Remember Jim Carrey’s confession to Lauren Holly in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”? He tells her “I like you Mary… I like you ahh lawwt.” By the end of January 2018, I realized this is exactly how I felt about K-pop. I liked it so much by this time that my relationship with K-pop became completely monophonous (is that a word? Monogamy for music?) I essentially gave up listening to other genres to the exclusivity of K-pop. It’s not that I didn’t like other music anymore, it’s just that I was utterly infatuated with K-pop.
By the end of January, I’d added over 30 non-BTS songs to my iPod. It was mostly a January 2018 release schedule: Infinite’s “Tell Me,” JBJ’s “My Flower,” Stray Kids’ “Young Wings,” IKON’s “Love Scenario,” VAV’s “Spotlight,” Red Velvet’s “Bad Boy”… several of the rest were 2017 releases that had come up often in my autoplay, including tunes from Highlight, Super Junior, Winner, KARD, and Pentagon. Sticking out in this set of songs (and unfortunately not available on Spotify) was “Coming of Age Ceremony” by Park Ji Yoon, a 2000 release. How would this older song make it onto my iPod? Because I’d seen a video of Jimin and Jungkook dancing to it and fell in love with it, of course. I think I’ll write a full post eventually about older K-pop songs that I love, since that’s a fun tale unto itself, but Adult Ceremony was the first “oldie” I really got into.
Another obsession of mine rolled around in February, one I only ever get to revel in every four years, and in a serendipitous coincidence, it indirectly involved K-pop. The Winter Olympics in South Korea was the only programming that caused me to take a break from watching K-pop. Hours of Olympic coverage occupied my time for 16 days, and now that I was no longer sick with my winter flu, I had fewer and fewer hours to spare. Thankfully K-pop played in the background of lots of Olympic footage. OMG, they’re playing Twice and BTS during the Opening Ceremony!!!! Momoland is performing at Alpensia Center! CL and EXO are playing the Closing Ceremony! Not to mention that NBC ran a number of video pieces about K-pop throughout their Olympic coverage, including one about Eric Nam, who up to this point I’d only known as a host on After School Club. Whoa whoa, hold up… He’s a singer too!!?? Instant stan. So even though I was on a K-pop “break” during the PyeongChang Olympics, I definitely didn’t suffer from withdrawal.
By the time winter became spring, I stanned more than a dozen K-pop groups and artists, and fanned over a dozen more. What constitutes a stan in our family? It’s not being an obsessive stalker (or sasaeng fan) as some define it, like in Eminem’s “Stan.” No no, in our family, stanning is a positive thing. It’s primarily when you feel adoration for the artist, going from liking them to really liking them. You don’t just download their title tracks, but b-sides and deep cuts as well. You know all the MVs, and can dance the key choreography moves (aka “point dances”). Finally, if it’s a group, you have to be able to ID every member. Sometimes we’ll say to each other, “I think I’m starting to stan <artist>!!” but if we can’t pass the ID test, we’re not truly a stan. Super-stan status is achieved when you can vocally ID every member. This is NOT easy, but I’ve reached it with BTS, Day6, GOT7, Highlight, Imfact, JBJ, and Mamamoo. I’m still working on super-stannage with A.C.E, Red Velvet, Super Junior, UNB, VAV, and Vixx. I really want to stan Seventeen and Stray Kids, but I can’t pass the ID tests yet. With some groups, I have the ability to stan, but something keeps me from full-on stanning. I know the videos, the point dances, and can even ID every member visually and vocally. But if I’m not feeling the love, I just consider myself a fan. It’s kind of indefinable, but I suppose stanning is the difference between liking “a lot” and liking “ahhh lawwt.”