It’s been a chaotic start to spring, to say the least. But with the change in season comes the annual Seoulbeats Spring Clean. For K-pop, a year is a long time and one can find new biases, fall out of love with long-standing favorites, and even re-discover old loves.
For this month’s Seoulbeats Roundtable, we ask: what is the state of your bias list? Who are you adding, dropping, putting on probation?
Rimi: This is my favourite round-table of the year! Love to see who everyone’s biases are.
Originally a BTS stan, I’m now mostly a third-generation boy-group stan so that’s where my biases come from. My ultimate bias has remained unchanged for 2.5 years: Suga. His music has a certain mix of emotions that always hits the right chord with me (i.e. mostly leaves me crying). The wait for his second mixtape has been long and agonising, and I hope it will be released this year or I might implode. My other BTS biases are RM and Jin. Over time, I’ve also developed a huge bias towards B.A.P’s Yongguk and Daehyun, and smaller biases towards Winner’s Kang Seung-yoon, EXO’s Baekhyun, Got7’s Youngjae, and Up10tion/ProduceX101‘s Lee Jin-hyuk. Nobody’s getting ousted here! I only keep adding more and more of them. Send help!
I’ve been trying to branch out outside of third-generation boy-groups, and discovered a strong bias towards all four girls of Mamamoo, especially Solar, whose voice never fails to wow me, and the Brown Eyed Girls.
Xiao Qing: Same! My ultimate bias has been the king for the past 2 years and I don’t think he will be stepping down any time soon: Day6‘s Sungjin. His vocals have a gritty quality to it that makes it perfect for hard-hitting rock tracks, but also raw and emotional in sadder ballads like “All Alone” and “You Were Beautiful“. Hopefully he’ll think about posting covers of songs like the rest of his members, so us Sungjin stans don’t have to suffer too badly during the quarantine.
As for BTS, I was initially Jungkook biased, but in the past year, J-Hope has slowly taken over and sealed the deal with “Outro: Ego”. I think I’ve only added biases as opposed to getting rid of them as well– Ateez’s Hongjoong, Got7’s JB and Twice‘s Jihyo have been invading my twitter feed and making their way into my heart over the past couple of months, and I don’t think they’ll be leaving any time soon.
Pat: Let me tell you the story of how Qing caused my downfall. While I’ve always liked Seventeen, I never actually gave them much thought. That changed last year when Qing and I wrote our military enlistment article. I got a recommendation for Seventeen’s One Fine Day and I binge-watched the series so hard. Once I figured out who was who, then came the important decision: choosing a bias. But One Fine Day was years ago! So I had to also watch several episodes of their more recent shows, catch up on their music, figure them out. This is an important decision! There were several days where I was deciding between two members and on the 7th of June 2019, Yoon Jeonghan became my bias and has been sitting prettily on the top since.
Qing: Well, see, the funny thing about me turning Pat into a Carat is that when this happened last May, I wasn’t even a Seventeen fan. I’d been a BTS fan since 2015, and amongst several things I learned during my time as an ARMY, was the realisation of the power of fan translations through the Bangtan Subs team, who went above and beyond what we expect from translations. They always made sure to capture every little wordplay and reference.
Sometime back in 2017, I came across the Like17Subs Twitter by chance, and their level of dedication to capturing the nuances that are often lost in mainstream subtitles reminded me of Bangtan Subs. I checked out a bit of One Fine Day – 13 Castaway Boys, but being awful at finishing shows, I forgot about it after watching one or two episodes.
Two years pass by. Enter Pat, who came asking for recommendations for a fun watch. For some reason—let’s call it fate—One Fine Day came to mind, and I picked up the show again to help Pat who was struggling to tell the members apart. Despite being acknowledged as the visual of the group, Mingyu completely escaped my notice for years, until I saw him cooking on the show like a seasoned middle-aged housewife. When Seungkwan said he needed anchovies to make kimchi, Mingyu replied, “Isn’t that the kind of anchovy you have to remove the poop from?” And I thought to myself, “Oh no, I am in love.”
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how Pat slipped into the diamond life, and I tumbled into the rabbit hole after her.
Denise: Pat, I’m glad you’re finally aboard the Seventeen ship! Speaking of Seventeen, it’s by law that I take every opportunity to plug Dino fan cams so do check them out if you haven’t for the full Seventeen experience.
As for me, most of my favourite groups have been inactive (older boys in the military, Gugudan pulling a hiatus that is unfortunately reminding me of Pristin). A group has managed to sneak their way up though, is WM Entertainment’s ONF. I’ve always been a huge fan of their title tracks and they have what I consider to be some of the most gorgeous music videos in K-pop, but finally listening their full discography was what converted me. If I had to describe their sound, I’d say it’s a lovechild of Exo‘s sultry and epic tracks and Astro’s brighter and modern sound. My bias is the group’s main dancer U, who first caught my eye during his excellent performances in MBC’s YouTube competition series Dance War and I’m excited to see them show what they’ve got on Mnet’s Road to Kingdom.
Nonetheless, my overall biases in K-pop have remained unchanged with the whole Day6 taking the throne. It’s also a bittersweet period of time for my other top biases, as I welcome back BtoB Eunkwang from the military while a temporary farewell is due soon for Block B’s Park Kyung, who is currently assisting in police investigations as the whistleblower for the recent sajaegi scandals. He actually recently dropped a new single — Refresh featuring Davichi Kang Min Kyung, which has a few clever references to the ongoing case!
Gaya: After taking Ten out of the designated NCT spot on my bias shelf, I have quietly picked him from the pile of debris and placed him back on the shelf. Seulgi also now joins Joy as my Red Velvet biases, thanks to Seoulbeats March Madness forging a new loyalty for her during these rounds of voting. Love Taeyeon, but I shall avenge Chen!
Speaking of, father-to-be Kim Jongdae will have to do more than starting a family to get me to drop him. I even listen to his ballads! And apple of my eye Choi Minho has not been forgotten, thanks to the endless stream of tweets from sweet Shawols. I even rewatched the “Home” MV in honour of the pre-enlistment single turning one. I cannot wait for him to get out and put out a mini and film a MV showing off his army bod… He’s going to show it off in his comeback drama or film, but I would like some music so that we can complete the Shinee solo release set.
I am also adding Park Sodam to the shelf because goddamn did I love her in Parasite. It is unfathomable that netizens consider her ugly because she is goddam gorgeous and has such an expressive face. The whiplash I experienced when seeing her in Parasite after only remembering her cute face in My First Time was intense yet exquisite — I have no choice but to stan.
Gina: To start with the obvious, Jung Joonyoung is clearly off my bias list since last year. Even if I’ve followed him since debut, it only took a quick second to drop him. Same with Big Bang altogether, following the news that they renewed their contract with YG Entertainment. That was the cherry on top that made me lock the door and throw the keys away. Though honestly, it’s been hard to take off Zico without holding onto his music.
Otherwise, my hardcore biases — V, Mino, Crush, Sunmi, and Seulgi — still remain. If anything, Mino recently climbed up higher on my bias list due to how funny he is in Na PD’s shows, from the New Journey to the West series to Mapo Fashionista. His bromance with Block B’s P.O is successful in bringing out the best in both of them. Also, “Psycho” further boosted my love for Seulgi, as she killed it with the concept and her beautiful voice. And while I’ve always loved Crush, his latest album “From Midnight To Sunrise” has been on repeat for weeks. Meanwhile, new discoveries include Chungha and Viini (Kwon Hyunbin)! Those two soloists really snatched my heart throughout the latter half of 2019, and I hope that they’ll continue to shine bright in 2020.
Lo: My bias list has long consisted of two people: Jaejoong and Sunmi. Sadly, I have had to put Jaejoong on probation due to his April Fools . . . thing. I have decided against removing him completely, as I sort of understand how he got there– multiple idiots licking toilets in a “coronavirus challenge” alone points out how much people are not taking this seriously– but it’s still a terrible idea and I will be monitoring closely.
Meanwhile, I have actually added a third person: Jeon Soyeon. While I was reviewing I Trust I grasped just how talented she is. She will be the great artist of her generation, mark my words. The deftness in her compositions, the awareness of her lyrics are stunning. “Maybe” highlights the toxic expectation that women are supposed to “support” their partners regardless of the cost to themselves and the stigma around leaving someone because they’re bad for you, and is followed by two tracks that have her rising above that expectation of enduring for others in favor of seeking her own, all set to some of the best music of 2020 thus far, and she’s only 21. Soyeon is one of those talents that makes you want to just give up, because you will never be able to compete, but you love them because they’re that good.
Sadia: This roundtable was really hard to narrow down. By nature, I’m a hoarder of biases so I don’t think I can drop any one of my favourite idols. I can say, however, that a few have taken a back seat for me. Monsta X is one group that I absolutely adore but sadly haven’t been central in my overplayed playlists.
Just like Pat, I’ve always liked Seventeen, but for some reason 2019 was the year I finally invested time and energy to learn everything about them. I can now proudly say I am a HUGE Carat! It all began when I watched them on an Idol Room episode. Carats (and everyone) know how absolutely hilarious and unapologetically chaotic they are. I fell down that rabbit hole, one series turned into two and the rest is history.
A constant that never changes in my books is Hwasa. Her vocals and visuals never fail my expectations. The woman can do no wrong!
One idol that has really got my attention since last year is Jackson Wang! “Titanic” and “Bullet to the heart” truly woke me up to his solo career, and now with “100 Ways” I can confirm I am also Team Wang.
Now, Ateez is and will always be one of my top 3 groups –if not number one– and that hasn’t changed since their debut. What has been going back and forth, however, is my bias in the group. For a group like Ateez with talent and so much potential, I’m bound to switch up now and again. Today, (we don’t know what tomorrow looks like in K-pop) it’s San and his explosive performances–especially opening “Answer”. Ask me in a few weeks and I’m not sure who takes that position.
Kelsey: Like so many others, I was not immune to Seventeen’s charms this year. They have spiced up my Mondays with their weekly Going Seventeen antics and released my favorite album of the year, An Ode. After meeting Seungkwan in a Starbucks in Chicago (long story), I’ve learned that my bias list for this group is constantly and unexpectedly rewriting itself.
On the other hand, I’m weathering military enlistment for the first time. This weekend officially marked the halfway point of service for EXO’s D.O. (and me, as I dutifully await his return). As the weather warms and my plants sprout mysterious blooms, I catch myself humming “That’s okay,” the song D.O. released before his shocking enlistment. The minimalist aesthetic of the song, just D.O.’s voice backed by an acoustic guitar, is a welcome difference from more heavily produced dance tracks popular on the charts. Nearly a year after its release, I’m still touched by the song’s quiet power; it is a reminder to be calm and resilient in uncertain and difficult times.
Gaya: Wait, I just saw Ten saying coconuts are vegetables. He’s out.
(Images via Big Hit Entertainment, SM Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Cube Entertainment, RBW Entertainment, Mystic Entertainment)