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[Music and Dramas] Plots may fade, but music lasts


Dream High

By @lezah

I’ve always thought that some people are born more inclined to love music than others; while I am always plugged into my earphones, my sister does not have a single song downloaded onto her phone. For me, music has always been a comfort, a motivator, a symbol of a good memory and an expression of emotion. A good OST might not save a bad drama, but it might make it slightly better. The right music paired with a drama evokes and expresses stronger and deeper emotions.

For instance, Bride of the Water God 2017 had a fantastic OST—in particular, “Glass Bridge“, with its ethereal tones, made the scenes feel that much dreamier and more fantasy-like, which I really appreciated, given that the plot itself was lukewarm at best. Hearing “Round and Round” in The Lonely Shining Goblin’s opening credits never failed to make me think of the wistful love story between Kim Sun and Wang Yeo that spanned several lifetimes, and the loneliness of the centuries-old Goblin.

On a deeper, more emotional level, music makes a drama that much better if I can relate to the lyrics. The harder a song hits home, the more memorable it is for me.


Dream High, “A Goose’s Dream”

Dream High’s “A Goose’s Dream” by Insooni came at a time when I was a teenager, frightened with the uncertain prospects of my future, much like the students in the show. I felt their struggles deep within myself, and hearing the song gave me hope that I would, like these students, eventually find a path in life that I would be happy walking on. I remember a particular episode in which they sang a cover of “Genie” by Girls’ Generation to cheer up a depressed hyung, and I teared up listening to it, because the song was just so apt for the moment. As a viewer, I very much felt like I was in the position of the hyung, and for those few minutes, I too gained the motivation to press on with life.

As a young adult now, the fear of being alone is a very real one, and hearing the opening lines of The Liar and His Lover’s “I’m Okay” was a comfort for me. I learned a bit of Korean, and every time the song played with the opening lyrics, “It’s okay, I’ll be here,” I felt a bit less lonely, as though I were right there beside the characters in the show. In these aspects, music has almost been like a comforting, omnipresent friend. Plugging in my earphones made it a little easier to escape from the daily grind, if only for a while.


The Liar and His Lover

On a lighter note, there were also dramas made more memorable simply because the songs playing in the background were just so darned catchy and appropriate. Hearing those songs now makes my mind latch onto the fond memories associated with the drama more than the plot itself.

One of the most iconic songs in that category would be Temptation of a Wife’s “Can’t Forgive.” Hearing it always made me feel like I was sharing in Eun-jae’s victory and living vicariously through her as she took her sweet revenge on her cheating husband. I remember watching it daily on the television with my mother almost 10 years back, the two of us glued to the screen making snide remarks about the villains in the show.

I also recall watching Queen Seon-deok religiously (I was very much obsessed with Kim Nam-gil’s Bi-dam) and to this date, I haven’t forgotten “Mishi’s Theme.” And let’s not even talk about “Almost Paradise”—you sang it in your head just now, didn’t you—every time I hear this, I think of a handsome quartet striding in slow motion, with flower petals flying around them. I think of all the time spent squealing with my fellow teenage friends over which of the four we preferred.


You From Another Star

The strangest phenomenon is that even though I barely remember any of the scenes in these dramas, I remember the OSTs far more clearly. It’s almost like the music has woven itself into every thread of my memory, and there’s no distinguishing between drama and music anymore. No doubt I would still have loved these dramas regardless of the music, but the messages those songs sent made me feel the emotions in the show much stronger, and my firm belief is that while memories of plotlines fade, feelings last for a much longer time—and a truly successful show is one that captures the hearts of its audience.

Naturally, it only works if the music is deployed at the right moment. It leads you to believe in what the characters are feeling in that moment. It insidiously creeps into your mind in the background and reinforces those emotions. Whenever I heard “My Destiny” in You From Another Star, I felt inclined to believe that indeed, the stoic alien and the unapologetically loud Hallyu star were made for each other, their fate written in the stars.


Man to Man

And of course, it’s not just the OSTs. Instrumental background music plays an important role in setting the mood. In Man to Man, the aptly timed background music made the deadpan scenes that much funnier. I know we would all have given the music director on that show a raise if we could. Music and dramas simply go hand in hand, often without our noticing it.

I think the magical thing about music is that it is a universal language that allows you to relate to a character in a story, regardless of any language or cultural barriers. After all, dramas are simply stories in a visual form—good stories are ones that make the audience feel like they’re walking in the paths of the characters themselves, and the accompanying music is like the pair of shoes that enables us to tread on those very paths and understand the characters better.

 
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Damn it, now the song My Destiny is stuck in my head. ?
Anyway, great post @lezah!

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Same here hahaha

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What a wonderful piece of writing! Thanks @lezah for this. I feel nostalgic and happy now with music in the background ❤️️

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"I’ve always thought that some people are born more inclined to love music than others"

So so true!

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Freaking love Girl's Generation 1979 OST 'Like You' right now. The falling in love at the first sight part. It is by a band called HONEYST.

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You're Beatiful and Heartstrings are my 2 earliest dramas that I watched and both involve in music.

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I'm like your sister. I got a new phone a few months ago and have yet to have any songs on it. Though, I have over 350 new pictures. Having said that. I'm loving the music from Age of Youth 2 and Generation Girls 1979 right now.

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i don't religiously watch moon lovers but the ost sang by Lee Hi is on my playlist ? music is my everyday life ?

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Great post @lezah! I enjoyed reading it. I think you hit the nail on the head with this:

"I think the magical thing about music is that it is a universal language that allows you to relate to a character in a story, regardless of any language or cultural barriers."

Not only is it such a lovely turn of phrase, but it's such a poignant reminder of important music is and how much it enriches our drama-watching experience.

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I feel you, and I envy you for putting it so aptly in words. <3

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A good OST might not save a bad drama, but it might make it slightly better True, this. One song still on my phone is Suzy's Why Am I Like This for the the drama who made me sad for HJW and LJW The Time I've Loved You wasted potential . And yes, everytime TLAHL's I'm okay plays on shuffle, I end up playing it all day. The Hangul is simple enough that I understand it. :)

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Finally, someone who appreciates Man to Man background music and damn, I love Park Hae Jin more now because of his deadpan scenes!

and lol @lezah, your story with your mom is basically the same experience as mine. I marathoned ToW with my mom too for two days, and I listened to can't forgive on loop for the next week!!!

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*five opening notes of You Are My Destiny...*
How could you not sing along when it played?

There's so much I loved in your post @lezah!
1) "I barely remember any of the scenes in these dramas, I remember the OSTs far more clearly". Me too! Hurrah for auditory memory (?)
2) The Man to Man musical cues, beeps and bonks made up for a disappointing soundtrack. They also made PHJ funnier.
3) Glad to see 'I'm Okay' from THE LIAR AND HIS get a mention. I much preferred the soothing slower version than Joy's upbeat version, but both were good. I loved all the Crude Play songs. Another drama that wasn't great but had meaningful lyrics and emotional pull was THE BEST HIT: I start my morning listening and smiling to 'Beautiful', 'Fly' tells me to keep looking up at what matters in life, 'Say It' is Hyun-Jae's anthem, and 'If You' wipes away stress.

Bravo to all the eloquent beanies who have managed to convey the magic of music in such beautifully written posts. ????

P.S.: I got my mom to watch REBEL:THIEF WHO STOLE THE PEOPLE, and yes, now there are two of us going around singing 'OOOH-O-O-O-O-OOOH!' (If Spring Comes).

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*THE LIAR AND HIS LOVER. I'm used to just writing TLAHL haha

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Yes! I, too, prefer the Crude Play version of It's Okay to the upbeat version that Joy and Lee Hyun-woo sing.
I also love the one and only BTOB song I know, which is coincidentally called It's Okay (lol, Joy and Sung-jae's worlds collide), which is a song about struggling.

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I prefer the slower version of It's Okay as well! It's just so calming and soothing somehow. It makes me feel like I'm not alone :')

Hehehe, watching dramas with mom is a special memory that I cherish.

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lovely post! i love your writing, especially your introductory paragraph. i wish i could articulate as well as you.

Goblin's OST album is beyond awesome & Habaek's Glass Bridge is beautiful. i know it's been mentioned so many times, but Chicago Typewriter's Satellite is a gem too. aww, ???

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Waw you wrote really well. It was wonderful to feel your feels from OSTs

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This is a pretty amazing post, I wish I could write like this. I usually relate songs on an OST to moments in the show but never to real life events in my life. There were days after Six Flying Dragons ended when I would listen to Kim Bo-kyung's I guess It's You and my heart would break all over again and I would cry really badly until I got a headache because I remembered how much it hurt me that Boon-yi and Bang-won don't end up together. I think the only song I've ever heard that related to me personally was Christina Aguilera's Hurt. After my father passed, I would listen to that song and become a sobbing mess.

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I barely remember much about that ice skating drama Triple. But that Zitten song remains one of my favorites just because of the (somehow simultaneously) warm and cozy and quite wistful and nostalgic feeling it gives me.

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"After all, dramas are simply stories in a visual form—good stories are ones that make the audience feel like they’re walking in the paths of the characters themselves, and the accompanying music is like the pair of shoes that enables us to tread on those very paths and understand the characters better."

This is Such a great post @lezah. Clap-Clap-Clap! ??

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I loved that last paragraph from @lezah too! Aptly described.

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Really enjoyed reading your writing <3

In these aspects, music has almost been like a comforting, omnipresent friend. Plugging in my earphones made it a little easier to escape from the daily grind, if only for a while.

Very true. I agree with what you said!
This also brought me to other songs I didn't know because I didn't watch the drama like Habaek's OST :D
Oh, can't deny when I saw "Almost Paradise" and "My Destiny", like an automatic music player, it plays in my head right away hahaha xD (And I haven't even watch My Love From The Star!)

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You're right. Plots may change but a song attached to a scene or a particular can make one go through that scene again whwnever, wherever that song is heard.

I used to keep most of my favorite OSTs in my iPod classic (until my unit gave up on me early this year), so i can relive the dramas wherever i go.

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... or a particular scenario...

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i think we all can agree the music/sound cues like "no no no no no" in Jealousy Incarnate and "what" in Weightlighting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and also the recent sound effect and abrupt music cuts in Live Up To Your Name were used so so well it left a huge impression. ;D

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