Honourable and dishonourable mentions for 2017

It’s time to kick off the end-of-year Kpopalypse lists!  Welcome to Kpopalypse’s honourable and dishonourable mentions list for 2017!

The following are all songs that were good, but not quite good enough to get into my 30 favourites for 2017.  There is also, below this, an equal amount of “dishonourable mentions”, songs that were pretty shit, but not bad enough to hit my worst 30 songs of the year.  Please note:

  • Songs are sorted alphabetically by artist, not order of preference
  • Feature tracks only, or with an official video of some sort, unless noted otherwise – I haven’t got time to listen to everything ever
  • Aspects like cultural relevance, chart success etc don’t enter into it, pure personal preference only
  • These are just my personal opinions on what songs I like, so, you know, just chill baby

Enjoy!


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

AOA – Excuse Me

For any group, “Excuse Me” would be a fine moment, a glossed-up reimagining of The Cardigans’ dreary “Lovefool” complete with a bouncy off-time almost-ska rhythm, but AOA’s career has had many great musical moments, so this song just sits at the slightly-above-average level for them.  The girls themselves however never looked better, and Choa in particular steals the show with her iconic blonde bob and pirouetting dance to the point where it’s impossible to picture the group without her in it.  Of course, that picture was then forced upon us all as Choa exited the k-pop industry earlier this year due to mental health issues, but at least nobody could possibly question her physical health after watching this video.  On the other hand Jimin’s parts in this song actually drag it down and wreck the flow somewhat, a rare example where the queen of k-pop squeak doesn’t find a good musical place to insert herself.  Who knows what the future holds for AOA but if this is their last decent song, at least they were good, hot, fresh and fly more often than not.

Blackpink – As If It’s Your Last

There’s a lot of elements in “As If It’s Your Last” that don’t work very well, like the horrible raps, lame verses and cringy YG-style sloganeering, but the chorus certainly is fantastic, and in a k-pop song a kick-ass chorus is really all that you need.  Apparently this was originally a rejected 2NE1 track from 2011, and while it’s a song that might not have cut it back in the days when 2NE1 themselves were releasing a string of great hits, in 2017 it has a little retro charm and sounds like the breath of fresh air and the return to basics that YG sorely needs.  Teddy clearly wrote to a strict formula back then and when listening to this it’s completely obvious where the part originally designated for Bom is, which bit would have been given to CL back in the day, etc.  However there’s nothing wrong with writing to formula if the formula adds up – Teddy’s cookie-cutter technique worked fine for years until 2NE1 eventually jumped the yoloshark with too much sweg and too little catchiness, and it works fine for Blackpink too, who remain 2NE1 2.0 in all but name.

Block B – Shall We Dance

With this song, Block B as a full group finally rediscovered some of the fire that has been missing from their music since the days of “Nalina” and “Nilili Mambo“… and also rediscovered some of their terrible clothing and styling choices from back in the day, too.  Giving away most of the chorus to a violin was the smart decision – Block B’s better songs were always about catchy instrumental riffs and stomping rhythm rather that vocal hooks.  The beat here is the real star of the show, driving the song along with no weak trendy concessions to dilute the mood, and even the ball-tightening falsetto can’t ruin this one.

Dreamcatcher – Chase Me

I remember when T-ara added extra members in 2012 – “oh that’s not going to work”, cried all of k-pop’s pathetic windbags and trend-following wastes of space.  Then Red Velvet did the same thing a few years later and all you hypocrites shut the fuck up quicksmart – now that SM did it, it was “cool” and you couldn’t say shit anymore.  Fast-forward to 2017 and adding extra members to k-pop groups post-debut is just a normal thing like sprinkles on your ice-cream or Johnny Noh spreading revenge porn.  I don’t know if k-pop nugus Minx adding extra members and transforming into some kind of heavy metal fan’s wet dream is marketing genius or marketing suicide, and I don’t care as long as they continue to do it because the musical results so far have been consistently pretty great.  A slightly-too-cheesy chorus is really the only thing about “Chase Me” that doesn’t quite gel.

Dreamcatcher – Sleepwalking

Just to prove that whoever is writing the songs for them is a fucking genius, Dreamcatcher tackle the horrible hackneyed rarely-touched-upon-in-k-pop genre of almost universal utter shit known as “drum and bass” and make something really good out of it.  It’s amazing how adding some decent melody over those typical played-out drum and bass textures can actually combine to get a good result as long as the melody and harmony is on point and the bassline is good enough to carry everything else along.  The genre shift allows Dreamcatcher to keep up their usual pace (i.e fast, the first time k-pop has been this fast in years) and thus doesn’t dilute their core concept too much, indeed you could probably headbang or start a moshpit to this if you wanted to, especially when the riffs start getting heavier as the song progresses.

EXO – Power

EXO did something fairly unexpected in 2017 and actually released a whole album that had some good songs on it.  For those of you who keep pestering me about which k-pop albums to buy (how about none?) then I suppose if you are into boy groups and you really must waste your money like this, you could probably do a lot worse than EXO’s “The War: The Power Of Music”, which has at least three, maybe even four songs out of twelve that are actually listenable, which is actually a pretty good hit rate for any k-pop album.  Title track “Power” is about as back-to-basics as k-pop gets, a simple three-chord rock song that could almost fit into any hard rock group’s canon if it had more guitar and screaming in it.  There’s nothing wrong with simple however, and it’s good to hear EXO doing a four-on-the-floor dance-pop song that doesn’t fuck around and just gets to the point while also remaining catchy in ways that a lot of their other material definitely is not.

Eyedi – Best Mistake (K)

Not very long ago, I wrote about about why R&B music is bullshit, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  The trick to having a good R&B song is partly to have a bit of musical space in there, and Eyedi is a good example of this, with “Best Mistake (K) bubbling along with the least amount of musical filler imaginable.  Shitney Houston’s godawful disgusting trash songs have ruined R&B for an entire generation by convincing people that you must be singing all the time, but Eyedi shuts the fuck up for about 50% of this song’s length and that’s precisely what makes it work.  Eyedi doesn’t sing that much, so when she does ramp up the vocals, the contrast is startling – a lesson in restraint that others could learn from.  It of course doesn’t hurt that Eyedi is goddamn attractive, and either has outstanding natural beauty or a jawshave cut so fine that it nearly took her whole mouth off, but it’s the sultry rhythm and commitment to bare-bones minimalism that are the real clinchers here.

Gfriend – Love Whisper

Gfriend have pretty much settled into a specific type of thing now, and that’s totally fine.  Nobody ever asked Slayer to stop making “Reign In Blood” with minor variations over and over again for 30 years, nor should we be upset that Gfriend keep trying to be um… Girlfriend.  After hitting the money with that ultra-clumsy version of Me Gustas Tu where they stacked it all over the stage, it wouldn’t be too wise to stray from the formula, and with “Love Whisper” the team behind Gfriend clearly realise it, even immersing them ankle-deep in water to give their audience deja-vu and the girls themselves some extra wet-weather training for next time they have to perform on a non-OH&S compliant surface with dead moths all over it.  The song itself is brisk with the usual melody and harmony choices this type of thing usually has, but bouncier and more fun than most of the competition, including Apink themselves which Gfriend have pretty much completely usurped musically.  It’s odd times we live in when a reality TV star is president of the USA and the worst active k-pop group that sounds like Apink is actually Apink.

Hint – Tang Tang Tang

A trot song in idol pop clothing much in the vein of Orange Caramel’s better tracks, “Tang Tang Tang” easily bopped its way into the heart of Kpopalypse for 2017, especially with everything around it being mostly so fucking boring.  With songs like this coming from Hint, and Orange Caramel themselves still carving away at the brickwork inside the Pledis dungeon with their “Catallena” chopsticks trying to make an escape hole, Hint could actually end up being a valid replacement if they keep going like this.  While it sucks to lose Orange Caramel, this type of music is definitely more of what is needed in k-pop’s current fun-starved landscape, regardless of who creates it.

Hong Jin Young, DIA, Kim Yon Ja – You Are My Flower

Here’s the other trot success for 2017.  Okay so it has a dull-as-fuck video, if I want to see someone crying over the pointlessness of their lives I would have clicked on all those “It G Ma” YouTube reaction videos.  Also there’s no Hong Jin Young in sight, so what the fuck, do these video directors not see an opportunity or what.  Kpopalypse has been robbed, I tell you.  Robbed!  At least the song is great, a mellow tango-influenced trot number that goes down smoother than your mum, with just the right amount of ambience.  Listen to this and feel yourself becoming cooler.

K.A.R.D – Rumor

I bet you didn’t expect to find this here.  Sure, the tropical shithouse segments don’t add much, and the visuals are possibly the most boring shit in 2017, even worse than the Hong Jin Young video, but the gorgeous reggae-lite chorus makes the whole thing work so who cares.  I’ll take any amount of stupid boring vertical-letterboxed videos of boring-looking people dancing boringly in boring grey rooms and sitting in boring chairs while looking through boring venetian blinds while they gaze boringly at something boring if at least I get an interesting song out of it.  It’s like they made a great chorus and then were worried that I’d actually be into it and they wouldn’t be able to read entertaining troll comments from me on Asian Junkie’s crappy K.A.R.D articles anymore, so they tried to find every possible way to persuade me out of even listening to it.  Nice try I guess, but Kpopalypse always cares about music first, even when it doesn’t fit the narrative.  (Damnit.)

NCT 127 – Cherry Bomb

This song is fucking depressing and makes me sad – not because it’s bad or anything, it’s actually kind of cool.  But why the fuck can’t actual proper Korean hip-hop artists write stuff that goes this hard?  Good hip-hop tracks in 2017 come out of Korea almost never, 99% of everything is soft-ass shit or that mumble crap where they don’t even rap or have a beat, underground rappers with a pedigree in lyricism shouldn’t be getting so easily upstaged by SM Entertainment’s latest freshly-showered teenage boy band for fuck’s sake, but that’s how bad Korean hip-hop has actually gotten.  Never mind the singing or rapping, that slimy-sounding synth riff behind the beat is the force that drives “Cherry Bomb” to success, and the song suffers a little in the second half with its removal, but by then you’ll already be convinced that this is the biggest hit on the stage.  Not sure about that “if you’re happy and you know it…” refrain which is honestly pretty fucking cringe but it’s not enough to ruin it and the fantastic production is what carries this one.

Red Velvet – Rookie

The other group that were actually able to successfully fuck with the cancer-genre of drum and bass in a surprisingly positive way in 2017 were Red Velvet.  “Rookie” works because it palms off most of the melodic riff-work to the bassline (as a successful drum and bass/pop hybrid should) leaving the girls to do their “lookie lookie” chants over the top.  The only time when the song is less effective is when the singers revert to typical R&B vocals but that doesn’t happen often enough to ruin it and the parts that drive the song are still there.  The result is catchy enough to get firmly lodged in your head after less than one complete listen, and the song’s ability to annoy the fuck out of many k-pop fans this year was just a bonus.

Skilleto – Get High

Oh, did I mention that hip-hop in Korea is shit now?  Well here’s someone actually doing it right, ultra-nugu Skilleto might style like a boy band with the bright colours, penis-head pink lipstick and water pistols, but “Get High” rocks as hard as (and is very obviously inspired by) the first two Cypress Hill albums.  I’m sure he’ll eventually follow the shit trends just like everybody else and do some bullshit nowhere song with Keith Ape that goes at like 3 BPM, but until then this is cool.  Also, it’s about time some Korean rappers gave up their fucking bullshit macho pose and rocked Nugu Park with fluorescent colours and stupid board shorts.  Stupid sweg fashions, crap tattoos and angsty scowling is the new emo style, but life is too short to be a depressing hip-hop poser.

Taeyeon – Make Me Love You

Taeyeon looks like shit in this video, could she have found more ways to possibly look like a used-up whore with the incredibly crap makeup, dishrag clothes and messy blowjob hair like someone’s been ramming their pelvic bone into her forehead?  She should sue everyone involved in the creation of this video for making her look like a gutter trollop.  The songwriters on the other hand did her a huge favour though, giving her powerful backings and a great mantra-like chorus that reminds me of Simple Minds’ “Alive And Kicking“, of all things.  How more suitable could a ballad written for Taeyeon possibly be.  The usual hideous Tae-wank vocals when pitched against that deliberately monotone and melodically-restrained chorus actually combine to make musical sense instead of the usual too-much singing assault, and the result is a very unusual case of SM Entertainment getting a ballad right for fucking once.

Twice – Likey

An incredibly mauldin ode to being trapped in a bitter, superficial k-pop hell, cleverly cloaked within an upbeat Chad Future-style song about social networking, “Likey” is one of the smartest k-pop songs for 2017, certainly way too clever for most of its target audience.  It also doesn’t hurt that the song’s simple four chords rocket along at a nice fast pace which is totally at odds with the trend of the times (apart from two solitary bars of trap, which is about the maximum that trap should be in any song).  “Likey” is simultaneously melancholic and buoyant, harking back to the days when k-pop had a much better hit-rate than it does now.


BONUS: SONGS THAT NEARLY GOT OVER THE LINE, BUT HAD SOME “ISSUES”

Stellar – Arcangels Of The Sephiroth

It’s cool that Stellar tried to do a song like The Tea Party, but there’s only one problem – The Tea Party are shit.  I mean, how many times can they rewrite Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and call it a new song for fuck’s sake.  At least Stellar’s song has a cooler name and goes at about twice the speed of most of The Tea Party’s nonsense music, so it has that in its favour, but the chorus lets it all down by just being a bunch of dumb chanting instead of… well, almost anything except a bunch of dumb chanting would have been fine, really.  Even worse, the aspect ratio is deliberately fucked with all the way through this video because they’re trying to be “artistic” or “exotic” or some bullshit but it just gets in the way of my fapping.  No wonder these girls hate their agency, and I suppose they’ll probably be happy that they didn’t quite make the list anyway because it might mean their label will make less money.

Favorite – Party Time

The vast, vast majority of k-pop is produced really well, and because of this it’s really unusual in k-pop to hear a good song that is held back hugely by poor production, however I have found such a rare song right here.  Favourite’s “Party Time” starts off promising, and then gets better, but right when the chorus kicks in at the one minute mark and the song should be absolutely melting faces, everything changes to some incredibly crap beat with no nuts at all that sounds like it’s coming out of a broken speaker in a car door.  This completely undercuts all the tension in the song and nearly ruins everything, such a shame as the tune is good in a lot of ways apart from this.


 

DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS

Dia – Seokrosan In October

Fucking hell, can you bitches play a guitar and sing any fucking slower than this?  I could do a Kpopalypse tabs post for this song, but I’d be afraid of falling asleep in between notes.  This song is really only good for lesbians who might be able to rub one out to what’s happening in the video.  Lesbians get probably only one perk over gay men – if you’re a guy and you’re affectionate with another guy in public it can be a risk, because often homophobes stare at your weirdly, call you names or try to beat the shit out of you.  (I’ve been physically attacked in public because I hugged the wrong guy by mistake once and I’m not even gay, I can only imagine how much harder actual gay guys have it.)  However dykes can get away with being a bit hand-holdy and touchy-feely in public because there’s a sort of societal acceptance that girls are just more affectionate in general and that same-sex skinskip for women isn’t “fag business”.  Maybe that’s why this song sucks so much, perhaps they should do a tour of some crazy backward third-world country where they throw gay people off rooftops for breathing, if they survive the experience intact they’ll come back sounding like Dreamcatcher.

G-Dragon – Untitled, 2014

Are you kidding?  He couldn’t even be fucked naming this piece of shit, why should I even be bothered to listen?  However listen I did anyway, just for the sake of my wonderful readers, and really, I shouldn’t have bothered, I could have reviewed this song from the first five seconds.  This is basically the same type of bullshit as Taeyang’s “Eyes, Nose, Lips” but with less abs and more banana-jaw, plus the whole song being pitched really high for some reason.  The song would sound a little bit better if it was dropped in pitch by maybe about a third and even better still if they removed the piano, and the vocal, and everything else, and replaced it with something completely different.  Of course that would make it a completely different song, and that would be okay.  At least fans who bought this stupid song got a funky coloured 4gb USB drive that they could then wipe and put something useful on, like a Hitomi Tanaka DVD rip or something.

Girls’ Generation – All Night

Girls’ Generation sure managed to tank in 2017, and it’s probably just as well that SM Entertainment cut their comeback short probably just to fuck with them because the world was spared having to hear their shit new songs over and over again.  “All Night” has some great sounds and SM’s usual top-shelf production but is ruined as soon as the singing starts, and by the time that grating three-note chorus hits it becomes clear that nobody thought to write any interesting melody for this song.  It feels like the general mood in the production studio was “it’s SNSD, they’re popular so people will like it anyway, let’s just write whatever, k-pop fans will listen to anything as long as it’s a well-known group”, which probably isn’t even incorrect, but unfortunately the truth hurts (our ears).  This song is beautifully summed up by the “I like to party!” at the start, delivered with the most unlikely to-get-you-in-the-mood-to-party smugness you could possibly imagine.

Jackson Wang – Pavillion

What a fucking embarrassment when I found out that this was apparently the first Korean hip-hop song to get big promo on WorldStarHipHop or some shit.  Korean hip-hop is clearly dead in 2017 if this is the prime example worthy of putting its foot forward into western media (not that rap is generally any better in the USA right now ahem).  Naturally the beat is terrible like almost all rap music now, but the real crime that takes this song to the next level of garbage is the lyrics.  On the one hand I can see why the English subtitles are there even though all the rapping is in English, as most listeners will need the help to navigate past the unintentionally cryptic Elizabeth Frazer-quality enunciation to actually understand what the fuck he is saying, but removing this barrier only reveals the full extent of how hilariously incompetent Jackson is as a rapper.  It’s abundantly clear from this song that Jackson simply can’t rap whatsoever, and gobsmackingly terrible lyrics aside, when someone raps “ain’t nobody give a fuck” and they censor the “fuck” with a stupid whoop noise and then try to rhyme the whoop noise with the word “rule” in the next line, that’s possibly the most pure, undiluted way for them to demonstrate that they have no place in hip-hop.  Next time just stick to what JYP writes for you.

Lay – Sheep

Unfortunately not a cover of the underrated Pink Floyd song, I guess that “sheep” must have a pretty different cultural meaning in China to what it does in the west, but it seems like the implied western meaning of a brainless pack-follower fits a lot better to this song than whatever it is actually trying to say to Chinese people.  A “sheep” would certainly seem like a fitting adjective for someone who refuses to fly the coop like his Chinese ex-EXO groupmates but is instead herded by SM Entertainment into a horrible Chinese solo debut, compliantly milking the dying embers of the yolo trend.  The song is clearly primarily a vehicle to showcase his dancing, and that’s fine as far as dance goes, the problem is that we’re also stuck with having to listen to it.  I ended up feeling like it was a lost opportunity to give the sheep itself a bit more airtime, at least then we might have ended up with a Chinese version of Hatebeak, which would at least have been funny.  Well okay, that criticism isn’t quite fair – although it has no musical worth to speak of, “Sheep” is funny as fuck and makes me wish I really was one of those reaction v-loggers I keep picking on, as I honestly did laugh my ass off heartily when I first heard this.

Mamamoo – Yes I Am

The problem with Mamamoo is that they’re quite talented vocally.  Yes, this definitely is a problem, because as soon as you say to a songwriter “you’re writing for some really vocally talented people”, their thought is “well okay, if they’re so talented I don’t need to give them my top shelf material which I can save for another group, instead I’ll give these people some mediocre offcuts instead and surely with all that talent they’ve got, they’ll just work with it to make it better”.  So the songwriter ends up throwing out some bullshit limp funk song like this that they couldn’t justify giving to anyone else and Mamamoo have to try and rescue it by singing the ass off it, the result being a song that sounds like shit and is clogged with too much extra vocals as the girls desperately try to paddle the sinking turd upstream.  It’s a real shame because I’d like to support Mamamoo for more than just their looks and the entertaining butthurt that their occasional cultural blundering provides, but they just never get the songs required to push them into the upper echelons of the Kpopalypse stanning scale.

Mighty Mouth – Instagram

I knew my clearing house posts were good for something – I actually found a reader suggestion song that I missed, that is so shit that it definitely belongs in this dishonourable mentions list.  I knew you readers could do it, I’m so happy for you!  I’d just like to take this moment to thank my mum, and all the readers, and… oh wait, now I have to listen to this painful song.  Okay, maybe this is not such a good thing and I should be more careful about what I ask people.  This song has a horrible beat plus one of the most grating choruses I’ve ever heard, and makes me feel glad that I don’t use my Instagram account for anything at all apart from following other people, although maybe I should start using it in 2018 just to share some fun times with the readers and… no, no I can’t.  I’ll start to get this song in my head every time I attempt it.  Mighty Mouth has officially ruined SNS for me.  Maybe if Russian hackers ever disable my computer for ransom, someone can ask Mighty Mouth to make a song about Bitcoin and then the hackers will give me my access back and apologise.

2NE1 – Goodbye

The issues that sunk 2NE1 on the surface seemed simple and preventable, but for the pragmatic, not-overly-attached YG it was probably more a case of pure convenience.  It’s not like 2NE1 really had any viability once Blackpink debuted, they’re essentially exactly the same group, so why shouldn’t YG take the opportunity to cut 2NE1 loose and focus on the younger, prettier version?  Of course, Teddy only managed one solitary Blackpink tune this year (and even that one was a dust-off from six years ago) so there sure weren’t any scraps left lying around for 2NE1 to scavenge, who were quickly rushed out the door with this awful send-off song.  “Goodbye” is clearly a hastily-written reworking of their past acoustic ballad hits that nobody put any real thought or effort into (because why waste important resources on a disbanding group) and it shows with that amazingly grating rusty-gate chorus.  At least they finally got Bom’s boob presentation right, and in fact she looks fantastic all throughout this video, with artful washed-out black and white deployed to strategically smooth over all those face surgery speed-humps.  I hope that Bom in particular finds a place within entertainment over the course of 2018 so I can continue my fap because she’s really on a roll here and I don’t think Realdoll is doing k-pop idols yet.

One – Gettin’ By

In the meantime, this is the new solo artist getting the debut treatment from YG Entertainment, some boring droning rap nonsense over the usual bedrock of lugubrious bass and drums plus annoyingly present Fender Rhodes.  I guess there’s been some kind of changing of the guard over at YG, as they’ve managed to throw their usual sound to the wind and instead have cooked up a song just as boring as all those horrid “real music, man” indie-rap groups that flood Mirrorball Music channel.  Some slightly higher-budget video effects and a little bit more face paint on our singer are really the only significant differences here between “Gettin’ By” and about 200 songs that all came out in 2017 and quickly found their way to the “Bonus Songs” section of Kpopalypse roundup, to be listened to once and never again.  I’m not sure where all the good songs in YG’s vault are planning to be deployed but here obviously isn’t it.

Red Velvet – Red Flavor

If “Rookie” was Red Velvet’s “Bo Peep” moment, “Red Flavor” is their “Yayaya” moment, a horrid too-much, too-soon disaster of caterwauling puke that would probably work a lot better if it wasn’t also trying to be a pop song.  The constantly-looped pitched-down vocal sample that drives a lot of the song’s rhythm even sounds appropriately like someone retching before they regurgitate last night’s overcooked red lentils and would probably find a better home on a Foetus backing track than anything in k-pop.  While it’s good to have influences from cheese-grater-across-the-face genres being absorbed into the k-pop sphere, you need one hell of a good song to make it all gel together properly and the random-ass major-scale noodling melodies of “Red Flavor” definitely don’t cut it.  At least SM Entertainment is finally going back to colour-coding the girls for easy identification so that should help my sanity along a little if I can stop thinking about how they all look like starved concentration camp victims.

Sechskies – Smile

I’m not sure what it is, but I really get the feeling from watching this video that the Sechskies group members haven’t actually smiled in months.  Perhaps they all fucking hate each others’ guts, and that this video was made by shooting each person simultaneously and then splicing the footage together using advanced video editing trickery.  Or maybe they could all only tolerate this shit piece of music for a limited period of time before blowing up Christian Bale style at the crew and storming off set.   Or maybe just the fucking dick went in the wrong pussy one too many times on tour and now they can’t stand to be in the same room as each other.  Personally I think they should just chill out and let the pussy roll… but maybe not to this song, which is such generic Korean ballad 101 trash that I can’t even think about anything to say about it so I have to keep making jokes because their music is so consistently boring that their one stupid stage from 1998 is still all that ever comes into my head whenever these guys are mentioned.

Sojung – Better Than Me

Fact: back when I was reviewing Ladies Code’s “Hate You” in 2013 and telling you it was a better version of the same type of thing YG was putting out and for you all to fucking listen to it, nobody gave a shit about what I had to say.  I couldn’t drag people kicking and screaming to check out a Ladies Code track, “why are you always stanning these nugus, Kpopalypse, what’s wrong with you, why are you such a hipster”, people would ask me (or more frequently, say behind my back).  Then Ladies Code had that awful accident, and of course everyone suddenly was oh so heartbroken over a group that they had almost completely ignored for the entire previous year and started an avalanche of caring so very deeply all of a sudden.  Fast forward to 2017 and poor Sojung still has to catch the bus and cry over shit ballads because the record label are scared that putting her in a touring van or giving her another properly upbeat track like Ladies Code’s fun early hit songs would mentally destroy all the virtue-signalling fucking tadpoles who never listened to them, streamed “I’m Fine Thank You” for a couple weeks after EunB and Rise died and then promptly went back to fapping over whatever was trendy.  (EDIT: okay so it’s apparently some girl from Loona in the bus or whatever, thanks Reddit/kpop for pointing that out!  Kpopalypse loves you all!) Watching k-pop fans swarming around a tragedy like vultures, strip-mining the carcasses for virtue points to redeem online is a great way to lose faith in humanity and if you think I’m disgusted by this, imagine how Sojung must feel, she has to put up with k-pop’s hypocrite fans and sing this awful song, just for them.

Subin – Circle’s Dream

Then there are songs that are just put together thoughtlessly.  “Circle’s Dream” actually has a pretty decent guitar riff driving it, it’s a pity that nothing else over the top of it actually works to complement that riff.  Every possible space in the song after the first minute is crowded with weird vocals and stupid “quirky” noises where a bit of subtlety would have worked wonders.  Unfortunately, subtlety is something that very few k-pop producers do well, most of them seemingly being part of the “more is more” school of sonic architecture.  As a result, this song’s best elements are buried under a mound of tinkering nonsense and the track never even gets a chance to get going.

Taeyang – Wake Me Up

Not to be outdone by G-Dragon, Taeyang returns with another lighter-waving pile of crap.  At least there’s a bit more in it than guitar and piano this time around, if nothing else the song has some good sonics and is put together well, and if any song out of the “dishonourables” gets the award for “least shit” then this one is probably it.  However a well-constructed mound of shit still smells just as bad as any random runny dump, and there’s no saving the boring generic four-chord nature of this ballad.  Still, it could have been worse – YG could have given this song to Blackpink and said “there’s your comeback for 2017” so let’s all be grateful that Taeyang is around to take the load off and siphon the shit songs coming out of YG.  Someone’s gotta take the fall for the team I guess, cheers Taeyang.

Taeyeon – I Got Love

Wow, this song starts off great – the first twenty seconds or so of this sound like it’s building toward something really special.  Then, it keeps going, and going and… hang on where’s the special bit, I’m sure it’s coming, hey what’s this slow section, why is her voice going up there with the wanky woo-woo shit oh… what?  There’s a funny noise and we’re back to the verse again?  Where’s the chorus gone?  Hang on I’ll forward this song a bit to see if I can find it later… hmmm, nope.  Okay, I guess… they just didn’t put one in?  Where’s the incredible sleazy rocking chorus that I was promised?  Did Taeyeon really get dolled up like a used-up whore again for nothing?

Winner – Island

When you load up a song called “Island” that’s from 2017, it’s fair to say that straight out of the gate you know exactly what you’re going to be getting before the music even starts – tropical shithouse aplenty.  People in tropical countries must be getting really fucked off by now with all these heavily manicured Koreans invading their countries to shoot stupid k-pop videos on trampolines and by beaches, blasting their dumb mid-paced pop tracks with the stupid toot-toot noises, just to retire to the hotel whenever the weather gets above 32 degrees or it rains a bit.  This probably counts as “tropicalface” to some Hawaiian dude who actually lives every day of his life on that island because he can’t afford to go anywhere else, and all these k-pop groups following this disastrous trend need to stop their CO S P L A Y and go and reflect so we can have proper pop songs again in 2018.


Bonus: OST corner – the only good OST songs for 2017

Chanyeol & Punch – Stay With Me

“Stay With Me” was justifiably huge when so many other OST songs sunk like a fucking stone, and represents one of the only decent OST ballads ever made, in Korea or elsewhere.  Chanyeol and Punch don’t fuck around with improvised bullshit, playing the melody straight down the line, and keeping in with the correct tone of the piece, an exceptionally rare trait for any Korean OST ballad and one that here I’m quite grateful for, as this could have so easily been a vocal wank disaster.

T-ara – My Love

T-ara’s actual feature track for 2017 “What’s My Name” was a dreary tropical shithouse number like about 50% of everything that came out in 2017 and clearly was lazily written just to fulfill contractual obligation and the need for me to have fap material T-ara fans to have a feature song this year.  Although the less one-eyed T-ara fans were naturally disappointed that the group diluted their core sound with that trendy bullshit, the fans who were paying attention noticed that T-ara dropped their real gem for 2017 on an OST of all places.  A pretty close soundalike of La Roux’ “Tigerlily” means that “My Love” harks back to classic T-ara hits such as “Like The First Time“, let’s hope that whatever T-ara do and wherever they go in 2018, they manage to take their songwriters and producers with them.

 


That’s all for this list – Kpopalypse will return at the end of the year with the 30 favourite songs and 30 worst songs of 2017!  In the meantime, enjoy this bonus content, all of the Honourable mentions compiled into one video by avid k-pop YouTuber and elite caonima isaymyeolchigr!

16 thoughts on “Honourable and dishonourable mentions for 2017

  1. Funnily enough, the modern connotation of sheep in China is generally the same as it is in in the west, so he’s still basically calling himself a dumb, fluff-brained follower in that song.

  2. Does anyone else think that watching the slow draw out death of SNSD is a bit disturbing? SM is dragging it out and it’s just getting more painful to watch. I know I risk the wrath of Soshi for saying this, but let’s be honest.

  3. A lot of your honorable mentions were slow burns for me. Shall we dance was so refreshing compared to so much of the other similar-but-not-as-good swaggy shit out there – good ol’ Block B!

    And you have to take some consolation in Hwasa looking awesomely saucy and playful in Yes I Am.

  4. Thank you for recommendation again Kpopalypse oppar! As usual, I really enjoy almost all your picks (around 80 – 90 percent), although I couldn’t really get into several songs you suggested. Can’t wait for your Top 30 😀

  5. Oh no. So many of your dishonorable mentions are songs I absolutely hate. I’m scared for the trash you will bring out for worst songs….

    On the other hand, can’t wait for your best recommendations.

  6. Great to see Eyedi getting some love. She’s so underrated and deserves a lot more attention. She’s currently ranked #10 on MixNine, and I hope she makes it to the final debut group–it’ll help a lot with her solo career. Also, very happy to see that enjoyed the song despite it having strong R&B influences, and I agree that the sparseness of the arrangement and the vocals makes it special. BTW, I’m surprised you didn’t mention how much she looks like a more glamorous/edgy version of IU.

  7. I agree on Blackpink, its a good song however just the transitions are badly done. I’m curious to see your final top songs list.

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