K-pop Idols in OSTs

Taeyeon performing "Missing You Like Crazy"

Taeyeon performing “Missing You Like Crazy” from The King 2 Hearts

The official soundtrack (OST) to K-drama is considered very important part of a release; one that fans and critics both focus on. These OSTs give K-pop idols the opportunity to be involved with music that is different from their usual role and/or style.

It is very common to have big musicians featured in an official soundtrack. In this essay, we will take a look at three specific popular K-pop idols, Yesung, Taeyeon, and Kim Hyun Joong. All three of these idols have been involved in OSTs, and we will compare the style and role of each idol in an OST and in the idol’s usual role. I have chosen these three idols due to their popularity and they have appeared on a number of “top ten” lists for best OSTs (like this one here).  The idols are all part of different main groups, and have been involved in projects outside of that main group.

K-dramas’ OSTs are very important to fans.  They are often purchased when released and songs featured on OSTs are often high on charts.  Blogs and fans go crazy when they hear news of OSTs because they often feature unique collaborations that do not regularly happen.  Some fans also look at the OST as a type of sneak preview to the k-drama.

Below I will focus on the three idols I mentioned earlier, Yesung, Taeyeon, and Kim Hyun Joong.

First, lets look at Yesung.  Yesung is a singer and musical actor most well-known for being part of the boy band Super Junior and two of Super Junior’s subgroups (Super Junior-K.R.Y and Super Junior-H).  Yesung’s real name is Kim Jong-woon and was born in 1984.  Yesung debuted with Super Junior in 2005 under SM Entertainment. After a number of albums, a radio show, and performing in musicals, Yesung contributed to the soundtrack for Cinderella’s Sister, which came out in 2010.

Cinderella’s Sister is a romantic melodrama TV series that has twenty episodes.  In addition to Yesung, the OST featured members of f(x) and Pink Toniq.  The show was nominated and won a number of awards that year.  Yesung’s song, “It Has To Be You” was the most recognized track on the OST and won awards, as well as being the show’s theme song. “It Has To Be You” ranked high on the charts and seems to be very popular with fans.  The song’s composer specifically picked Yesung because of his voice.  The composer thought he would be the perfect fit.

In 2010, Super Junior performed their hit song “BONAMANA” on Music Bank and during the same episode, Yesung performed “It Has To Be You.”  This serves as an excellent comparison of the Yesung in Super Junior and the Yesung solo.  Kjpop from allkpop.com writes about the show saying “While he offers a charismatic and upbeat image on stage while performing BONAMANA with the rest of Super Junior, Yesung takes on an entirely different image as he belts out his silky smooth vocals for the audience when performing It Has To Be You.”  Super Junior together performed a fun pop song, but Yesung solo displayed a slow and deep ballad.  From the same article on allkpop.com, the author writes, “Seldom do we get to see the boys perform ballads, so this is a real treat!”  The performance shows how this is not Yesung’s average performance.  Since this was Yesung first performance, he wanted the rest of Super Junior on stage with him.  This can be seen in a few clips of the video (they are dressed in white standing on the side of the stage).

Since Yesung was featured in the OST, he had the opportunity to do something different.  He is known for his beautiful voice, and in “It Has To Be You” Yesung gets to prove it.  Before this song, Yesung never performed solo on stage.  After that first solo performance, Yesung saw a number of other opportunities available.  It might be said that “It Has To Be You” opened up a number of doors for Yesung.

Kim Tae-yeon is a member of the girl group Girl’s Generation as well as presenter, actress, and dancer. Sometimes she is known as the “Queen of OST.”  Taeyeon was born in 1989 and made her début with Girls’ Generation in 2007 who have seen huge success.  Under SM Entertainment, the 9 member group have risen to become a prominent figure in K-pop. Below is one of their hit songs, “Gee.”  It is a quick tempoed song with lyrics about a girl who has fallen in love.

Recently, Taeyeon recorded a song for the K-drama series The King 2 Hearts in 2012.  The show ran for twenty episodes and was critically popular.  Taeyeon did the song “Missing You Like Crazy” which hit number one on almost all charts when it was released.  The King 2 Hearts had previously reached out to Taeyeon, but she declined offers due to her busy schedule.  During the same time period, Taeyeon also appeared on a number of other OSTs.

In one comment about “Missing You Like Crazy” from a “top ten” blog, the unnamed user writes, “You can really feel the emotions coming from her.. It also shows that she is capable of controlling her voice and pitch well.”  The author of this comment is able to hear Taeyeon’s voice sing a ballad compared some of the more poppy music Girls’ Generation puts out.  Due to Taeyeon being part of this OST, fans are able to hear another side of Taeyeon.  The quality of her voice is not always fully displayed in Girls’ Generation’s music due to the style of the music.  By Taeyeon taking part in OSTs, she is able to break out of her usual style, and show the world how well she can really sing solo.

The last idol I will look at is Kim Hyun Joong, who is the main rapper of SS501.  Kim Hyun Joong seems to stay very busy.  In addition to SS501, Kim Hyun Joong is also a solo artist and accomplished actor in several K-dramas.  He is unique compared to Taeyeon and Yesung because as well as being on the OSTs, he is often an actor in the series.  His most popular role is from the series Boys Over Flowers, but has had several different roles. Below is an example of an SS501 song, which was one of their popular singles.

Since Kim Hyun Joong has been involved in a number of OSTs, I will choose the song “One More Time” from the show Playfull Kiss.  He appears on the soundtrack as well as being one of the main characters.  Reports stated that the show was unsure if Kim Hyun Joong would have time to record the song.  In an allkpop.com article, the author describes the song as “ a slow-beat ballad genre that expresses Kim Hyun Joong’s impressive vocals.”  “One More Time” allows Kim Hyun Joong to slow down and showcase his voice.  This is not something he usually got to do in SS501.

One commenter, named JunJae, of the allkpop.com article shares his/her opinion by writing, “why didn’t DSP showed off this voice before?! Then they’ll be there with DBSK in terms of talents. They should have tried and cultivate what their artists had.”  JunJae is referring to the label DSP Media who managed SS501.  In their comment, JunJae feels like Kim Hyun Joong had limited opportunity to show off his voice with SS501.  Luckily Kim Hyun Joong has had many chances to do just that in OST songs like “One More Time”

In my examples, many members of pop groups trade their “dancy” beats to record slower ballads the give opportunity to show off their voice and expand into genres they may not regularly get to be in.  Like we have seen with Kim Hyun Joong, Taeyeon, and Yesung, OSTs give K-pop idols opportunities to be involved in music that is different from their usual style.  They move from bigger groups to solo performances that draw a large amount of fan attention.  These OST opportunities might also open the door to being featured in other types of music.


Wikipedia contributors. “Yesung.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “Kim Tae-yeon.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “Kim Hyun-joong.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

“Best Korean Drama OST.” The Top Tens. 29 Apr 2013. Web. 29 Apr 2013. http://www.the-top-tens.com/lists/best-korean-drama-ost.asp

kjpop. “Yesung performs It Has To Be You on Music Bank.” All KPop. 4 Jun 2010. Web. 29 Apr 2013. http://www.allkpop.com/2010/06/yesung-performs-it-has-to-be-you-on-music-bank

maestro-J. “Kim Hyun Joong’s Playful Kiss OST track ‘One More Time’ revealed.” All KPop. 7 Sep 2010. Web. 29 Apr 2013. http://www.allkpop.com/2010/09/kim-hyun-joongs-playful-kiss-ost-track-one-more-time-revealed

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K-pop Idols in OSTs by Miles Camp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.