Welcome to Kpopalypse’s 2014 favourite k-pop songs list! It’s time once again to run through my best songs of the previous 12 months! Although k-pop’s first Golden Age is definitely over and 2014 was honestly pretty meh overall, it still had some jewels to be found and here they are. Get ready to listen to some songs that I believe don’t suck… and hopefully you’ll also find out about a few that have so far flown under your radar!
Rules for list eligibility:
- Must be a feature track – no MV is okay, but if not, must at least have been promoted on music shows. After all k-pop is a visual experience as much as it is an auditory one.
- As long as someone in the Korean music system is involved somehow, it counts as k-pop.
- No Christmas songs, they have their own special blog (with one notable exception made as it isn’t really a Christmas song due to the timing of its release and the context, more on that later)
- No songs for sporting events, as they all suck
- No songs from OSTs unless they also had separate completely unrelated MV or promotions.
- These are my opinions. Your own opinions will probably be different.
- No I’m not trolling you or clickbaiting you. These ARE my opinions.
- If this list is too feel-good and nice for you, there is also my worst of 2014 list which should meet required hate-standards.
- I’ve never claimed that my opinions are superior to anybody else’s for any reason because they are not. People like different music because all music is processed through the brain and each brain perceives music differently. This is just a run-down of how I perceive things for your entertainment purposes. So take what you read with a grain of salt and try not to cry about it.
I’m sure the biggest whiners probably won’t even read any of this preamble anyway and will go straight to the comments and be all like “why didn’t you include [insert song here]” so without further ado let’s get started!
30. Luluz – How About Me?
Let’s start off the list with a Kpopalypse tradition – highlighting nugus that nobody gives a fuck about. Not only is this shot in the same run-down theme park that many nugu groups use these days when they’re watching their purse-strings, but they’ve got that weird-looking girl in them who was booted out of that other nugu group Badkiz, presumably for exceeding nugu quota. This song would have easily qualified for the next Nugu Alert series but it’s too close to the end of the year so fuck it, it can go on this list instead. So what’s so good about this song? Well, it draws heavily on Van Halen’s great “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” in the verses and some other 80s pop song that I can’t remember right now in the excellent breakdown at 2:24 which is probably one of k-pop’s best breakdowns ever but it’s all sung by moderately attractive women who are pleasant to look at rather than a bunch of sweaty lycra-clad 80’s hair-rockers. The other parts of the song aren’t quite so great but the better sections mentioned above are still enough to scrape this song over the line to get it into this list. It’s been that kind of a year.
29. Mamamoo – Piano Man
Mamamoo were a new 2014 group that I had no hopes for at all, as they’d been releasing nothing but utter shit all year. “Mr. Ambiguous” was unambiguously fucking boring, that song of theirs with K.will just made me want to say “k, won’t”, their album tracks all sucked penis and worst of all was that stupid horrible R&B nonsense that they did with Bumkey. I guess the girls didn’t have enough money to pay for the meth on the spot so he demanded that they compensate for the shortfall by warbling all over his awful backing track. Then “Piano Man” came out and I quickly fell out of my chair when I realised that it didn’t felch colons and was actually quite rocking. Maybe Bumkey did the right thing and passed some of the crystal meth onto Mamamoo’s producers because finally they’ve perked up a bit and produced something with a bit of a decent beat to it and that breaks away from the blues and R&B nobody wants to hear. If this is what distributing a bit of drugs around the k-pop scene can do, then I approve. Let’s hope Bumkey gets a suspended sentence so he can go and visit Brave Brothers and get them all fucked up on E so we can have a decent 2015.
28. Epik High – Born Hater
Oh look, YG artists CAN still release good music! Amazing! What’s Epik High’s secret to evading the rampant shit music disease that has seemingly infected the entire surface area of YG Entertainment HQ lately? Well, it’s probably got something to do with YG’s CEO Yang Hyun Suk not allowing Epik High to work in the in-house studio, because he didn’t want them getting influenced by all the other lame-ass music floating around there and thus having them sound too much like the rest of the bullshit on his label. Smart thinking for sure! Strict quarantine of Epik High’s musical ideas has kept them safe, allowing them to produce something that sounds almost exactly like an actual rap song without the likes of G-Dragon breaking down the studio door, offering everyone reefers and suggesting that they swag it up a little with godawful trap beats and corny catchphrases. YG’s new quarantine policy is such a good idea that I’m thinking maybe they can repeat it with some of their other artists, using a process of elimination to narrow down and isolate the source of the trendy bullshit infecting their label’s core sound so they can remove it for good. Just the fact that the CEO came up with this idea in the first place shows that at least he acknowledges that the problem with YG sucking lately exists, which is an encouraging sign. There is hope, k-pop fans!
27. AOA (Ace Of Angels) – Like A Cat
Speaking of which, Brave Brothers produced not one but two great songs for AOA this year (plus one forgettable song, the dull “Short Hair“), and I agonised over which one was going to end up in this list. In the final analysis I think that “Like A Cat” is a slightly better song than “Miniskirt“, and I feel this way for the following reasons:
- Vuvuzelas annoy people which I think is funny
- Jimin says “hey” a lot louder
- The syncopation on “the pretty girls are AOA” is cool, and that whole spoken intro is corny and hilariously awesome
- Jimin meows, it sounds silly but I like it because I know it annoys others (you’ll find that me liking things that irritate other people is a recurring theme in this post in general)
- A little more sonically harsh and wall-of-noise than the usual Bravesound production, not so fucking boring and smooth like every other piece of shit song this year, fuck all you dickheads who want music that’s “relaxing” and “soothing”, go fuck yourselves
- Jimin’s squeaky voice irritates the living shit out of people which makes me love her
- Jimin in general
Jimin musically carries AOA, they’d be nowhere without her, and it’s simply because she sounds different, it gives the group some character to make them stand out in a genre where everyone is trained to sound the same, look the same, dance the same, act the same. You could have someone blindfold you and put on a bunch of k-pop songs that you’ve never heard before, and ask you to guess the groups – with a lot of them you’d probably have no clue but as soon as you hear one fucking syllable of that squeaky voice you’ll say “yep… I’m definitely listening to AOA”. That kind of instant recognition is money in the bank and means 12957320 times more than “vocal talent” in terms of what actually matters to k-pop – catchy songs that build a brand identity. It’s a pity that the rest of the song doesn’t live up to the bliss of the first 30 seconds and Jimin’s rap parts but it’s okay because I’ve got seven girls in catsuits to watch during the other bits and that pretty much takes up all my leftover critical faculties anyway.
26. T-ara N4 & Chopstick Brothers – Little Apple
Everybody loves to criticise CCM/MBK’s decisions as if listening to k-pop gives them a wealth of experience and wisdom in music management and creative entrepreneurship, but which one of you fucking self-appointed business experts noticed that T-ara were about the only k-pop group to NOT have a controversy in 2014? Everyone else’s faves fell apart at the seams or went through some other major drama but the well-oiled T-ara machine kept right on chugging, debut line-up still intact years after every editorial predicted disbandment, releasing songs and touring around Asia… oh and releasing “Little Apple” with Chopstick Brothers as the first step in their multi-million dollar Chinese enterprise after Chinese fans warmed so much to “Number Nine” and “Sugar Free” that they became impossible to justify ignoring. The song is far from T-ara’s best, but given that the bar is set so high quality-wise with T-ara songs generally, that’s no surprise. It’s still got all the typical elements that make T-ara’s best feature tracks work (upbeat disco feel, multi-layered melodies, succinct arrangement, lack of trendy bullshit, T-ara being hot) and it still kicked the shit out of 99% of other k-pop this year.
25. Pritz – Sorasora
Unlike pop groups who aim to be polite and liked by as many people as possible, metal artists thrive on offending overly sensitive fuckheads, and are generally happy to exist with just a cult following that understands their mission rather than trying to resemble a dollar bill that is made to be liked by everybody. Whether Pritz is a pop or a metal artist sonically could be debated, but at least on an ideological level the answer lies in how their agency reacted to people whining about their super-cute pseudo-Nazi doll concept – a very polite “go fuck yourselves, we’ll do as we please“. This puts Pritz squarely in the “metal” camp conceptually, and that’s a good thing because what the k-pop scene definitely needs are more groups and agencies with a “fuck what you think” metal mental attitude. Pritz are therefore already in the good books with Kpopalypse before I’ve even factored into the equation a single note of their music, but the fact that “Sorasora” looks and sounds like J-gimmick Babymetal but with a focus on catchier tunes instead of schizophrenic genre-hopping and sung by women of actual fappable age means that this is a group I have no choice but to support. The reactions to them are hilarious – Babymetal haters hate them because they sound like Babymetal, the Babymetal fans hate them also because they sound like Babymetal, and everyone else hates them because they can’t admit to themselves that Nazi fashion is hot. Go, girls! Extract those netizen tears, I think you’ll find it’s not too difficult!
24. Stellar – Marionette
In today’s world true political power is minimal, concepts like “left” and “right” no longer have any real meaning, and global commerce is now the real democracy. This means that if you like something, get behind it and vote for it with your dollar, because every time that you spend money you’re enabling more of what you’re spending on and less of what you’re not spending on. If everybody who was concerned about Apple’s shitty iPhone factories didn’t buy an iPhone but bought phones only from we-treat-our-employees-fairly-r-us, there would be no more demand for the Apple product and their factories would close down. By spending or withholding money, you’re making a tangible difference to society and casting your vote for the kind of world that you want to live in. As for the world that I want to live in, it’s definitely one where there are more songs and music videos like Stellar’s “Marionette”, so I made damn sure that I went out and got my autographed copy of their excellent Sweetune-produced mini album as soon as possible, because I wanted to send a message to the k-pop industry – keep making more shit like this. You don’t need me to tell you how great this song is because you’ve already listened to it 21096 times while fapping to the excellent video (or complaining about other people fapping to the excellent video) so let’s just move on.
23. Kemy & Minju (A.KOR) – And Go
How To Save Worthless Shitty Western Rap Music Forever:
- Locate awful western rap song with a good beat and nothing else going for it.
- Remove L’il Wayne.
- Remove any other assholes.
- Remove the shit chorus, rap music doesn’t need lame sing-songy bullshit choruses, rap needs to GO HARD OR GO HOME.
- Add a couple of hot k-pop girls who can rap, change the lyrics to suit them.
- NO! Not her. Can’t you read? HOT k-pop girls who CAN rap.
- Ah, that’s better.
- Repeat as necessary.
You could say it’s not k-pop and not eligible for this list because they’re just rapping over a western beat, but most SM groups spend most of their time singing over a bunch of European-made backing tracks these days so I don’t see how this is any different. I played Kemy and Minju’s mixtape raps more than just about any other rap shit this year, and that was before I found out about Kemy pissing off Blackjacks which only made me like her more even though I disagreed with her anti-drug stance. It’s a pity nothing Kemy or A.KOR have done since has come even close to this yet, and it’s also a pity Minju hasn’t done any solo rap stuff because she’s the hot one and I would appreciate some more fanservice. Give these two girls a full rap album already… or just tell me where I can get this mixtape if it’s got a dozen tracks like this on it.
22. Lovelyz – Candy Jelly Love
Speaking of Park Drugs, it’s fairly obvious that “Candy Jelly Love” is a shady reference to Bommie Realdoll smuggling drugs inside her jelly sandwiches, but that’s not actually the best thing about Lovelyz’ debut song. Nor was it Seo Jisoo’s iconic “you’re the best ever cum in my life” line, the subtle jizz references elsewhere throughout the Korean lyrics, or even the obviously fake but completely hilarious Jisoo rumours (you’d think k-pop fans would be used to this shit by now and be able to pick fabricated evidence a mile away but nope, they’re still dumb as fuck). The best thing about “Candy Jelly Love” was the music, which completely nailed the sound of the melancholy 80s British synthpop groups that pop songwriters from just about everywhere have been trying and dismally failing to recapture the spirit of for decades. These influences sailed right past dipshit k-pop fans undetected, many of whom rushed to accuse Lovelyz of copying SNSD and Apink, but the overall sound plus the video’s randomness and artsy still-life vibe seems more to me like a nod to New Order’s “Blue Monday“, except that the New Order members probably wouldn’t look this hot dancing in school uniforms.
21. 100% – Beat
Now that BigBang don’t want to be BigBang anymore because G-Dragon’s too busy running around being a swag-prince to write an actual song these days, someone’s gotta fill the gap and 100% look like a strong contender. They’ve got everything that a k-pop boy band needs: silly leather outfits, weird metal arm and leg guards, makeup, strange geometric sets, makeup, silly hair, energetic dance moves and makeup. Pity they’re still somewhat in nugu land but the song is pretty damn good as far as epic k-pop anthems go and I really wish some girls were singing it instead of these skinny dudes so I could fap but I guess I’ll settle for it how it is because at least they’ve got a sexy female armguard-curator (or whatever the fuck she’s doing) in the MV. Also, did you know that the mini album that this song comes from is called “Bang The Bush“? Ladies, form an orderly queue, no shoving! I moved them up a few places on this list for that title alone.
20. Yery Band – Romeo Mannequin
Here’s a song and a video that just about all of you fucking slept on, and you shouldn’t have because it fucking rocks – time to fucking catch up on what you fucking missed, you fucking fucks. While you were all jerking yourselves off to other girl rockers doing some limp blues-rock or some other weak generic Nickelbackian bullshit, Yery Band were killing it and you were oblivious. The video alone for this song is unbelievably great, with gory, artery-severing bone-snapping swordfighting fun that makes the action in T-ara’s epic and amazing “Day By Day/Sexy Love” drama double-MV look leaden and tame in comparison. It’s easy to get carried away in the video and ignore the song itself, partly due to how great it is and partly due to the overbearing sound effects, but strip all that away and what you’re left with is Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” if the whole thing was taken apart and put back together again by someone with pop songwriting sensibilities who knew how to make music beyond pressing “go” on a sample-and-hold device. Of course, most k-pop fans didn’t care about how great this song was because it wasn’t “soothing” or “relaxing” or whatever dicksucking bullshit pop music fans in 2014 seem to want a song to be but I liked it so fuck ’em.
19. Purfles – 1,2,3
Purfles’ “1,2,3” got quite a bit of attention from avid nugu followers, some claiming it to be the nugu song of the year – I personally wouldn’t go that far, but it’s certainly got something about it that’s worth paying attention to. Whether you like this song or not might depend a lot on whether you’re playing it through a speaker system capable of reproducing the sub-bass melodies in the chorus, because it’s the pedal-point of the static melody over a changing bassline that provides the hook, but if you can’t hear the bassline the “na na na na” bit on its own is boring as hell. It probably wasn’t the best idea in the world to bury the catalyst for the catchiest part of the song in the below-80Hz sub-bass range given that most people these days listen to their favourite songs on tinny phone speakers that would struggle to reproduce it, but oh well. This may not be my #1 song as far as overall song quality but it’s probably in the top five this year for subwoofer-wrecking. Don’t ask me to make a top subwoofer-wreckers list by the way, I’ve had enough lists for a while.
18. Delight – Hate You
Delight’s songwriters finally learned something from last year’s great “Mega Yak” and that messy horrible “School Bell” song – namely, dubstep breakdowns fucking suck. “Hate You” mercifully doesn’t have any of that bullshit and is therefore free to rock uninhibited by a sudden need to drop to half-time and start going WUBWUBWUBBZZZZZTWEUBWEUB for no reason other than that it’s trendy. The result is a great upbeat dancefloor stomper, the sort of thing 2NE1 used to do well and nowadays refuse to even do at all lest they gain a new fan one day. The part from 0:54 is just begging for Bom’s characteristic voice (which everybody loved when they first got into k-pop until they read endless Internet posts by vocalfag idiots giving superfluous technical reasons why they’re not “allowed” to like it) instead of generic k-pop nugu #572 but that’ll never happen because Teddy lost the fire to write songs this good when he cooled out the fiery passion of his burning loins inside Han Ye Seul’s gaping snatch. Oh well, let’s hope Delight continue to exist and pump out more songs this good so we can have our 2NE1 cake and eat it too. Also, who the fuck is that girl at 0:40? She’s super-cute and I don’t remember her being in the group before this video came out, but maybe that’s the fault of styling, or maybe I’ve had one too many jelly sandwiches.
17. Orange Caramel – My Copycat
A lot of people liked Orange Caramel’s “Catallena” and while it was definitely a good song, for my ear it was just a little bit too clever for its own good. Rather than capitalising on Orange Caramel’s core strength which is upping the ante on SAW-style catchiness, “Catallena” was pitched just a little left-of-center to maximise appeal to stuffy music critics rather than actual pop music fans. On “My Copycat” the balance was firmly restored in favour of addictive melody and fun, with a great dance rhythm and a saxophone riff that you will probably remember in ten years. I was literally jumping up and down in my seat when I first clicked on this going “ORANGE CARAMEL ARE BACK AGAIN FUCK YES” because after that horrid j-turd that emerged from their collective anal rings last year I had nearly completely lost my faith that they would ever consistently be this awesome again. How foolish of me to worry, I shall proceed to my nearest church of Rainaism, kneel and do ten Hail Rainas.
16. The Seeya – Tell Me
It’s no secret that CCM/MBK have been retreading what I like to call the “We Were In Love” template with all of their artists, with only the most minor of variations. However on try number 37 or whatever “Tell Me” is, they’ve finally perfected that song they’ve been trying to write for the past two years. What sets this iteration of CCM Ballad 101 apart from the others (I’ll get into the habit of calling them MBK in 2015, honest) is that the backings are a lot lighter and breezier, not to mention faster. If you’re going to play through a song every asshole has already heard before in a slightly different form 3 gazillion times you might as well do it quickly. Also, there’s some nice acoustic guitar that recalls some of the fluid swing-jazz guitar work on IU’s “Modern Times” album, plus a great video with Kpopalypse bias-list approved Seunghee (also in the header picture for this list) cast as the slutty wench, always a good thing. Her sluttiness is implied rather than stated outright but it’s k-pop so they can’t show too much – we all know she sucked that dude off about five minutes before he had the argument with that other woman. The The Seeya girls (not a typo) look great too actually and this whole production just oozes the kind of style that only CCM/MBK/XYZ/whatever they’re calling themselves this week can consistently bring.
15. 912 Crew – Roller Skate
Regular Kpopalypse readers all knew that “Roller Skate” was going to be on this list ever since I featured it on Kpopalypse Nugu Alert, it was just a matter of how high it would get. I owe the discovery of “Roller Skate” to one of my ask.fm anons and if any of you are wondering why I bore you all with that fucking thing, it’s because for every 5000 questions I get about the same couple dozen topics, someone throws me a video like this and I watch it and start fist-pumping the air as the pure awesomeness washes over me. At that point endlessly typing out “no, I don’t like [insert shitty western pop artist here]”, “yes my girlfriend knows I have k-pop biases and fap”, “no I don’t want to have children”, “yes I like fapping what’s the big deal everybody does it”, “no of course I don’t like anime I’m over 6 years old” etc suddenly feels like it was all worthwhile. “Roller Skate” is proof that you don’t need much of a budget to make a k-pop video if you’ve got a bit of imagination, personality, a sense of humour and a cool song and if you don’t mind too much if the results look a bit ragged. It’s probably not good enough for the average k-pop fan spoiled on half-million dollar productions but I grew up from a punk and metal background where almost all the videos are this crappy, so I love it. The whole package is awesome, simple and effective and most of all fun. These five people are probably having more fun in this video than every oh-so-serious k-pop netizen put together ever experienced in their lifetime. Also the girl is cute. Just saying.
14. Orange Caramel – Abing Abing
“Abing Abing” was a bolt out of the blue, it arrived with absolutely no fanfare at all from the agency, and proceeded to be the best thing Orange Caramel have done since “Magic Girl“. “My Copycat” might have great sax riffs and a great beat but “Abing Abing” trumps it because it’s got superior vocal melodies and a better chorus which is more important for a pop song, plus more traditional electro SAW-style backing which is what Orange Caramel have always done best. It’s also an advert for Baskin Robbins ice cream which I didn’t even know was a thing that existed until this song came out. Now of course I have to eat it at every opportunity because idols make more money from endorsements than music sales so hopefully someone over at Harbour Town has noticed the influx of ice cream fans since this song came out, makes the connection and Raina gets a brownie point or something that she’ll later thank me for. Also it’s fuckin’ hot where I live at this time of year and I could really go an ice cream right about now so that might also give this song a slight advantage in Kpopalypse chart positioning.
13. M.O.A – Run For Your Dream
One of the most astounding achievements in k-pop nugudom, 2014 nugus M.O.A debuted with the completely hideous “I’ll Call Ya” and then instantly redeemed themselves with the amazing “Run For Your Dream”, a bizarre pop song with a progressive arrangement that does something incredible – it actually works (unlike many others). The secret to having a progressive arrangement work well is that it actually has to progress, rather than regress, and “Run For Your Dream” always sounds like it’s building and going somewhere, right up until the orgasmic chorus at the end, with no gimmicky stylistic hiccups to completely kill the momentum. Unfortunately, M.O.A as a group didn’t progress quite as well career-wise as this song does and have since disbanded, although some of the girls involved found their way into nugu fap group 4Ladies and are probably still running for their dreams as you read this… just with less clothing.
12. Minx – Why Did You Come To My Home
“Why Did You Come To My Home” definitely shouldn’t work, but it does anyway. It has an annoying YG-style intro thing, a dubstep breakdown and even irritating vocal wank at the end where one of the girls shows off her whistle register vocals as if anybody with a life gives two shits. However it’s also got that killer chorus, which makes me forgive all its other sins and just goes to show the importance of a good chorus in these things. Adding to the appeal are the cute 80s verse rap parts that are kind of like Wassup but with the swag-lite toned down to acceptable levels. Then there’s one of the girls who looks a bit like Sulli from f(x), and given that Sulli’s interest in k-pop right now is probably hovering somewhere between “meh” and “cao ni ma”, it’s good to have a replacement idol to fetishise handy in case she bails completely. Plus bonus points for how at 1:41 one of the girls is wearing orange Dead Kennedys socks and I’m just impressed that those are something that actually exists. I wonder how Jello Biafra would look in those. Anyway this song is basically 2NE1’s “Gotta Be You” in a parallel universe where it isn’t a complete piece of shit.
11. Infinite – Back
Speaking of 2NE1 sucking (always a relevant topic) some of you may remember that in 2013 I singled out 2NE1’s “Missing You” as the complete pile of cow dung that it undoubtedly is. This was a controversial selection – some of you had difficulty understanding why I felt that way and even suggested that I was just trying to be “edgy” or that I was clickbaiting 2NE1 fans by stating an opinion that nobody could possibly agree with, but a listen to Infinite’s “Back” should explain everything perfectly. Both songs start off with a mellow, slow paced ballad-style intro, and both songs sound like they’re gradually going somewhere interesting. However the payoff is very different in each case – while the chorus to “Missing You” is a giant snaky carrot-encrusted turd of a piano ballad gradually sliding out of Bom and CL’s gaping anuses directly into your ears, Infinite’s “Back” gets to about 1:38 and then fucking explodes in your face with a fast beat and great chorus melodies paired with an awesome keyboard riff vaguely reminiscent of “Sweet Child Of Mine” except better because it works its magic over more than just three fucking chords. The idea is similar but the difference in execution is utterly massive. I don’t know what’s so difficult to understand, it’s as if YG fans don’t remember the musical glory days of their own favourite groups and don’t want their music to be interesting and exciting and engaging and fun… oh wait, you guys actually liked “Eyes, Nose, Lips“, forget I said anything. Anyway, back to “Back” and it’s easily Infinite’s best song ever and not many boy groups are ever going to get given anything this good to sing during their careers… but even if you hate the song and hate Infinite, you get to watch them get the shit beaten out of themselves in the video so there’s still a positive side.
10. Badkiz – Ear Attack
I figured that I was probably going to like this in some way before I even clicked the video – any group with a name describing themselves as “bad” is already a welcome change from all the boring fucking goody-two-shoesness that goes on in k-pop before they’ve even done anything. It makes me sick how fucking nice k-pop artists behave to everybody, especially people who don’t deserve niceness in any way, shape or form (netizens, the media, their own crazy fans, stupid people in general). Most artists in other genres besides k-pop that I like are lucky to stay out of jail long enough to complete a tour, so even if the song was seriously knob-polishingly awful I can at least get behind a group full of self-proclaimed assholes. The song being called “Ear Attack” was an even better sign, because k-pop doesn’t have enough music in it which actually attacks me instead of trying to lull me into a stupor like a parent trying to placate an emotionally underdeveloped infant that just crapped its pants into going to sleep in its own soiled nappy so mummy and daddy can get some fuck-time in. The song thankfully delivered on this promise and then some, with a constant driving beat that doesn’t compromise for weak breakdowns, annoying (to others, not me) whistles and chants in the chorus and even a fun slap-happy video. Best of all it’s by a nugu group nobody cares about so I can appreciate it without being swamped by any awful fanbases because there’s probably only about three fans of this group right now.
9. Henry – Fantastic
Okay, so Super Junior M’s Henry may look like an Asian Rick Astley, but he’s got the songs that Super Junior themselves haven’t had in at least five years. The intro to this may be the corniest shit this side of Chad Future but that’s only because Henry is in fact the man that Chad Future wants to be, however nobody’s ever going to write a song this good for Chad because any k-pop songwriter getting regular work would be crazy to give him something this good instead of their lazy offcuts. K-pop as a whole is kind of like the shittiest music imaginable buffed and shined to perfection, proof that you can polish a turd once you get used to the smell, and this turd smells damn good with great melodies throughout and SAW’s hi-NRG sound pilfered extensively. The only thing wrong with it is a crappy breakdown but then if the best k-pop feature track ever can have a shit breakdown two and a half minutes in that everyone hates, so can this. Also, people say SM’s box videos are cheap and lazy but here’s more proof that those people are full of shit, when I look at the “Fantastic” video all I can see is the tons of money that’s obviously been spent. I think that it would have easily cost them six digits just to build not one but two Deus Ex foyers in real life let alone the rest of the costs (and as usual with SM no it’s not CGI). Then I looked at it closer and realised that the interiors are actually designed around different parts of the inside of a violin… come on SM, you’re just showing off now, stop that. I wish SM would produce a lazy video for a change, it’d probably help the environment or something because I’m sure they just use sets like this for kindling once they’re done with them.
8. Tahiti – Oppa, You’re Mine
Tahiti are one of the best groups in k-pop for sheer consistency of the songs that they get handed. They honestly don’t have any shit feature tracks at all, but on the other hand nothing of theirs has stood out for me quite like this song before either. It’s just a really catchy and slightly doo-wop inspired dance-pop number and those “ooo-oooo” parts on the way to the chorus are some of the sexiest backing vocals you could ever want in a k-pop song. I don’t have a lot else to say about this great song except that ever since doing that Sarah Wolfgang interview all I can now think of when I watch this is what insane backbreaking work being in this (or indeed any) k-pop group must be. No wonder Tahiti has a revolving-door membership, I wonder how long they can sustain themselves before they either fall apart or finally snag a hit, in the meantime I’ll definitely support this though. I also support the MV’s excellent colour-matching styles – one colour at a time to figure out is good for colour-blind people like me, thanks Tahiti.
7. Puer Kim – Manyo Maash
There was a rumour going around a while back that Quentin Tarantino was going to do a remake of Russ Meyer’s iconic badass 1960s boobsploitation flick “Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!” and that he was going to cast pornstar Tera Patrick in the lead role. I don’t think those rumours had much legitimacy unfortunately, but if he ever does consider such a move in the future, I think Mystic89 singer Puer Kim would be a superior casting choice. Supposedly an “indie artist” (whatever that means in today’s age where even U2 and Radiohead can be called “indie” with a straight face – in k-pop I’m guessing it means that they’re allowed to eat red meat occasionally), I’m convinced that Puer Kim debuted just after I posted my first “big boobs in k-pop” list just to force me to make a sequel. Not only does Puer Kim easily win the race for k-pop buxomness, she gets pretty close to the top of the musical tree too with this great, dark song which I think would sit equally well in the soundtrack for the same hypothetical Tarantino movie. The video’s so-obvious-that-even-netizens-noticed shade of SM and YG’s high-gloss productions is the hilarious icing on the severely generous cake, and the only downside of Puer Kim’s debut is that now I have to piece my bias list back together.
6. Tae Jin Ah – I Love You, Darling
This song didn’t get an MV because Tae Jin Ah is self-aware enough to realise that nobody wants to see his wrinkly sagging ass gyrating in a box, but it was a feature track that was promoted by Tae Jin Ah on music shows along with his awful duet with Rain, “LA Song“, so it qualifies for this list. Another important qualifying factor is that the song is fucking cool as shit – trot music sounds like Chinese restaurant music often but not this time, there’s too much coolness going on here. “I Love You, Darling” apparently gained some small virality with the Girls’ Generation fandom due to Sunny dancing stupidly to it while feeding her face in the SNSD dorms, (check the YouTube comments for this live clip) but looking at the guy he seems way too confident and self-assured to accept any help from some big-boobed k-pop girl to get things rolling. Tae Jin Ah doesn’t give a shit that he’s old as fuck in an industry dominated by people less than half his age, and since Koreans have a huge “respect your elders” culture for some reason and a lot of k-pop fans like Korean culture, that means you should like this song. It also means that because I’m also old as fuck you should all respect my opinion about everything on this list and if you don’t then you have to donate me your lunch money. Do it, it’ll make you “more Korean”, I promise.
5. f(x) – Red Light
Probably the most musically forward-thinking k-pop song ever at the time of writing, “Red Light” threw f(x) fans for such a curveball and gained such a negative reaction that myself and Anti Kpop-Fangirl felt compelled to spend the next six months telling all the other k-pop fans how wrong they were in the most offensive manner possible. Often mistaken for a trap song, “Red Light” actually could best be described as “post-trap”, eschewing the 16-beat mechanical shuffle that defines trap but instead stealing its textures and marrying them to the rhythms of metal, while also adding f(x)’s usual monotonal bridge and chorus hooks and topping it off with enough subwoofer-wrecking sub-bass dives to prolapse Amber’s anus. It’s just a pity that SM fucked up the visual side of things a bit, f(x)’s “dark” look really doesn’t suit them, and only Luna is styled flatteringly which I guess is at least a nice change as she’s usually the only one the stylists don’t give a fuck about. No wonder Sulli didn’t give a cao ni ma about staying in this group a minute longer than she had to, but I don’t really give a shit because this rocks.
4. T-ara – Sugar Free
Life must suck being a Korean netizen and a female k-pop fan who appreciates music simultaneously. You’ve got T-ara’s “Sugar Free” on your phone playlist because it’s obviously the best T-ara song since Roly Poly, combining the newer signature T-ara dual-melodic chorus anthem assault with the sonic stylings of Absolute First Album. However it’s not trendy to like k-pop’s reigning global EDM disco queens right now so you have to go incognito – you keep your love for “Sugar Free” hush-hush and make sure nobody’s looking at your phone screen when you play it. You can’t keep it a secret forever though – one day someone grabs your earbuds out of your ears without warning just to fuck with you and as soon as they recognise the song you get swiftly ostracised and before you know it you’re the school bread shuttle. The bullying gets intense with your former school friends getting you to buy them bread wrapped in T-ara merchandise just before class so you’re always late, forcing you to fap to a different T-ara member every day in the school toilets before class even though your heart belongs to Block B, making you sing to “Sugar Free” at the top of your lungs with your skirt around your knees and your bra on your head in the middle of the school oval while they throw rocks at you from the edge and try to hit you – life seems unbearable and each school day brings a new T-ara-related way for them to terrorise you. Even the teachers can’t put a stop to it, one day the teacher decided to get to the bottom of the situation by confiscating everyone’s phones and going through them, she figured that whoever didn’t have “Sugar Free” in their music directory must be the anti T-ara bully… but the bitches who bullied you all secretly had T-ara on their playlists as well, so that didn’t help. T-ara and the activities of your school peers start to blend and warp inside your own head, eventually it becomes impossible to separate the two, or to listen to T-ara without quivering and crying just out of knee-jerk reflex. Oh well, maybe once you graduate high school you can run a netizen comment-translating site, inserting subtle editorial bias against T-ara here and there where you can. That’ll show everyone who’s really in control, won’t it. Won’t it?
3. Berry Good – Love Letter
People are often asking me about early k-pop songs that I like and will I mention or list them somewhere, but honestly I haven’t done a “best of” list that goes back any further than 2008 simply because I could count all the decent k-pop songs that existed prior to then on one hand and still have enough fingers left to go bowling. Click B’s “Love Letter” was however one of them, but now it’s completely redundant anyway as the team behind 2014 nugus Berry Good just made it a hell of a lot better. Here’s how they did it:
- Someone removed the crap NKOTB-style late 80s keyboard stab bits
- They also got rid of the shitty guitar parts
- Berry Good are hot girls
- Berry Good are not Click B, who are fugly guys
- Cool arpeggiated keys and synths
- Look, another nugu group where one of the girls looks like Sulli holy fuck
- The video is pretty
- Better production on this version by a fucking mile
- Teddy bear has stitches across its skull like something out of a horror film
- Berry Good’s version has more random English words that will annoy uptight netizens
- Headbanging guitar-bunny at 1:28 rocks hard
- Tacit acknowledgement in the story that marriage is a boring time-wasting expensive wank
- Berry Good are female
Best of all, Berry Good shade the rubbish early k-pop artists by playing a bunch of vinyl at the start of the video that makes them so bored that they actually fall asleep on the fucking vinyl album sleeves. They don’t like any of that bullshit any more than I do.
2. Year 7 Class 1 – Oppa Virus
Imagine if the people behind AKB48 actually had noteworthy songwriting skills and a song like “Heavy Rotation” actually rocked in a punk-rock-meets-“Jump“-era-Van-Halen kind of way instead of sounding like a children’s TV show theme sung by a bunch of JAV whores on a 15-minute break from catching jizz in fruit bowls. Well, you don’t have to imagine it anymore because here it is courtesy of some more Korean nugus, Year 7 Class 1. I’m not sure what’s with the weird group name but then to be honest I’m not entirely sure what’s with any k-pop group name, so I can deal with it. I’m also not a fan of the terrifyingly ugly cheerleading costumes, cheerleading isn’t really much of a big thing in Australia so the catering to cheerleading fetishes is lost in translation and all I’m left with is a bunch of stupidly-patterned dresses in dumb colours. However the school uniforms are cute and when the girls put their pom-poms behind their butts and bounce them for the “oppa” chorus line it’s an iconic moment in k-pop girl dance as fapworthy as T-ara’s “bunny twerk”. If any already-established k-pop group got hold of this song it would be massive. Calling it now – Year 7 Class 1 are going to have a breakthrough hit one day and get fucking huge. Or maybe that’s just my optimism and they’ll end up slurping jizz in some back alley while the handicam rolls which means they’ll have something else in common with all those AKB48 girls. Either way at least we have this song.
And the number one is…
1. SoReal – My Heart Says
What the fuck. What. The. Fuck. What the fuck? What the fuck is this song even doing here? Did any of you pick this as my #1 song of the year? I bet you didn’t – I sure as fucking fuck didn’t fucking anticipate this shit. So what’s going on?
Let’s look firstly at all the reasons why mathematically I really should fucking hate this song. Firstly, it’s a ballad so automatically it’s at a disadvantage right there. Also it’s from a boy group, so there’s another disadvantage because it’s no secret that I prefer the girl groups musically. Not just any boy group either but a nugu boy group specifically promoted as a “ballad group”. If that’s not enough ways to lower the odds, the song was released in fucking March but they tacked an irrelevant Christmas intro onto it… and we all know how much I hate Christmas bullshit (although the Christmas shit here is actually more for MV plot reasons than actually celebrating Christmas so that’s why it doesn’t make the Christmas list, but it’s still annoying). It’s like Star Empire wanted me to quit writing about k-pop so they deliberately formed a committee of important decision-making music-creation folks and sat around discussing ways that they could create a song that I would utterly despise, more than anything else released this year, and which would make me give up on the entire genre in disgust, then moved forward with SoReal as their bold action plan. Then it was released and now it’s my favourite song of the year. How did that happen?
As it happens, I like “My Heart Says” for similar reasons that I liked another controversial Kpopalypse #1 pick – Rania’s “Style“. You see, the real reason why I hate k-pop ballads so much isn’t because I hate slow songs generally, but because k-pop producers have generally got no idea how to do a worthwhile slow song. K-pop producers haven’t really mastered the art of dynamic subtlety, so they fill their ballads with all this overblown shit, usually ten gazillion layers of awful vocal so there’s never a quiet moment where a voice isn’t saying something. A good ballad however needs good phrasing and dynamics, and “My Heart Says” and “Style” (even though the latter isn’t a ballad) have something in common – a spacious arrangement where occasionaly the layers drop out and there’s some stripped-back sound. Eventually k-pop’s signature layering and overdubs do come in, but it doesn’t start that way, which means that the song has somewhere to go, this is important for dynamic progression. On top of that the vocal melodies over this spacious arrangement are just very decent and there’s even vocal harmony. When I first discovered k-pop I wondered why there weren’t more harmony vocals, after all if you’ve got between 4 and 9 singers in most groups, you might as well use them, right? I’m sure fans of this group all stroke themselves off about who can sing better than who but that’s missing the point (as it always is whenever it comes to k-pop fans caring about vocal skill) – if they can’t sing it doesn’t matter, no singing talent whatsoever never stopped any of my punk bands from doing vocal harmonies, it’s actually easier to do harmonies together than a solo vocal because each voice supports the other (just like how not everyone in a choir needs to be a good singer). SoReal gradually lay on the Queen-style harmony vocals and it really works nicely, it’s the perfect way to progress the song. The delayed vocals in the chorus also kick much ass, and this whole song is full of this and other audio engineering smarts that keep a tight leash on the vocal histrionics when needed and help build the song in a sensible dynamic way. The whole thing comes off like a modern juiced-up version of Australian group 1927’s hit “If I Could” with better writing, better melodies and better production. In the meantime every other k-pop ballad is all about “Look at me! Look how well I can sing! Listen to my voice do this amazing note! Did you hear that resonance? Did you hear my vibrato? Listen to it again! And again! Aren’t I so wonderful! Aren’t I so technically brilliant! Worship me! Hang on… what was the song trying to say again… oh who cares, fuck how the song sounds, it doesn’t matter because it’s just a vehicle so I can showcase my AMAZING VOCALS, because it’s all about ME ME ME!” which is the cancerous disgusting trashy attitude that losers like Whitney Houston have brought to pop music and which awful idol TV shows worldwide continue to propagate. This attitude is also what vocalfags love (vocalfags referring not to the singers themselves but to the fans who care excessively about vocal technique) but it’s the wrong attitude for creating good pop music and it needs to die if k-pop as a genre is to survive and flourish.
Pop fans brainwashed by decades of vocal competition shows don’t realise this, but the companies are all too aware that vocalfagging is the enemy of the catchy pop songs that give k-pop life. In the above video, Lovelyz’ management are training the girls to not jerk off in the public’s faces with self-serving “look at me” ego-wank but to instead work together as a team and sing what’s right for the audience and the material. If the girls fully take on board this attitude and the songwriters and audio engineers also come to the party with something that doesn’t suck, I predict solid ballads coming from the Lovelyz camp in the future. In the meantime, we’ve got SoReal who have completely fucking nailed it with “My Heart Says”. If only they were hot girls so I could fap, then it might just be not only the best k-pop song for 2014 but the best song in the fucking world. Oh well.
Anyway that’s it for the 2014 favourites list! I hope you all enjoyed enduring my music taste, and everything else that I’ve made you put up with throughout 2014! Kpopalypse will return in 2015 with more stuff and things!