Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for – KPOPALYPSE’s worst k-pop songs of 2013 list!
Some things to keep in mind:
1. This list is from January 1st 2013 to December 31st 2013. It was published on January 1st 2014 but may appear earlier to some people due to timezone differences.
2. Christmas songs are exempt, they have their own special blog post devoted just to them.
3. Feature tracks only, anything else is exempt otherwise shithouse filler ballads on every single k-pop album ever would have scooped almost all the list spots and this post would be very boring.
4. Songs for OSTs also exempt for the same reason – they’re all awful mushy ballads without exception.
5. These are my opinions, nothing more. Just because I’m a qualified music industry person with a complete understanding of music theory and production doesn’t mean that my opinions are any better than yours or anyone else’s. Music is like ice-cream flavours, there’s no explaining why some people like molasses-and-onion flavoured ice-cream, some folks are just into that, and good on ’em. Weirdos.
Warning: list has 30 embedded videos and could be lag-heavy on slow computers.
If this post is too mean and nasty for you and you’d wish that I would write something positive and happy instead, my best k-pop songs of 2013 list also exists so why not go and read that, you whiny fucking bitch. Anyway, that’s enough of the preamble, let’s get started.
30. Girls’ Generation – I Got A Boy
Here it is, folks: the #1 reason why 2013 was such a bad year overall. Girls’ Generation, I’m blaming you. When the most popular, most influential idol girl group in Korea releases a song like this, it has an impact, and the impact of “I
‘ve Got A Boy” was a whole bunch of other songwriters seeing the success that this song had, going “hmmm… five songs in one, great idea, and it’s so popular, why didn’t I think of that” and trying it themselves. Little did they know that making such decisions based on this song’s popularity was a huge mistake – Girls’ Generation’s 2013 Korean comeback was so highly anticipated that the girls could have recorded 5 minutes of their own diarrhoea into a cup and it would have been popular anyway. The hype that this song was a “k-pop Bohemian Rhapsody” wasn’t a complete lie as the songs are more or less structurally identical, although for a more accurate influence I’d pick “Summer Nights” from the musical “Grease” at least lyrically – a key cultural reference point that the hordes of overanalytical SNSD fans all completely missed. In any event the song has some listenable moments, and there are even certain sections I really enjoy but it’s a pity they only go for four bars before some other shit cuts in and ruins it. Worst of all is the horrid “diva” section two thirds of the way through the song that completely puts the brakes on everything and kills any momentum gained up until that point. It says a lot that the original demo for this song “Shiner On You” doesn’t have a lot of the extra sections, is much shorter and sounds much better for it.
And yes, the next 29 songs in this blog are all songs that I felt WERE WORSE THAN “I GOT A BOY”. Continue reading at your peril.
29. Davichi – Just The Two Of Us
CCM are usually a company that gets the ballads absolutely spot-on, but not this time. Watching the MV while listening makes this tolerable as the story is kind of interesting-ish and relevant to the lyrics but without the visual accompaniment this is incredibly mushy, sappy and so utterly boring and dull that I can’t even think of anything else to write about it… oh that’s right, Minkyung is not in the video so her cute face and pert boobies are absent which is another point against it. What were they thinking, tsk tsk. Mind you, even they probably couldn’t have saved this.
28. KARA – Bye Bye Happy Days!
Never before has a k-pop song title so completely encapsulated how I feel about a song. Continuing the tradition of KARA’s Japanese comebacks all being complete rubbish, “Bye Bye Happy Days!” is incredibly shrill and irritating in true j-pop style and… oh god, that title. Let’s be honest, with a title like that I should have known what to expect, why did I even click that video link in the first place. When I go to heaven and ask God for those four minutes of my life back he’s going to slap me and say “hey, they warned you with the fucking song title, and you knew KARA’s Japanese stuff was crap anyway, you’ve only got yourself to blame, now get back down to hell you little bitch”. Sigh.
27. Lee Hi – It’s Over
I didn’t like Lee Hi’s “1,2,3,4” when it came out, but I did warm to it eventually. I didn’t warm to “It’s Over” though, which both looks and sounds like it belongs on a children’s TV show although fuck knows what the kids would be learning by watching this shit other than how to dress up as a gangster furry so they can molest girls in public and get away with it. Even worse, this song is a 12-bar blues which means that it’s an express ticket to boredom central. I’m glad that Lee Hi’s career hasn’t taken off to the point where it’s started a blues trend in k-pop because that would be boring and I might have to start writing about Brazilian thrash metal instead and give this whole k-pop thing the flick, and I really don’t want to have to do that (but if I do in the future, now you know who to blame).
26. Teen Top – Date
When a male k-pop group’s MV starts off with wind chimes, take it as a warning sign and close the window that’s playing the video, that’s my advice to you all. Of course, I should have heeded this sage counsel myself but did not, and therefore I was forced to listen to all three minutes and nine seconds of Teen Top awkwardly mugging at the camera and pretending to be my best buddy while sappy, dreary R&B-influenced k-pop played in the background. Then I read the lyrics which are truly fucking terrifying and realised that Teen Top actually wanted to be “more than friends”. They seem really keen – how do I tell them no without offending them? Hopefully they’ll see their name come up on this list and their next song will be called “Just going out with a good friend, nothing to see here folks.”
25. M.I.B – Men In Black
This MV has to get the award for the most bored-looking female backing dancers of all time. Maybe they’re just trying not to look too into it so fangirls don’t try to get backstage at Music Core and knife them while yelling “get the hell away from my oppars you sluts”. Or maybe it’s the sunglasses combined with the woeful dance routine creating the illusion of unenthusiasm, the former clearly chosen to protect these girls’ identities so the poor dears don’t get stalked while going in and out of studios, kidnapped and stuffed into garbage bags. While it’s quite a bold move to have female backing dancers for a male group, it’s a pity similarly bold moves weren’t made by the company in charge of this such as writing a song with an actual melody or any kind of catchy element to negate the awful cringeworthy cornball nature of the concept. Also, has anyone told them that the Men In Black films are all a complete bucket of shit? This song both looks and sounds terrible in 2013, imagine what it will look and sound like in 2023.
24. G-Dragon – Michigo
Listen G-Dragon, I know you want to be all “cutting edge” and “nu-school” and “ahead of the game”, yes I understand this, but you also need to understand something: YOU CAN’T WRITE A POP SONG WITH JUST SOUND EFFECTS AND LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE AT ALL. Getting the pitch bender thing on your synth and going “widdle-widdle-widdle” with it in vaguely approximate time to the beat does not sound “futuristic” and “cool”, it sounds like you need to take the thing back to the music store to get it serviced. I’m all for experimental music but there’s a time and a place. Why don’t you just give up on pop music and go join the new Ministry line-up if you’re into this sort of thing, they could probably use the help these days.
23. B.A.P – Coffee Shop
If there’s a single B.A.P fan out there who actually prefers their “just chillaxin’ being cool dudes singing about how nice life is, baby I love you oh yeah” songs and concepts to the “heavy metal/rap cyber warrior of death” routine that they debuted with, I’m yet to meet them. Plus they certainly are some sad, sad motherfuckers. I can hear music like this in a REAL coffee shop, or riding an elevator, or the next time I’m on hold to the phone company because they fucked up my bill again, I don’t need to listen to k-pop for this. I guess “boring as fucking shit” as an actual concept is something new so props to B.A.P and TS Entertainment for trying something different I guess, but I don’t think it’s really working out for them. Get back to wearing silly bandanas and dancing to chunky distorted guitar riffs kthx.
22. Apink – Secret Gadren
Obviously seeing the B.A.P video above and rising defiantly to the challenge, Apink decided to throw down the gauntlet in the name of gender equality and prove that girls can be boring as batshit too. This song and MV is kind of like F-ve Dolls’ “Can You Love Me?” if you:
* Remove all the great melody and harmony and replace it with some really generic major-scale climbing thing that nobody over the age of 6 wants to hear
* Use all the wrong rhythm track instrumentation so it sounds stodgy and leaden like an 80s power ballad instead of light and breezy to match the theme
* Make sure you slow down the tempo a bit so it doesn’t excite or interest anyone too much
* Throw away your MV stylist and set designer, raid the bin at the back of the local bridal gown shop for leftovers, then shoot the video at the town botanic gardens
The result is generic girly-girl k-pop song #5926. Even SNSD’s “Echo” was better than this shit.
21. Girl’s Day – Female President
Never mind the dopey “feminist” pretensions in the lyrics and how relevant to the concerns of women in Korea they really are, the real question here is that out of all the songs in the history of western pop music to make a soundalike song from, why the fuck would anybody choose the awful “Wings” by Little Mix? We’re not that close to the bottom of the barrel of western pop culture yet, are we? Not only that, but “Female President” is not even as good as “Wings”. Getting a song that bad and actually making it even more shit has to earn some kind of merit badge for uncharted achievement in the field of k-pop. “Female President” strips the only good parts of “Wings” away and replaces it with an incredibly shithouse, non-catchy chorus and a whole bunch of empty space in the frequency field where at least there were some reasonable sonics before. Talk about redundant. Then just to add insult to injury, Little Mix went and made a Korean version of “Wings”, thus robbing “Female President” of the only function as a song that it arguably even had in the first place. Oops.
20. Ailee – U&I
Shinsadong Tiger must have been feeling lazy on the day that he decided to pick up the Ailee contract, or perhaps she wasn’t a very cooperative bangbus rider and skitzed out and ran away when Shindong wanted a handjob and so Tiger got pissed at her and said “fuck it why even try with this hoe”, because damned if he’s forgotten all about his usual production smarts and just delivered another paint-by-numbers Beyonce “Crazy In Love” clone. Well, fuck. K-pop really didn’t need another one of these given that it’s such well-worn territory already in the genre but I guess some people will buy any old bullshit tossed-off song as long as it’s got Ailee’s voice on it. To be fair unlike “Female President”, “U&I” is actually marginally better than “Crazy In Love” because it actually features a proper chorus, but it’s a double-edged sword because it’s existence just gives Ailee more chance to jerk off in our faces with extra needless vocal overdubs. Her vocal explorations are as technically well-executed as you’d expect but they don’t serve the song in any way whatsoever and are just about soulless, passionless showing off, just like a guitar player who uses every guitar solo break and gap in the music as an opportunity to dominate the mix and cram in as many notes as possible to show how good they are, whether it fits the song or not. (Whether Ailee insisted on their insertion or her producer, we don’t know, but my money’s on the latter.) This kind of obsession with showiness at the expense of musicality needs to stop in k-pop, and it will, if k-pop as a genre is to have any hope of longevity.
19. SHINee – Why So Serious?
This song nearly didn’t make it into this list at all simply because I completely forgot that it even existed, which will give you some idea of how heavily it’s impacted my k-pop playlist rotation. To think that I wrote an entire blog post about Jonghyun not being in this video because he was too busy feeling Hitomi Tanaka’s boobies, and I forgot about the song itself. How could that happen? Oh that’s right, because this song is a fucking forgettable piece of shit. Ahhh, it all makes sense now. The guitars sound great but they’re mixed too low to have an impact and there’s too much other pointless stuff cluttering up the mix, the result is just a gigantic fucking mess of shit, and it may be SHINee but as they say you can’t polish a turd. Even SHINee fangirls themselves were divided over whether this song was even any good or not, which should tell you something about how everyone else felt.
18. Turan – Bang Bang Bang
Although 2013 has definitely been a good year for nugu groups, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some stinkers too. One of the worst was Turan, whose Mission Impossible-inspired “Bang Bang Bang” was a devastatingly awful pseudo-bhangra train wreck. The comically mispronounced English even by low, low k-pop standards doesn’t help matters, and the bargain-basement MV also leaves a lot to be desired (the group would have been better off just using their live stages as an MV as they look substantially better), but the music is trashy enough just on its own to make you want to tie a piece of dental floss to an icepick, stab yourself in the ear and floss your brain.
17. 2ne1 – Missing You
As I mentioned when discussing Girls’ Generation, structural arrangement problems in songs have plagued a lot of the bigger groups this year. T-ara N4’s “Countryside Life” and miss A’s “Hush” both narrowly escaped inclusion on this list only by virtue of having some worthwhile redeeming features despite arrangement problems nearly sinking both ships, however there’s no saving 2NE1’s “Missing You” which is basically just driftwood. The song starts promisingly enough with a slow build that sounds like it’s actually going somewhere interesting, it builds and builds and then right when the song should be exploding with awesomeness the big piano kicks in at 1.03 and lets you know loud and clear that all you’re going to get out of 2NE1 this time around is another shithouse stadium ballad that’s not even as good as their last few. Jesus fucking christ what is this bullshit. By the time you see CL naked in the bathtub you’ll be too depressed to even notice as yet another chance for YG at a decent comeback for one of their artists is noisily sucked away like dirty water down CL’s plughole.
16. Donghae & Eunhyuk – Still You
There’s a reason why I left my list until the end of the year and didn’t do this early – I wanted to make sure I caught everything and I’m glad I did because this song only came out the other week and it’s such a stinking turd that it deserves inclusion. This is the kind of generic filler which is usually left as just that – an extra song nobody gives a shit about sitting towards the end of an album’s tracklist to bulk up the album length and make you the consumer feel like you’re getting something for your money. Of course what you’re usually getting is musical herpes but that’s another story. What this song is doing as a feature track with an MV I don’t know, just like I don’t know why these people are in London, assuming that they even are and it’s not just them in front of a green-screen, just like I also don’t know why I spent time listening to this trash. Oh, so I could tell you how shit it is, that’s right. I hope you appreciate me jumping in front of this bullet for you.
15. Odd Eye – Catch Me If You Can
A new group with classical music and k-pop combined, they said. I wasn’t expecting much as I hear hype like this all the time and “classical” does not definitely always equal “good” but I honestly wasn’t expecting something quite this bad. This is really absolutely fucking shamefully terrible and unlistenable due to the stringed instruments being mixed front and center and constantly fighting for space with the vocals, both often playing contradictory melodies and just generally sounding like two completely different songs rubbing up against each other awkwardly like a bus scene in a Japanese AV. The song can’t even be appreciated from a purely technical violin-playing standpoint as the classical instruments are all loops instead of live performance, and the tinny drum machine over the top of it all adds yet another layer of needless bullshit. A good producer might’ve been able to salvage this into something tolerable, but as it stands this is just a waste of everybody’s time.
14. Exo – Wolf
You knew it was going to be on this list, and it’ll be on everybody else’s “worst songs” list for 2013 too. This song was so astoundingly and indisputably bad that when a rough studio mix of it leaked months ahead of schedule a lot of Exo fans didn’t want it to be real and some even questioned whether what they were listening to was Exo at all. SM then quickly slapped copyright claims on all the leaked versions at the time, thus confirming fans’ worst fears (because if it wasn’t their song obviously they wouldn’t legally be able to do that). The whole song is disastrous of course – random rapid-fire rapping straight to nowheresville, ridiculous nursery rhyme melodies suddenly appearing for no reason, enough dubstep elements to sound trendy and stupid but not enough to give the thing any actual proper dubstep groove and worst of all THAT chorus hook – this is a song that you have to be a Exo fan to like, because there’s really no other reason to listen to this except to laugh at how bad it is (which admittedly, does carry some entertainment value on its own).
You might be surprised to see “Wolf” in the middle of this list – it didn’t take the #1 spot or even get anywhere in my top ten worst songs. Yes, it’s been that kind of a year. This list only gets worse.
13. T-ara & Davichi & Skull – Bikini
This should shut up all those fuckheads who think that I’m a “delusional T-ara stan”. The fact is that T-ara are my favourite group because they consistently come out with absolutely great songs, however I was briefly worried when this particular Bondi cigar surfaced that it was going to signal a serious downfall. Of course I need not have worried as T-ara returned with the goods later in the year but that doesn’t stop this song from being a pile of shit anyway. Clearly a Z-grade attempt to rush out something like Sistar’s “Loving U” for summertime, it’s had about as much effort put into the songwriting as the video director put into the video, which doesn’t even have anybody from T-ara, Davich (sic) or Skull in the damn thing. When I first heard this I thought that maybe CCM had uploaded a really low bitrate version of this by mistake over the top of a random karaoke video, then I kept listening and realised that Skull just sounds like that and that one of the girls in bikinis was Haein from GangKiz and that this was indeed the legit final product. I guess maybe CCM realised the song was shit and didn’t have much time to do any better and knew it would fail anyway so just rushed out the cheapest thing possible which is kind of the subtext of what I was driving at with my blog about Haein a while back.
12. Kim Sori – Bikini
It seems like songs with the name “Bikini” are somehow cursed to be shitty. This song sounds like it comes straight out of a first-year college assignment for how to write k-pop:
1. Start the drum machine, press the ‘fill’ button at regular intervals
2. Add two (2) baselines, one for the verse, one for the chorus
3. Make at least two (2) different synth riffs that go “brrt bbztt bzzzt” and “woop woo woo-oooo” respectively
4. Add vocals. Feel free to borrow from other songs if you can’t think of anything specific.
Whoever wrote this song probably got at least a B on their report card purely because they checked all the boxes which is all most teachers look for, but what’s of an acceptable standard for a learning assignment doesn’t necessarily translate to an acceptable standard in the real world. If I was running that class I would have at least added more criteria like “must not have vocal lines that grate on the nerves like your neighbour starting up a jackhammer at 5 in the morning”, “synth riffs must not sound like a masturbating walrus”, etc. but then most of the students would have failed my class and I would have lost my job. That’s why there’s no fucking standards in the education industry anymore. Trufax.
11. Orange Caramel – Cookies, Cream & Mint
Now in the name of fairness and musical equity I regrettably have to twist the knife into one of my other favourite groups. When Orange Caramel ventured into the Japanese market with “My Sweet Devil” I was disappointed that the song was a fairly average cover of a 70s pop song, so I was keen to see what Orange Caramel’s songwriters could achieve doing their own thing. “Orange Caramel’s Korean songs and concepts are already perfectly suited to the Japanese market anyway, there’s no possible way that they could fuck this up”, I thought to myself. Oh how wrong I was. Rather than just put out something similar to the group’s fantastic Korean hits, the songwriters have decided “oh we can’t just do that, we’ve got to make them more j-pop sounding for the Japanese market” and tossed off a wayward mess that sounds like Perfume’s “One Room Disco” if it was rewritten by a drunk meth addict. The whole thing is as soulless and tasteless as the CGI cookie that appears at the start of the video, and while I’ve only got one of Avex’s annoying “short versions” here for this blog, trust me you’re doing well if you can even get through the 1:22 that’s on offer here. I’ve heard the full version, and trust me, it doesn’t improve.
10. Heart Rabbit Girls – Round & Round
It’s always the music business cliche that obscure groups have the great songs while fantastically popular artists ride on the back of their existing fame and just release shit and people lap it up like fresh milk. While there’s definitely occasionally some truth to this point of view (especially this year) more often than not it’s the other way around and groups you’ve never heard of are being ignored for a good reason, such as because their songs completely suck dick. Exhibit #5826: Heart Rabbit Girls. This song sounds fantastic with the moody bassline intro like it could be an awesome New Order style synthbopper, then it hits 0:08 and the cheesy “ooh ooh ooh, ha ha ha” line comes in completely changing the mood from “moody EDM awesomeness” to “cheesy bullshit”, then at 0:16 all hope is destroyed as the big chorus kicks in and your ears suddenly feel like they’re being given an elephant sperm enema. 2013 has practically been the year of the nugu so for a new group to fail hard enough to reach the top 10 worst songs given the stiff competition they’re up against this year is a real achievement. I think most of the budget of this went into making those shirts, and I know they’re supposed to be “heart rabbits” or whatever the fuck but it looks for all the world to me like a single smiling elephant sperm is adorning each one. Confirmation bias in action.
9. G-Dragon – Coup D’etat
Unlike a lot of people, I’ve never thought that G-Dragon was in any way untalented, it’s quite clear to me that he knows exactly what he’s doing. This of course doesn’t let him off the hook, in fact the reverse is true – it makes his crimes against music even more unforgivable than they would otherwise be. If someone like Kim Sori releases a song and it’s an absolute piece of shit, I can kind of forgive her because I know that she’s not really in the driver’s seat of her own music. It’s silly to blame idols for their songs when the idols have no choice in what they sing or even how they look, how they dance, even what they say on TV or to the media 99% of the time. Anybody blaming an idol for anything they sing, dance, say or do needs to realise that someone else probably told them to say or do whatever it is you’re hating them for and they were just following orders. However G-Dragon is in that exceptional 1% who actually DOES get a choice about what he puts out there, and the fact that someone who was supposedly influenced by Wu-Tang’s best album to pursue a rap career continually puts out music that is so terrible that it would get rejected from a Li’l Wayne session for making hip-hop look bad is something that mystifies me. Clearly it’s not a lack of talent but a lack of taste that is the problem and G-Dragon’s aspirations in rap are seemingly to sound like complete nu-school bullshit that encapsulates everything that is wrong with the commercial end of rap music today – slow-as-shit beats, no groove whatsoever, horrible sound effects that amplify the complete absence of interesting rhythm and even with my total lack of Korean speaking knowledge I can tell that there is no acceptable rap flow going on here whatsoever. When you release a rap song and then Miley fucking Cyrus releases a very similar song a few weeks later and it’s actually better, you know it’s time to rethink where you’re going with the whole rap portion of your career.
8. 2NE1 – Do You Love Me
I’m convinced that at this point in 2NE1’s career, YG’s strategy is to release shit song after shit song so they can sink the group and concentrate on their new groups instead. They’ve already realised that 2NE1 are well past their performance peak and will need some fresh blood soon, so they’re annoying fans as much as possible so those fans become extra-keen to move onto the next thing that YG eventually debuts. After fucking with fans for ages and releasing worthless tangenital comebacks that nobody wanted to hear (foreshadowing alert!) the best they can do for 2NE1 in 2013 is:
1. Reggae. Sure, I like reggae and I didn’t mind this song at all, but put a bunch of 2NE1 fans in a room and say “hands up all the people who really wanted a reggae song as 2NE1’s lead single this year” and you’ll see less extended limbs than at quadriplegic bingo night.
2. Some completely shithouse stadium rock ballad (covered above).
3. “Do You Love Me”. Let me get back to you on that, YG. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.
At least the song is fast-paced but that’s about the only thing going for it. It seems that whoever wrote this has just forgotten how to write catchy and interesting melodies, or maybe just couldn’t be bothered and is saving them for whatever those boy groups YG are about to debut will be called. The cheap handicam MV also betrays YG’s total IDGAFA2NE1 attitude; after all why waste resources on a group clearly near the end of its lifespan with established fans who will buy anything they release anyway when you’ve got two new groups just about to blow up who really need to impress with their debut singles? Watch those new groups debut soon with shit songs that prove my theory completely incorrect, but you can’t blame me for being optimistic.
7. EXO – Growl
As bad as “Wolf” was, “Growl” was actually even worse. Exo fans breathed a sigh of relief that “Growl” didn’t have the awkward experimentation of “Wolf”, but it’s that very same experimentation that contained the only redeeming value that “Wolf” offered. Like a Uwe Boll film, you might not enjoy it in the manner the creators intended but you could at least listen to “Wolf” and shake your head while laughing at the incredibly poor melodic, lyrical and production choices and have a nice chuckle to yourself. By being equally as shit yet replacing the comical badness of “Wolf” with bland repetition and dullness “Growl” doesn’t even offer that much entertainment. If “Wolf” is an Uwe Boll film, “Growl” is a Michael Bay film – certainly not good enough for a reasonably intelligent and discerning person to enjoy but also offering zero entertainment value even on any sort of meta-level by simply being one of the most boring and generic songs ever written in k-pop. It doesn’t help that the song’s entire hook is carried through about 75% of the arrangement by either vocals or instruments, meaning that by the time you’ve finally hit the first chorus you’ve already heard it 13 times (I counted). Even the one-take video is completely unimpressive given that all k-pop acts perform their dance routines on stages in one hit anyway, and the grey suits and grey room only serve as a neat metaphor to highlight the lack of colour in the song’s melody, harmony and structure. There were definitely worse songs this year for sheer unlistenability, but scientifically it would be hard to produce a more simply boring song than “Growl”.
6. 4minute – What’s Your Name?
Did someone say “unlistenability”? My blog software’s auto-spell checker thinks that “unlistenability” isn’t even a word, but I think 4minute have shown that necessity is the mother of inventing new ways to describe shit music. 4minute’s “What’s Your Name?” is basically just Hyuna’s “Ice Cream” with everything good about that song removed and replaced with awful grating synthesiser noises that wouldn’t even sound good on a Whitehouse album and pointlessly meandering blues-scale melodies that go straight to nothing in particular. The bridge break section isn’t too bad but that only happens twice and 16 bars of listenable if unspectacular music buried in between 3 minutes of complete dogshit really isn’t enough. Even the video is useless, using exactly the same concept as T-ara’s “Lovey Dovey” zombie video, but with far less effectiveness due to shoehorning the zombie stuff in there rather than letting the narrative slowly build, an obviously inferior copy that k-pop’s dopey legions of “OMG PLAGIARISM” obsessed fans oddly let 4minute off the hook for. The song did surprisingly well in Korea anyway though, which lead a lot of people to speculate on CUBE’s much-rumoured chart manipulation, but personally I’d believe the chart positioning was legit, after all we’re talking about a country that willingly listens to and enjoys shit like…
5. Busker Busker – Love, At First
In the European classical tradition, operatic “castrato” singers were men who hit incredible high notes and were also supposedly revered celebrities with great fame and active sex lives with groupies galore. They also had no testicles, these having been removed as children so their larynx would not suffer the deepening in pitch that happens to almost all men during the natural stages of puberty. I say “almost all” because Busker Busker’s singer sounds for all the world like a castrato when he leaps for those high notes in the chorus of “Love, At First”, and it’s impossible for me to listen to this without thinking about that scene in the film Fairnelli with the bathtub and the blood, or this video right here (viewer discretion advised ahem). But let’s not get sidetracked too much. Just like every other pop song in the entire history of the form, vocal quality doesn’t matter and never has, because if the song was decent the strained-nutsack-voice would be forgivable. Yes that’s right, I’m telling you to ignore the fact that the singer sounds like his bag is in a vice because that’s not even the real problem with this. The real problem with “Love, At First” is just terminal ultra-conservative “gosh we’d better take absolutely no chances with our music and offend absolutely nobody” blandness. The reason why k-pop has exploded globally whereas pop from so many other countries have not is because much of the pop from those other countries sounds a lot like Busker Busker and therefore doesn’t translate to global audiences of music fans looking for something that doesn’t sound as boring as five minutes of staring at grass grow. Every single international Busker Busker fan only discovered the group after discovering a whole ton of other groups first, and there’s a reason for that – if Busker Busker was your very first introduction song to k-pop, you wouldn’t listen to k-pop at all and you wouldn’t even be reading this. Think about that for a while, before commenting, Busker Busker fans. Take as long as you need.
4. Jay Park – Welcome
I’ve talked a lot about the reasons why male groups tend to appeal to female fans, and female groups to male fans, and I’ve mentioned before that it’s not just image and marketing – music by male artists is actually musically geared towards female listeners. Jay Park’s “Welcome” is a perfect example of this – a woman could simply not sing a song like this and make it work. Try to find a decent sounding cover of this song by a woman – you won’t. Likewise, if you like this song, you are female or gay and that’s all there is to it. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being either female or gay, but as someone who is not female or gay it’s a bit too much to expect me to actually listen to this fucking tragic R&B slop for hormonal beefcake-cravers and react in any other way other than include it in a “worst songs of the year” thread. There should be some kind of gender filter on YouTube’s k-pop videos like on porn flash video sites where you select whether you are male or female and whether you are into guys or girls and the site sorts and blocks videos based on your preferences, so that if you pick “male” and “into girls” this song doesn’t come up at all and you can live your life in blissful ignorance of something like this even existing. This awful R&B slop isn’t incompetently made or badly performed or anything like that, it’s just so clearly and concisely marketed exclusively along gender lines that Jay just lost almost exactly half of his audience.
3. SHINee – Everybody
I actually didn’t mind Maxstep too much and thought it showed a way forward for k-pop to incorporate dubstep sensibly e.g either do a song that is all dubstep, or no dubstep – you know, just like what people do with every other music genre ever; either work with the genre, or don’t. SHINee’s songwriters obviously see things differently. Not content to make the whole song dubstep or even just shoehorn a dubstep drop in the song’s solo section after the second chorus like every other boring k-pop songwriter running out of ideas, whoever wrote this trash decided that they would oscillate between dubstep and pop constantly throughout the whole fucking thing to the point where you didn’t even know what you were listening to anymore. Sometimes the dubstep is front-and-center, and sometimes it’s completely absent. Sometimes it’s sitting back in the mix, sounding murky and ready to pounce, and sometimes the song is oscillating between dubstep and electro pop and the rate of once per four beats. If we absolutely must have trendy fucking bullshit dubstep in the song then fine, but figure out where to put it for fuck’s sake. Add to that probably the most repetitive chorus in the entire history of k-pop and the result is one stinker of a song that sounds simultaneously mind-numbingly samey and completely musically confused, a combination that I didn’t even think was possible.
2. CL – The Baddest Female
CL’s “The Baddest Female” isn’t the best k-pop song ever. It’s also not the worst k-pop song ever. However, that’s only because of the song that got to #1 on this list, and CL, YG and Blackjacks everywhere should all be grateful for the fact that the last song on this list exists at all, because if it didn’t, this write-up would have started with “CL’s The Baddest Female is the worst k-pop song ever”. The low, low quality of this song is so notorious that it scarcely needs pointing out. You already know that CL can’t rap even as good as Soulja Boy, which is painfully obvious as much as it is obviously painful, even to a non-Korean speaker. You already know that this song is some nu-school rap trash that wastes the first three minutes of its running length in total shitsville before marginally improving somewhere around the last quarter (but who wants to wait that long in a pop song to hear something listenable). You probably also know that G-Dragon was really in love with this song and wanted to do his own male version of it, but reconsidered when it bombed on the charts, something which seemingly surprised only him. Given his disastrous music taste (covered above) it figures. Here’s something you didn’t know: I introduced one of my friends to k-pop as a whole a while ago and he really fell in love with the style. He really likes Girls’ Generation, T-ara, 4minute and many other groups including 2NE1, and out of all the girls in 2NE1 CL was his favourite, both on a “bias level” and musically, he had lots of admiration for CL’s voice, rapping ability (stay with me on this) and especially stage presence. When he heard about CL doing a solo comeback, he was excited. When it came out, he listened to it… and then stopped listening to not just “The Baddest Female” but ALL k-pop for months and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t bought anything else k-pop related since this song came out. That’s right, this song is such a piece of shit that it made him give up on k-pop completely, and we’re talking about a CL fan here! For what it’s worth I think I hate the song a little less then him – if nothing else I can admit that the production is certainly very good. However, the rest of the song is just BAD, and I mean VERY BAD, as in BAD MEANING BAD, not BAD MEANING GOOD. Just to be clear.
But surely there wasn’t a song in 2013 that was worse than “The Baddest Female”? Oh, yes there was. You’re forgetting something. To be fair you’ve probably subconsciously blocked it out of your memory completely, and who can blame you. Allow me to remind you now, so when it comes back to haunt you in a bad LSD trip or post-traumatic stress disorder incident later in your life you’ll have time to be fully prepared.
Yes, that’s right, it’s…
1. Hwang Minwoo – Show Time
Hwang Minwoo’s “Show Time” is the worst k-pop song ever. Not just for 2013 – but ever. Yes, that’s right, even A-Force’s infamous “Wonder Woman” is a superior song to “Show Time” by a reasonably distinct margin. Hwang Minwoo, also known as “Little PSY” is that kid who appears briefly on the beach in PSY’s “Gangnam Style” video, and I guess somebody thought that it might be an idea to extend his 4 seconds of fame into a few more minutes and take a stab at the k-pop market. Not necessarily a bad thought in itself, I mean, you never know if you’ve got it if you don’t try, right? The result is something else though. The sexualisation of Hwang Minwoo himself both in the lyrics and the video is frankly disturbing and creepy as shit, whoever thought that it was a good idea to have him ogling seemingly mature-age girls needs to have their house inspected by the police for a basement rape dungeon full of prisoners, stat. (If you don’t see the problem, imagine the outcry if the genders were swapped and it was a girl of that age ogling older guys like that. See the problem now? I thought so.) I only can feel sorry for the mystery blonde woman who appears at 2:10 to do a little four-bar rap which is the only listenable part of the song, how the hell did she get dragged into this (unless she’s his older sister and masterminded the whole thing in which case all I can say is “oops”). Then there’s the constant Gangnam Style references deployed constantly to maximise riding on PSY’s fame and of course there’s a token dubstep drop that doesn’t suit the rest of the song but is just lazily shoehorned in there, just like every second comeback by anybody these days. All of this pales into insignificance however compared to the dreadful melodies which would honestly sound like complete shit even if [insert your favourite vocalist here] was singing them. I’m not mad at Little PSY, it’s not his fault, and even if it is he’s too young to really know right from wrong… but what I’d like to know is how the hell this shit got past the gate at the record label. I guess if some people see enough potential dollar signs they’ll do anything.
Here ends my 2013 list. Here’s hoping for a better 2014!