lately (05.16.19)

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

panda express fortune cookie - your zest for life is unparalleled

lmao

Hello, friends.

I’m writing this while curled up on the living room couch with tissues shoved up my nose like nostril tampons. I’m slowly filling a Panda Express takeout bag with snotty tissues, my voice is shot, and my cough is inexplicably both wet and dry. I’ve somehow caught a cold again, which isn’t very sexy of me.

This is going to be another very K-pop filled post, so buckle up.

Since my last life update, I’ve been…

 

 

…watching 100 Days My Prince, starring EXO’s D.O. I’d heard so much about this historical K-drama before I started watching it, and it does NOT disappoint. I’m still only about a third of the way through because 1) it’s so good I don’t want it to end, and 2) I keep having to pause it while I’m watching to yell at my laptop, literally squeal, or just take a moment to compose myself because KYUNGSOO IS TOO HOT IN THIS. I did a quick estimate, and my calculations say that his charm is roughly 25% his character, 25% his face, and 50% his VOICE:

(EDIT: This is also (chef kiss).)

…finally finishing Season 1 of Busted! on Netflix. I started watching this show solely because EXO’s Sehun is in it, but I ended up LOVING it, and I can’t wait for Season 2 to come out. It’s basically just a super dumb, super cheesy, low stakes detective show that puts the cast in absurd escape room-style scenarios that they have to get out of either by using logic/solving puzzles or by abandoning their dignity (e.g. attempting a pole dancing move because the pole dance instructor is a key witness who refuses to cooperate until they successfully perform a specific maneuver).

Aside from being silly and fun, it also includes quality Oh Sehun content, such as Sehun in a wetsuit, Sehun in a wet t-shirt at a car wash, and Sehun in a cape and top hat worthy of Tuxedo Mask.

netflix busted - oh sehun - exo - wetsuit - wet tshirt - cape and top hat

Physically speaking, Sehun is the live action equivalent of an anime character, and I especially love when he has black hair 😭, though his rainbow hair was also a Very Good Time.

…revamping my Twitter timeline so that I can scream into the void again without feeling like I have to censor my fandom tweets or entertain anyone other than myself. Protip: If you want to force people to unfollow you, just block & unblock them. I figure if anyone still wants to re-follow me at this point, they can be my guest. (I know you can mute people, but I feel like it’s not quite the same, psychologically.) This is probably why I keep my online life so separate from my real life, because I just want to be able to be a fan in peace, without fear of annoying anyone and without fear of judgment, even if that means talking to myself. (That’s pretty much how I use this blog, after all.) Anyway, long story short, fandom is my happy place, and participating in fandom on Twitter was stressing me out, but I’m back to enjoying it again and that’s all I really wanted.

…moving up in my V LIVE ranking. Oops?

vlive - exo chemibeat level

…signing up for an EXO Discord. After a few months of lurking on the (active but not very interactive) /r/exo subreddit, I realized they had a Discord with a lot more activity, so I joined it. (Actually, I knew EXOcord existed for a while, but it wasn’t until Minseok’s enlistment was announced that I signed up, because I needed a space where I could have a total meltdown in the company of other fans who could relate.)

I’d never used Discord before, and it is chaos compared to Slack. I think my main issue with it is that you can’t thread messages, but from what I know, Discord is meant for chatting while gaming, not for long-running discussions, so it’s understandable that threading isn’t a feature. That being said, Discord supports an unlimited number of users even on its free tier, so it makes a lot of sense to choose Discord over Slack for an open fan community.

Anyway, while the EXOcord demographic seems to skew a bit younger than me, it’s nice to be able to dip in and out of fandom conversations at my leisure, and I reallly appreciate that it’s a moderated community and that (from what I’ve seen) most participants are multi-fandom K-pop fans.

It’s also a huge upgrade from my 2013 K-pop days when I had no idea where to find new or old content other than YouTube, and half the time the videos wouldn’t have English subs. (Brief shoutout to all fandom translators for doing the lord’s work.) Now I can find virtually every EXO video, fancam, movie, drama, HD photo, meme, fanwork, etc. in existence, organized in one place, sortable by date and group member. It’s amazing.

…reading the translated lyrics to EXO’s “Wolf” in total disbelief. I’m 95% sure I tried to find subtitles/translations back when “Wolf” first came out, because I was SHOCKED that the pretty K-pop boys who sang “What Is Love” and “History” had put out such a weird, aggressive-sounding dubstep song complete with wolf howls, so when I found garbled-sounding lyrics like “I’ll take you in one mouthful like cheese,” I assumed they were mistranslated… BUT THOSE ARE LITERALLY THE LYRICS:

exo wolf lyrics translation - i'll take you in one mouthful like cheese - the strength in my toenail weakens

exo wolf lyrics translation - that dirty wolf guy will end up eating me

exo wolf lyrics translation - i'm a wolf awhooo

Awhooo~

Even if you check other translations, it’s… STILL THIS BAD:

exo wolf lyrics translation - i will put you in my mouth like cheese

exo wolf lyrics translation - shake her so she'll lose her conscious

exo wolf lyrics translation - will that dirty wolf guy eat me in the end

exo wolf lyrics translation - i'm a wolf awoo

awoo

Speaking of “Wolf,” this Reddit post made me LOSE MY MIND, because it’s such an accurate description of the song:

reddit - kpop - exo - wolf - boy group song with a chorus that has a member saying saranghaeyo in a nasal frog-esque voice

And to top it all off, THE DEMO OF “WOLF” IS THE BEST WORST THING I’VE EVER HEARD:

GOD!!! I love this flaming trash heap of a song the same way I love ugly pets!!!

…watching So I Married An Anti-Fan, which stars EXO’s Chanyeol. It is GODAWFUL. Chanyeol speaks Mandarin in the movie, but I think he filmed while speaking in Korean and then later dubbed over himself in Mandarin, so his mouth doesn’t always match up to his voice. That’s not what makes the movie bad, though. It’s the cheesy, unrealistic plotline, the difficult-to-believe character development, and the female lead whose personality was so unlikeable I was rooting for her to not get together with Chanyeol.

But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part… the part that convinced me that this movie is CURSED… is that they put Chanyeol… beautiful, stupidly handsome Park Chanyeol… in a tiny mustache. HOW could ANYONE do this to CHANYEOL’S FACE??

so i married an anti-fan - exo chanyeol witha mustache in western outfit

so i married an anti-fan - exo chanyeol witha mustache in western outfit

so i married an anti-fan - exo chanyeol with a mustache in western outfit

so i married an anti-fan - exo chanyeol with a mustache in western outfit

THIS MOVIE IS CURSED.

(Interestingly enough, despite Chanyeol’s accent and my limited Mandarin skills, I could actually understand the dialogue fairly well! It probably helped that it had both English and Mandarin subtitles, which really helped my reading/listening comprehension. The best thing I can say about this movie is that it was an educational experience.)

…watching EXO Next Door for the first time and CRINGING SO HARD. I actually kind of loved it, but everything about it is ridiculous. SM Entertainment cancelling a tour because of Suho/Junmyeon injuring his ankle by tripping on a water bottle?! An EXO fangirl being hired as EXO’s housemaid?! Each member having his own bedroom with an enormous portrait of himself on the wall?!

EXO Next Door might be literally the worst thing I’ve ever watched from start to finish, but there were a few really great things about it, namely D.O.’s acting (which was surprisingly convincing for such a terrible script); Sehun saying “I’m addicted” to the lead’s brother’s personality; the lead’s brother saying “My sister has the worst taste in men; she’ll never fall for a perfect man like you” to Sehun; Sehun and Baekhyun being completely uninterested in the lead actress; Baekhyun answering “Is she pretty?” with “I don’t know”; Baekhyun saying “I’d rather watch than participate”; and of course, this infamous Sehun x Baekhyun scene.

…admiring my physical copy of April, and a flower. Everything about this album from the music to the packaging is just so soothing.

EXO Chen solo album - April and a flower - Kim Jongdae - K-Pop

I also clipped up up this giant, gorgeous poster of Chen/Jongdae in my room and found that the soft, muted colors go surprisingly well with my grayish-blue bedroom walls.

exo chen solo - april and a flower poster - jongdae beautiful goodbye kpop

I even considered swapping it in permanently in place of my XOXO poster (pictured in this post), but the Chen poster arrived folded, so the creases are pretty noticeable. I’ll keep it hanging for a while longer, though. It’s just too pretty!

…smiling so hard at Chen/Jongdae’s tipsy interview because he’s adorable and his face literally looks like “uwu”, and then being all 😱 at his drunk singing because HIS VOICE!!! I love when EXO’s vocal line flexes.

…watching EXO’s Heart4U show on V LIVE. This is very parasocial of me to say, but it’s been a joy to see Xiumin/Minseok hanging out with his friends outside of EXO, and to see how much he’s loved by so many people. Minseok’s episodes have concluded now (I’m assuming Suho/Junmyeon will be next, if they’re going by seniority), and his final video before his enlistment had me smiling through my tears. He asked his fans for a pinky-promise to be happy while we wait for him to finish his military service, and you bet your ass I held my pinky up to my phone and answered him out loud like I was watching Dora the Explorer.

gummyminseok - exo heart4u - xiumin minseok military enlistment pinky swear promise 1

gummyminseok - exo heart4u - xiumin minseok military enlistment pinky swear promise 2

gummyminseok - exo heart4u - xiumin minseok military enlistment pinky swear promise 3

(GIFs by gummyminseok)

…feeling both 💔 and 💦 about Minseok’s enlistment, which is very confusing but also peak Minseok. Like, this fanvid is so sad… but he looks so good… 💔💦 And then there’s Minseok’s bald pre-enlistment selfie, which makes me so sad… but he looks so good… 💔💦

The thing that really made me pure 💔 was when EXO surprised him at his solo fanmeet, Xiuweet Time (A+ pun, btw), and even got Lay on the phone. I love when the EXO members support each other, especially when it’s OT9. I got even more 💔💔 when Chanyeol posted a picture of them all touching Minseok’s bald head, and then progressed to 💔💔💔 when Jongin left multiple adoring comments on Minseok’s IG selfie. (Which became 🤯 when I, along with the rest of the fandom, had a meltdown over former EXO member Luhan liking Xiumin’s post.)

…crying over Minseok’s solo stage during EXO-CBX’s most recent concerts. He performed “I Go,” which was his take on the song “Don’t Go” from their very first album, XOXO. I teared up watching the fancams even before I read the translations of his explanation behind the symbolic elements of his stage.

To summarize, the evening primrose on his mic stand was included because its meaning (as a flower) is “silent love” and “waiting.” 😭 He also had a sign language segment where he signed “There’s lots of memories and love between us, please wait for a little while before we meet again” (according to himself; I’m assuming it was in Korean or Japanese Sign Language). 😭😭 He ended his stage by covering his ears to symbolize his wish for time to freeze, as a clock ticked overhead and stopped at 5:07, aka 5/7, the date of his enlistment. 😭😭😭

It was sentimental af, and I loved it. The Korean title of the song translates to “Butterfly Girl,” which is why he has “To my butterfly girl, EXO-L” engraved on his merch, and why I want my new job title to be Xiumin’s Butterfly Girl. 🦋

For a while, I thought my EXO bias was Baekhyun and my biaswrecker was “every other member of EXO,” but I think this performance really solidified that I do in fact have an official biaswrecker, and it’s Kim Minseok, a man who lint-rolls his bed, always commits to going full thot, and is a sentimental drunk.

(Okay, real talk – it may have been Minseok’s neurotic, frugal, homebody personality that drew me in, but I can’t pretend it wasn’t this “Artificial Love” fancam that sent me… shall we say… over the edge. I debated whether I should actually embed this video here, but uh… I’m utterly helpless for Kim Minseok and frankly I think the rest of the world should be too.

This video is probably best viewed in the privacy of your own home, behind a closed door, as you can probably tell from the preview image!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

I stan a professional THOT!!!

I think it’s really neat that groups like BTS inspire their fans to love themselves and accept themselves and, like, learn about Jungian psychology, but if I’ve ever given the impression that my reasons for loving for K-pop run that deep, let me clarify. I’m here for 1) good music and 2) hot people.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever love another boy group the way I love EXO, and I’m pretty sure the answer is no, and the reason is… thirst.

See, I feel like my boy band fandom feelings fall into 3 categories: protective (“i love my son”), aspirational (“god i wish that were me”), and thirsty (💦). For example, my love for One Direction is mostly protective and aspirational (so many of my 2012 clothing purchases were inspired by their Up All Night tour outfits) and only occasionally thirsty (hi Niall). My love for SHINee is mostly aspirational and protective (I’ve always wanted to be Key, sometimes I want to be Taemin, and I want to protect all of them), but I’ve gotten swoony over Onew before. And more recently, with ASTRO and NCT, my feelings are mostly protective with a touch of aspiration.

But EXO hits all 3 categories for me really hard, and I want to protect them (especially Jongin) as much as I want to be them (especially Baekhyun) as much as I want to ruin (and be ruined by) them (especially Chanyeol and Minseok, respectively). I think mostly it comes down to the fact that every member of EXO is stupidly hot, and I’m easy. I’m sure some people would say this is all very shallow of me, but GOD am I having fun!!

If you too would like to wreck/be wrecked by any/all configuration(s) of EXO members, here are more fun videos for your viewing pleasure: “Artificial Love” (Kai focus, Sehun focus, Baekhyun focus), this “Playboy” fancam feat. mostly Chen and Chanyeol, “The Eve” Kai focus, “Power” Chanyeol focus, “Diamond” Xiumin focus, “White Noise” + “Thunder” + “Playboy” + “Artificial Love” feat. OT9!!!, and one more “Artificial Love” Xiumin fancam for good measure.)

…pining after these absolutely WILD adidas Originals Falcons which have two kinds of leopard print plus some zebra stripes?!

ASOS - Adidas Originals Falcon sneakers - contrast multi leopard prints

adidas Originals Falcon sneakers in contrast leopard prints, $130 at ASOS

…eating sake-pickled salmon for the first time at Ebisu. It was quite salty and the texture was unexpectedly creamy, kind of like the fish had been pureed, mixed with cream cheese, and then reconstituted. It wasn’t exactly pleasant, but it was interesting, and I’d definitely try it again. The other sushi we had there was delicious, as was the eggplant kushiyaki, and the service was great despite how packed the restaurant was.

…helping my mom buy a couple of little boleros/jackets to wear to my cousin’s wedding, from GatsbyLady on Etsy. The jackets are gorgeous in person, the materials and construction seem to be good quality, and they’re very flattering thanks to the slightly cropped cut. If you happen to be looking for a cover-up for a formal event, GatsbyLady’s products are both pretty and reasonably priced.

…helping my aunt find a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. My aunt is in her 70s, needs petite sizing, prefers more classic styles, and wanted to avoid black, red, or white. We ended up ordering this “Electric Blue” Alex Evenings dress off Amazon (Macy’s also carries this brand, but their shipping isn’t as fast), and she loves it. This one in Pewter was also a contender (it’s more like a lavender-taupe in person, the jacket is nicely cut, and the flat sequins are really pretty), as was this one in Plum (the neckline is very pretty; it’s a slight boatneck and has a scalloped edge). For all of the dresses, the hemlines of the skirts were much longer on my aunt than on the model, but way the skirts are cut actually makes them fluttery and surprisingly flattering despite falling somewhere between my aunt’s calves and ankles. I was pretty proud of myself for finding a winner on such short notice. 😌

…being blessed by a beagle sploot, eating fistfuls of Schubert’s tea cookies, and trying some new eye makeup at my partner’s parents’ friend’s (phew) potluck.

beagle sploot

BLESSED!!!

colourpop pressed powder eye - feathered - come and get it - matte brown - shimmer duochrome rose - anothertoast - samglorious

I’m wearing ColourPop Pressed Powder Shadow in Feathered (matte brown) all over for a bit of depth, with Come and Get It on top for some shimmer (duochrome rose gold).

colourpop pressed powder eye - feathered - come and get it - matte brown - shimmer duochrome rose - anothertoast - samglorious

The colors weren’t very dramatic, but goddd did I love this.

…playing The Secret of Monkey Island with my partner. So far it’s been a lot of fun – the humor is spot-on if you love puns and wordplay and dad jokes, and the puzzles are satisfyingly difficult. Out of the adventure games we’ve played, this one definitely has the most straightforward plotline/premise we’ve encountered, but it more than makes up for it by being hilarious.

…putting Liquid Bandage on my hangnails. I have a bad habit of picking at my hangnails and mutilating my cuticles when I’m feeling fidgety, but the Liquid Bandage has been somewhat helpful in curbing my skin picking. Sure, it dries clear and shiny and makes it look like I’m really bad at applying nail polish, but it bought my skin enough time to recover and look significantly less mangled, so I’d say it was worth it. 7/10, would recommend.

…reading and immediately loving this: “I’m in Love and It’s Really Boring.” I screencapped the headline and texted it to my partner who was ten feet away from me, and he looked up from his laptop, smiled, and said “This sounds perfect.” We ARE boring, and we LOVE IT.

…watching a 7:30 AM showing of Avengers: Endgame because I waited slightly too long to buy tickets for opening weekend and all the normal showtimes were sold out. I’ll probably go into more detail about my feelings about it in a future post, but the short version is that it was worth waking up early for.

…trying a few new skincare and beauty products, namely The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, and Etude House My Lash Serum.

skincare - the ordinary niacinamide 10% + zinc 1% - cosrx advanced snail 96 mucin power essence - etude house my lash serum - eyebrow growth - korean beauty

I just finished my bottle of The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, but I’m not sure if I would repurchase it. I liked its brightening effects, but I found that (like many reviewers have said) it tends to pill/flake after a few hours. I’ve read that it’s because the ingredients don’t play well with other common skincare ingredients, and frankly, even if I stuck to using it at night so nobody would see the pilling, I don’t think it’d be worth the effort to change up the rest of my skincare routine just to accommodate this product.

I’ve been using the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence as a nighttime moisturizer for a week or two now, and I LOVE it. I already knew my skin liked snail sheet masks, so I wasn’t surprised that it also loves having snail slime slathered on it every night. My skin just seems so much calmer.

The COSRX snail essence dries smooth and non-sticky, but when it comes out of the bottle, it’s (understandably) super slimy. 🐌 Normally, I apply most of my skincare products by dispensing some into my palm and then using my other hand to dab the product onto my face, but with this, I find what works best is to spread the product by rubbing my palms together and then kind of just… gently caressing my whole face. 👐🏻 I bought it to try out as a less pricey replacement for the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, and it may be a little early to call it, but… I think we may have a winner. 🏆

I bought the Etude House My Lash Serum to use on my eyebrows, since it was cheap and had neutral-to-positive reviews, unlike some of the more expensive lash/brow serum reviews I’ve seen that mention side effects like eye irritation, skin discoloration, or iris discoloration (wtf!). I’m sure anything applied close to the lashline has the potential to cause irritation, but from what I’ve gleaned, the Etude House My Lash Serum has mild ingredients meant to moisturize and condition, not to actually alter follicle growth, so the risk is quite low. I don’t think it’s been long enough for any noticeable effects to show up yet, so we’ll see how it goes.

…catching some good light in the apartment. 🌈

samglorious - anothertoast - rainbow refracted light - hands are gay

Shoutout to this privacy window cling for the rainbows.

samglorious - anothertoast - rainbow refracted light - hands are gay

…lint-rolling my bed. I literally only started doing this because of the episode of Heart4U where Minseok lint-rolls and vacuums his bed for 17 minutes (which is HOT), but it turns out it’s super helpful if you shed a lot of hair on your pillowcase and sheets. 10/10 would recommend.

…having a very psychologically taxing bed bug scare. I’m now 99% sure that the small itchy bites I was worried about were from gnats or some other boring outdoor pests that came in after I left my bedroom window open overnight, but for a couple weeks I was fully prepared to burn all my possessions.

…getting needles stuck in my scalp. I actually went to to the acupuncturist to get my arm checked out, but when he asked about my sleep quality, it was easy enough to say yes to a few extra pokes given how poorly I’d been sleeping. I got five needles along my hairline, but it wasn’t until the needles went into my arm that I started crying. (I always cry at the acupuncturist. It’s not out of pain; I think it’s, like, emotional release? I feel very helpless and it makes me cry.) But my arm’s been doing much better, and I slept well that night and continued sleeping much better for a while.

After my acupuncture session, I was given an herbal tea prescription that my mom picked up for me. According to the herbalist, it was more expensive than usual because of a special ingredient that my mom described as “some kind of creature.” I asked if it had legs, and she said “I think so,” which was really ominous, but I confirmed that it wasn’t spiders, so… I drank it all. 🤷🏻‍♀️

…seeing Betty Who in concert! I’ve always loved how unapologetically pop her music is, and her latest album Betty has a few tracks that sound like they came straight of the 2000s, in the best way possible. When the lights came up for “The One” (which really sounds like a 2000s boy band song), I screamed involuntarily because she was wearing a backwards baseball cap, which apparently REALLY does it for me.

betty who - the one - the fillmore - san francisco - may 2019

The venue had some technical issues with the mics, but both Betty Who and the opening act, Rozzi (a San Francisco native!), were really good anyway. A couple Rozzi songs I enjoyed: “66 Days” and “Lose My Number.”

Here’s the customary free poster from The Fillmore for that night:

betty who - rozzi - the fillmore - san francisco - tour poster - may 2019

And here’s the eye makeup I wore:

colourpop pressed powder eye shadow pigment - quantum sleep - poodle - sleeper - feathered - matte brown - matte eggplant - matte pink - royal blue shimmer

I like to call this look… (b)eyeshadow.

colourpop pressed powder eye shadow pigment - quantum sleep - poodle - sleeper - feathered - matte brown - matte eggplant - matte pink - royal blue shimmer

The mediocre bathroom lighting really exaggerates this, but my eyeshadow is uneven because I packed more pigment on my right eyelid. I feel like I always end up doing this because I’m right-handed…

colourpop pressed powder eye shadow - quantum sleep - poodle - sleeper (pressed pigment) - feathered - matte brown - matte eggplant - matte pink - royal blue shimmer

Anyway, this is ColourPop Pressed Powder Shadow in Feathered (matte brown), Sleeper (matte eggplant; this is technically a Pressed Pigment, not an eye shadow), Poodle (matte pink), and Quantum Sleep (metallic royal blue). 

colourpop pressed powder eye shadow - quantum sleep - poodle - sleeper (pressed pigment) - feathered - matte brown - matte eggplant - matte pink - royal blue shimmer

💖💜💙

…working through the Easy problems on LeetCode. I’m about 75% of the way through, and most of the questions have been well-written and practical. Part of me really doesn’t mind doing them, and part of me loathes it on a cellular level, which is pretty much how I feel about programming in general. I’m still not interviewing yet, and I keep thinking about Elizabeth Gilbert’s distinction between hobbies, jobs, careers, and vocations.

It’s hard to work in tech when you just want a tech job, not a tech career, and it makes me panicky to think about it too hard, so I’m just compartmentalizing for now. My studying momentum’s come to a standstill these past couple weeks, what with the uh, grieving and the being sick, and I know I need to cut myself some slack no matter how guilty I feel. I’ve been having trouble falling asleep again, and this time it’s coupled with trouble staying asleep, which is great for my fanfiction reading habits and absolutely terrible for my health.

So instead of dwelling on that, here’s an extremely long section about (mostly) K-pop. I’ve been…

…listening to…

“Persona” and “Jamais Vu” by BTS. They are, respectively, my favorite and second favorite tracks off Map of the Soul: Persona. I like most of the other songs, but I haven’t been listening to them as much, and I found the collaborations with Western artists (Halsey on “Boy with Luv” and Ed Sheeran on “Make It Right”) to be the least interesting songs on the album, though I’m not sure exactly why. I suspect maybe it’s because I found them catchy, but in a… predictable way? Predictability’s not always a bad thing, but those tracks just didn’t do much for me.

I rarely listen to “Dionysus” unless I’m feeling super hyped (which is, like, never), probably because I only really like the rap parts, but GOD is the choreo cool.

I don’t really know… but I have a confession to make: I feel obligated to listen to BTS because they’re popular. I’m sure I’d find more BTS songs I really like if I actively went through their whole discography, but that’s more effort than I’d normally put into any other random boy group.

The main issue is that I only really, really like V/Taehyung’s vocals and Suga’s rapping (and RM’s rapping, but slightly less intensely). It really doesn’t help that I sometimes find Jimin’s voice irritating to listen to, especially in “Fake Love,” which I tried so hard to like, but which I just… cannot, because of the high-pitched parts. It’s just a matter of personal preference, similar to why I can’t listen to LOONA’s “Butterfly” without wincing, even though I love the outfits in that music video.

Anyway, I only wrote this out because I was getting frustrated with myself for not liking BTS more, when it seems like everyone else loves them. But this really doesn’t need to be that deep, so until I feel compelled to put in the effort to find more BTS songs I like, I’ll just go back to listening to the handful I know I like in peace. ✌🏻

“If I Can’t Have You” by Shawn Mendes. (This is the lone English song in this section.) I feel like I can always trust Shawn Mendes to come through with pop music that sounds like pure joy. For me, this song really captures that intoxicating, giddy, nervous excitement of hanging out with your crush when you’re still not sure if they return your feelings. I don’t even know if this makes sense to anyone else, but it hits the same emotional notes for me as “Electricity” by Dua Lipa, “Crazy” by Kat Dahlia, “Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who, and “Latch” by Disclosure.

“SSFW” by Chanyeol. To be honest, I was slightly underwhelmed by this song at first listen because I’d wanted something sexy and emotional for Chanyeol’s first solo SM Station song (like his song with Punch, “Stay With Me”). But after listening to it (and the Japanese, Mandarin, and instrumental versions) a few more times, I’ve come to love how chill and soothing it is, in a way that feels like early summer.

God do I love Chanyeol’s face.

The overall sound actually reminds me of Minho’s “I’m Home,” but less warm/home-y and more cool/chill(?), which makes me wonder if SM has a specific style they prefer their rapper-vocalists to have. Most of Chanyeol’s solo singing has a darker/rougher, bedroom-y sound because his voice has so much texture (see his cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”), but “SSFW” is just… there’s a line of t-shirts at Aerie called “Soft & Sexy” and that’s exactly how I’d describe this song.

(I also really love the instrumental version because it reminds me of Pilotwings 64… specifically the hang gliding and Birdman music.)

“You” by Xiumin, his post-enlistment gift to EXO-L. 🤧 This song is sweet and soft and soothing and uses Minseok’s voice really well, given that he’s not a main vocalist in EXO. The lyrics read like a tender love letter to fans, and my favorite thing about the music video is all the lingering close-ups of Minseok’s eyes and lips. 💯 He’s got a damn good face.

exo - xiumin - minseok - you - sm station - eyes and lips closeups

The EXO-L gaze at work!! 💙🦋(💦)

“May We Bye” by Im Hanbyul, featuring EXO’s Chen. They’re both powerhouse vocalists, and the lyrics are SO deliciously sad, but every time I listen to it, I just kind of sit there laughing helplessly because I can’t believe how good they sound. They’re both so talented and SO SKILLED. (Im Hanbyul is also in the tipsy Chen interview I linked earlier.)

“Watch Out” by EXO-CBX (technically a Chen solo), a track I overlooked until I watched the fancams of Chen performing it live, because he rocks out SO HARD. I love ballad!Chen but rock!Chen is incredible. (See “Uprising” and his insane high note in “Drop That.”)

“Paper Cuts” by EXO-CBX. This is a Japanese ballad that makes excellent use of all of CBX’s voices and makes my heart fall apart, though I may be biased because this was released so soon after Xiumin’s enlistment was announced, so I was already feeling very ~delicate.

this version of “Thorn” by Buzz, as covered by Chen and Baekhyun on Knowing Bros. It’s really obvious that they’re used to singing together and matching each other’s energies, and they’re both SO good at emoting with their voices.

(The 3rd guy is Min Kyunghoon, Buzz’s vocalist.)

“Tempo” by EXO. I’d already listened to this a lot when it came out last November, but I started binge listening to it again recently, and I appreciate it even more now. Sure, there are fun bits like the squeaky bed sounds that you’ll never be able to unhear, as well as Chanyeol’s ad-lib in the first chorus where they sing, “don’t mess up my tempo” and Chanyeol replies, “don’t do it!” (around 0:19). But the thing that really struck me this time is how the song deconstructs itself as it builds up (or builds… down?) to the acapella bridge.

The deconstruction starts at 2:16, when we expect the chorus to come in as usual, but instead we get this sort of faux-chorus that’s just repetitions of “don’t mess up my tempo” (the first line of the original chorus), set to a four-note melody that’s a rearrangement of the original chorus melody. It sounds like the chorus is falling apart, or maybe like it’s being stripped back to reveal its chocolate-filled vocal-only center.

Then, at 2:33, the synth-y, electronic instrumentation drops out (more deconstruction!), leaving only EXO’s voices and a piano. (For anyone actually following along, the changes in the background music are much more obvious in the instrumental version.) At 2:49, the lone piano tinkles its way up to a sustained note, leading us far away from all the adulterated sounds earlier in the song – no more distorted robot voices, no more synth, and finally, at 2:51, no more piano. Now, the pure, naked acapella bridge can finally begin, fulfilling the promise made with the doo-wop doom doom dooms first introduced ten seconds into the song!! THE SATISFACTION!!!

Anyway, I’m not a musicologist, but I wanted to verbalize my thoughts on this song, because it’s a ride.

…EXO’s entire Don’t Mess Up My Tempo album. I guess it’d be more fair to say the Love Shot album, because Love Shot includes “Wait” and “Trauma,” both of which are SO good, but as much as I love the “Love Shot” performances, I’m actually not a huge fan of the song itself. But anyway, heavy re-listening has made me appreciate the cohesiveness of the album so much more. Excluding the title tracks, all of the songs somehow sound both super dynamic and sort of sleepy, in a way that’s just a little weird and unexpected, and that kind of… rides on the edge of what can be considered pop music. I LOVE IT.

(Actually I feel like SM’s producers do this a lot – I’m thinking of some of the bizarro-sounding songs from NCT 127, SHINee, and Girls’ Generation. All of them startled me on first listen, because they weren’t necessarily pleasant, but I think it’s because they sounded so unfamiliar that I needed time for them to grow on me.)

…some of EXO’s oldest songs, including “Baby Don’t Cry,” “My Lady,” the acoustic version of “Love Love Love,” and the live version of “Moonlight.” I fell in love with EXO for their music (and then later their faces), and hearing their songs from XOXO instantly transports me back to 2013 when I was – how did I put this before? – oh yes, when I was “22 and spent my lunch breaks sitting on park benches crying about how much I hated my job and my weekends drinking about some guy who wouldn’t text me back.”

I know this video is less than a minute long, but that’s more than enough time to convince you that D.O.’S VOICE IS SMOOTHER THAN A VEAL CUTLET. The whole song is so fucking good, though.

“Vanilla” from Taeyeon’s first Japanese EP. This song is a bop, and her voice sounds sooo good. 🥰

“View” by SHINee. I remember listening to this when it first came out and vaguely liking it but being really thrown by the music video. I guess I’m not used to seeing half-white girls in K-pop, and there are some ugly implications that arise from choosing more Caucasian-looking models/actresses for sexually-charged scenes. But anyway, this song is really good, and I’m glad to finally be as obsessed with it as I should’ve been in 2015. (As a fun side note, the lyrics may seem like mess of mixed metaphors, but as Jonghyun explained, the song is meant to be from the point of view of someone with synesthesia.)

“BET BET” by NU’EST. I saw a GIFset of the music video on Tumblr and was so intrigued I had to look it up. I really like this song, and the music video is SO aesthetically pleasing:

“Lips” by NCT 127. It’s a jam!! This was actually their first B-side I’ve listened to, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not experimental trap like most of their title tracks. (Or at least the title tracks I’m familiar with, like “Cherry Bomb,” which kinda just sounds like noise at first, but the bridge(?) is, like, low-key stunning. Anyway.) I also like “Touch,” “Blow My Mind,” “Back 2 U (AM 01:27),” “Baby Don’t Like It,” “Another World,” “Paradise,” and “Running 2 U” (which I really like even though it definitely sounds a little off).

I’d never felt compelled to listen to NCT 127’s B-sides before, but 1) there was a thread on /r/kpop about title tracks vs. B-sides where someone recommended specific NCT 127 songs, 2) I was watching Episode 62 of Life Bar (for the purpose of seeing Minseok look fine af as he gets tipsy and a lil’ pink in the cheeks), and NCT’s Mark was so cute I was literally cooing at my laptop, and 3) I saw these recent interview clips of Mark and Johnny, and now I feel as protective of them as that man who punched a bear in the face to protect his chihuahua.

…Pentagon’s acoustic version of “Gorilla,” which, like, had me in tears? It’s not exactly hard to make me cry, but the way their voices all fit together makes me wanna weep. As I’ve mentioned before, I immediately loved Hui’s voice as soon as I heard it (probably because his timbre is similar to Baekhyun’s; Hui is the one playing the piano), but now I also know I LOVE Jinho’s voice (he’s the tiny-looking one in the black hoodie; he’s not actually that short, but he’s standing with three members who are all over 6 feet tall). Jinho’s covers of “Shallow” and “Lay Me Down” (with Hongseok) make me clutch my chest.

“Angel” by Chancellor, featuring Taeyeon. This song is sooo chill and soft and soothing but also somehow totally devastating?! When Taeyeon sings with her lower register toward the end, it makes me want to cry.

“Home” by Seventeen. There are too many damn members to keep track of (13; at its largest, EXO had 12 and I had to actively study them to learn their names, lol), but the music video is pretty, I really like the song itself, and I like several of their vocalists (I only know Seungkwan’s name so far, but the vocal unit sounds really good harmonizing). I’m also a fan of “Don’t Wanna Cry,” another song I can’t get out of my head.

…Take Off, WayV’s new mini album. I’m FULLY obsessed with the title track, “Take Off,” which has a music video that makes me wanna spend a lot of money(??? see below), but I’m also in love with the rest of the album. Weirdly enough, when I first listened to “Regular” and “Come Back” as sung in Korean by NCT 127, neither track did anything for me, but WayV singing them in Mandarin just made my ears light up.

I also love the performance video.

I’ve previously mentioned my love for WayV’s “Regular,” but their version of “Come Back” also mcfuckin’ SLAPS. I’m not sure if it’s because their vocal lineup is different from NCT 127’s or if the Mandarin lyrics just fit the music better, but it just… hits different.

As for the other songs, “Dream Launch” has a pretty music video (see below), and the song is catchy and super easy to listen to and vaguely autumnal in a way that tugs at my heart. “Say It” sounds vaguely EXO-esque in the best way – I could actually see this fitting right in with the other tracks on Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. And “Let Me Love U” is the lone stripped-back song, which I’ve heard people describe as reminiscent of One Direction. I can kind of see it, because it’s got that same sort of “earnest bubblegum pop but with an acoustic guitar” sound, buuut WayV can actually dance, and I find their singing more pleasant to listen to. 🙊

(@1D, sorry boys!!! There are plenty of things to dislike about SM Entertainment, but they sure know what the hell they’re doing with their vocalists and how to make them sound good together. 1D was always able to harmonize, but (in my amateur musical opinion) they definitely never sounded as effortless as SM’s boy groups.)

I think the wildest thing about loving Take Off is that it’s C-pop/Mandopop, because I NEVER thought I’d be enthusiastically, unironically listening to Chinese pop music. I grew up speaking Cantonese, not Mandarin, but that doesn’t change the fact that when I was 3 or 4, I drew a self-portrait featuring me with blonde hair, because I thought it was the “correct” hair color – because I knew, even then, that there was something undesirable about being Chinese.

Even when EXO was still composed of EXO-K and EXO-M, I always gravitated toward the Korean tracks over the Mandarin ones. Granted, my original bias was EXO-K’s Kai, and my favorite vocalist was EXO-K’s D.O., but I think a big part of it was also shame, because listening to Chinese music felt embarrassing, like I was being “too” Chinese.

But it’s not 2013 anymore. I fucking LOVE WayV, and I cannot WAIT to see what they put out next.

…and watching…

…this SHINee performance of “Dream Girl” where they’re all so professional and so in sync with each other that you’d probably never notice that Minho’s mic stand broke partway through unless someone pointed it out to you. (See the YouTube comments for timestamps of what happens when. It’s impressive.)

…this episode of “After Manager Falls Asleep” with ASTRO. Basically, the premise is that they’re working at an office and are trying to slack off while their manager is asleep, so they have to be very very quiet. They’re sooo adorable and also ABSOLUTELY HYSTERICAL:

MJ’s laugh KILLS me. (He’s the extra smiley one who pulls out a bag containing one potato, several boiled eggs, and a whole onion from his desk.)

VIXX’s “Hyde” dance practice, which I’m 99% sure I watched when it came out in 2013, but which still has some of the best choreography I’ve ever seen. The way they express the Jekyll/Hyde concept using pairs of members is just SO COOL.

…EXO’s “Call Me Baby” music video, because I only recently found out that Sehun is barefoot in that first scene with the car. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it… (Related: Baekhyun telling Sehun his toe looks like a bean sprout.)

this VR180 video of EXO’s Chen and Xiumin at Hanok Village. I had no idea that YouTube supported VR videos! When I first watched it, I thought the camera angles were just really bad, but then I realized you could pan the camera around by clicking and dragging. It’s SUPER cool, and I feel foolish for not knowing this kind of thing existed before. (Fingers crossed for EXO to re-film “The Eve” in VR180. A girl can dream.)

this ADORABLE clip of Sehun from a fancam of “The Eve.” Usually I’d describe the choreography for “The Eve” as more thirst-inducing than cute, but y’know the happy baby yoga pose? When Sehun smiles, he looks like the personification of happy baby. Here’s the full fancam, because “The Eve” is always good, and D.O.’s voice from 2:19 – 2:26 kills me:

gu9udan’s acapella cover of “Part of Your World,” which has such sweet harmonies that I literally teared up. I was vaguely aware that Kim Sejeong was a member of gu9udan thanks to Busted!, but I had no idea that she was a main vocalist!

…Pentagon’s “Genius” music video, which made me cry even before they put the English translations up. The part where their dads sing to them? Instant tears.

this sick cover/remix of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” as performed by Pentagon (er, by five of the members, anyway). I looove both the rap break and the dubstep dance break.

…ASTRO’s dance practices, especially “Hide & Seek” and “Again”. Their coordination is so impressive, and their choreography is just really fun and interesting to look at.  I especially love their main dancer, Rocky, who is a choreography genius (and who I think vaguely resembles SHINee’s Jonghyun).

(I came really close to linking literally all of their dance practices, because they’re that good. IMO, this one’s particularly fun because it’s so playful and, like, earnest and kind of charmingly uncool. Speaking of which, their cover of SHINee’s “Replay” is 👌🏻 perfection and really does the song and concept justice.)

WELL!

This post got WAY out of hand, but LIFE is SHORT and ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ ᴄᴏᴍᴇs ғᴏʀ ᴜs ᴀʟʟ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ, so I’ll take my small happinesses where I can get ’em.

It took me so long to finish this post that I’ve gotten over my cold, which is good news.

The bad news is that even though I’ve been over my cold for a while now, I’ve spent the past week+ with a very, very low appetite and the inability to sleep for more than five hours a night. I’ve basically been sleeping from 2 or 3AM to anywhere from 5 to 7AM every night (every morning?), and I keep forgetting to eat. I’m not too hopeful that tomorrow will be any better, but at least I can be fairly certain my body’s just noping the fuck out from situational stress, so it’s nothing to worry about long term.

Plus, I’ve got a bunch more NCT 127 songs to listen to and potentially love, and episodes of 100 Days My Prince to watch, and a partner to cuddle.

I’m also looking forward to ONEUS’s 2nd mini album, NCT 127’s Superhuman comeback, more Kyoongtube uploads from Baekhyun, and the utter chaos of the upcoming EXO-CS subunit. (Well, the ChanHun subunit is still to be confirmed, but EXO’s resident spoiler king Sehun posted something he wasn’t supposed to on Instagram, which is as good as an official statement. I, for one, can’t wait to see EXO’s sexiest longboyes reunited for another excruciatingly leggy, deep-voiced music video.)

Things could be worse. Here’s to a good weekend.

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