It was back in 2015, on the popular Korean TV audition program K-Pop Star 5, where K-Pop fans first met the talented singer songwriter Ahn Ye Eun.
For the very first preliminary round, Ahn Ye Eun prepared her original work called, “Red Tie”. She explained, “The song was inspired by the movie The King and the Clown.” Stemming from her profound love for the dramatic-and-historic genre, she wrote “Red Tie” from the point of view of the character Gong Gil — the clown who seduced the king.
The performance — featuring Ahn Ye Eun’s most heartbreaking lyrics accompanied by her exquisite piano skills — kept the viewers entirely mesmerized:
When we’re brought in to this world, those of us who are fated to be come hand in hand, connected by a red thread. So no matter where you are, I can find you because we came hand in hand, connected by that red thread.
— Ahn Ye Eun
Unfortunately, it was a flop among the evaluators. JYP Entertainment‘s Park Jin Young passed on Ahn Ye Eun, claiming, “Not only is this far from the preferred genre in the K-Pop scene, it is simply not catchy and special enough to set the artist apart.”
YG Entertainment‘s Yang Hyun Suk also turned Ahn Ye Eun down, after commenting that the song is “as unique as [Ahn Ye Eun]’s hairstyle” and thus, he “couldn’t relate to the song.”
Only with Antenna Music‘s Yoo Hee Yeol rescuing her with a “Wild Card”, Ahn Ye Eun was able to move on to the next round. While doing so, Yoo Hee Yeol called her, “an unprecedented gem in the history of Korean singer songwriters” and praised her for having her own color. He also commented that “Red Tie” sounds like “a modern historic drama soundtrack” — so completely unaware of what he had predicted.
From then on, Ahn Ye Eun soared. Though she didn’t win K-Pop Star 5, she made it all the way to “Top 3” before being eliminated. As if to prove the two evaluators wrong, Ahn Ye Eun continued to compete in the program with her own original works — and being 200% embraced by the viewers for her rarity.
By 2016, Ahn Ye Eun officially debuted as a solo artist. Her musical genius, however, really came to see the light when MBC’s 2017 hit K-Drama The Rebel took her on board to create one of the most successful soundtrack albums of all time. Ahn Ye Eun filled the album with 7 of her songs — all of which became absolutely beloved by the viewers for their perfect fit with the drama.
The Rebel Producer Kim Jin Man reached out to me after watching me perform on K-Pop Star 5. He said he really wanted to use my original tracks as the drama’s soundtrack. And it has always been my dream to work on a historic drama soundtrack, so I was honored. That’s how it all began.
— Ahn Ye Eun
Though years have passed since the show aired, the soundtrack — especially the track “Red Tie” — remains a viewer favorite. To show for it, a fan-made music video, featuring Ahn Ye Eun’s “Red Tie” and visual from The Rebel, has now accumulated over 1.3M+ views on YouTube. It seems fans can’t get enough of her “unique” voice and are all waiting to have Ahn Ye Eun work her magic again soon!
Listen to the song here: