K-Pop Is the World’s Top Guilty Pleasure, According to This Study of Spotify Playlists

BTS’ “Boy With Love” and “DNA” are part of a top 100 list of popular guilty pleasures on Spotify. The same goes for a bunch of other K-pop tracks.
January 21, 2020, 7:12am
bts times square nyc
BTS attends Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2020 on December 31, 2019 in New York City. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions/AFP/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA. 

We all have songs that, no matter how often or loud we play them, we simply can’t admit we love. You know, tracks we just think we're too cool for. These guilty pleasures are actually pretty universal, so there’s no reason not to shout their lyrics to the heavens. And according to United Kingdom-based ticket search engine TickX, there’s one genre most people can’t help but love: K-pop.

It analysed the top 1,000 Spotify playlists containing the words “guilty pleasure” in the title and found that there were 29 K-pop songs in the top 100. Other top genres include dance pop, Latin, boy band, and pop.


No surprises here, but the study found that this trend started with the global rise of boy band BTS, which has 13 tracks on the list, making it the number one guilty pleasure artist.

BTS is directly followed by 90s icon Britney Spears. Other K-pop artists in the top 10 are BLACK PINK (4th), Red Velvet (8th), and EXO (9th).

As for songs, the number one guilty pleasure is "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls. This is followed by “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys, "Toxic" by Britney Spears, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cryus, and “…Baby, One More Time,” again by Spears.

BTS songs in the top 100 are “Boy With Luv (feat. Halsey)” (6th), “DNA” (11th), “Blood Sweat & Tears” (14th), “FAKE LOVE” (20th), “Euphoria” (28th), “Burning Up (Fire)” (30th) and “MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix)” (31st). Other K-pop songs like “Fancy” by Twice, “Love Shot” by EXO, “Shine” by Pentagon, and “BBoom BBoom” by Momoland are also on the list.

TickX looked into the characteristics of guilty pleasures and studied the average beats per minute, valence (how positive a track is), danceability, energy, duration, and year of release of each of the songs on the top 100.

They found that K-pop songs scored slightly higher than average in most aspects. They tend to be newer; have longer running times, higher energy, and faster pace; and are more danceable. The only thing most of these K-pop bops lacked was valence because it turns out that their lyrics tend to be very serious.


For example, BTS member RM described their song “FAKE LOVE” as “a turning point.”

“…if you're not true to yourself, your love won't last forever. The love could be person to person, it could be between me and myself,” he told Teen Vogue.

Shamelessly stream the entire "Guilty Pleasures" playlist below:

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