Your 'Introduction to K-Pop' Playlist, From A to Z

TWICE Feel Special
Courtesy Photo

TWICE, "Feel Special"

You've got plenty of free time at home while social distancing amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, so there’s no better time to take a deep dive into the world of K-pop. With something for everyone (and then some) the South Korean popular music industry is full of diverse, genre-defying artists, with new music exploring the realms of popdom each and every day.

There's so much to choose from that it may be hard to get started on your journey into the land of K-pop. But take a leap down the rabbit hole with this brief A-Z playlist that features some of K-pop’s biggest acts, full of both iconic hits from years ago and new releases from just weeks ago to help give a wide sampling to choose from as you test your K-pop taste buds.

A is for “All In” by Monsta X

Though they may have veered into classic boy band popdom on their recent all-English album All About Luv, the must-listen Monsta X "A" is their 2016 single “All In,” which is a prime example of the act’s aggressively addictive style.

B is for “BOOMBAYAH” by BLACKPINK

This fierce, debut hit from the female quartet is one of the act’s biggest songs to date and a must on any K-pop playlist, sure to bring any new fan into BLACKPINK’s area.

C is for “Cherry Bomb” by NCT 127

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” to NCT 127’s brash whirlwind of a listen, “Cherry Bomb.”

D is for “Don’t Stop the Music” by 2NE1

Press play and “Don’t Stop the Music” when it comes to 2NE1’s iconic discography.

E is for “Eung Eung (%%)” by APink

The smooth addiction of APink’s “Eung Eung" made it one of the best K-pop, and pop, songs of 2019.

F is for “Feel Special” by TWICE

During hard times, there’s nothing more important than thinking positively about how to “Feel Special” about being who you are, wherever you are, and TWICE’s 2019 hit is the exuberant tune to make you feel just that.

G is for “Gee” by Girls’ Generation

When it comes to A-Z, it’s necessary to “gee, gee, gee, gee, baby” along with this K-pop legends, and learn the “g”-shaped choreography.

H is for “HIT” by Seventeen

This 13-member team got their start with infectiously upbeat tracks, then veered into some dramatic EDM, before finding a middle ground with this “HIT” that is sure to get everyone motivated to get moving.

I is for “I Feel You” by Wonder Girls
The first-ever K-pop act to land on the Hot 100 back in 2009, Wonder Girls revamped briefly with a retro-vibing band concept a few years back, and “I Feel You” is still making us feel things.

J is for “Just Right” by GOT7

This early GOT7 song is a little cheesy, but its peppy, comforting reassurances are the perfect thing to listen to whenever you need to feel “Just Right.”

K is for “Ko Ko Bop” by EXO

Shimmy shimmy “Ko Ko Bop” and get down to this reggae-infused bop from one of South Korea’s most prominent boy bands of this generation.

L is for “Lo Siento” by Super Junior and Leslie Grace

Super Junior have a sizable following in Latin America and have collaborated multiple times with Latin pop acts, including the glory of this Leslie Grace-featuring track.

M is for “Me Gustas Tu” by GFriend

There’s something intensely refreshing about the elated, almost theatrical, synth-rock styling of “Me Gustas Tu,” a prime example of this girl group’s unique style.

N is for “Not Today” by BTS

Much of BTS’ music is filled with anthemic calls to rise together to create a better world, and “Not Today” is the act at their most passionate as they encourage “all the underdogs of the world” to fight in the face of injustice and oppression.

O is for “Oh My Mistake” by APRIL

‘80s nostalgia is alive and well with APRIL’s “Oh My Mistake,” and the biggest mistake you’ll ever make is not listening to this addictively coy synth-pop song.

P is for “Psycho” by Red Velvet

Slinking and creeping, with plucky digital squelches and bombastic brass pushing it forward, Red Velvet’s “Psycho” was released in the last weeks of 2019 and brought the decade out on a high.

Q is for “Question” by Stray Kids

Though they may be “Kids,” SKZ’s “Question” reflects the boy band’s bold and ruminative take on hip-hop-laden K-pop.

R is for “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)” by TOMORROW X TOGETHER

Fantastical in its Harry Potter-inspired rockish dance-pop styling, TXT’s “Run Away” is infectious and exhilarating, and a K-pop must.

S is for “Shine” by Pentagon

From its start with snappy piano notes until its end with a tail-end beat, this playful confessional is like a breath of fresh air put to music, refreshing and cool.

T is for ATEEZ’s “Treasure”

The anthem of their entire career so far, ATEEZ’s Treasure album series kicked off with this debut-era tune that twists this way and that, languishing and thrusting forward in its pacing on its own terms, setting the stage for the boy band’s forthcoming releases.

U is for “Untitled, 2014” by G-Dragon
This introspective power ballad diverges from the rapper’s typical comfort zone and is an example of the more emotive music coming out of some of K-pop’s biggest names in recent years, as young pop stars age and mature along with their craft.

V is for “View” by SHINee
Always ones to push the envelope when it comes to trying out new musical styles, SHINee’s “View” is a summery deep-house track that delves into techno in its yesteryear-recalling refrain, creating an all at once timeless and very modern dance song.

W is for “Wannabe” by ITZY

Who do you want to be? For ITZY, the only answer is “me” in this bold single.

X is for “XX” by BOL4
Representing the folkier style popular among many South Korean pop acts is BOL4, with their loving “XX” evoking the spirit of springtime with its sweet melodies.

Y is for “You&I” by IU

Though pop groups are the majority of K-pop’s presence in the U.S., soloist IU has been atop the pop game in South Korea for over a decade now, and her iconic “You&I” still stands the test of time with the young diva’s vocals expressively, passionately relaying the song’s romantic message.

Z is for Mamamoo’s “ZzZz”
A true self-distancing anthem, Mamamoo’s “ZzZz” is the perfect track to end this playlist with in the time of the coronavirus: The song is all about being bored at home alone looking for something fun to do.

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