The Ultimate K-Pop Beginner Playlist From One K-Pop Newbie to Another

January 10, 2023

One of my biggest personality traits, outside of not drinking beer, was my “I don’t listen to K-pop” line. But now, I’m here to testify that I’ve seen the light and K-pop slaps with vim. 

One thing I’ve realised since I started listening to K-pop at the end of 2022 is, from R&B to punk rock, it’s more than just one genre. While I’m still finding my footing (you won’t see me arguing with stan groups on Twitter, yet), I’ve compiled a list of ten songs that are sure to seduce even the hardest “I don’t listen to K-pop” believers out there. 

Listen and be blessed. 

Singularity — BTS

If someone had told me earlier that I’d be having deep thoughts about fornication while listening to BTS, I’d have called them a detty liar living a fake life. But here we are today. While I’d heard BTS songs like Butter and Dynamite (against my will), nothing prepared me for the delicious sexiness that’s Singularity. Even though I literally have no idea what BTS is talking about, this seductive slow banger has me weak in the knees for real. 

You’ll like it if you like: Tay Iwar, Daniel Caesar and Omah Lay

Hype Boy — NewJeans 

NewJeans’ Hype Boy is about to be one of my biggest obsessions in 2023, and I’m not sorry. Easily finding that sweet spot between bubblegum pop and R&B bounce, Hype Boy is the kind of song that makes you want to throw your head back and forth, summon your inner white girl hair-flipping dance moves. Hype Boy has transformed me from a Conrad to a Britney. 

You’ll like it if you like: Ariana Grande, Sabrina Carpenter and Tinashe. 

Replay — SHINee

Remember when pop boy bands were a thing, with teenage boys wearing matching outfits and break dancing under the rain? Well, if you miss the good old days, let me introduce you to SHINee (This spelling is stressing me out because I’m tempted to call them Shin-Nayy). Even though I’d never heard Replay before 2023, the 2008 song sounds so familiar because it has all the fun, snappy elements that made songs from that era slap really hard. 

You’ll like it if you like: N’sync, Backstreet Boys and B2K 

Ddu-Du Ddu-du — BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK is one of the biggest K-Pop exports, with a long list of fans and collaborations with everyone from Lady Gaga to Selena Gomez. But while the Instagram and TikTok viral hit How You Like That had everyone in a chokehold during the panini, it’s their 2018 track, DDU-DU DDU-DU that recently caught my attention. One thing about these girls is they’ll give you EDM, rap, R&B and a pop ballad all in one track without it sounding chaotic. I don’t know how they do it, but I totally get the hype now. 

You’ll like it if you like: Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift (Reputation Era). 

MOVE — TAEMIN

If you watched the video for SHINee’s Replay, you might recognise TAEMIN as one of the singers from that group (Don’t worry, I didn’t immediately know this, so you’ll be fine too). Just like Zayn Malik left One Direction and created an almost perfect R&B/Pop record with Mind of Mine, TAEMIN’s MOVE is a significant departure from his boy band sound. He seems to have traded toasting his lover for downright dirty seduction, and I’m here for it. Once again, I don’t know what he’s saying, but if I were his love interest, I’d start undressing ASAP. 

You’ll like it if you like: The Weeknd, CKay and Amaarae

ALSO READ: These 9 Alternative Korean Musicians Will Elevate Your Playlist

Gotta Go — CHUNG HA

One thing about me is I’ll always stan the pop girlies, whether they’re from South Korea, London, South Africa or Italy. Gotta Go by CHUNG HA is pop perfection, and I fell in love with it from my first listen. While I assumed the “gotta go” part was about ditching a relationship, I fell deeper in love when I learnt that the lyrics are about leaving a party early — anyone who knows me will tell you I’m always asking, “When are we going home?”

You’ll like it if you like: Tyla, Charli XCX and Rita Ora 

Euphoria — Jungkook (BTS) 

Before anyone comes for me about putting two songs from BTS on the list because they’re the most popular group, let me remind you that Euphoria is  technically a Jungkook song, so it deserves to be on its own. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. I heard this song for the first time on, wait for it… the TV show, Euphoria. Jungkook’s vocals are ethereal and make me feel like I’m floating. Euphoria might be the first K-pop song I ever liked. Chef’s kiss over and over again. 

You’ll like it if you like: Khalid, Justin Bieber (Purpose era) and Troye Sivan 

Any Song — Zico 

While I’d heard part of Zico’s Any Song on TikTok back in 2020, thanks to a popular dance challenge during the kpandemic, listening to it again — and in full — recently made me like it even more. Any Song is the perfect feel-good song that’ll have you bobbing your head from left to right no matter how messed up your mood is. The next time we talk about songs with crack in them, Zico’s Any Song has to be on the list. 

You’ll like it if you like: Shawn Mendes, Anderson.Paak and Rema 

Still Life — RM

RM’s album, Indigo is the only K-pop album I’ve listened to from start to finish — the guy had me at Erykah Badu and Anderson.Paak, for god sake. While it was hard to pick one song from the album, Still Life makes me feel good every time I listen. Anderson.Paak screaming, “I’m still life!” with the crowd background vocals echoing the same lyrics reminds me of a fun day at the beach, and honestly, who doesn’t love a fun day at the beach? 

You’ll like it if you like: LADIPOE, Suté and PsychoYP

Raingurl — Yaeji 

Yaeji’s Raingurl sounds like the soundtrack to a night out you can’t remember. You’ve been left sore and with a raging headache, but you comfort yourself with the belief that it means you had a crazy good time. Raingurl is the perfect EDM club song, and it always makes me feel like increasing my heart rate. If you enjoy EDM benders like Sweat-It-Out in Lagos, then this is for you. 

You’ll like it if you like: Oontz-Oontz music of any kind, to be honest. 

ALSO READ: These 10 K-Pop Bands Should Be on Your Next Playlist

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

August 5, 2020

There are a few new kids on the block in the Nigerian music space, but not many are as exciting as Divine Ikubor, popularly known as Rema. The youngster currently signed to Jonzing World, a subsidiary of Mavin Records has within such a short time dropped a surprising amount of great music and he’s becoming […]

September 12, 2019

The young woman we spoke to this week feels like she turned out okay, but she knows she could have been in a better place if she mentally prepared for some of the things that happened as she became an adult. My life as a child revolved around the church. My parents were ministers in […]

March 7, 2020

Alhaji Abass Akande Obesere has made a comeback to our screens and social spaces and we can not but thank this gem of a man for everything he has done in his career. We stan him, and we made a list of reasons why you should stan him too. 1. He was literally the first […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

More from Music

January 26, 2023

Tems wasn’t playing in 2019 when she told us not to try her.  Tems first caught our attention in 2019 with her defiant hit, Try Me. Since then, she’s blown up big time, moving from an underrated alté artiste to one of Nigeria’s biggest afrobeats exports.Whether it’s dropping songs of the summer back-to-back, with Essence […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X