Memories in the Melodies

Junior finds solace in the charismatic stars of “K-pop”


Bowling poses with some of her favorite albums from the groups Stray Kids and Day6. 

Darby Horsman, Staff Writer

The song booms with flair and the dance moves sparkle as she moves around the room, and she hopes to tell a musical story with her body. The beat picks up, as the group sings in Korean, ready to conclude the song with an English phrase: “Hey you wanna come in…?”

As she ends the dance in her room, she imagines the bright lights in her eyes and she flashes multiple poses for the camera after finishing a routine to Stray Kids’ newest title track “Back Door.” As the song fades, she reviews the video then starts to upload it onto her social media accounts to help spread her love for dance and K-pop.

Gigi Bowling ‘22 remembers the times riding in the car with her mom, getting a first-hand taste of the Korean music scene back in 2012. Her mother playing songs from the group Girls Generation opened the door to the genre she knows and loves.

“K-pop was something that I thought was really unique and I was happy to learn more about it. It helped me to become more open to a lot of things as well,” said Bowling.

K-pop is the global phenomenon that has taken the world by storm with its new melodies, fun choreography and unique productions. Experimenting with different sounds, each group uses its lyrics to help inspire people and gain a fanbase.

Bowling also loves to post videos of dance covers of new songs or in the world of K-pop called “comebacks.” A comeback is a phenomenon that occurs when an artist releases a new song, album or EP, that includes choreography, fashion trends, new music and flashy hairstyles, along with variety shows to promote their new song.

“I usually go through the videos of the artist themselves called dance practices, pretty much showing a clean video of how the artist has done the choreography,” said Bowling. “Dancing gives me an almost freeing feeling. It’s something that, no matter what I’m feeling, there is always a song I can dance to that will match my emotion and I can express it safely.”

Often keeping up with multiple groups at a time and listening to their music, Bowling has a variety of favorite teams, each artist establishing their own personality.

“I think for me it was how real the artists are. A lot of my favorite songs touch on really sensitive and hard-hitting topics, as well as giving millions of fans and listeners a safe space,” Bowling said.

Many people including Bowling have taken inspiration from their K-pop idols in their everyday life, from personalities, singing, fashion and music. Many people have even taken up singing, dancing, rapping or playing an instrument.

“I’ve felt inspired, 100 percent,” Bowling said. “I would say two of my biggest inspirations would be Bang Chan from Stray Kids and Kim Namjoon, also known as RM, from BTS. They’re both leaders of their respective groups and they always set an amazing example. There are also a lot of trends I’ve started to follow because of K-pop. I like to follow the fashion, due to never seeing them in the west.”

While K-pop has offered Bowling a hobby, it also helped her cope with everyday stress and create a safe space for her thoughts.

“It started because I was seeking out healthy coping mechanisms to help with my daily feelings. I am a sensitive person and I keep things inside often. I need a way to release it,” Bowling said. “I’ve been much happier in my day to day life. It allowed me to start a Tik Tok account and gave me a small platform to share my interest and make others happy.”

Bowling’s Tik Tok account originally was started to just have fun but has sparked a wave of interest, gaining over 70 thousand followers on the platform.

“It became a place where I could not only make others happy, but also help educate others about important topics and situations happening in the world, as well as spread awareness for the things that need it. I was honestly scared at first when gaining followers because the internet isn’t exactly the kindest place all the time, but it allowed me to spread the love,” Bowling said.

Despite creating a Tik Tok account to help others, K-pop has offered Bowling a fun hobby to participate in, but it also helped her cope with the loss of a loved one.

“I remember K-pop helping me get through the passing of my mother,” Bowling said.

K-pop, to Bowling, isn’t just a little school girl obsession, but a way to connect to her mother beyond physical contact, through a strong family bond. She feels that the genre is supposed to help bring people together no matter what you’re going through.

“I was 11 when my mother passed in 2015, and in that time I got extremely into K-pop. I used their songs and stages to help distract me from the dark times I was in, and it was a good escape from reality when I needed it. The artist helped to teach me that it’s okay to be sad and cry. In the end they’re simply moments that makes us stronger. It’s what makes everyone human,” said Bowling.

Although Bowling believes her interest may fade, she knows that K-pop will always have a place in her heart.

“I think it’ll always be something that’s a part of my life. Not just as in loving the artist and dances, but in a sense that it’s something that helped me grow up. It helps me remember the good times with my mom, and it’s given me some many opportunities, not just to show the people but to express myself and overcome obstacles,” said Bowling. “Even if this does end up to be something I grow out of and it’s not my main interest anymore, I know it’s something I can always go back to when I just need to pause life for a second.”

Bowling looks forward to her future, with each song lyric motivating her.

“It makes me feel excited for what will happen next,” Bowling said. “The song lyric, ‘Hey you wanna come in?’ makes me feel eager to see what happens next once I step through that back door.”