backlog.
With K-Pop, though, it’s so easy to just plop down on the couch after work and just go down a YouTube rabbit hole of different videos. Ever since starting out on this journey, I’ve noticed my anxiety levels go down by quite a bit, which is amazing. Not only that, but it brought me here. This is the first thing I’ve managed to sit down and write in almost two months. I know I’ve said this before, but it feels like I have reignited my passion for writing, and man does that feel great to say. Could the cloudy fog finally be gone from my head? Only time will tell, but it sure does feel like I might be seeing the sun poke through a bit.
I never would have thought that music from a completely different country would be the thing that helped bring me out of a funk and even help push me through writer’s block, but here we are and I couldn’t be happier about where this is taking me.