Hello, wonderful readers! It’s time for the list you’ve been waiting for – Kpopalypse’s worst k-pop songs for 2017!
There was a lot wrong with k-pop in 2017 and competition for absolute garbage in k-pop was hot, as it has been in previous years. The twin perils of R&B and tropical shithouse conspired to consign a large amount of k-pop comebacks to irrelevancy and as a result incredible averageness was widely prevalent. However although the quantity of spectacularly unspectacular songs was huge this year, there actually weren’t that many songs that were truly disgustingly awful, the quantity of completely shocking musical turds that were absolutely beyond redemption was actually quite small. However I have refined my turd-sniffing abilities just for my lovely readers and now present to you k-pop’s 30 greatest musical mistakes for 2017!
Haters and whiners won’t read the following section but will just skip straight to the list itself and then rush to their social media of choice to be the “first!!1!” to complain about how I’m the most horrible person in the world. For the rest of you, know the following:
- Songs are from 1st January 2017 to 31st December 2017, this list was published on 31st December 2017 but may appear earlier for some readers due to timezones, or if I feel like posting it earlier for reasons.
- Feature tracks only (released with a music video, or featured on live stages) – I don’t consider non-featured album tracks because to do a completely fair list with album tracks included I’d have to listen to every album track by every group over the entire year to make a definitive list that meets Kpopalypse standards and I just don’t have time/money/patience for this. Also most album tracks are filler junk and basically irredeemable poop, so the list would probably be dominated by them and therefore not very visually interesting.
- OST songs are not eligible, they are almost always shit although I did cover two that I really liked in my 2017 honourable/dishonourable mentions list, which includes more songs that just missed out on inclusion in this post.
- Any song specifically made for a sporting or festive event is not eligible. Christmas songs are always garbage and have their own list each year, and sport songs are best ignored completely for the good of humanity, not that I can even remember any coming out this year although I’m sure some did.
- Koreans trying to get into other markets (or overseas people “doing k-pop”) are eligible. Pity them.
- These are just my personal opinions on what songs I disliked the most, factors like chart success, cultural relevance, fandom popularity and even attractiveness don’t factor into this list.
- Sometimes I miss the days of 2012 when precisely 20 people clicked on my blog for the entire year (and most of those clicks were probably me). I could put up a list like this and nobody gave a fuck, it was great. Nowadays if I dare to post an opinion and if it’s not all sunshine and lollipops everybody loses their shit. You are entitled to disagree, I’m not saying my opinions are better than yours or anyone else’s, because they are not. I have an extensive musical and technical audio background but this doesn’t mean that I’m “more right”, because liking and disliking music is really a matter of brain chemistry and/or socialisation which obviously varies wildly from one individual to the next. People like different things and that’s fine. My lists are just what I think about music and should be consumed for entertainment purposes only, and maybe also for you to discover or be reminded about some songs you might like (or not). Most of all, the opinions I have on song preference certainly shouldn’t ever be considered an “authority” of any sort.
- Some people have a problem with the tone that I write with. That’s fine, you’re allowed to have a problem with it, you fucking crybaby. Why the people who hate my writing style continue to torture themselves by reading my utter bullshit however is absolutely beyond my understanding. There are plenty of other blogs out there who write in a tone that you should find more agreeable. In the meantime, Kpopalypse blog is not going to change, and you know this, so why are you really here?
That’s enough of the preamble, let’s get on with the list!
Kpopalypse’s 30 worst k-pop songs of 2017
30. Eric Nam & Somi – You, Who?
K-pop fans love to crow about “lolita concepts” whenever a twenty-something adult person like Sulli, IU or any other female on Korean netizens’ “trendy to hate” list does something adult like dress in adult clothing and pose in an adult way, but throw an actual legitimate lolita concept at k-pop fans and they don’t even notice, probably because they mostly have no familiarity with the source material or what that shit even means. If you haven’t ever checked out the book and/or film “Lolita”, then I highly recommend that you continue to live your life having not checked either of these cultural artifacts because you really are wasting your time, but to sum up and save you some reading/watching time, both were about an older man and an underage girl meeting up and doing a bunch of boring shit that nobody cares about. The book is long and boring and definitely does not meet required standards, whereas the film is mercifully a lot shorter but because it was made in 1863 they couldn’t put anything even vaguely “erotic” in there, thus completely defeating the purpose of it even existing because they had to remove half the plot just to make it. (There’s also a newer film version that’s apparently more explicit and truer to the book but I haven’t seen it because as they say, “twice bitten, three times fuck that shit”.) However if you’re now curious about Lolita but also a bit time-stretched and would like the whole movie sanitised even more and distilled into 3:37 with a rubbish song thrown on top then you basically have “You, Who?” which is just Eric Nam driving around in a vintage car with underage Somi, and standing/sitting with Somi in various rooms, usually in separate chairs. It’s a chilling re-enactment of the key scenes in the film “Lolita” in exacting detail, made even worse by the fact that these two are singing a terribly cheesy and bland acoustic guitar driven love song that would probably be rejected from a Busker Busker album for being too characterless – at least there wasn’t any of that in the movie.
29. South Club – Dirty House
You can always tell when a western rock band is going to fall apart, it’s when the band name gradually and for no clear reason starts incorporating the name of the person fronting the band, a sure sign that one person’s ego is taking over and that soon it’ll just be a solo project if it isn’t one already. Spearhead became Michael Franti & Spearhead, Warlock became Warlock with Doro Pesch, The Mothers Of Invention became Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, etc. South Club have skipped to the final stage in the process right from the word go, with ex-Winner Nam Taehyun’s name front and center and the group themselves bracketed off. Another clear sign that it’s all about one person is when the music video only features that one person and nobody else. We get to see Taehyun doing all sorts of oh-so-rebellious things for the camera like smoking, sliding down bits of concrete, giving the camera the finger, staggering around in a carefree manner as if drunk (but with no alcohol in sight) and spraying CGI I mean graffiti, but who knows what the other members of South Club look like, or even who they are or if they exist at all. Clearly his label realise that his brand value is the only reason why anyone would possibly want to check this out, because nobody would be here for the music alone, that’s for sure. The song is some terrible post-grunge mess that sounds like Oasis on a particularly bad day with no decent riffs and an annoying whiny one-note chorus presumably custom made for Taehyun to scream and attempt to sell himself as some kind of rock rebel. It’s all a bit too fucking shit for comfort and anyone who is still culturally blind enough in 2017 to misinterpret my rude but casual writing style as “edgy” should take a look at this video to see what edgelording really is.
28. Young Thugs Club – Hope You Like This Song
It only seems to be a thing with young Asian men for some reason, but quite a few of the Asian guys that I know have what I like to call “Jay Park disease”, where they think being an Autotuned R&B crooner is just the coolest thing ever and that Jay Park is incredibly suave and the #1 musical genius to come out of Asia. They even do their hair and clothes like him and everything. Actually Jay does have the occasional good song even if the emphasis is definitely on “occasional”, and to his credit he didn’t release anything this year as bad as these Jay Park wannabees “Young Club Thugs” (nice logo guys, maybe less “thugging” and more learning and you would have got the letters around the correct way). This type of meandering soulless R&B/hip-hop lite is pointless musical fast food completely incapable of conveying any emotion or interest and usually only exists to showcase a singer’s singing ability, but in this case the song doesn’t even have that going for it as they’ve hard-Autotuned all the vocals into a flat line, something k-pop in general had stopped doing almost completely a few years ago. The song is matched by equally pointless video activity, like wearing sunglasses indoors and playing spin the bottle when you’re the only person in the room (“oh look, it landed on me, guess I’m masturbating”) and the bored-looking women who have been rented to swan around and pretend that they know these guys are probably the only reason anybody is going to pay attention to this.
27. Pristin – We Like
I don’t really get why Pristin are so shit, they’ve released nothing but duds this year and it doesn’t make sense to me, after all their agency Pledis were the same people responsible for After School who on average had quite good songs, so presumably there’s still someone employed over there who knows how to write music. At least Pledis’ other recent project Seventeen managed to just be kind of unspectacular and dull, they didn’t have anything even approaching this level of awfulness. I should be biased in favour of Pristin too, after all they have Kyla and any no-reason sidebar girl plus whatever group they’re in is always going to be stanned by Kpopalypse, but as much as I want to like Pristin I just can’t get behind these consistently shit songs of theirs. “We Like” was definitely the worst of the songs they had, and I’d have a cheap exaggerated joke and say that the chorus is a bunch of tuneless doo-doo but that wouldn’t even be stretching the truth because that’s literally exactly what it is. All the other parts of the song are just the usual random girl-verse major-scale throw-anything-into-the-mix crap that all these girl groups seemingly do now, and there’s just nothing else here that’s catchy or interesting whatsoever. Even the occasional guitars can’t save it, that’s when you know a k-pop song is in serious trouble.
26. DIA – Good Night
MBK are one of those agencies that really fail to latch onto current trends in any meaningful way, which I suppose one would expect from an agency run by a 93 year old who can barely use a computer, and that’s usually an asset. With T-ara they mostly played their naivety the right way by hyping the hot trend and then downplaying it in the final product – “our next song is dubstep!” the press release would say during the peak of the dubstep trend, and then the new track would come out with one solitary tiny, tiny dubstep noise buried 30 dB back in the mix somewhere that happens maybe twice during the entire song. Unfortunately, since the advent of tropical shithouse, MBK are now oddly making up for lost time and are throwing it in fucking everything to the absolute max, ruining everything in the process of course. DIA’s “Good Night” is so heavily invested in the tropical shithouse sound that there pretty much isn’t any single texture in the entire song which isn’t part of that trend, and that would be okay if there was a song here of any worth but it’s just some children’s fa-la-la fucking shit over the top which fights for space with the stupid toot-toot noises and the result sounds like a plane crash on a tropical island. I really wish that MBK’s songwriters could just go back to being ten to twenty-five years behind the times because that’s really what they do best.
25. Luhan – Set It Off
You all thought that the deer in Luhan’s “Lu” was a one-off, and so did I, but it looks like that fucking deer is back, and maybe it’ll be the concept that Luhan ends up running with for the rest of his career, you never know your luck. I guess it must have been a hit with China’s presumably oppressed furry population, but it’s pretty amusing nonetheless and I hope Luhan continues to explore his fursona because at least the visual results are funny even when the songs suck. In “Set It Off” the concept has progressed from just basic anthropomorphism into hardcore furry inter-species porn action that SM Entertainment would have never allowed, with the deer chasing after a jaguar in a car and then putting a hand on the joystick or… , wait, did they mean “gearstick”? Who knows, but then the pink and blues start intermingling in various types of sexual symbolism that are about as comical and obvious as the ending to “North By Northwest” and I guess the message here is that we should all love each other very much in all our holes to really uninteresting music regardless of which species we are. While the furry porn aspect is certainly bemusing, the music itself is dishwater-dull, a really awful, meandering, aimless sounding song, complete with the usual tropical shithouse concessions (naturally) and where nothing really happens. It’s hard to imagine anybody listening to “Set It Off” outside of the next Furcon, so here’s hoping for Luhan’s sake that the furry demographic picks him up because I’m not sure if he’s going to get any career longevity anywhere el… oh fuck, who am I kidding. Millions of people unconditionally love this fucking shit. Somebody save us.
24. KARD – Hola Hola
What a fucking turd of a song, they even have a tropical-themed logo at the start of it just so you know exactly what kind of garbage you’re in for before the music starts, not that it wasn’t completely obvious anyway, it’s fucking KARD after all. Every KARD feature track is the usual mid-paced dancehall-reggae-whatever lite with tropical shithouse icing added to greater or lesser degrees, and on “Hola Hola” they really turned up the toot-toot to 11, with the chorus actually featuring three different separate tooting voices happening at once. It’s like a three-part vocal harmony but instead of three people singing it’s three synthesisers taking a shit. Then just when you think it can’t get any worse, in comes a trap section to completely break the rhythm which was the one good thing about the song. Never mind Gfriend, Apink or whoever else, KARD are the biggest one-trick pony in k-pop right now, and fuck knows what they’re going to do with themselves when the tropical shithouse fad is dead in a few years, but I suggest that the team behind them start thinking about it in advance and prepare an action plan. They’ll either have to hop onto some new awful trend or panhandle on street corners with signs saying “will dance in synchronisation to last year’s keyboard riffs for food”, because nobody is going to care about a group who only has this sound in their repetoire soon.
23. Hi Cutie – Play U
Seeing a bunch of young children do k-pop probably warms the heart of many of you, but I know too much about how fucked up the music industry is on the inside and therefore this type of thing scares the shit out of me. The most terrifying thing of all is that obviously the children would have needed parental consent to debut, but what type of parent would honestly be proud to have this happen to their child at such a young age if they actually knew what happens to some many debuting groups. Parents of
annoying, useless money and oxygen sponges gifted and talented children really need to stop messing around with trying to put them in the organised crime k-pop industry and maybe encourage them in some other direction, like doing their fucking school homework maybe. However if they absolutely must waste their life doing music, get them to start rock bands or join orchestras instead or something, even though it’s assuredly the route to poverty at least there’s a slightly larger chance that they’ll be in control of their own destinies and will make it to adulthood without being mentally destroyed. For now, all I can do is tell you that this song is trash in the hope that it doesn’t encourage any more groups like this to start up, and that’s not a lie, it really is nearly unlistenable, which you’ll find out pretty quickly after you hit play, especially when that random-ass dubstep-bubbling comes in and starts competing with the general self-evident screechiness of everything else – it’s the kind of song only a parent could love. Of course it’s not the girls’ fault, I’m on their side (and maybe one of the only ones who truly is) and I hope they make it through their k-pop experience safely. I also hope that the people who gave them permission for this read back through some of my blog posts and learn something about how fucked up things can be. For all those of you who hate me and think that Kpopalypse blog is immoral or bad or whatever, perhaps you should try to drag yourself past the superficial stuff like “tone” and take a good long hard think about why I interview k-pop stars with the level of depth that I do. Trust me it’s not for the fame, I could score untold amounts of interviews with all sorts of people if I was willing to just blindly parrot whatever their agencies fed me instead of actually asking real questions and letting these people tell their stories unedited. Let’s hope that the stories that Hi Cutie will eventually be able to tell about k-pop are on the positive side, even if the songs themselves all end being woeful crap like this.
22. Mamamoo – Aze Gag
My mother used to say to me “if you don’t have anything nice to say about something, best not to say it at all”, and although I’m a complete cunt who says all sorts of not-nice things on a daily, perhaps even hourly basis, just for this one review I’m going to do as she requested and prove that I can be a good example to everybody that she can be proud of. So, here we go. Mamamoo definitely look great, they’re a group of girls of such consistent attractiveness that I can never decide which order to put them in my bias list, and that’s rare for me, pretty much every other group I can think of has at least one girl I’m just not into. Solar is like absolute cosmetic surgery perfection (nothing wrong with that – it’s her body), Hwasa is the total opposite being a brassy thick-thighed natural beauty, Moonbyul has that tall geek-girl thing going on and Wheein is just Wheein, I don’t know how to describe it but they all meet required standards. I also really enjoy all their “controversies”, because while I’m neither here nor there about what they say or do on camera they really seem to annoy the fuck out of a lot of people for some reason, and annoying stupid people is an important part of Kpopalypse blog. Who cares what singers do, seriously – they’ve got one job which is to perform the fucking songs and make music, if they can do that on a reasonably consistent basis why give any fucks about anything else, they’re not fucking politicians. I hope they have long careers ahead of them and we get to see them in many more music videos. Anyway, onto the song now, and
21. AOA – Bing Bing
On January 1st 2017 AOA did one of those “double release” things that SM and YG are so fond of, because why not. I certainly like the idea – twice the songs means twice the chance of a good song, right? As it happened, I’m glad they did this, because one of the songs was “Excuse Me” and it was great, you can read more about that one in the honourable mentions list for 2017. The other song was “Bing Bing” and it truly was a stinky turd, by far the worst feature track that AOA have ever been given. The video for “Bing Bing” contains several impressive magic tricks, including rabbits being pulled out of hats, card tricks, levitation, and more. The song itself also contains a few tricks of its own, like the magical disappearing chorus hook (where it went, nobody knows), the “saw the song’s arrangement in half with horrible raps” stunt and the impressive feat of juggling multiple rambling nowhere-ish melodic lines in the air at the same time. The entire song is pretty much a disaster that should jump into a hat and disappear for good, and if there were more songs that sounded like this in the pipeline I can’t blame Choa for flying the coop, as singing this enough times would make anyone mentally ill.
20. Shinhwa – Touch
The phrase “needs more cowbell” has become a meme in rock music circles. The phrase isn’t talking about the actual amount of cowbell that’s played in the song, but instead the presence of cowbell in the final mix, and if you objectively assess whether any given rock song actually does need more cowbell, the answer is generally no. The reason why cowbell sounds cool in some songs is because it’s used sparingly, so when it is heard it’s usually a refreshing change from whatever the drummer is usually doing up until that point. It’s not supposed to be in play for the entire fucking verse and chorus, like it is with Shinhwa’s “Touch”, where the fucking thing is played too much and is too loud – i mean sure, fine for an electro-spazz song like Nada’s great “Trippin’” that is meant to be abrasive as fuck – but not for a ballad for fuck’s sake. However if that was the only thing wrong with “Touch” it probably would still be an okay song overall, but then you have to deal with that nonsense chorus with the dubstep-ish stuttering which just doesn’t work for a song like this whatsoever. Indeed when it happens the first time one of the Shinhwa guys starts looking at his watch, clearly just waiting for this particular section of the song to be over so he can continue staring into space and looking enigmatic or whatever the fuck he’s supposed to be doing. I appreciate the effort to try and make a ballad a bit more exciting, but next time maybe just throw the whole song in the bin and start again.
19. S.E.S – Paradise
Where I live, S.E.S stands for State Emergency Services, the nice folks you call who will put a weatherproof tarp up on your roof after a tree falls over in high winds and carves a chunk right out of your house. I guess they don’t have much in common with the Korean S.E.S except that whenever you hear about either of them being active, it’s never a good situation for anybody concerned. S.E.S is one of the original idol groups on SM Entertainment, and they’ve faithfully recreated their signature early sound on “Paradise”, but what was considered an acceptable Korean pop song in 2000 when literally the entire genre was garbage just doesn’t cut it in 2017 when we have Gfriend pumping out song after song just like this but about 50 times more competently realised on every level. Sure, at least S.E.S get decent modern production now, but it’s not enough to save that stupid da-da-da-da chorus, the verses that start with “baby” like a 90s boy group, the lazy beat that hasn’t been changed one iota from the 1997 backing track sample CD it was probably lifted off, or anything else about this crap. At least they didn’t go all tropical shithouse on us so I guess we have to be thankful for that, but the biggest problem with the revamped S.E.S is that they do actually sound exactly like they used to.
18. Girls’ Generation – Holiday
Watching Girls’ Generation sing a song about having a holiday is like watching Vanilla Ice say he’s “from the streets“. We all know that Girls Generation worked 16 hours a day every day for 13 years – don’t sing about things you know nothing about, girls. However if they didn’t know anything about having a holiday before this came out, they certainly did afterward, when SM Entertainment pulled the rug out from under their comeback, cutting short all their schedules and generally appearing to treat them like garbage at every opportunity. Some say that this was an extortion attempt to force the girls to renew crappy lowball contracts with SM Entertainment, and those theories certainly seem reasonable and stack up in line with a lot of SM’s past dodgy behaviour, but after listening to “Holiday” I wonder if maybe it was just an attempt at quality-controlling their image by allowing the girls to sing shit music and be seen in public associated with such shit music as little as possible. “Holiday” is devastatingly bad, a cheesy, screechy funk song that is truly painful to endure on every level, with nothing at all in the song working particularly well, so perhaps SM Entertainment, out of the sheer goodness of their hearts, were trying to limit the world’s exposure to this trash while they reflected and returned with other songs that people actually cared about. As an eternal optimist who always wants to see the best in people, I’m going to believe that this is the case until somebody proves me otherwise. In the meantime know that even the best Sunny boob presentation in the history of SM Entertainment can’t save this song from itself.
17. Minzy – Superwoman
Minzy grabbed a bunch of fans and captured hearts across the world while she was in 2NE1 with her twerk-friendly but naturalistic dance moves and iconic non-plastic surgery appearance that probably gave girls all over Korea the confidence to realise their dreams without also feeling obliged to fuck with their faces first. Surely she was the perfect person to help sell 2NE1’s brand of k-pop to westerners hesitant to dive in due to the industry’s insistence on perfection at the expense of individuality and charm. Then Minzy “got prettier when she turned twenty“, getting work done on her face anyway for whatever misguided reason, killing all the stock invested in her by fans as a visual outlier and exposing 2NE1’s empty girl-power-lite sloganeering for the fraud that it was. Now free from YG and solo, it feels like Minzy is trying to regain some of that lost charm and star momentum, and good on her for trying but it’s obviously not going to work – it’s too little too late and there’s no point shutting the gate when the plastic horse has already bolted across the paddock. I’d be fine with it anyway though if at least we had a good song, but listening to that hideous millennial whoop chorus which has nothing in common with the better 2NE1 songs and even less in common with anything else I’d ever want to listen to is still a scarier proposition than going under the knife. Even the dancing sucks, with Minzy doing all these boring, stiff dance steps that just don’t suit her at all, and if the video didn’t say “Minzy” on it I probably wouldn’t have even recognised her not just because of her generic face but because she doesn’t sound or even move like Minzy. If some nowhereish western “star” like Katy Perry came out with this fake-empowerment nonsense I wouldn’t be shocked, but this is like a Minzy debut with all the “Minzyness” surgically removed. I’m not even sure if it exists at all.
16. Aleph – Fall In Love Again
Unlike almost everything else in this list, I don’t actually know anything about Aleph, this is just a shitty song that I found one day when searching for non-shitty songs, and it was bad enough to get on this list, so here it is. People often think that I include certain song because I’m an “anti” (whatever that actually means in real terms outside of Korea where there are no anti-cafes) or just to get clicks or whatever, but it isn’t the case at all. I don’t hate any idol or group, and often I consider them the victims of songs like this one. I want your biases to have songs I really like, in fact I wish every song ever made in Korea was something I loved, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Also when it comes to fandoms criticising as clickbait never works, as Asian Junkie points out (and no doubt he would have the numbers to back this up), universal praise works a lot better than criticisim if you’re trying to get a fan to click on something. So now that’s settled, back to Aleph and this shit is dull as fuck, and it’s quite astonishing how this song moves so slowly but is still done and dusted by 3:39, it’s the epitome of Coldplay on valium and I never want to hear it again. Oh and girl, you can get suitcases with wheels now, throw that fucking thing in the trash.
15. Mackelli – Crush On You
This song doesn’t start off too bad as far as shit ballads go, and I was quite prepared initially to write it off as just another average ballad from Korea, the land of average ballads for average people. Then, as the song proceeded toward the one minute mark, my opinion changed drastically for the worse as the singer started overdubbing himself. At first there were only one or two extra layers of vocal but by the end of the song it’s like fucking Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” (a song that has over 200 separately tracked vocal parts) with the constant layers of syrupy shit, except that at least Enya sounds like Enya and nobody else whereas Mackelli just sounds like rubber-stamped R&B clone #6972. His godawful cooing vocal mush transcends any sort of musical usefulness and sounds like the noises that the pigeons in my neighbourhood make when they build nests in my carport, that make me want to release my cat onto them. The cat can’t even get high enough to where they are to fucking destroy them righteously which is a pity, but I’m thinking of sending her by post to Mackelli’s house once I find out where he lives, and she can go for his face with those claws if he ever records anything like this again. Fuck pigeons, fuck Mackelli and fuck this song.
14. EXP Edition – Feel Like This
Yeah yeah, “they’re not k-pop”, but they want to be k-pop so badly that I’m going to do them a favour and throw them into this list. There you go boys – validation from the biggest asshole caonima k-pop blogger in the west, career goals, right? Apparently EXP Edition started off as a project to support a college thesis or something like that about culture and Korea and blah de blah, but you know how it is when writing a thesis, if you’re smart you use the thesis as an excuse for what you want to do, so good on them for making their academic life less boring I guess. Also good on them for flying in the face of all those triggered “Korea number won” k-pop fans who can’t handle non-Koreans getting stuck into their precious turf, and I really like how the video starts off with the one half-Asian dude to ease the k-pop fans in and make them feel semi-comfortable before Vanilla & The Ices show up and crash the party, I can just picture the disappointment on the faces of k-pop fans everywhere when Mr Facial Hair starts singing the pre-chours. I think these guys get a lot of flak for no good reason, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of what they’re doing and they’ve got every right to do it. It’s just a pity about the actual musical result, I mean it really is absolute fucking crap, with the millennial whoop chorus like Minzy but worse and the crappy techno build with the stupid synth line, plus the really repetitive, grating nature of the vocal melody that does the same eight notes over and over and over (and over, and over). Still though, the scariest thing about this song above all has to be that I managed to find 13 songs that I liked even less…
13. Weki Meki – I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend
We’re really into the shit songs now, folks. Weki Meki’s debut is just so incredibly bad that a lot of k-pop fans actually even noticed how bad it was, something that’s fairly unprecedented in the world of k-pop where if you don’t say 100% positive things at all times and call a sack of shit a bouquet of flowers constantly, everyone loses their fucking nuts. The verses and pre-choruses of “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” (she doesn’t like you k-pop sluts either, for the record) are just a whole bunch of bits and pieces of chanting nonsense, none of which seems to have much relationship to anything else. It’s like someone gave five different people the task to write a girl group verse completely on their own with the only stipulations being tempo and key, then they all came back and the producer stitched all of their contributions together in the studio into one gigantic clusterfuck of a track. Then the chorus comes rolling in and it’s tropical shithouse again, why of course it is, because if these girls don’t follow the latest bullshit trend someone’s head might fucking explode, never mind that it doesn’t fit together with anything else here in any way whatsoever. It’s just a complete disaster and even the people who like this song mostly know that they’re listening to complete trash which is unhealthy for their brains and have that guilty feeling like when you go to an artisan burger place and try to convince yourself that the food is good for you just because it comes on a board instead of a plate and costs $10 more.
12. Jessica – It’s Spring
It’s really revealing to see Jessica close up now that she’s not in SM Entertainment and doesn’t have an army of handlers and beauty technicians controlling how she is presented to the public at all times. It’s now obvious that back in SM days they always made sure she was shot with exactly the right angles, lighting and makeup, because in the few shots here where she’s without any of those things she looks like an almost completely different person. I’m all for it – it must be good for her to experience some freedom in her image finally, as well as no doubt a fair bit more wealth than she had back in SM days. Unfortunately what Jessica also no longer has is SM’s songwriting infrastructure propping her up, she’s released no good music since she left Girls’ Generation and the nonsense jazz-lite crap is right down there with anything else she’s ever done. Sometimes freedom is a bad thing, because it can mean freedom from scrutiny, quality control and honest criticism, and after all who the fuck is going to tell Jessica that she sucks now? If you worked with her surely you’d get sacked for that, just because. “It’s Spring” isn’t the worst track Jessica has done (that would be the truly disastrous “Love Me The Same“), because at least it’s vaguely musically coherent, but “it’s not a total complete fucking jumbled hellspawn” isn’t exactly gold-star level in the grand scheme of musical compliments. Maybe she could pay a producer to fix up her next piece of shit properly before she puts it out there, surely a couple pairs of those overpriced sunglasses and a few pairs of jeans would pay for that.
11. Super Junior – One More Chance
Let’s start off with this YouTube comment from an ELF (Super Junior fandom):
Newsflash, there’s nothing fucking random about this comeback at all. On October 20th 2017, a person bitten by Siwon’s dog finally died due to sepsis from the bite and there was a complete media shitstorm about it. On October 30th 2017, “One More Chance” was released. This isn’t coincidence, this is just how fast SM’s management and production team can react to a scandal and create results designed to keep their fandom on side. The first thing that would have happened after that lady died and the media started going apeshit, is SM would have had an emergency boardroom meeting to discuss potential fallout and the best way to manage the situation. It would have been decided in that meeting, that a ballad showing the sensitive side of Super Junior would form part of the overall “reaction plan” to manage the negative fallout from the incident. The song itself probably would have been picked from an existing stash of ballads in limbo as future filler material, but if not then it would have been especially written for this purpose. The song itself doesn’t matter as much as the perceived sentiment behind it, so you can guarantee that the music is some completely generic garbage – this is the time that SM Entertainment want to play their cards as safe as humanly possible, so any sort of musical adventurousness is strictly forbidden here. SM Entertainment dearly want to remind you that Super Junior are humans with feelings and they want you to give them “one more chance” to not fuck up by accidentally killing people and they don’t want any weird oddball music getting in the way of that, so it’s four on the floor, drive between the yellow markings all the way. The entire purpose of this song’s existence is so none of the dirt from Siwon carries over too much to affect the other members of the group, not for any other reason, like you know, to be a good piece of music or anything like that, oh no, that’s the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. As long as the song performs its function nobody gives a shit about whether it’s any good or not. This music is a means to an end, and that end is to keep the Super Junior fan in line. This is the sound of SM Entertainment treating you like a bitch. The above fan is so close to understanding all of this, yet so far.
10. Raina ft. Aron – Loop
It’s tough being a fan of a member of a group who isn’t trendy, and as someone who really appreciates Raina, Pledis have been really pissing me off with their Raina content lately. The last few songs with Raina in them have had her in the video for all of about 0.23 seconds and have usually palmed off the girly visuals to some other woman who most other people probably care about a lot more but who I don’t even want to see. Now we finally get a duet track where Raina gets some damn screentime and clearly she’s been through one too many rounds of plastic surgery as she now looks like a cross between Rainbow’s Jisook and a shaved tadpole. I’m surprised that Asian Junkie hasn’t started stanning her given that this drastic change in appearance means she’s definitely more up his visual alley than mine, but it was certainly enough to make her plummet to the bottom of my bias list and I don’t know if she’s ever coming back. At least her song quality has been consistent and non-changing, and by “consistent” I mean “consistently shit”. Raina’s ballad duets have always been rubbish and a waste of time, they used to be short respites between far superior Orange Caramel activity but now that Orange Caramel are locked inside the hull of the leaking After School ship frantically emptying buckets of water, this type of crap is probably all we’re going to get from her until Raina retires from k-pop completely and takes up knitting cardigans and jumpers for Pristin comebacks. The fact that Aron’s in it on the other hand is neither here nor there, as it’s Raina’s presence that specifically defines this kind of musical waste of time, every Raina duet sounds more or less exactly the same no matter who she’s doing it with, the main difference is now I’ve lost the only reason I had to grudgingly tolerate this bullshit.
9. Coco Avenue – Eottae
Here’s some more westerners trying to get into k-pop and if you really love it, why not? After all you’ve got to be in it to win it, as someone who spent decades in nugu groups and projects of various types in Australia I’m firmly an advocate of pursuing your musical passions even when it doesn’t really make financial sense. Almost nobody gets into music because they want to make millions of dollars (although no musician would object if this were to happen, of course), they get into it because they love music and want to be able to do that for a living rather than do a retail job or whatever, the vast majority of professional musicians are simply just trying to get by doing what they love full-time without having to take up a second job. The presence of Coco Avenue therefore raises a lot of questions. Why go to the great extra logistical hassle to pick Korea to make this type of music when it’s clearly American music that’s obviously much more suited to the larger and much more profitable American market? Is calling your group “Coco Avenue” empowered black pride or gimmicky ghettoisation, or both, and what kind of perception is this inviting given that these ladies don’t exactly meet Korea’s ultra-stringent beauty standards and that even ethnic Koreans who fail to meet these standards by the tiniest degree often have an incredibly hard time in the industry and get shat on unfairly by everyone? In a Korean market already incredibly over-saturated with perkier, smoother, sunnier versions of exactly this type of turgid R&B right now, who is actually going to be drawn to these girls and this song in particular, and why? I’d love to do an interview with anyone involved in this project one day and get some official answers to these questions (yes that’s an invitation if you’re reading, my contact details are in the “about” section for them or any other prospective interviewees), but in the meantime these girls should know that it’s not the colour of their skin that’s really holding them back, but the lack of colour in their music. In fact I dare say they’re already aware of this to some degree as this duo split shortly after this song was released, with one of the girls playing it off in public in that usual Korean-style “everything’s okay, really!” kind of way, which means she must be a huge k-pop fan if she’s willing to mimic k-pop right down to the transparent media bullshitting. I hope both of them are okay and weren’t burned too badly by their k-pop adventures, and I hope I never have to hear a song like this coming from anyone ever again, within Korea or from any other country. Which one of these two hopes is more realistic, is a question I can’t answer for now.
8. Luna, Hani, Solar – Honey Bee
Of course, “perkier, smoother, and sunnier” doesn’t automatically equal “better”, just “more suited for the k-pop market”. Here’s the type of shit I’m talking about, so pay attention k-pop hopefuls and learn something about the competition. Grating sax riffs, hideous choruses, godawful painful R&B vocal wank everywhere, ridiculously attractive women surgically-smoothed over to perfection (Hani even sings next to a sign saying “new surfacing” – don’t we know it) – this is unfortunately what you are competing with if you want to get into k-pop. Sure, the song sucks ass, but that doesn’t matter, tons of people love bullshit music like this, you just need to be able to sell it to them appropriately, so if you wildly disagree that I think that this type of music is some of the worst most disgusting shit ever to come out of a speaker and should be cast into a pit of cleansing hellfire, don’t be discouraged because that’s just my opinion and one person’s opinion doesn’t mean shit really in a market of millions (which I keep trying to tell people who lose their shit over my lists, but of course they’d rather complain and ignore context, trying to build their strawman that I’m selling myself as some kind of edgy arbiter of global music taste or some complete bullshit). Also, don’t expect anyone else to shake their ass for you, you have to do that part yourself, so start practising and leave your concerns about being objectified at the door because as soon as you enter this industry for better or worse you are an “entertainment object” and will be consumed as such as long as you’re putting out product of any sort. If you really want to dance with the devil, good luck, I guess.
7. Aoora ft. Will – Slay
The most interesting thing about both this song and video is the scene at 0:43 where Aoora is doing meet-and-greet sessions with his couple of dozen fans at what I presume is K-Con in Los Angeles. The reason why I thought it was interesting is that the structure of the foyer space is almost 100% identical to the foyer at the venue that Sydney K-Con was in, showing that these large convention-centre venues work to a fairly strict template when they’re being built. Okay, so that’s not really very fascinating is it, not it isn’t, but it’s far more interesting than the computer-fart chorus to this song which is so bad that the video editor thought nothing of overdubbing annoying fangirl cheering over the top, because it’s not like he’s obscuring the sound of something that anyone would actually want to listen to. Speaking of things nobody sane wants to listen to, it was only when I was compiling this list that I noticed that horrible babbling pseudo-rap of nothingness and recognised that the voice of “Will” in this video is actually v-logger Edward Avila, this is the guy who is a big believer in Korea’s beauty standards being absolutely a-ok and is pretty quick to use his platform to exert public pressure on underage people who are already medically slightly underweight into losing even more weight to fit into those standards. For the people who were blown away when Melanie from Chocolat revealed that when her agency found out she was self-harming they didn’t really give a crap and basically said to her “suck it up buttercup”, well it’s people like Edward who make that attitude possible by publicly normalising the industry’s insane boot-camp bullshit. Everyone likes to complain about me being “bad” for whatever reason because I say the odd rude word and tell naughty jokes, those people probably have no problem at all with this guy who is actually setting an example that ruins lives by helping young and naive people unconditionally accept the worst parts of a system that is designed to entrap them and bleed them dry with complete disregard for their physical and mental health. I guess he doesn’t care about any of that as long as he gets a little bit of fame and click-money. Yes he is being realistic, but that’s not the point – we both see the reality of how things are, the difference is that I criticise it and try to shine a light on it so it can be scrutinised (and hopefully one day improved) whereas he thinks it’s all just fucking fine and dandy. Anyway, aside from being an obviously morally bankrupt shitty person (and this is coming from me of all people), he doesn’t add anything of value to an already shit song, mind you he doesn’t make it that much worse either as it was already at the bottom of the barrel of this type of post-yolo nonsense. I suppose if Edward has to be in a k-pop song it might as well be one that sucks anyway, so at least it’s not like he’s ruining anything of value. Imagine the damage he could do if he ever gets onto a song that is actually good.
6. Killagramz ft. Hash Swan – Coloring
Jesus fucking christ, here’s another person who wants to be Korea’s T-Pain, he’s got the hair and everything. That dude sure has a lot to answer for, couldn’t he have just listened to Cher’s “Believe” once instead of ten thousand fucking times and then tried to make a career out of the robot voice thing. Anyway when Killagramz starts singing in that breathy voice trying to be “sexy” or whatever the fuck he sounds like he’s about 9 years old, I actually nearly pissed myself laughing at this. Does anyone seriously still want to defend R&B after listening to this crap, good luck with that if you do. It’s clear that in 2017 the entire music genre of R&B is dead, murdered in cold blood by a thousand tiny cuts of sweg. Some performers I can kind of empathise with even if I think their music is godawful shit but this guy just needs to stop making music, shave his head and join the army or something. He can control South Korea’s sonic warfare division that blasts crappy k-pop songs across the border at the North for propaganda purposes, and use his experience for something useful.
5. Masstige – Dama
So this video starts and the first thing I notice is the time – 2:51. Wow, that’s short, even for Korean pop which is all about brevity. Then some girl takes twelve seconds to open the lid of the piano, and I’m thinking “fuck, we’re down to 2:39 now, better move your fucking ass bitch or this will just be a teaser soon”. Then she spends another eight seconds readying her hands over the keys, taking a bit of extra time to fondle them a bit… and then the piano starts. Okay, we’re into the song now, fine. I can’t really judge it but a few piano notes, let’s see where this is going. Then the first note of vocals comes out and I burst out fucking laughing. No wonder they built it up so much. It reminds me of The Mark Of Cain who said that they always have lengthy instrumental intros to their songs because they don’t like singing that much, but The Mark Of Cain rocked whereas Masstige clearly loves singing but I wish he wouldn’t. There’s no point trying to be all “dynamic” with the vocals when they’re so processed to hell that there’s no dynamic range anyway, you’re just making the robot sound like it’s blown a gasket. Anyway at least it’s short so it’s over quickly, which is probably good for all concerned from an OH&S compliance perspective.
4. Hwang Minwoo (Little PSY) – KaTalk Song
If you ever wanted more proof that there’s no justice in the world of k-pop, here’s a fun fact – Little PSY’s career has now actually outlasted History, Glam, and Tiny-G. Who knows, if he keeps the ball rolling this long, he might even have a good song one day, after all anything is possible in k-pop where the song allocation process is so random. Given that his worst-of placements in past years started at #1, then have moved to #2 and now #4, mathematically if this trend continues by 2043 AD he’ll crack the top 30 favourites, although I think he’s going to start having to call himself “Medium PSY” long before then. In the meantime, if there’s a good song destined for Little PSY eventually, “KaTalk Song” certainly isn’t it. If you’ve never heard this song before, I strongly recommend that you don’t hit that play button and just take my word for it not to go there, but if you absolutely must do so out of sheer morbid curiosity, know that you’re in for horrible distorted synth leads, godawful whoop noises and some of the worst synthesised brass to ever make it onto any pop recording anywhere, and that’s all completely aside from the fact that Little PSY is on the recording. Little PSY’s other tracks were horrible because of his electric-drill-through-the-skull voice dragging everything down, but the most terrifying aspect of “KaTalk Song” is that Little PSY himself is actually the most tolerable thing about it.
3. Kris Wu ft. Travis Scott – Deserve
While 2017 was a pretty poor year for k-pop it still doesn’t top the worst post-Golden Age year in k-pop ever which is 2013, and that’s because this style of music was a lot more fashionable in 2013 than it is now. Kris Wu’s thoroughly laughable “Juice” misses out on inclusion in this list due to being an OST song and thus ineligible, but even that atrocious dose of incoherent mumble-rap isn’t as bad as “Deserve”. At least “Juice” had an actual beat for most of it’s running length even if Kris’ incoherent speech made Keith Ape sound like Morgan Freeman. In “Deserve” Kris reveals that he can actually speak very good English (something that EXO-L have known for years), however that doesn’t really help as nobody here seems to have any ideas about what to do with the words that are spoken, instead just choosing to Autotune the fuck out of it all over a horrible trap beat and call it a day. Travis Scott doesn’t fare any better, but really it could be anyone on this track with this amount of Autotune and hand-waving sloth-like rhythm dragging everything down to the lowest common denominator of sweg. Of course the lyrics are rubbish too – the best line is where Kris says he wants to “build with you like Tetris” and that’s quite appropriate because in Tetris if you’re building anything, that just means you’re losing the game, and Kris has certainly lost all of his game here. Also does he seriously have a tattoo on his forehead now or what. I hope that’s just henna for the video shoot and he didn’t really do that to himself, because I think he’s going to need to get a retail job sooner than he anticipates if this type of quality deficit continues – he’d better start growing that fringe.
2. Artists For One Korea – Korean Dream
Is there anything more potentially disgusting and fraudulent in the music industry than the “benefit song”. If you want to donate to a worthy cause, that’s great, so just fucking do it, don’t make a big public ego-stroking display about it and organise a fucking expensive concert or recording for it when you could easily just give that logistic money over straight to the organisation yourself and be done with it. Someone asked me a while back if I wanted to contribute some of my own music for a benefit CD to help fund the removal of land mines from farmland. I told the person who made the pitch that I wasn’t interested unless they were going to get the CDs and fly over to wherever the hell this ex-warzone was and throw them into the pasture to to try and set off some explosions. Then there was another time when I did actually say yes to a benefit for something, and the snake bitch who organised the whole thing ended up just pocketing the money herself instead of passing it over to the organisation that was officially supposed to collect the proceeds, only eventually relenting after many months and a huge amount of public pressure. Benefit projects in my experience can sometimes work out well on a small scale if I know and trust the people involved, but often are worse than useless because not only do they never work out the way they’re supposed to, they funnel a lot of other people’s energy (who might have been able to do some good on their own, individually and without making a song and dance about it) into a useless project that just wastes time and money, often at massive pointless logistic cost. The classic example is Live Aid, where Bob Geldof raised all that money for food for the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s while at the same time ignoring the political situation over there, meaning that when the food finally did arrive in Ethiopia it just all sat in the harbour and rotted or was stopped at military checkpoints – the Ethiopians who had no food were from a specific area of the country where there was conflict and they weren’t starving, they were being starved. Given all this, it’s hard to work out exactly what “Korean Dream” is supposed to achieve, I mean sure they want to “create a beautiful world that’s made for you and me, where we all live in peace” and that’s great, but they’re a bit sketchy on the details of how that’s actually going to be accomplished. The song is all in English, so it’s definitely not aimed for consumption within Korea. Does that mean they’re trying to put pressure on the international community, and if so, to do what, exactly? Not start a war, obviously, but there’s no actual suggestion of an alternative action plan here to get the unification ball rolling, so it seems a bit useless to me – what is it that they actually want people to do? Is the money from the sale of this song even going anyplace in particular that might assist? Or are we all supposed to just link arms and sing along to this song and hope that magical unification unicorns appear and make everything better? Compounding the uselessness is the fact that nobody is going to listen to this song anyway – I’m willing to bet that over 98% of readers didn’t even know that this song existed before reading about it here just now. At least “We Are The World“, while musically excruciating and responsible for the deaths of thousands, still had some fucking seriously A-list people involved in the song itself so people stood up and paid attention, even if all that attention ended up just helping a dictator to shit on his own people. On the other hand who is going to pay attention to artists like Dani Im and Voisper? These people are still fairly nugu, they are barely even known in Korea let alone anywhere else, at least SM Entertainment’s horrible “Dear My Family” (not covered here because it’s only a live version and I reviewed the original in 2012) has a bit of celebrity weight behind it and some sort of function in keeping SM’s “look how we’re all brothers and sisters and shit” narrative flowing and making some pocket change for UNICEF, whereas “Korean Dream” doesn’t even do anything. Anyway now that you know it exists, know that the music also sucks, the usual schmaltz-overload that these things always are, in fact you don’t even need to hear it to know exactly what it sounds like, if you’ve heard one song like this you’ve heard every single one of them. I’ve got nothing against any of the people involved in “Dear My Family” who I’m sure all had the best of intentions (especially the girl at 0:27 who constantly hams it up and doe-eyes at the camera like she’s on the verge of orgasm, maybe she thinks “Korean unification” means something different to what I think it means) and I do hope some good comes out of it, but given how corrupt and shady the Korean pop industry is as a general rule, the shit nature of this music is probably the least concerning thing about this whole project.
And the number 1 worst song for 2017 is:
1. D.G.N.A – Lucky Man
If you ask people who were following k-pop in 2012 what was considered the biggest scandal of that particular year, you’ll probably hear either about T-ara’s supposed “bullying” of Hwayoung (that actually was later revealed to be Hwayoung and Hyoyoung’s bullying and emotional blackmail of T-ara and their support crew), or Nickhyun from 2PM drink-driving and hitting a motorcyclist. What they probably won’t mention is Open World Entertainment, which for my money was one of the very few scandals in 2012 or any other year in k-pop that was worth paying any attention to at all. To cut a long story short, the company’s CEO Jang Seok Woo sexually assaulted and raped a bunch of female trainees at the agency. After initially denying the charges, he eventually admitted to all of this and was sentenced to six years in prison. Part of the abuse involved the CEO instructing some of the male idols under his employment to also sexually assault and/or rape these trainees, while he watched it all on CCTV. Those idols, after weighing up the options and deciding that fear for their music careers was more important to them than not being rapists, complied with the instructions from the CEO. D.G.N.A (also known as “The Boss”) were one of only two idol groups under the employment of the agency, the other group being X-5. Were either of these groups directly involved in the incident? We’ll never know for sure – the media and police did issue very strong denials that they were involved in any way, but because the female trainees didn’t “try to escape”, and weren’t “prevented from moving by force or threats”, the charges against the accomplices were downgraded from “good old-fashioned rape” to “abuse of authority and power to enter into sexual relations”, which only has a 12 month statute of limitation in Korea which means that the prosecution had no authority to proceed with an indictment against the idols because the incident took over 12 months to come to trial. So in other words the courts decided that the rape wasn’t rapey enough and let all the idols (whoever they were) go – cue flowers, heart signs and “reflect and return with a more mature image” press statements.
X-5 disbanded fairly quickly once the revelations at Open World Entertainment were made public, but D.G.N.A changed agencies and kept on going, albeit with their momentum somewhat ruined by the new need to not remind the public of their existence sooner than absolutely necessary. In late 2013 they released “Why Goodbye“, a fairly cheesy but not-too-horrible Big-Bang-esque song which had a chorus hook with fun lyrics like “wake me up from this nightmare” and “your existence decides my life and death” where the idol protagonists appear to be asking why they are being dumped while at the same time saying that they’ve been brought nothing but pain by the other party anyway – sort of a musical equivalent of when some stranger hits you up on social media asking for a fuck and then turns around and says “well you’re an ugly bitch, nobody would want you” when you decline. Their other big song the year afterward was “Rilla Go!” which was some silly bouncy fluffy stuff about the boys being “like animals” and they even got the tiger body paint out for that one, but I don’t think it worked out that well for them as Luhan already has the furry market cornered. I didn’t write anything much about either of these songs at the time, because there was no reason to, they weren’t good or bad enough to get on my radar. But now we have “Lucky Man”. Oh boy.
You know, I can’t hate the guys, not at all – as we don’t know what really happened of course, and if they are completely innocent as the media suggests, they certainly drew the short straw of career choices by signing up with Open World Entertainment. If the entire ugly incident teaches us anything, it’s that idols have no control over anything, really, not even the most basic shit you can imagine, like “you are allowed to have a music career without also having to rape that girl over there”, so it’s never fair to hate on any of them for the dumb shit they get up to, because it’s quite possible that they secretly hate the same stuff just as much as you do but someone has a gun to their head. So that means “Lucky Man” isn’t their fault either – it’s not right that their new agency thought this tux-wearing, written-on-the-toilet-seat, complete earsore of a piano ballad was a good idea, but it’s still potentially one of the least horrible things that they’ve been asked to do over the course of their careers, so I can see why they went along with this musical atrocity. After you’ve possibly been through being extorted into groping some underage girl while your disgusting boss looks on in another room from the in-house CCTV system and masturbates, just having to sing one of the most painfully overwrought, dull ballads ever created, while still obviously disgusting and morally wrong, probably still seems like getting off lightly. You have to put it all in perspective. If nothing else at least they’re potentially singing about what they know, they certainly are “lucky men” if they did indeed dodge those rape charges.
That’s all for this list! However if the pure crapness of these songs has got you feeling sad, don’t forget to also check out the 2017 favourites list to hopefully restore some of your faith in k-pop!