If you’ve ever tried to focus during an exam only to find yourself with an addictive song stuck in your head, you’re not alone. In fact, during university entrance exam season in South Korea, students are strongly discouraged from listening to “SAT banned songs”—the catchiest, most impossible-to-forget tracks. Here are 10 songs that made the list.
1. SHINee – “Ring Ding Dong”
SHINee’s 2009 hit “Ring Ding Dong” was once voted the no.1 song to avoid listening to during entrance exam season. Described as “afro-electro”, the song combines congo drums with synthesized sounds and an incredibly catchy, repetitive hook.
2. BTS – “Go Go”
Released in 2017, BTS B-side “Go Go” is a fan favorite among ARMYs. Repetitions of “yolo yolo”, “dollar dollar”, and more throughout the lyrics make this song impossible to get out of your head once you’ve heard it, even when you’re studying.
3. Red Velvet – “Dumb Dumb”
“Dumb Dumb” sums up how you’d be feeling if you listened to this 2015 Red Velvet song too many times before taking the CSAT. Not only are the lyrics way too catchy, the instrumental itself features addictive brass and percussion.
4. Red Velvet – “Zimzalabim”
But “Dumb Dumb” isn’t Red Velvet’s only addictive song. 2019 release “Zimzalabim” was also named one of the song students must avoid listening to before their entrance exams. From its borderline-creepy chanted chorus to its soaring instrumental that chances multiple times throughout, it’s bound to leave a lasting impression.
5. BLACKPINK – “DDU-DU-DDU-DU”
Anyone who was hooked on BLACKPINK’s “DDU-DU-DDU-DU” back in 2018 must have had a difficult time focusing on studying. The trap beat in the background of the instrumental hooks you in right away, while the chorus and bridge lines are impossible to forget.
6. MOMOLAND – “BBoom BBoom”
It’s not difficult to work out why MOMOLAND’s 2018 song “BBoom BBoom” became so popular worldwide. It’s the kind of song that you can’t listen to just once, and even the choreography will get stuck in your head.
7. Super Junior – “Sorry, Sorry”
One of the OG banned songs, “Sorry Sorry” (released by Super Junior in 2009) was created to be fun and easy to listen to. With a heavy beat and funk influences, it likely had students apologizing “sorry, sorry” to their parents when exam results rolled in.
8. SF9 – “O Sole Mio”
SF9’s 2017 Latin-infused dance track “O Sole Mio” is yet another addictive song no one should listen to before their CSAT exam. From the moment you hear that guitar riff, you’ll have a hard time forgetting this one.
9. T-ARA – “Bo Peep Bo Peep”
“Bo Peep Bo Peep” was released in 2011, and it’s still one of T-ARA’s most popular songs to this day. Created by Shinsadong Tiger, one of K-Pop’s kinds of addictive songs, it features simple yet catchy lyrics that anyone can sing along to—even when they don’t intend to.
10. SS501 – “U R Man”
Alongside “Ring Ding Dong”, SS501’s “U R Man” is considered one of the top songs you shouldn’t listen to while studying. It may be over a decade old, but rumor has it this track’s addictive powers live on to this day.