“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.” ― Johnny Depp
Music is definitively different for each individual; for some it is soul food, for others it is merely a form of entertainment. Music can vividly express one’s emotions as well as turmoil. It could be rustic or solemn, but music uplifts our mood and, at times, also changes our perspective. Music is a universal language known to everyone; to be enjoyed by one and all. As such, in today’s features we will be sharing some soul-stirring music that seems to resonate with our author’s. Enjoy!
Now, this is what I’d call ‘my jam’.
Music has always been a major part of my life. It’s a safe space I’d turn to when things got difficult and, somewhere along the way, it became a measure of my mental health as well, sometimes signalling that I should take better care of myself. And with all the BL media I consume, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that BL OSTs make up quite a bit of my playlists by now.
My taste in music is…well, I have no clue how to explain it. I can probably divide into a few groups—the experimental songs with jazz modulations (currently listening to SHINee’s ‘Don’t Call Me’ as I’m writing this), the soothing ballads that send you to another world (like Ha Hyunsung’s ‘Becoming the Wind from Mr Sunshine), the trippy songs that use silence as a weapon (P1Harmony’s ‘That’s It’ comes to mind), and songs that are purely entertaining (Going Seventeen’s Intro is a prime example of this), among other things (it feels as if I’m confessing that I’m more familiar with the music from the Korean mediascape). If you’re familiar with the songs I’ve mentioned below, you’ll be able to place each of them into these main groups.
‘My Eyes Can’t Lie’ by Earth Pirapat Watthanasetsiri—A Tale of Thousand Stars (2021)
This song is a special one because it’s the first Thai song I’d managed to learn in its entirety. It’s also the song that kept me sane while I was waiting for all the episodes of ATOTS to be updated on YouTube. I’d watch the MV over and over, convincing myself that Earth and Mix were married (only in my head, of course). Earth has a wonderful voice, one that carries falsettos skilfully without making us want to wince every time he hits the higher notes. It’s the first time I realised that Earth had another amazing talent and one of the many reasons I’m part of the EarthMix fan group today. A huge shoutout to every OST in this series because they’re all brilliant.
‘Ore wa Mobu’ by Atsuhiro Inukai and the LoveBoys—Zettai BL (2021)
This is the song that had me laughing for eternity on the first listen, and by the second time I’d listened to it, I had most of the lyrics memorised. It’s a song that immediately gets stuck in one’s head. It’ll probably have you doing the moves once you watch it as well. The OST matches well with the mood of the series, preparing its viewers for a laughter-filled roller coaster ride into the world of BL. Too bad the entire MV can’t be found on YouTube.
‘Ubugoe’ by Omoinotake—Cherry Maho (2020)
I got into this series because I was already familiar with the manga. Plus, the hype surrounding this series (well-deserved, I must say) made me start watching. However, the moment I heard the opening, I was hooked; having listened to Omoinotake’s songs a million times, I recognised Fujii Leo’s voice immediately. I guess I didn’t need any other reason to continue watching the series all the way up to the end.
That being said, the series as a whole was worthy of praise, so it wasn’t hard to become a fan of everything related to it.
‘Moratorium’ by Omoinotake—The Clouds Gather (2020)
I think I’ll forever be grateful to the animated movie adaptation of Twittering Birds Never Fly, an ongoing manga series created by Yoneda Kou, for introducing me to this wonderful Japanese band. ‘Moratorium’ will always remain my favourite Omoinotake song, not only for the beautiful music but also for the stunning visuals in the MV, showcasing a very BL-adjacent relationship that reflects the complicated connection between Yashiro and Dōmeki in the anime.
‘Prayer X’ by King Gnu (Original Arrangement + Acoustic ver.)—Banana Fish (2018)
This song never fails to make me tear up every time I listen to it. It’s been about four years since Banana Fish introduced me to the fascinating oeuvre of this band, with each song more experimental than the other. Prayer X may not be the most experimental of the lot, but along with the part of the series it brings to life, as well as the message it conveys through the MV, it’s a classic King Gnu starter that provides you with a glimpse into the kind of social commentary the band tries to present through its music. Also, Ash and Eiji deserve better (just saying).
‘Follow’ by Roce—Utskushi Kare (2021)
Also known as the song that got me invested in this series. The first episode threw me off because I’ve always had an axe to grind with bullying plots; being a victim of bullying makes you want to tear through any kind of romanticised notions of the trauma you’ve faced, I suppose. I had been planning to drop it after the first episode. Boy, am I glad I made it to the end of that episode, where Roce’s incredible tone had me falling for their music hook, line, and sinker. I slowly warmed up to the series, too, and managed to actually like it by the time I finished the last episode. The song and its lyrics perfectly embody the two main leads and the relationship between them. It took me no time to get hooked on ‘Jishu’ and ‘Genoge’, both of which are absolutely dark and creepy songs that may make your skin crawl and have you move to the beat at the same time. A fascinating notion, really. I’m kind of sad that the official MV does not have the instrumental bridge that connects the second chorus to the final chorus of the song because that bit makes the song more cohesive than what it sounds like in the MV.
‘Romantic Devil’ by Coldin—Semantic Error (2022)
I’m practically over the moon because of my recent decision to stop binging on BL series and watch an episode or two as soon as a series is updated online. This applies to all the new BLs I’ve been watching, especially Enchanté, Not Me, and Semantic Error (best way to avoid spoilers for the first two). My love for Semantic Error began in 2020, and I’m sure many of us have been waiting for the live adaptation as fervently as we had done for the short animated series. This song made me realise that I hadn’t made a mistake in watching the series as soon as it was updated on Viki. Coldin’s sensual and breathy voice makes me want to just listen to him all day long, and ‘Romantic Devil’ is no exception.
‘Spark’ by A.C.E- Light on Me (2021)
I don’t think I can stress how important a moment this was for K-pop and Korean BL alike. This is the OST that officially opened the gates of Korean BL idol romances for me (Hur Hyunjun had left THE BOYZ much earlier). It didn’t hurt that my “O-mebo boys” (‘O-mebo’ referring to “all main vocals” or “5 main vocals” alternatively) were involved in this OST. Stanning A.C.E may be one of the best things that happened to me, seeing that Jun got his own KBL not long after they’d recorded this song. It’s always heartwarming to see the BL and K-pop worlds collide so often—they’ve been intersecting since the very beginnings of K-pop (thanks to the influence of Japanese pop culture) but this made it all the more complex and satisfying.
‘Comedy’ (Original Arrangement) and ‘Comedy-Tragedy’ (Acoustic ver.) by Jeff Satur—He She It (2020)
A series that I’d watched when I was at the peak of my Thai BL binge, He She It no longer interests me as much as it did a year or two ago (probably because I’ve rewatched it enough to figure out the issues with the plot). However, I’m thankful to it for two reasons; it led me to JeffGame and ultimately to Ingredients, which is probably one of those BL series one could use to relax because of how laid back it is. It also led me to Jeff Satur’s incredible discography, and his works reminded me so much of the songs created by Sam Kim and DPR IAN. I thought it couldn’t get better than ‘Comedy’, the ending OST for the series, but it turns out that I was wrong—the acoustic version of the song that was performed as part of the series tugged at heartstrings even more than the original. Aptly named as ‘Comedy-Tragedy’, the latter song awoke emotions that even the viewers weren’t ready for while watching the series. The descant parts in the original, as well as the riffs in the acoustic version (albeit very simple ones), stand as a testament to Jeff’s incredible talent.
Every. Single. Song. From Beyond Evil (2021)—but mostly ‘The Night’ by Choi Baekho
Yes. I am Beyond-Evil-biased. And that’s an understatement.
First off, I’m going to fight anyone who tells me that Beyond Evil should not be a part of this list. This is probably one of the most BL-adjacent series I’ve come across, making me wonder if the creators themselves are fujin (wishful thinking, maybe). The top creators are part of a group of extremely gifted women who’ve done a wonderful job, whether it’s the plot, the production, or the music.
I find it the hardest to pick a song from this series because every song is impactful, from BIBI’s ‘Timeless’ to sunwoojunga’s ‘Hyanghae’. Each piece of music from this series is intrinsic to its storytelling, and every single one of them is named after what they signify in the series—with the exception of ‘Beyond Evil Opening Theme’, which is a variation of Ha Geunyoung and Ye Solkim’s ‘Who is the Monster’)—and are all tied to the Korean variant of the name of the series (Gwemul in Korean, a word roughly translated as ‘monster’). I’m not saying that it’s the only series to do it, but it is just as important.
On that note, if I do have to pick one from Beyond Evil, it would be Choi Baekho’s ‘The Night’. A Jazz song with Choi Baekho’s wonderful voice that matches the Trot genre, this OST is intricately tied with the plot, telling its listener that they saw ‘you’ (a reference to the murderer, or the main characters Lee Dongshik and Han Juwon themselves) in the night, pointing a finger at the person for all the things they did. The song reminds one of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ because of the similarity in genre as well as some of the chords, but most of ‘The Night’ is in minor to provide it with creepy vibes that match the overarching plot of the series.
I think I may have gone slightly overboard for this one. And I am shameless enough to have this section as well.
I’m just going to mention some of my other favourites as I didn’t have enough space in the previous section (and some of them were already mentioned by other writers in their feature post last Sunday):
‘Fuyu no Hanashi’ by Yano Shōgo and ‘Kizuato’ by Centimillimental from Given (2019) because both are heartbreaking, and the MV for the latter is just so beautiful; OSTs from The Devil Judge because the series is BL-adjacent; ‘Skyline’ and ‘Safe Zone’ from ITSAY (2020) and IPYTM (2021) respectively because our children Billkin and PP Krit deserve everything; ‘Moment’ by Jeff Satur from Ingredients (2020) because I hadn’t mentioned in the previous section; every single OST from Not Me because that series is just brilliant; ‘Beside’ by Louis Thanawin from Fish Upon the Sky (2021) because the song is so much fun; ‘Enchanté’ by Tay Tawan from the series Enchanté, because it’s Tay Tawan our best boy; ‘Your Name Engraved Herein’ by Crowd Lu from the movie Your Name Engraved Herein; and ‘Hōseki no Umareru Toki’ by yanaginagi from The Case Files of Jeweler Richard because the boys almost get married and that’s all that matters.
Gaya Sa Pelikula
Beyond being hooked onto this catchy song, I loved its placement in the series. The song plays during a cathartic release of Karl and Vlad’s pent-up feelings for one another, and true to the lyrics, they come home to each other. The symbolic dance is matched by the energetic lyrics and tone of the song!
Aimer’s songs have an unmistakably haunting beauty to them, and Rokutōsei no Yoru, the ending theme, perfectly captured the melancholic tone of the show. The lyrics reflect Shion and Nezumi’s encounter and relationship, which while nothing short of miraculous, was always going to be short lived.
Light on Me
‘Spark’ was not my most played song on Spotify last year for no reason! It suited the overall vibes of the show in its youthful and charming tone, and as a side bonus, also introduced me to the wonderful music of A.C.E! Months later, it still manages to uplift my mood and bring a smile to my face whenever I listen to it (which is very, very often!).
Until We Meet Again
This version of ‘The Luckiest Boy’ sung by the cast members is one of my favourite OST’s of all time! You get to hear the different emotions that they put into the lines, which I thought also reflected the feelings of the characters themselves.
I Told Sunset About You
Even before I knew anything about the show, I had already heard of Skyline and how fans of BL were praising it as one of the best songs of the year. They were not exaggerating. Listening to Billkin’s melodious verses accompany the overall atmosphere of the show, which is already chock-full of intense longing, only increased my love for the series.
The song itself is unique in how closely it is tied to the plot of the series. While my other favourite OST’s complemented the series they were a part of beautifully, ‘Wish For You’ made the show itself. I love series which are centered around music, and I can’t think of Wish You without hearing the OST play in my head.
We will be back next week with the third edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you more updates from the Asian BL World!