What’s a Seoulbeats writer to do when tasked with making a mixtape but all out of inspiration? In a year when most of my favorite new music discoveries have come from outside the world of Hallyu, I found myself utterly stumped when faced with an empty mixtape it was my job to fill. I turned to an obnoxiously simple solution: I spun the wheel fifteen times on a random K-pop group generator and chose my favorite song from each of the resulting groups.
The result should be chaos…and yet somewhere around the eighth or ninth track, the growing list of songs started to make a strange sort of sense. Here are the intense performance tracks that first captured my attention, the calm yet elegant b-sides I am always on the lookout for, the delightfully sultry tones of second generation K-pop (still my spiritual K-pop home), the epic yet sentimental pop ballads that have proven to be stalwart favorites, and the witty bubblegum tracks that are a late but strong blooming K-pop love. What was supposed to be a playful (and, let’s be honest, convenient) experiment oddly turned into a fun reminder of all the things I love about this music, and why K-pop will always have a spot on my playlist.