[Editor’s Note: As we move closer to a new season with the Autumn Equinox 🎃, Preston offers up their playlist to usher in some fresh air into yours! Catch a new earworm – from Malayalam samples to K-Pop, this list has something for everybody!]
ASAP by New Jeans: The quintet of New Jeans has yet to put out a bad track since their debut in 2022. ASAP, like most other tracks in their discography, has an addictive hook but also manages to abandon the usual structure of pop music and in doing so successfully creates an eerie, techno-pop infused amalgamation. Growing up queer, girl groups and their music was pretty much most of what I listened to but it wasn’t “cool” to admit it back then. Through New Jeans’ music, which is heavily influenced by Y2K fashion and music trends, it truly feels like getting a second chance to celebrate all things girly-pop unabashedly.
Un Perai ft. Pritt by Reyan: English, Tamil and (a teeny bit of) Malayalam blend seamlessly in this great track where two people who have just met are not shy to proclaim their lust for each other. The lyrics are all about how they will treat each other to the best of what life has to offer but it’s the 90s-inspired music laced with drum beats that really sells this one for me. To me, this track is an updated version of the Tamil songs that used to play on television in the late 90s and early aughts – and the execution is just right.
Number Boy by Holland: This is the first track of Holland’s that I heard and was immediately captivated by his ethereal voice and the stunning music video (which also features a cameo from Kim Jiwoon). The song talks about how the queer artist felt like he was just another number rather than a person to his ex-partner, a feeling that I’ve personally experienced in the past. Watching it being portrayed so beautifully through his music just acts as a reminder of how important self-love is and how it can get you through the downs of life.
Rainy Days by V: A pop ballad heavily influenced by jazz music, this track acts as a love letter to an ex-partner. Stylistically, it’s not surprising to see V from BTS embark on his first full-fledged solo project with the likes of Rainy Days, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. The tone of the track is not something I would seek out but it works wonderfully well with V’s deep voice. The longing expressed to be with someone who isn’t physically close is something I resonate with and it is perfectly brought out through the lyrics.
Matsuri by Fuji Kaze: A friend suggested that listening to a particular song or album when on vacation will ensure that anytime you hear it again, you will be reminded of that trip. That’s precisely why I chose Kaze’s album ‘Love All Serve All’ when I travelled to Japan this year and Matsuri is definitely the standout of the track list. Not only is it a celebration of life and love, a reminder to live in the present, but it will forever remind me of the beautiful 2 weeks I spent in that country.
Oru Madhurakinavin by K J Yesudas: There’s only one tune I’ve ever heard my father hum, ever, and it’s this song. He only hums the chorus, over and over again, until he’s too consumed by whatever he’s doing, to continue. The last time I was home, I found the song on Youtube and played it for my parents. They watched it in silence, smiling. I play it often now, whenever I’m thinking about them.
ur so pretty by Wasia Project: Colours Of You by Baby Queen was the defining soundtrack to the first season of Heartstopper, while this one is my favourite from the 2nd season. The moment I heard it, while watching Nick and Charlie embrace each other, I was hooked. The heavenly vocals combined with the simple, yet beautiful, lyrics make this the perfect love song. It feels like a warm embrace every time I listen to it and I can’t get enough.
Thumbi Vaa by S Janaki: I play this every Sunday as I lie in bed, scrolling through my phone. The song is sung by one of my all-time favourite singers, but it’s more than just that that makes this one special. I heard this song for the first time when I was 5 or 6 and it has always managed to show up somewhere in the background over the years: on television, at the barber shop, a grocery store in Bangalore, the buses of Kerala and even as I’ve gone shawarma hunting in UAE. Nowadays, I seek it out every weekend. There’s a sense of comfort and familiarity there that’s incomparable.
City of Stars by Lee Dong Wook & Lee Su-hyun: I didn’t know this was a cover the first time I heard it. I did look for the original later but I’ve always come back to this version – to me, it’s unmatched. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s an unplugged version and there’s a subtle playfulness to the way it’s sung that’s missing in the original. Nevertheless, there are few songs where love and the yearning for it are expressed this well, both musically and lyrically.
Super by Seventeen: Let’s end this list with an absolute banger. K-pop, for all its glitz and glamour, hasn’t been very open towards its support towards the LGBTQ+ community. Seventeen is one of the few bands where the members have acknowledged their queer fans and this song is all about moving forward and achieving your dreams. The music lets you know from the get-go that this is a high energy track and the lyrics, which talk about showing solidarity with those sharing your life’s journey, and it is perfectly executed by the band’s vocals. If you’re looking for something to wake you up and give you a jolt of energy, this is it.