This all started because I struggle with self-doubt. I mean, we all do. Everyone has that voice that says “but you’re not good enough. You are too much. No one likes you. Everyone would be happier if you were dead.”
Okay, fine. People without depression and those neurotypical fuckers probably don’t have this voice to the same degree I do. Or possibly to any degree at all. There are plenty of people walking around with all the confidence of Scrooge McDuck. Just bebopping along through life sporting top hat, spats, fancy coat, and no pants. Whacking mother fuckers who point out how lacking in pants he is because bitch, he lacks nothing.
I … got lost somewhere along the way in this post.
Right. This all started because I was doubting my fangirl cred. Could I even call myself a Kpop fan if I only listened to like four bands?
And of course, I can. You can too. Fuck gatekeeping mother fuckers. In fact, get yourself a cane and whack the fuck outta anyone who tries to gatekeep you, because you lack nothing.
Actually, this reminds me. This goes back further than my Kpop dilemma.
So my husband was sick of listening to the same four Kpop songs and said: “why do you always get to pick the music?”
Because, love of my life, your playlist has goat anal explosion on it, and all three hundred of their two-hour-long songs are absolute crap. But I do want to make him happy if only to cut down on complaints, so I started creating a playlist of metal songs I would not rip my own ears off to avoid hearing.
Starting with a few curated Spotify playlists, I listened to roughly 600 songs over the course of a week and narrowed it down to 200 car worthy tracks.
Wait, no, this starts before that, as well.
So I discovered the Global top 50 tracks and created a playlist that I would dump all the top songs from around the world to find new music.
No, further back than that. I took the daily mixes they came up with for me and dumped those onto a playlist…
Listen, as you can see, I’ve been acquiring music at a pretty breakneck pace for about a year. I just wasn’t curating it very well.
One week I realized that I spent a good chunk of time listening to songs I already approved from the world list weeks previously. Another day I discovered that while I’d widdled down 600 metal songs, I hadn’t tracked the ones I flat out disliked so when I went through hubs metal list of 4,000 tracks, I was going to have to listen to them all over again.
I only had a liked playlist. This didn’t differentiate between “songs I will listen to in the background” versus “songs I will actively select because they’re stuck in my head.”
I had a list of songs that were marked as “second chances” I couldn’t decide if I liked or disliked, but never actually gave a second chance to.
Basically, my shit was a fucking mess.
I know, I lost neurotypicals hours ago. But there are a fuckton of neurodivergent people out there going “did you fail your lists, or did your lists fail you?”
And, friends, that’s the real question… isn’t it?
The answer is no one failed. I just need to change the way I’m going about this quest. That I wasn’t wrong. My method isn’t bad. There’s just room for improvement in it.
Let’s circle back to Kpop. I took my playlist of songs and artists that had been suggested to me and dumped it into Excel. I transformed the data so that song titles were in one column and artists in the next. Then I filtered unique records on the Artist column.
I copied this into a new spreadsheet.
Then, band by band I started going through, grabbing the artists’ complete catalog on Spotify, and dropping it into a playlist called “Try Me.” I dragged this playlist up near the top along with my playlists “Try Me: Liked,” “Try Me: Second Changes” (a typo I decided I liked so I kept), “Try Me: Meh” and “Try Me: Nah Brah.”
To be totally honest, I don’t really need Nah Brah here. That’s my playlist for mother fuckers like Drake who keep showing up on the global list even though their straight trash, and I’m skipping Big Bang so I should be all set.
But I had the list, so to the top, it went.
Next, I had to sort out all the duplicates. For those not in Kpop fandom, not only do the artists release singles, but also repackaged albums, Japanese versions, and instrumental versions. For some tracks, they appeared on the playlist six times. Before remixes. So I culled out all the duplicates. Sometimes having to find the versions that were in Japanese and Korean by listening since the names were not romanized.
(Wah, wah, wah… my life is so hard. Pity the poor little white girl.)
But it was working! I made it through 2NE1, 2PM, AB6IX, and A.C.E. before I ran across my first problem. Agust D.
Agust D is the solo name of Suga, a member of BTS. What do I do about members of a group that have put out solo material?
Obviously, I modify my list.
I sorted through my million (probably closer to sixty) listings and grouped together groups, solo side projects, and sub-units. I ran through all the groups on my list on Wikipedia and Kpop Profiles and then my list was perfect.
I actually discovered I was missing a million groups so I split them out into bands I had in a playlist and bands I did not have in a playlist. Solo artists got the same treatment.
Then I hit Ailee. Who mainly puts out ballads. Which I only enjoy when I am in a mood. Otherwise, it’s bangers or GTFO. She got moved into a new playlist and set to the side.
After that, I separated out male and female groups because of misogyny in the music industry. I could go into details, but I’m too tired to start on that rant right now.
So I was set. I had my playlists and I was moving through groups at a steady clip.
Until I started having trouble telling if I liked songs or not. Like, sure I liked them okay, but I wasn’t about to put them on my Work: Prime playlist. So did I really like them? How do I keep track of the songs I really loved? Was I ranking songs wrong because they were slow? I mean, there were songs I liked okay but were slow that were ending up on the “Second Changes” list along with songs that had a beat that made me feel like a cat being pet backward.
Two new lists were created. “Try Me: Super Liked” and “Try Me: Slow Songs.” Slow Songs got the Ailee treatment and were set to the side. Except, what about all the songs I’d already ranked?
Two new playlists. “Oh shoot” and “Oh shoot second changes.”
But, what about the songs I already liked but are slow?
Another new list, “Try Me: Liked Slow Songs.”
Epik High and Super Junior ended up taking a fuck ton of time, so they got set in my “editing: overflow” list (along with Ailee) for a rainy day.
I made it throw forty-seven bands before I rewarded myself with BTS. It was actually a treat after a group that was just… terrible. But I won’t name names because stans are fucking scary.
BTS was, of course, an absolute delight.
Then I moved onto EXO.
And, honestly, fuck EXO. For starters, they have Chinese versions too. They have three former members I cannot decide what to do with. And when I was going through Lay’s solo work I realized that he doesn’t fit into Kpop at all. He’s Chinese, so he’s actually Cpop. I ended up copying the lists of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese pop groups and solo artists.
My list I was halfway through? A thing of the past. I’m now barely scratching the surface.
Like, honestly, fuck EXO.
Then fucking Chen goes and gets engaged to his pregnant girlfriend and EXO-Ls lose their fucking minds and…
Which is obviously just frustration talking because EXO is a fucking delight. Even when I’m realizing I grabbed the Chinese version of a song because they didn’t say which was Korean and which was Chinese so I had to start the entire list over again…
I ended up with 250 songs and I’m still not sure if that is accurate or not.
And it was halfway through this that Ateez released a new album and BTS announced theirs. Which was when I realized I had not accounted for the speed at which Kpop puts out music. Ateez was done. Then they released a new album. So they’re no longer done… are they undone?
I don’t know, but I’m coming undone.
Actually, this one was an easy fix. I just started dating the spreadsheet for when I finished a band. Periodically I can check to see if they put out new music and I favorited my faves so hopefully, Spotify and Youtube will let me know.
And when I’m done with East Asian pop? Well, then I can go through that backlog of metal. Make that punk rock playlist I’ve been dreaming of. Sort through all the bands that are on my fave lists and check out their other music to see what I’m missing. Indies and female artists and Turkish music and genres I’m not familiar with.
Because, honestly, I’ve discovered so much amazing music doing this. Even in my imperfect iterations. So much good music, that I’ve decided to keep this musical log of self-discovery (log of musical self-discovery?) so I can look back later and see when and how and why.
And, potentially, share it with all of you. (This is me, processing the grim reality that is my reader stats.)
So please, join me on my musical quest through 2020. The one that all started because Hozier was one of my top artists of the decade and I only listen to like, four Hozier songs.
And even then, it’s really only Movement.