Let's watch Infinite winning for the first time ever, on M! Countdown. Watch their winning announced onstage. And then, upon winning, watch their faces flood with relief, and their eyes flood with tears.
Show Champion, Music Bank, M! Countdown, Inkigayo. Kpop is unique in that it has these weekly shows, and some smaller ones, that not only expects the hottest Kpop stars to perform their hit singles over and over again, but also requires them to stand on stage, all together, as points and votes and sales are calculated to crown a winner for the week's program. The pressure must be unthinkable, and yet, here they're going through it, often four times a week.
Like when f(x) won on Music Bank, their first win ever too, and how the hosts started chanting, "It's okay, it's okay," as the girls burst into tears.
Or when Suho cried through the acceptance speech, during Exo's first win, on Music Bank, in 2013, not so long ago (but it certainly feels a long time ago). They've won so much since then, but can you imagine how sweet that first victory must have felt? How that's etched into their hearts forever?
Or when Girl's Day won on Show Champion and Sojin's reaction, being absolutely the last person to realize they've won, Minah crying into the trophy, Hyeri trying to keep it together, failing. Years it took them to get to this moment, here.
Do you remember IU's first win? I do. Here, watch. Please. It's adorable. That's all I'm saying.
But the question remains. Why do I love watching these videos so much? It's not even just my biases, no, at least that would be justified. I enjoy seeing idols win, especially for the first time, especially after all of their hard work. But I enjoy seeing their reactions more, their incalculable joy, their immense relief, and yes, their uncontrolled, sometimes hysterical, tears.
After watching dozens of these videos, one can only question oneself and their own emotional core. Are we emotional vampires? (I say we, but really, I'm questioning myself here, I mean no offense by making you culpable in this strange endeavor) Or are we just experiencing what it's like to hit a pinnacle, something that so few of us have the good fortune to reach, that moment where we can say that we've made it?
In Kpop, we get to see that sometimes four times a week. Unless PSY or SNSD are back and gobbling all the wins. And there's something so strange and sincere and beautiful and even cruel about the process that makes it undeniably fascinating. With so much of Kpop planned and manufactured and rehearsed, there's something special and always unexpected about seeing these idols so unguarded, uncontrolled. Human.
I'm admitting it now. I'm addicted, in the worst way. But am I alone in this? Can you honestly tell me you've never been down the very same rabbit hole? Can you watch, say, AOA's first unexpected win, and tell me you weren't affected?
Can you honestly tell me you weren't moved?
Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.