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Bop Shop: Songs From Muna, Carlie Hanson, Siena Liggins, And More

Posted by Cathrine Sauer on June 14, 2019
Bop Shop: Songs From Muna, Carlie Hanson, Siena Liggins, And More

Korean artist Holland received widespread global attention for his debut single "Neverland" in 2018. Or, more accurately, for the song's music video, which featured a kiss between the openly gay independent singer and another man. In the world of K-pop, same-sex affection (physical or otherwise) is encouraged, but only ever as an extension of fan-service. After all, Korea is still deeply conservative, and that's a line artists can't publicly cross without scandal. Until Holland, "K-pop's first openly gay idol." But it wasn't until his second single — the shimmering EDM track "I'm Not Afraid" — that Holland's potential, both as a queer trailblazer in the industry and as a singular artist with a vision, came into focus.

"I'm not afraid anymore," he sings over a moody, house-infused beat that's somewhat reminiscent of Troye Sivan's celebratory "My My My!" The hook is repetitive, sure, but it's also a powerful affirmation. "I am saying that I am no longer afraid to reveal that I am gay," he said of the song's meaning upon its release last year. "I'm not afraid of standing in front of the public anymore." Truthfully, the 23-year-old singer's greatest strength is his willingness to open up about his own experiences as a young, queer man just living his life — completely unafraid of and unbothered by other people's opinions. —Crystal Bell