Lighting it up
Taking a look at relationships MVHS students form with their favorite musical artists
When sophomore Liana Khorasani attended English songwriter and singer Harry Styles’ concert in 2018, she was expecting a night full of emotional music. But all of a sudden, she began to feel dizzy and lightheaded as Styles’s performance grew more intense.
“I made some of my closest online friends [with Harry Styles fan accounts] with whom I started talking online after,” Khorasani said. “I also blacked out at that concert when he came, because … when he moved to stage B I was not that far away from him and I blacked out. This girl who I had just met there helped me recover.”
In addition to Harry Styles, Khorasani listens to a variety of musical artists including One Direction, Queen and Fleetwood Mac. Similarly, junior Edgar Tsai also has a variety of favorite artists, ranging from K-pop bands like IZ*ONE to diverse artists such as Imagine Dragons, but Tsai holds K-pop group TWICE the closest to his heart. Tsai follows the group members on YouTube and listens to their comebacks — new songs they release periodically — having cherished TWICE since 2016 after a recommendation from a friend.
Tsai was personally motivated to listen to TWICE after he experienced a big change in his family in recent years. The happiness and bubbliness of the group’s musical presentation was an aspect he emotionally connected with in order to cope.
“When my parents divorced, that was pretty [life-changing],” Tsai said. “That was in early 2017 or late 2016, and then I started listening to TWICE after [the divorce], and TWICE and their music really helped me live through that.”
Like Tsai, sophomore Shirin Haldar found the K-pop group BTS to provide a crucial boost for her during a significantly low point in her life. Having felt hopelessness about her dreams of becoming a singer and dancer on YouTube, Haldar saw BTS’s music as what she needed to move past her doubts and harsh criticisms from others, having taken part in MV Korean Club’s dance covers and planning to create a YouTube channel in the future.
“In [the song] ‘Mic Drop,’ [the phrase] ‘baby got my haters hella sick’ makes me think about the people who always doubted me,” Haldar said. “[They] never thought that I would actually make it [and] would see me up there, and they would feel an amount of regret. Right now I’m at the point where I’m not giving up, and I’m continuing to practice on my singing and dancing so I’m in the process of working on my dream and not giving up on it.”
Other music which BTS released that Haldar finds particularly moving include the group’s newest release “Dynamite,” and the song “IDOL,” in particular. She also sees other singles like “Boy with Luv” and “Boy in Luv” as valuables that energize her and induce happiness when she dances to their music.
“‘Dynamite’ … really tears up my mood when I’m sad [by] making me forget about all the problems that I’m having right now,” Haldar said. “‘IDOL’ [is] super amazing [because] it helps me to realize that I should love myself and that I shouldn’t let other people stop me from loving myself.”
Contrarily, Tsai personally finds TWICE’s musical lyrics to be shallow with hardly any deeper meanings to their musical pieces, but he says he enjoys the positive aura that TWICE’s performances can bring. Several albums he finds personally impacting include their first mini-album “The Story Begins” and their EPs “Yes or Yes,” “Fancy You” and “Feel Special.”
“The [discography’s] generally pretty happy,” Tsai said. “It’s very bubbly so it’s pretty great to listen to if you’re [feeling] sad and [depressed], and they literally have a song called ‘Cheer up.’ I think you [literally] can’t not be happy listening to their songs.”
Tsai also bought a ticket early to TWICE’s Los Angeles performance on the world tour for its “Fancy You” album release in 2019. Although he was unable to take pictures with the group, he was able to buy TWICE merchandise and found the experience to be much more memorable than listening to albums on streaming services like Spotify.
“On stage you get to see the glory of TWICE in real life,” Tsai said. “[When you watch the group’s videos] online, [you feel] distant and it’s just bordering the surface [of seeing them firsthand],” Tsai said. “Listening to them at a concert is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s pretty rare getting to go to a concert from any K-pop group because they’re so damn popular and the tickets disappear in five seconds.”
Similarly, Khorasani personally witnessed the kindness and awareness that Styles exhibits in his interactions when he helped a fan come out to her mother by shouting it across the concert, which helped her connect with his personality and empathize with him. His continuous reassurances to fans that life will get better throughout his music are the perfect method for her to get past negative aspects of life.
“[He’s] everything — I want to be like him,” Khorasani said. “He means so much to me because he’s such a great role model — he’s always helping [and] donating to so many different charities. He’s helped to bail out people who were unlawfully arrested during the Black Lives Matter protests ... He [also] grew out his hair just to give it to little girls who have cancer.”
Khorasani is proud of Styles’s first solo release, understanding the significance of Styles splitting from English-Irish band One Direction to follow his dreams. She specifically holds Styles’s releases “Sweet Creature” and “Golden” to high esteem. According to Khorasani, the extent to which Styles goes to really emphasize inclusion is truly memorable, as shown by the pride flags in the concert she went to in 2018.
“I wish people didn’t label [his sexuality] so much because I feel like he’s one of the only people – one of the first people – in this time period to be very fluid with his clothing and breaking gender norms,” Khorasani said. “I wish people didn’t just label him when he says, ‘I don’t want to label my sexuality.’”
For Haldar, she became interested in BTS through the group’s song “IDOL,” which opened up her world to their feats. She sees BTS members as admirable role models, and looks up to main dancer and vocalist Park Jimin in particular as her inspiration in singing and dancing.
“[Jimin] is really passionate about what he does in his singing and dancing — he puts in a lot of energy on stage … a lot of facial expression and … a lot of emotion in his voice,” Haldar said. “I see [that], and I want to have that kind of energy in me when I sing and dance.”
Haldar also cherishes what she says is the amount of selflessness and compassion BTS show in their interactions with their fans. She finds it ridiculous how a portion of people continue to blindly bandwagon hate their music and K-pop in general.
“I’d say I think [BTS] deserve more love and I really don’t see a reason to hate them,” Haldar said. “Many people who say they hate BTS or they hate K-pop — I think give pretty stupid reasons and I don’t really think there should be a reason to hate them. People should give more love to BTS and K-pop and see them as a way [in] that they’re changing the world and helping people cope.”