Friday, October 20, 2017

How I Got Into K Pop


For me, 2017 has been the year of discovering new music and TV shows. This year, I've fallen in love with more new shows, songs, and musicians than I probably have in the last few years combined. And of all of these new-found obsessions, one stands out among the rest-- K Pop. Of course, 2017 was not the first time I'd ever heard of K Pop, but it was the first time I truly gained a respect for and love of the genre. So, today, in conjunction with a video that I posted on my K Pop-centric YouTube channel, I'm going to be explaining how I fell in love with K Pop and why I love it so much.

For the beginning of this story, we have to go back pretty far. Several years, in fact. And, to be honest, I'm really not totally sure how far. At the very least, we're headed back to high school. Yikes. I'm warning you, the early years of K Pop are hazy. I don't remember details, and if I do, I definitely don't know how or when I discovered things. It's gonna be a long story, so... brace yourselves.

This may come as a major shock (lol not), but I was a weird kid in school. I wasn't some social reject with no friends, but my "people" were definitely the artsy and just downright weird kids. I was in orchestra, and most of my closest friends were either in orchestra, band, or theater. And there was a subsection of those friends who, in hind-sight, probably counted as Koreaboos. Or... Weeaboos. Somewhere in that mix. They were honestly more in the "friend of a friend" category. They were close with one of my best friends, so I would sometimes end up having lunch with them or just hanging around them in the halls after school. The only way I know to describe them is that they were your typical group of weirdo kids who were super into manga, anime, and honestly just anything dealing with "Asian culture." They ranged from the types of people who would do cosplay (sometimes borderline cosplay at school), to those kids who didn't pay much mind to their appearance at all-- wearing ill-fitting, solid colored clothing. Y'all know the type. No hate, though. I'm sure my clothes were just as horrible back then too.


At this point, my knowledge of K Pop was extremely limited and really existed solely through any random tidbits of information they happened to mention around me. Names like Girls' Generation and SHINee were familiar terms only in passing. I recognized them, but didn't have anything tangible to relate them to. And honestly, I wasn't really interested in seeking them out. I was one of those "real music is played on guitars" people-- a classical musician on my way to college for music, too into my pop-punk music, and too judgmental of things like hip-hop, rap, and heaven-forbid, POP.


The first time I ever put names to any K Pop faces was, like many people, when the Fine Brothers did a react video. Kids react to K Pop came out in early 2012, my senior year of high school. I was an avid viewer of FBE and was familiar with the term, so I clicked. I re-watched that video recently, and I honestly think that the only long-lasting takeaway from that video was the MV for Gee by Girls' Generation. Years later, when I finally did listen to a K Pop song or two on purpose, Gee was the one, shining, familiar light. Upon re-watch, I was super-surprised to see SuJu & 2NE1 in the video.

After that, I paid basically no mind to K Pop. Fast forward to my freshman year of college. Y'all know what happened in mid-to-late 2012.

GANGNAM STYLE
(Hongchul is a blessing, y'all.)

I hated it. I hated it. I hated it. I was still firmly entrenched in my "pop punk is GOD" mentality, and pop music was just garbage. Especially the pop music that became mega-popular. Even more-so, weird pop music. And even more than that, pop music in a language I couldn't understand. Seriously, I was a judgmental lil' 18 year old. I mean, I think we all still see Gangnam Style as a big ol' joke, but obviously I was pretty judgy. 

Sometime around then, one of my friends tried to get me to listen to K Pop. He knew how I felt about pop music in general, so he gave me some videos that he wanted me to watch. I think that was the first time I'd ever heard of 2NE1. That was his favorite group. I think he might have shown me one of their videos (probably I'm The Best). I think he might've shown me some other videos, but I don't remember them. Sometime around here, I think I watched The Chaser by Infinite. Not to jump forward too much, but when I started to actually get into K Pop, the music video seemed far too familiar. I have no idea how or why I stumbled across it, but I'm almost 99% certain I watched it sometime around its release. 


Anyway, apart from possibly watching the MV for The Chaser, I didn't give K Pop much more thought until the summer of 2013, when The Fine Bros did another K Pop reaction video, this time with YouTubers. This would become a recurring theme on their channel, and given my disinterest in K Pop and my slowly waning interest in FBE, I didn't watch many of these K Pop reactions going forward. But I did watch the first one, which introduced me to Fantastic Baby by Big Bang, I Got a Boy by Girls' Generation, and Lucifer by SHINee. I still wasn't particularly impressed with any of them. Y'all get the gist. I was way too into my own love of pop punk and didn't understand why people loved K Pop so much. 


It's important to note here that I didn't have any sort of legitimate dislike or hatred toward K Pop. Starting from that first year of college, and getting more and more strong constantly, I consider myself to be someone who's very open-minded to art. I may not particularly like some music/art/movies/etc, but I'll defend its validity as a legitimate art form until the bitter end. Everything is art to someone. So, while I personally didn't understand why people wanted to listen to pop music in a language they didn't speak, my mindset was "Cool, more power to you. Just leave me alone to my pop-punk."

And, for the next few years, that's exactly what happened. I didn't really pay attention to K Pop except for when I'd see things in passing. YouTubers I watched would occasionally mention a group. I'd see someone re-tweet an Idol's tweet, etc. It wasn't something I actively avoided, but rather just something that really didn't pop up in my day-to-day life. I was once again vaguely familiar with certain names I'd see popping up. Infinite was one that I saw a lot (which is odd, now that I know how underrated they actually are). BTS popped up quite regularly. G-Dragon. Monsta X. Rap Monster (who I totally thought was a member of Monsta X). BamBam. L. Exo. SNSD. 2NE1 (which I was convinced was a boy group?). Big Bang. That's probably the extent of artists I would've been able to list off to you at about this time last year. Like in high school, names without faces or meaning. 

And then, the life changing show. The Genius, a Korean reality show that has now become my favorite show ever. Which will need a bit of back story. So... hang on. 


There's a podcast that I listen to, Rob Has a Podcast, that covers strategic reality shows like Big Brother and Survivor. Over the years, there were certain personalities on the podcast that I really gravitated toward. Two of the guys I really liked, Alex and Taran, would constantly make brief references to this show called The Genius, which they both really loved. I got curious, but it was never a high priority for me. Then, one day in the summer of 2016, I was looking for podcasts to listen to, and I stumbled across another RHAP episode where the eponymous Rob was given a crash course introduction to The Genius by Myles Nye. I was a little wary of reading subtitles, but the premise had me intrigued. When Myles described it as about as close to The Mole (my FAVORITE TV show at the time) as you could get, I was sold. I watched the first episode almost immediately. I enjoyed it, but given the amount of focus needed to sit and watch the whole episode without doing anything else, I ended up not continuing the show. 

Seemingly, when it comes to Korean entertainment, I need to be introduced to it, take a break from it, and then return to it before I can find a genuine love for it. I didn't watch another episode of The Genius for a solid 6 months after that. And then, Rob released an audiobook, with chapters covering each episode of Season 1 of The Genius. I was on my holiday break from school and was going to be on some long car rides, so I figured I'd go ahead and re-watch the first episode, listen to a preview of the audiobook and see what happened from there.


I was hooked. I re-watched episode 1 and found myself falling in love immediately. I binge-watched the season, binge-listened to the audiobook, and fell completely in love with the other podcasts covering the show. And here's where we get to the K Pop. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, the cast is comprised almost entirely of Korean celebrities. And the biggest name of Season 1, the biggest "get" for the show? Kim Sunggyu, the leader & main vocalist of Infinite. I don't want to spoil the show for those of you who haven't seen, but if you know Sunggyu, you know he was a fun character to watch. For however long he was there. 

So, I got curious. I'd fallen in love with Sunggyu as a character, and I wanted to check out his music to see if I liked it. Guess what happened? I listened, felt kinda meh about it, and then didn't return to it until several months later. The first song I listened to (sometime in January) was Back (now an all-time fave). I also gave The Chaser and The Eye a listen before deciding that they were alright, but not really my thing. 

To be honest, I'm not really sure what sparked the second wave of Infinite curiosity. It might have been a resurgence of excitement about The Genius, or maybe just an interest in the Korean language. But, either way, at the beginning of May 2017... I got obsessed. I re-listened to Back and found that I really loved it. Some of the first things I watched of theirs weren't even music videos, but rather episodes of them on Weekly Idol and Ranking King. I fell in love with them as people, and subsequently fell in love with their music.

At this point, I was still kinda in the mindset that Infinite was an anomaly in my music taste. Not that I was dis-interested in other K Pop, but rather that I just probably wasn't going to seek more out apart from Infinite. 

And then, around mid-June, I felt like I was being absolutely suffocated by one group, and finally decided to check them out. Surprisingly, it wasn't BTS. It was Got7. Every time I watched an Infinite video, there were 2-3 Got7 videos just hanging out in the recommended sidebar, begging for me to click. Finally, I did. Like most people, Jackson was the first one who stood out to me. He was loud and crazy, running all over the Weekly Idol set and screaming his lil head off. Definitely not my cup of tea. (Little did I know that he'd become one of my Got7 biases & I'd be constantly worried about that lil fluffball cutie's health.) I watched their Never Ever MV, and thought it was alright. I watched their Just Right MV, and liked it more than Never Ever, but wasn't sold. I ended up deciding that they were alright, but not my thing.


I think y'all have figured out how this story goes by now, right? About a month later, while watching Infinite line distribution videos, someone mentioned that Hard Carry by Got7 had a good line distribution. I was curious and decided to listen... and I liked what I heard. I ended up watching a few more of their videos, before coming across the one that absolutely sold me. Still, my favorite K Pop song to this day.

IF YOU DO.

Something about the song just clicked. It seemed so oddly satisfying for some reason, especially when combined with their rhythmic footwork. I was in love. And of course, I spiraled from there, watching dance practices, watching their appearances on variety shows, watching clip videos, everything. I fell in love. But I wasn't quite to the point where I considered myself a K Pop fan. I wasn't really venturing outside my two groups.

That's when I discovered K Pop quizzes on YouTube. I'm a sucker for things like "guess the song"/ "guess the member"/etc, and given that I now had 2 groups under my belt, I figured I at least had a little bit of knowledge to attempt a couple of them. Predictably, I failed horribly. But, as I watched more of these videos, I started hearing choruses that sounded intriguing. I found myself looking up some of the songs I was hearing over and over again in these videos, and soon had a playlist of K Pop MVs to watch. 

I was now to the point where I was finally dipping my toes into multiple different groups, rather than going full-force into one at a time and not considering myself a K Pop fan. First came EXO, then Big Bang, then Block B, then Super Junior, then BlackPink, then Seventeen, then BTS and a whole slew of other random groups. A couple songs here and there from each artist. I consumed more and more and more and more, finally embracing my status as a full-blown K Pop stan. And, of course, more recently I've fallen head over heels in love with my Day6 babies, who I'm literally obsessed with. So, yeah, super long build-up of seeing K Pop for years, before having it all come to a head within about 2 months' time. And I'm so, so glad to have found it and there's no way I'm looking back. I love my K Pop, and I love it more and more every single day. Also, that last sentence was cheesy and I've been rambling for way too long, so it's time to stop. 



So, that's my story of how I got into K Pop! I'm sure it was way too long-winded, but hello and welcome to my brain. You must be new here. I talk too much. Except in person, where I barely talk at all. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my rambling nonetheless! Let me know if there are any K Pop-related videos or posts you'd like to see in the future, because I'm always trying to figure out new ideas for things to do!

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Top 10 Songs September 2017

I'm back once again to talk about the songs that I've had on constant repeat all month long! Last month, almost every song was by the same two groups, and while this month isn't quite as monotonous, I fell head over heels in love with a new group in September and half the list is taken up by their songs. I'm not going to apologize though, because they're actually fantastic and if you haven't heard of them, you should be thanking me for introducing them to you in this post.

This month, I found myself listening mostly to new music by groups I already loved, plus music by the new group I've fallen in love with, so all groups (except the new obsession) have actually already appeared on one of these lists in some form or fashion. 

Last note before jumping into the list-- per usual, I'm still listening to all the songs from last month. My listening always tapers off eventually, but if I love them enough for them to make this list, they're going to stay on a pretty decent loop for quite a while. But these are the new ones that have stolen my heart. I've left the new group until last, with my favorite song by them at the very end (y'all know this is how it works at this point, right? Save the best for last, right?) And with that, let's jump into my Top 10 Songs of September 2017.

DNA by Infinite

I mentioned this on another post, but unfortunately due to Japanese copyright being super strict, there's not a studio version of the Japanese (aka original) version on YouTube. The MV is out there, but not in a place that's easy to link here. So I have to embed a live performance of the Korean version. Apologies.

Anyway, I'm honestly kinda mad at myself for sleeping on Infinite's Japanese singles. I'd listened to one or two a while back, but given that they were hard to find and harder to download, I largely disregarded them for quite a while and THAT WAS A MISTAKE, because a couple of their Japanese singles have become some of my favorite Infinite songs ever. The first time I listened to DNA, I was in love. Infinite explores a really different sound in this song, combining the more EDM sound that they explored in Bad with some typical Infinite rock-esque elements to create this really unique song. It's super cool, and I found myself listening to it all month long.

Dilemma by Infinite

I actually first listened to Dilemma forever ago, and upon listening through all of Infinite's singles, I re-discovered my love for the song. I'd always thought that it was one of their more interesting tracks, but this month was when I really got obsessed with it. Like with DNA, it took the distinct "Infinite" sound and fused it with something else-- this time, rock instrumentation. I've come to realize that Infinite definitely leans a lot more toward rock than most KPop groups. I'd never classify them as a rock group by any means, but they use electric guitars and heavy percussion a lot more frequently than most groups, and it's especially heavy in Dilemma. There's literally a huge instrumental break in the song that basically just serves as a guitar solo. It's awesome. And the music video is cool as well-- it's entirely in greyscale, and the choreo is super cool. I just absolutely love this song and I've been listening to it all month.


No More Dream by BTS

I haven't listened to as much new BTS as I did last month, but I did definitely listen to more and this was one of the stand-outs. I think I actually downloaded No More Dream right at the beginning of September, so it's been a consistent fave all month. It's their debut single, and although the music video is super cheesy, the song itself is really cool and heavily features my favorite member, Rap Monster. His recurring "hey, what's your dream," is my favorite line in the song, and the chorus is just so good. It's really heavy on the rapping/ hip hop, which is still really prominent in their music today, but even more so in No More Dream. It's definitely gotten a ton of play this month. 

Boy in Luv by BTS

I like all of the other BTS songs I've downloaded and listened to this month, but this is definitely the other one that I've listened to almost daily. I think the thing with this one is that every single section of the song is super interesting and such a jam. My favorite thing about the song is how well it works with Tae's voice. For some reason, I'm always surprised at how gravelly is voice is, and it just works perfectly with Boy in Luv. 


Magnetic by Got7

This isn't so much a new discovery in September as it is a new-found appreciation. I've definitely never disliked Magnetic, but for some reason it'd never been one I'd really gravitated toward or listened to very much. But after re-watching the video embedded above, I realized how much I actually really love the song. There are a lot of reasons why I love it, but I think #1 is that Jinyoung sounds fantastic on it. I mean, his voice always sounds great, but his voice just works particularly well on this one. Also, the chorus is super catchy. JB's part kills me every time. 


The Day6 Section

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, half of the songs on this list are by the same band, and that is (obviously) Day6. I'm honestly really, really mad at myself for taking this long to get into them. Day6 is a band (yes, a band-- they play instruments) that I've been aware of since I first started listening to KPop. They've always been on my radar as someone I should check out, because my long-standing favorite genre of music has always been pop punk/alternative, and Day6 is this great hybrid of pop punk and KPop. I kept telling myself I needed to listen to them, because I KNEW I would love them, but for some reason I just kept not doing it. 

Finally, one day in early September I sat down and watched a few of their music videos and I fell in love. And then I watched random videos of them just being their silly selves and I got completely obsessed. And then I discovered that Brian Kang is basically a perfect human and he quickly rose directly to the top of my bias list, alongside my other ults. Because I can't just have one ultimate bias-- my brain doesn't work that way. 

Anyway, I've had all of their music on a constant loop for the majority of the month, so it was almost impossible to narrow this list down to 5 songs. I wouldn't be surprised if the entirety of my October list was just made up of Day6 songs. That's how much I've fallen in love with them. (On that note, like with JJP's Verse 2, Day6's EveryDay6 October was released right at the end of the month, so I'm not counting it for this month. It might pop up next month, though!) Anyway, let's just go ahead and jump into the songs.  

I Wait by Day6

The first song released in their EveryDay6 project, I Wait is simply... beautiful. But all of their songs are, TBH. Like with most groups with multiple vocalists, I associate each song strongly with one of the members. This, my friends, is a Jae song. When I think of this song, the first thing I think of is Jae's verses, with his scooping vocals and the amazing visuals in the MV. But even then, Sungjin's vocals on the chorus are gravelly perfection. TBH, I was SUPER torn on whether to include I Wait or How Can I Say on this list, but I ended up going with this one. Originally, I had both but I swapped one out because I feel like they're the most similar of the Day6 songs I was considering. That being said, I love both of them pretty equally and they're definitely among Day6's best songs. Seriously, you have no idea how hard it was to narrow this list down to only 5 Day6 songs. They're literal perfection.


I'm Serious by Day6

I'm serious is honestly anything but serious. It's fun, it's cute, and it's an absolute bop. I keep trying to figure out how to talk about this, but it's difficult because Day6 just is so good at creating songs with an incredible diversity of sounds and so it's hard to say that this is "out of the ordinary" for them. Because really, what's ordinary for them? Either way, this is definitely a bit of a diversion for them as a group. Musically, it's a lot more laid back and acoustic than their many electric guitar-heavy tracks that I usually consider to be most emblematic of them as a group. I also love when the instruments drop out and we get a bit of a Beach Boys-esque acapella section, complete with snapping. It's just so good and I love it.


Blood by Day6

Originally, Blood just barely missed out on the list, but I kept feeling like it deserved to be on here, so here it is. This is probably (don't quote me here) Day6's best non-title track. Like I said when talking about I Wait, I associate songs with specific members. And one of the reasons I love Blood is that it's a Brian song. It's 100% a Brian song. First of all, he gets the chorus (mostly) and his falsetto is freakin' gorgeous. Seriously, his voice sounds fantastic on the chorus. And then on top of that, I'd probably say that Brian's rap in Blood is my favorite of any of his raps across Day6's entire discography. Blood just really showcases how broad Brian's skill is-- the guy is seriously good at everything. I absolutely love the music of this song. It's pretty chill and laid laid back, even as it crescendos into the chorus, and the instrumentation is pretty sparse and just... ugh. SO GOOD. 


Dance Dance by Day6

I can't remember which Day6 song was the first that I listened to, but this was definitely the first one that I fell in love with. It's just so much fun. As they've said, it isn't the most musically complex of their songs, but they wrote it to just be a fun bop to jam out to, and it's definitely that. That especially shows in the music video, where they're clearly having so much fun just being their weird, silly selves. This song is possibly the epitome of music that I fall in love with quickly. It's pop rock perfection, and the reggae-esque 2nd verse is just the cherry on top.  


Congratulations by Day6


And finally, we come to the last song on the list, which (per usual) is the one that's been most constantly on repeat. It was Day6's debut song, back when the number of members actually matched the name of the band, and overall Congratulations is just an absolute jam. It starts out super chill, with Jae's soft vocals, and it just builds more and more to this just incredibly bitter and emo 'congratulatory' chorus. Like with some other songs on this list, I consider this one to be a Brian song (I know, I'm horribly biased). His vocals absolutely shine on the chorus, and his rap is just so cutting and fantastic. The little growl he does at the end of his rap verse is possibly my favorite part of the entire song. It's just such a fantastic song, such a fantastic debut, and I've obviously fallen completely head-over-heels in love with this band. 


Very quickly, before I wrap this up, I want to touch on where I thought I'd be last month, versus where I actually currently am. AKA did I fall more in love with a group than I thought I would? Did I listen to a group less than I thought I would? Stuff like that. Last month, I thought I would be obsessed with BTS by this point, and while I definitely have fallen more and more in love with them, I wouldn't necessarily consider them right up there with Infinite, Got7, or even Day6. However, they are right behind those 3 groups and I definitely see myself listening to them more over the next month and getting more into them as a group. At the very least, I've really gotten to know (and love) the members of BTS more than I did at this point last month. The Day6 obsession didn't quite come completely out of nowhere (bc like I said, I'd been meaning to listen to them), but I never expected to fall as much in love with them as I actually did. Or as quickly as I did. I swear, I went from "oh, these guys are kinda cool" to full-on screaming, fangirling obsession in literally 2 days. 


So, those are my top 10 songs of September! I've already got a playlist going for October with the new EveryDay6 single (seriously, check both songs out) and the new Got7 7 For 7 mini album comes out this month, so there should be a lot of great stuff on the next one of these as well.  

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ranking INFINITE's Singles

I recently decided to start making KPop-related videos on YouTube, and immediately my first idea for a video was to rank my top 10 singles by my ultimate bias group, INFINITE! After making the video though, in true Kristen fashion, I felt like I couldn't just leave it at that without any commentary or explanation for my choices. Plus, I know that I left some really popular/ well-known songs off my list and I figured it'd be a disservice to not even mention them. So, here I am to rank all of their singles.

Just like with the video, I'm counting ALL of their singles. Which includes Japanese singles, because there are a few of those that I'm legitimately obsessed with. Also, in case you were wondering how exactly I decided what constitutes a "single," I compiled the full list by using their Wikipedia discography page. Combining Korean & Japanese singles and excluding repeats (AKA Japanese versions of already-released Infinite singles like BTD, Back, etc), I came up with a list of 23 songs that I'll be ranking in this post.

Like I said in the video, this is entirely based on MY PERSONAL OPINION. I know that there are some very popular Infinite singles that I don't love quite as much as most people. I know that I have a strong bias toward or against certain eras, concepts, and styles of music, and I fully acknowledge that. As I always say, I fully respect your opinion, and I hope that you'll respect mine in return. I like all of these songs, so just know that although I'm criticizing them, it's a criticism in relation to their other songs and to how good I know Infinite can be. I like even the songs at the bottom of the ranking better than most other music out there.

Without any further ado, let's jump into the list!

23. 24 Hours

The first time I heard 24 Hours in its entirety, I was intrigued because I've often heard the beginning of the song used as an intro or background music to Infinite YouTube videos. So, I was glad to finally hear the full thing. But I ended up being underwhelmed by it as an Infinite song. A common theme for these bottom few is that if you asked me to sing the melody to you... I'd have trouble remembering it off the top of my head. It's just not as memorable as their other songs, in my opinion. 


22. White Confession (Lately)

When talking about music I enjoy, I usually try to turn my musician brain off (I have a degree in music, in case you're out of the loop). But I have to turn it on when discussing this song, because I feel like it also applies to the others near the bottom of this ranking. An important thing with pop choruses (and music in general, tbh) is that they need a good climax. That singular point when the music/vocals/mood/etc. are at their peak. And Lately is just a pretty static song. Even in the chorus, it never really feels like it builds up to a point & then releases. TL;DR, it just feels like the song is just the same thing over and over for the entirety of it, rather than a push and pull of momentum, which is what makes pop songs great. 


21. Together

This is probably the point when you begin to realize that I'm biased a bit toward more "hype"/in-your-face songs than ballads/slower songs. I readily admit that. But, I will also say that there's a pretty significant step up with this one in terms of how much I like it. I love the chorus of this song, and I love the instrumental break after it even more. The entire song builds to this really awesome climax at the 2nd to last iteration of the chorus and it's so great. Plus, every time they repeat the chorus, something is different- more or less instruments backing them, group vocals vs solo, etc. It's lower on my list because I'm not a slow song/ballad person, but there's a lot of interesting stuff happening in here musically that I really love. 


20. Request

The fascinating thing with Request is that the chorus kinda bleeds into the verse, making it really ambiguous as to where exactly the chorus ends, and where the 2nd verse (and onward) begins. To be honest, I'm not sure if I like or dislike that aspect of the song, but nonetheless it's really interesting. That being said, it does lead to a lot of the song being very similar and a bit static, which makes a lot of the middle of the song pretty repetitive. The best parts of the song by far are the build-up to the chorus with the belted notes. Super great. Also, Dongwoo's rap and Sunggyu's bridge afterward are pretty great. And in classic pop fashion, the last iteration of the chorus is transposed up for maximum impact.  Lol I promise to try to not be so technical for most of the rest of the post. The more I love a song, the less-technically I look at it. 


19. Nothing's Over

This song is one that I always think of as pretty... standard? Not in a bad way (reminder: I like all of these songs), I just feel like it's... standard. I'm not really sure how else to word it lol. It's a good song, and I enjoy it, but I feel like it's following a pretty normal Infinite formula without much deviation or stand-out, fantastic moments. The best moment of the song is probably the Hoya/Sunggyu bridge because it's the part that's most different from the rest of the song. But like I said, overall I like it but it just doesn't stand out to me among all of the other great Infinite singles. 


18. Can You Smile (Remake)?

I'm not sure if this is true of most Infinite fans, but I actually really like both versions of the song, and think they add really different, unique aspects to it. That being said, this is definitely the superior version. It's not acoustic, but it's very stripped down, sounds a bit less "produced," and overall is just a really nice, chill song. I do think it's kinda standard, but still one that I really enjoy and is the type of song where you listen to it and just sway back and forth, smiling like an idiot. The Woohyun bridge after the 2nd chorus is definitely my favorite part of the song. His voice just sounds so pretty on that section. 


17. Can't Get Over You

Can't get over you? More like "can't get over this sick beat and the melody in the verses." There are so many really interesting things going on in this song. The verses are so haunting with the descending melody & leaps to high notes. It builds to this really catchy chorus with lots of cool rhythms and high notes, and then suddenly it's right back down to this haunting vibe for the 2nd verse. Combine that with Dongwoo whispering "can't get over you" in the background and it's just got a wide variety of really interesting musical moments that I love. Because it's a Japanese single, it took a while before I listened to it, but TBH their Japanese singles are some of their best songs. Which we'll see in a little while, given that there are still two left to get to. 


16. Destiny

For some reason, I just never really latched on to Destiny as much as many of their other singles. When going through their music, I started at the beginning, and eventually ended up jumping to their more recent stuff, so singles like Destiny and Last Romeo are almost an afterthought for me (in fact, for the longest time I got them confused with each other regularly). With this one, it's less that I have musical complaints about the song and more that I just don't connect with it as much as with other Infinite singles. The chorus, for me, is just alright. Overall, it's a perfectly fine Infinite single, just not my personal fave. Woohyun's part in the bridge is pretty nice tho.  


15. Covergirl (Live ver.)

First off, this song is an interesting little anomaly, because this "live version" is considered a single, but the studio version is considered a normal album track??? IDK, but it was included, so it's on here and it'll probably pop up on the Infinite album track ranking if I end up doing one. This song is just so much fun. I love Yeollie as a rapper. Now that we don't have Hoya anymore, I'd love seeing Sungyeol get more rap lines. 100% down. Anyway, I love the music/beat of this song. Something about the synth sounds just gives me such an 80s vibe. Plus, it's really interesting that the verses are largely rap verses, which is really different for Infinite. Seriously, this song is just so much fun and my favorite parts are all of Yeollie's rap lines. 


14. BTD (Before The Dawn)

I'm pretty sure that my placement of BTD is possibly my most controversial opinion on this list. Listen, BTD is a great song. It's an iconic Infinite song. The Scorpion Dance is so fantastic and forever Infinite's coolest dance move ever, IMO. The rhythm of the verses is super cool, the chorus is super catchy, the rap parts are great, etc. The problem here is simply that I like other Infinite songs better than this one. For some reason, this one has never grabbed me the same way as the ones ranked above it. Still a great song, I just love some others more. 


13. Last Romeo

The majority of the reason this song is so high on the list is because of the chorus. I love the rest of the song, but that chorus is just sooooo good. The rest of the song is still really great, but the chorus is everything. I also loooove the instrumentation. The guitar is so heavy, as are the horns. I'm a sucker for horns in pop songs. The instrumentation just sounds very rock- heavy drum kit/guitar, but everything else about the song is very pop, and it's such a cool combination. Side note, the music video is super cool, but unfortunately I can't embed it here (thanks, YouTube). 


12. She's Back

When I first started making this list, I didn't really expect She's Back to get this high on the list, but here it is all the way at #12. Honestly, I think that's because She's Back is one of those songs that I regularly forget was actually a single. I think I always forget because usually there's only one single per EP, but this was the second one. Either way, this is another song that's just really fun. I especially love Woohyun's voice on this one. Every time he belts "She's back," I can't help but smile like an idiot. I also absolutely love Dongwoo's little "come back to me" interlude. This song just makes me incredibly happy. 


11. That Summer (Second Story)

For me, this is just the ultimate summer song. It's probably one of their cutest songs to date, and I absolutely love that about it. I also find it impossible to separate the song from the video, so I quickly want to note that this MV is absolutely adorable. The MV is basically an updated, even more adorable version of the She's Back MV, and I love that about it. Anyway, back to the song, I absolutely love the chorus. The #1 thing I've learned about myself while making this list is that I really appreciate actual instruments. The instrumentation in the song is just your basic guitar/bass/drums/keyboard, but it's just so refreshing and I love every single second of it. I was about to list the members that sounded good on this song, and I literally started naming everyone, so I stopped myself. You're welcome. But above everyone else, I think Dongwoo, Myungsoo, and Woohyun's voices really shine on this song. They have some really great moments. 


10. D.N.A.

FYI, Japanese music is pretty strict with copyright, so there isn't a Japanese version on YouTube, so I had to grab a live performance of the Korean version. The MV is online, but it's on other sites that are hard to embed on here. So apologies for the lack of an accurate video. Anyway, I admittedly didn't listen to Infinite's Japanese singles until pretty late into my Infinite fandom, and I severely regret that, because I fully believe that if I'd listened to this song alongside their Korean singles, it'd be in my top five. As it stands though, I fell in love with it after there was already a huge impenetrable wall of favorite Infinite songs, and DNA winds up just squeaking into my top 10. 

DNA is just so... hype... for an Infinite song. In some ways, it feels extremely different from any other Infinite songs, but in other ways, there's something about it that's just so indefinably unique to Infinite. I really can't put my finger on it. That being said, I definitely believe DNA stands out among other Infinite songs. It explores this same electronic sound that they tried out in Bad, but combines it with some rock elements. It's just a really, really unique song that I think is definitely one of their most interesting songs in general. Also, if anyone's curious, Dongwoo saying "to the virus" is possibly the most attractive thing in the world. 


9. Be Mine

This is probably a bit controversial, since Be Mine was the song that really made them famous. Obviously, since I've got it in my top 10, I do really love the song. That's a given at this point. But I feel like I'm so aware of it and familiar with it that I've kinda been desensitized to it, if that makes any sense. For example, I first went to make this list over a month ago (I promise it didn't take a month, I just haven't worked on it consistently!), and I've made 2 different playlists of their singles and both times I initially forgot to include Be Mine. In the video accompanying this, I accidentally left it off the list and forgot to even consider it in the first iteration of the video. Not because I dislike the song, or even that I didn't remember it existed, but more because it just seemed like such a given that my brain just included it regardless. I know it's so weird and makes little sense, but that's legitimately what happened. 

So, after all of that rambling, it's here for a reason. Regardless of my saturation with Be Mine, I admit to myself that I forgot it for a reason. I'd never forget the top few on this list despite over-saturation. This one is a classic. It's textbook Infinite. And I tend to prefer some of their newer stuff, where they mix in new, fresh changes to their sound. 


8. Dilemma

This is the first of Infinite's Japanese singles that I listened to, and it's definitely my favorite of their Japanese singles. The melody in the verses is just really interesting, and the rap "breakdown" in the bridge is really well done. I love the music of this song so much, because it's kinda that same mix of a more electronic sound and some rock elements. I mean, there's a massive instrumental break with a guitar solo, which I'm freakin' obsessed with. It's just really interesting to hear the way that the vocal line and instrumentals combine together, because often one is ascending and the other is descending in this really cool rhythm. This is another one where the music video is really cool- it's entirely in greyscale and just feels very dramatic and epic. It's just such a cool song.


7. Come Back Again

The first time I listened to this song, whatever title or name was mentioned was "to-ra-wa" (an incorrect romanization of dorawa, aka part of the Korean title), so I ended up associating To-Ra-Wa with this song. So now, that's just the name of it in my own mind, regardless of how incorrect it is haha. Anyway, Come Back Again was their debut single and, given its placement, one of my favorites. Like I said earlier, I really didn't realize how much I love my real instruments until doing this ranking. My ear isn't the greatest at differentiating, so I can't tell if they're real instruments or midi/electronic instruments, but either way, you can hear the guitar, drums, horns, and strings and it all combines so well together. The chorus is definitely my favorite. It's definitely super repetitive but it's so catchy and I love it. Also, I love the dance version of the MV, because (per usual with Infinite) they're all just so perfectly in-sync. So impressive. 


6. The Eye

Infinite's most recent single! This song was already out when I started listening to them, and at first I didn't realize that it was their most recent song. With The Eye, the way I always consider this song is that it's classic Infinite, but modernized for contemporary KPop. Not to say that their sound is old, but, ya' know, popular music changes and evolves, and it's super different today than it was in 2010. All I'm saying is that it still sounds distinctly like Infinite, but super contemporary and modern. Also, this isn't related to the song itself, but I love the choreography as well. Because of the lyrics of the song, there's always someone in the middle, and the other members are often circled around them and it's just really fantastic. And the dance break at the end of the chorus is also so fantastic. Another non-song related thing that I love is the wardrobe for this one. I'm a sucker for all black, and it's offset with this really white background. It's just beautiful. 

My favorite part of the song is probably Dongwoo's part right at the beginning. The choreo is so dynamic there, combined with the music building with the strings... ugh it's just so good. The strings are also fantastic in the chorus as well. Another interesting aspect of the song is that there's not a rap part. Infinite has always been a group focused more on vocals than rap, but I always find it interesting when one of their singles has no rapping at all. That's actually been a fairly recurring thing in their singles lately, and (despite loving their rap parts & rappers) I sometimes don't even know it's missing until I go looking for it. 


5. Paradise

Wow, another Infinite song with a heavy focus on guitar and drums is near the top of the list?! Who would've guessed??? Seriously though, I didn't even think about this until talking about the music itself. This time, it does definitely sound like they're using an electric drum set, but it honestly doesn't really matter to me, because either way it's fantastic. The line distribution on this one isn't fantastic (Woohyun & Sunggyu sing almost the entire song) but ugh the music is so good. And the vocals are so on point. I usually associate songs with one person specifically, and this is a Woohyun song for me. His vocal lines just really stand out to me in this song. 

Honestly, every single aspect of Paradise is fantastic for me. The chorus is just just so dynamic with the driving guitar and percussion. The melody in the verse is fantastic. The pre-chorus is so awesome trading between Sunggyu and Woohyun. The high vocals in the chorus are fantastic. Dongwoo's rap & little "hooooo, heyyyyy" in the chorus is fantastic. We're in my top 5 now, so I'm just basically going to be singing the parises of pretty much every single aspect of each of these songs from here on out.


4. The Chaser

I mean, this is just a KPop classic at this point, so I couldn't really have it any lower on this list (I guess I could've- it's my list- but this is where it belongs). That being said, there are probably some people expecting it to be #1, but at this point I've already disappointed you by having Be Mine & BTD pretty low, so... oh well. But seriously though, I absolutely LOVE The Chaser. The only reason it's not higher is that I have a really set in stone top 3 that I'm completely infatuated with. So The Chaser falls just outside of that top 3. Honestly, I don't even know what to say about this song and its perfection. It's just... amazing. Fantastic. Brilliant. 

That chorus... I can't even put it into words. It's synthpop perfection. I don't even know what to call those synthy horn sound effects in the background (I'm a classical musician, not a pop producer, ok? lol), but they're just so fantastic and well-produced and they give the music such an original, unique sound. And the group vocals on the chorus are so powerful. Sunggyu especially shines in this song, and although Woohyun is kinda non-existent for the first half, he comes in full force and delivers some incredibly powerful vocals near the end. The rap sections are pure perfection as well.  And in terms of the non-musical aspects,  the one thing about the video that has always stood out to me is the coloration. The colors are all muted blues, pinks, browns, and creams. I don't even really like half of those colors but it just looks so beautifully done. Plus the choreo is possibly their best choreo ever...? I'm not fully prepared to make that statement, but it's pretty great. Just... stunning. 


3. Back

Like I said in the last section, my top 3 is basically my holy trinity of Infinite songs. They're definitive, they're impenetrable, and they're absolutely perfect. Back was actually the first Infinite song I ever heard (purposefully, at least. Might've heard The Chaser first. I'll get into this in another post). Before getting into KPop, I wasn't really a fan of pop music, so I was a little hesitant, but I fell in love with it. I took a while to get through Infinite's discography (I wanted to savor it), and throughout that time, Back was consistently my favorite. Obviously, eventually a couple others beat it out, but it's still an all-time fave. 

Unlike some other songs on this list, you absolutely cannot claim that this song is the same all the way through. It begins with literally just piano and vocals, adding in more instruments throughout the first verse but still keeping everything really sparsely instrumented and just really emotionally powerful. And then there's that EPIC drop at the beginning of the chorus, which just adds so many interesting elements to the song. There's constantly something changing or new, and it's fantastic. The dance break after the chorus and the following verse are also super interesting because again, everything is adding some new element. This 2nd verse almost isn't even a 2nd verse, because it's nothing like the first verse. Then it cuts to what could actually (?) be considered the 2nd verse, which is stripped down again and very similar to the first verse. And then we get this really interesting pre-chorus that builds back up to the epic chorus again.

I'm sorry for that big brick of analytical text but I say all of this to point out how unique the structure of this song is. It doesn't follow the typical Verse,chorus,verse, chorus,bridge,chorus structure found in most pop music (including many Infinite songs) or even really any structure that's typical of Infinite. It's this fresh, unique structure and it's FANTASTIC. I haven't even mentioned my own personal love for the song, which is endless, but I think you can figure out from how long I've been rambling just how much I love it. It's so good.


2. Man in Love

Infinite doesn't get any happier or brighter than Man in Love. I honestly feel like this song is the absolute epitome of Infinite at their finest. When I think of the "Infinite sound," this is the song I think of. It's this great blend of synth pop and rock instrumentation (aka those guitars and drums tho), and the group vocals on the chorus are about as "Infinite" as a song can be. They also just have so much fun with this song and it shows in every live performance- this is where creepy Hoya comes from, and they're just generally silly with it and have fun with it. This song also just really allows the main vocalists to shine. This is another that I consider to be a "Woohyun" song (fairly certain he has the most lines), because his voice just works so well on it, and he has so many great vocal moments throughout the song. 

I know this section is short compared to the last few, but given that I think this is the epitome of their sound, I feel like I've already said all I can say about the sound of this song. It's just one of those songs where it comes on and I refuse to ever skip it, because it's just such a happy song and it makes me grin like an idiot. 


1. Bad

And here we are. My favorite Infinite song. Possibly a controversial choice? Not totally sure on that, but given that any time I see a ranking of Infinite's singles, it's not near the top, this might be controversial. But oh well. I've said that several times throughout this post-- why stop now? Either way, Bad is not only my favorite Infinite song, but it's also possibly my favorite KPop song of all-time. Don't quote me on that, though. 

I'll be the first to admit that in general, it's not super ground-breaking musically. It follows a pretty standard pop formula. That being said, it's so different for Infinite. It introduced this new, fresh sound for the group that's so different from anything they'd done before, but yet still somehow sounds distinctly "Infinite," which is super impressive. And despite this different, self-described (by Sunggyu) EDM sound, it still adds in the strings, which will forever be classic Infinite. I also absolutely love the way the lines are split up throughout the song. Sunggyu still gets the most lines (shocking lol) but the rest of it is really evenly divided, with everyone getting their own little section. And Woohyun's part in the prechorus is just fantastic. There are so many great moments in the song that I absolutely love- Dongwoo's rap, Woohyun's belted notes near the end, Myungsoo's part leading into the chorus, everyone trading off in the bridge, etc. It's just such a jam and I could honestly blast it all day long and never get sick of it. 



So, that was my ranking of all of Infinite's singles! If you read the entire thing to this point, thank you & kudos to you because I know how rambly I can be, and I know I got a bit too technical a few times. But overall, the bottom line is that I absolutely love these guys and I'll be singing their praises forever, because they're mega-talented and make really great music. Like I said at the beginning, I fully respect your opinion, and I hope that you'll respect mine in return by not getting mad at me in the comments if we disagree. We can have differing opinions and not yell at each other, I promise! Let me know your favorite Infinite singles down in the comments! I plan to do a ranking of my favorite Infinite album tracks (probably not ranking all of them-- that's a huge undertaking), so keep an eye out for that sometime in the near-ish future. 

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