All right, so this isn’t so much a playlist as it is an assemblage of some of my favorite K-pop fan content. Whether you prefer relaxing piano covers that are great for studying or love to hear three of your favorite groups mashed in one song, the ten talented creators below have something to offer everyone.
1. DSharp, DNA (BTS) Violin Cover: Violin covers often mean slow and ponderous inversions of a song’s energy, but in the hands of DSharp, the violin adds a zesty tang to the lively pop melodies of “DNA.” The increasingly adventurous series of adlibs that kicks off around two-thirds of the way through makes this one of the most exhilarating violin K-pop covers in existence.
2. Kim Dongwoo, Power/Red Flavor/Girl Front (EXO/RED VELVET/LOONA ODD EYE CIRCLE) Mashup: There’s nothing I like better than a good mashup. YouTube user 김동우 gracefully arranges soundbites of “Power” and “Red Flavor” against a backdrop of “Girl Front,” making for the ultimate summery mashup.
3. Jósema, Error (VIXX) Spanish Cover: It’s always incredibly impressive to me when someone rewrites a song in another language, but the amazing thing about this guy’s covers is how precise the translations are—even working within the syllabic and time constrictions of a set melody. It’s no easy feat, and Jósema pulls it off with panache.
4. Funguypiano, Don’t Wanna Cry/Haru Haru (SEVENTEEN/BIGBANG) Piano Remix: Is this what the word “genius” means? You almost don’t even notice as you’re listening that this guy is passing between “DWC” and “Haru Haru,” it’s that natural. It almost feels like Funguy set out to cover “Don’t Wanna Cry” and realized while playing that a touch of “Haru Haru” would sound nice here and there. This cover makes piano mashups seem completely effortless.
5. RYUSERALOVER, Wings (BTS) FINAL REMIX: I’m sure most ARMYs have heard this iconic mashup by now, but if you’re a casual BTS fan, it’s likely that you missed “Wings FINAL REMIX,” which combines all seven solo songs from 2016’s chart-topping album “Wings.” The ambitious remix is a captivating journey that will make you feel as if “Wings” era were just yesterday.
6. Smyang Piano, Boombayah (BLACKPINK) Piano Ballad Version: Smyang Piano is best known for his (gorgeous) BTS covers, but since there’s a fair amount of Bangtan on this playlist already, I thought we could use some Blackpink. Adapting “Boombayah” to the piano must require a significant amount of creativity, and Smyang’s talents transform the dance track into something unexpectedly haunting.
7. Gutek, Likey (TWICE) Violin, Ukulele, & Haegeum Cover: This dude’s quirky K-pop covers have some of the most imaginative arrangements out there. His lighthearted version of “Likey” adds new sounds every several seconds, keeping you guessing throughout.
8. MWN, Wake Up/Highlight/Lightsaber (NCT 127/SEVENTEEN/EXO) Mashup: I don’t know how, but MWN managed to detect a compatibility between three slightly more obscure songs by some of K-pop’s biggest boy groups, and the result is a little mind-blowing. It reinvents drops, plays with dynamics, and lights up familiar melodies with new possibilities, all within an impressively clean auditory landscape.
9. DooPiano, Dumb Dumb (Red Velvet) Piano Cover: I cannot even begin to describe how much I adore this cover. DooPiano brilliantly fleshes out the sparer moments of “Dumb Dumb”s bouncing dance instrumental with new chord progressions that give the cover an unexpected and invigorating sense of dynamics.
10. Ysabelle, Last Dance (BIGBANG) English Cover: This girl’s lovely voice is so unique that she won the singing category of Soompi’s second Rising Legends competition out of thousands of contestants. I can’t listen to this heartbreaking cover without getting chills and, often, tearing up.