We’ve all watched that drama with a great soundtrack — one so good that you almost wound up liking it more than the show itself. I can list a handful of dramas that I did not particularly like but still had soundtracks that I listen to regularly, even up until now.
But have you ever heard a K-pop song that seems like it would be perfect on the soundtrack of a drama? I like to imagine which dramas would go with which songs because some of them just seem like they could have been on a soundtrack instead of an album, and would’ve been even better with a storyline.
1. “Mama” by Exo
As this is such an epic song with its grand opening of Gregorian chants, Exo’s “Mama” deserves a spot in a high-suspense thriller. The drama would be about a young intern who was skilled and lucky enough to land a position working for the administration at the Blue House. His life is turned upside down though when he falls into the world of espionage after he accidentally discovers a plot to assassinate the president and has no choice but to join the people planning the crime so that he can save the president.
The song would come in during the opening credits to set the ominous tone. The camera would meander over the skyscrapers of the Seoul skyline as names of the cast appeared on rooftops, the cinematography dark and bleak with lots of green and yellow coloring — and all while “Mama” and its orchestra fill us with unease and tension for what is to come for our hapless intern.
2. “Into the New World” by Girls’ Generation
For the debut single of such an iconic girl groups as Girls’ Generation, “Into the New World” has the perfect makings of a soundtrack staple, particularly one of high school romance. The drama would follow a poor girl who leads a double life and pretends to be rich when with her classmates, but she’s found out when the most popular boy who’s, of course, cold and arrogant accidentally ends up in her neighborhood and sees her in her actual state of poverty. She scrambles to ask him to keep quiet, but there’s a price.
With its piano opening, the song would close each episode. Just as our couple’s lips touch in a kiss, the singing would come in, and everything freezes so that we have to watch next week’s episode to figure out if their lips are actually going to move or not.
3. “Only Tears” by Infinite
With its heart-wrenching lyrics and vocals, Infinite’s “Only Tears” would be the ideal candidate for a fusion sageuk drama — specifically, one about time travel.
With her perfect life as wife to the wealthy owner of a chaebol, a woman is shocked to find out that her distant husband is cheating on her. In desperation, she goes to see a shaman who gives her a charm to fix their relationship. Instead, she wakes up in Joseon, her husband a feudal lord — and still cheating on her, but none the wiser of the situation. It doesn’t help that the courtesan he’s sleeping with is plotting to take her spot as wife.
A track heavy on the orchestral strings would only be perfect during a silent scene of sadness. As our heroine slips into her car, the track begins to play. She drives home and tears overflow from her eyes, and the vocals wrap us in her sadness in a way that makes us want to cry alongside her.
4. “Do You Like That” by Kim Hyun-joong
Coming from an idol who achieved international fame from a high school drama, “Do You Like That” needs to be on a drama directed at a more adult audience. A deadbeat who never even graduated from high school finds a job as a delivery man for a produce company. He soon learns though that his employers actually run an underground gambling club, and he’s been distributing the winnings. He is scared of being part of an illegal organization, but his boss threatens him with physical harm if he goes to police.
As such an upbeat song about letting loose, it would play during gambling shots. We pan over the seemingly simple warehouse but enter as the song blasts to find gilted luxury throughout the entire club. Wealthy businessmen lounge on lush couches as beautiful women dressed to the nines mill about, bringing drinks and getting cozy with them. Kim Hyun-joong will make a cameo appearance in the first sequence as a bartender, and the camera will stay on him for, well, a little too long.
5. “Ice Cream” by Joo feat. Leeteuk
A fun song composed of strings, pop music and aegyo, “Ice Cream” would be ideal for a romantic comedy centered around college students. The drama would follow a guy and a girl who have known each other forever since they grew up in the same neighborhood. Their friends and family have always pushed them together in the hopes that they fall in love, but no dice. Now in college they had hoped to go separate ways. Unfortunately, neither got into their first choice school, and both are now attending their second choice, which — surprise! — happens to be the same. Even their schedules end up aligning with each other, and for once they give the possibility of a relationship a chance.
With its lyrics about a couple who don’t understand each other, the song would follow our leading couple on their first date together. They will argue and not agree on where to go or where to eat or just what to do, but by the end they will realize that they do actually have feelings for each other, even if they don’t want to admit it.
Perhaps it’s because so few K-pop music videos develop full narratives (and I for one would like to see them come to fruition) but I could go on and on picking songs and matching them to dramas. These are just five of my picks, but there are so many more.
What about you, readers? Is there any song you would love to see in an OST? What kind of drama would it be?