10 Artists to Listen to If You Love to Be Sad on Valentine’s Day

I am not telling you to be down in the dumps and wallow in the fact that you’re single, that is not the point. Personally, I just love sad music as opposed to happy music, which has its own time and place, and I believe whether you're single or not, you can enjoy sad songs on any day of the year, even Valentine’s Day. I do not claim to be ahead of the curve on music either, so I apologize if you have heard of these guys before. If you have someone to spend V-Day with, that’s cool too! Sad music sometimes is the perfect mood music as well, in my opinion. If you’re a fellow simp and love to be sad, check out these 10 awesome artists. 

1. Isak Danielson

I found out about Isak Danielson from watching a random fan video on Instagram. I was instantly drawn in by his deep timbre and slow tempo, and after 10 seconds of listening, I typed in the lyrics of the song into the Google search bar, hoping it would prove fruitful. It was “Ending” by Danielson, and I’ve been listening it at least once a day since I found out about him. Apparently, that song was also featured in an episode of Cloak and Dagger, as many of its fans purported on the music video. Danielson is Swedish, and his earliest song on Spotify dates back to 2015, and judging from his young baby face in his Youtube videos, he’s a pretty up and coming artist. 

2. RM

You’ve probably heard of BTS at some point in your life, but do you know that sometimes during off periods between albums, the members release their own solo music? If you’re already a dedicated ARMY and this is all old news to you already (lol me), then I apologize. However, if you don’t know, RM, the leader of BTS, had released a rap mixtape for free online titled RM in March 2015, which was a bit more aggressive, kind of hard-hitting rap music. All the rappers of BTS have released their own mixtapes, which they help write lyrics and music, and even produce. To them, a mixtape is a different creative outlet, and it allows them to talk about other topics and issues that they aren’t really able to discuss as part of BTS.

Three years later, RM released another mixtape in October 2018 titled Mono, and it is a simp’s ultimate dream. Dreamy and pensive, the title song “forever rain” is about a weary man who wishes it would rain forever so that no one would notice how sad he is or see the tears running down his face. Does it get any sadder than that? Behind the dazzling image of BTS, if you watch videos of just RM talking, he is a thoughtful, dorky and clumsy young man who tends to get sad and doesn’t have a problem being sad; he is a simp. RM has also said more than once that he suffered from depression at one point in his life, so this album seems to be a meditation on and an embrace of that time in his life. The rap in this album is a bit slower, and RM sings a bit more, in his mellow, soothing way. 

3. 1415

Of course, over the years, Youtube’s algorithm has figured out my preferences, and at one point recommended a new Korean ballad every day. One that stood out was “When it Snows” by 1415, a duo of vocalist, Joo Seonggeun, and guitarist, Oh Jihyun. They debuted in 2017, and they have released two EPs since then. The vocalist’s voice is that perfect blend of sorrow and hope, which really tugs at the heartstrings. Though they don’t have that many songs out, they’re still an awesome duo to look out for in the simp community. 

4. Noel

Another lovey gift that Youtube granted me, Noel is a Korean boy band comprised of Jeon Woo-sung, Lee Sang-gon, Kang Kyun-sung and Na Sung-ho, who debuted in 2002. The band went on hiatus and thankfully came back in 2011. They are a boy band but not in the most conventional sense, they don’t dance or have flashy clothes. In a live performance video I saw, they wear nicely tailored suits and sing while standing. They are also all probably in their 30s, appealing to a different age group than most K-pop groups. Nevertheless, their vocals are killer and harmonies ever so smooth, as showcased in their new title song “How about you” from their new album Star. They also sing some OSTs (Original Soundtrack) for Korean dramas, and “Together” from Reply 1988 has that perfect combination of nostalgia and sorrow. 

5. HYUKOH

A friend actually recommend them to me and fast forward a few months, they’re one of my favorites now. HYUKOH is a band made up of bassist Im Dong-geon, guitarist Lim Hyun-jae, drummer Lee In-woo, and singer, leader and guitarist Oh Hyuk. I didn’t realize until my friend recommend the band that I actually heard Oh Hyuk’s aching and mournful voice before, on the song “Home is Far Away” with Epik High. His high note in that song was so pure and anguished, I literally fell in love with the song because of him. 

The band’s music is kind of a mixed indie, soft rock vibe, which suits Oh Hyuk’s versatile raspy voice, which makes their music equally edgy and sad. Some have heavier rock vibes like “Jesus lived in a motel room,” and some are pretty simpy and soothing like “Mer” and “Gondry.” Just as the band's genre is a little hard to place, the band itself and all its members seem to have pretty off-beat personalities, which I love because they show their uniqueness on their social media. Born out of the underground music scene in Korea, they’re gaining quite a reputation, and they are even slated to perform at Coachella. If you’re going to the famous music festival, I highly urge you to check them out.

6. Chopin

Probably one of the original simps, Frédéric Chopin composed some of the best sad music in history. I know classical music isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes, it’s nice to listen to music without words to wash away the noise of life. Chopin’s life is also pretty interesting, which helped fuel a lot of his music. He was 20 years old and living in Paris when the November 1830 Uprising happened, in which his home, not yet a country, Poland rebelled against the Russian Empire. He also had a pretty high-profile relationship with the famous writer George Sand, though it was often a rocky relationship. He was also a sickly man for much of his life, and eventually died for reasons related to tuberculosis. 

Some of his music is rather nationalistic and inspired by his love for Poland. Almost all of his pieces are composed for solo piano, and a good number of them are rather sorrowful, though still melodic, and have an interesting momentum. My favorites include “3 Nouvelles études, B. 130: No. 1 in F Minor (Andantino)” and “2 Polonaises, Op. 26: Polonaise No. 2 in E-Flat Minor, Op. 26, No. 2.” Most of his nocturnes and waltzes are on the sadder side if you don’t want to weed through his entire library, though I recommend it. 

7. Park Hyo Shin

This man—this man has my heart. I remember stumbling on his music video of “Wildflower” back in high school, and I didn’t have any interest in K-pop or Korean music at all. Nevertheless, the bare instrumentation, his mastery over his voice and the pure emotion were captivating and deeply moving. After I got into K-pop, I remembered listening to a beautiful Korean ballad with only a piano to accompany it, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of the song or singer. It took me another two years or so to finally stumble on it again, and even after listening to it another 5 million times, I still love it terribly. 

Park Hyo Shin debuted in 1999, but in his first few years, he was heavily overworked by his management companies. He was later diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, which apparently hinders his singing voice. He went on hiatus for a few years, but then released “Wildflower.” There are various interpretations, but essentially Park likens himself to a the wildflower that blooms in the face of adversity. It may sound terribly overdone, but I promise if you listen to the song, it’ll be worth it. Park also has this juicy huskiness to his voice when he sings lower notes, which comes out beautifully in “Snow Flower” and “Sound of Winter.” 

8. Jung Seung Hwan

Another Korean ballad singer, this man has that same huskiness as Park, though his vibrato is a little more prominent at times. Jung was the runner-up on a television competition show called SBS’ K-pop Star, and he’s been sticking to ballads and drama OSTs ever since. My particular favorite is “Wind,” which has this awesome lamenting quality to it, about a man forced to give up his lover. Even outside the context of the Korean drama, it’s a darn good song, and Jung definitely deserves more attention as a young artist. 

9. O. WHEN

O. WHEN debuted in 2016 and has a few songs of his own, but he has sung a bunch of Korean OSTs. He too has a husky quality to his voice (clearly I have a type), but his music has more an indie, light pop vibe to it. He has simp songs like “Picture,” but he also has others that are a bit more upbeat and whimsical. O. WHEN’s music is good when you’re in the swings of a first love or in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship—his warm voice and chill music makes you feel like you’re wrapped in a blanket. 

10. Lee Hi

Terribly underrated and terribly underused, Lee Hi has one of the most beautiful voices in the K-pop industry. Lee’s voice is husky, mature and heart-wrenching, and her high notes are achingly pure, as showcased in her collab with Epik High, “Here Come the Regrets.” She has a few songs of her own, which are pop-ish, but also OSTs which are the real simp treasures like “MY LOVE” and “Golden Slumbers.” Her most famous song “BREATHE” was written by K-pop legend, Kim Jong-hyun from Shinee and it grapples with depression and stress. She also has this adorable baby face that doesn't match her voice, and it's so endearing.

Extended photo credits to @O.WhenMusic and @leehi_hi