Kpopalypse’s 30 worst k-pop songs of 2018

It’s the list you’ve been waiting for – time for Kpopalypse to reveal his most hated k-pop songs of 2018!  Read on and be entertained as Kpopalypse reveals his subjective and completely irrelevant opinions once again to the delight of caonimas and the seismic butthurt of fanboys and fangirls everywhere!

Honestly, 2018 wasn’t that bad of a year for k-pop.  Sure, the current trendy plague of tropical shithouse infected a sizeable portion of k-pop comebacks throughout the year, however most of those songs weren’t intolerably bad as much as they were brain-numbingly average.  There was also the horrid mumble-rap trend, but a music trend that eschews all melody in a form of music as typically melodious as Korean pop can only go so far, so there wasn’t actually as much of this content released as many people may have expected.

Here’s the usual facts and disclaimers for new/confused readers and those who may stumble across the list from an outside source.  Read this first.

  • Songs are from 1st January 2018 to 31st December 2018, this list was published on 31st December 2018 but may appear earlier for some readers due to timezones.
  • Feature tracks only (released with a music video, or as a single, or featured on live stages) – I don’t have time to listen and evaluate every fucking thing ever, so I have to draw the line somewhere.
  • OST songs are not eligible, because if they were this list would probably be nothing but songs from OSTs and therefore a boring (if accurate) read.
  • Songs for sporting events are not eligible, nor are Christmas songs, which have their own special list of suckitude just for them.
  • Songs from Koreans trying to get into non-Korean markets (or conversely, overseas people “doing k-pop”) are eligible.  We need to put them in these lists so they learn.
  • This list is 100% subjective and is based on perceived (lack of) music quality only.  The list does not factor in commercial success, cultural relevance, recognition or the personal qualities of the artists.  Sometimes these other aspects are mentioned in the reviews but this is more for entertainment purposes and to give me something to write about, just because repeating the same four or five things that are wrong with almost all of these songs is boring and wouldn’t make for a very fun list.   These external factors have no direct bearing on my opinions of the songs themselves or their placement in this list.  Yes this list is biased – what would the point of it be if it wasn’t – but it’s musically biased.
  • The opinions expressed here are not important opinions, they are not more important than yours or anybody else’s and do not represent any kind of “authority”.  This list proves nothing except what my own subjective opinions are.
  • If this list upsets you – good.  My site has a disclaimer for a reason and if you’re stupid enough to hang around here and hate-read my moronic writing, this is fine, because offending stupid people is an important part of Kpopalypse blog.  Unlike other people on the Internet I don’t waste my energy trying to convince you that I’m a “good person”, I’m not interested in winning any popularity contests, and you can figure out for yourself exactly how you feel about that.  Be aware however that there are plenty of other k-pop lists that come out at around this time of year and if you want to read something you’ll actually enjoy, rather than reading my trash and being all offended and pissed off about it, you could read one of those other lists if you wanted, and probably have a much better time.
  • On the other hand if you’re thinking I’m just a k-pop hater in general, or are sad about all these shit songs being released (understandable), know that the Kpopalypse favourites list for 2018 is also a thing so maybe go and check that out to hear some much better songs and restore your faith in k-pop.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get started!


KPOPALYPSE’S 30 WORST K-POP SONGS OF 2018

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30. KARD – Ride On The Wind

KARD’s “Ride On The Wind” definitely isn’t the worst song this year, but it’s arguably the one that encapsulates the issues that plagued k-pop the most in 2018, where so many agencies clung onto flash-in-the-pan musical trends, trying desperately to squeeze the last drops of viability from tired subgenres that simply needed to take a break and rest for a while.  Surely the members of KARD were nervous in 2018 about continuing on their current tropical shithouse path and their label doesn’t seem to know what else to do with them – the tropical sound that they’ve built their careers with so far is slowly petering out and they haven’t been able to transition to anything else with any degree of effectiveness.  They must all have that feeling that you get when you’re playing Frogger and sitting on a log that’s about to scroll off the screen, waiting for a log coming in the other direction to appear in the space ahead, which may or may not arrive in time to save you.  I’m optimistic about it – I’m pretty sure that some new bullshit trend in k-pop will float along next year and they’ll be able to leap over onto it just in time, and they’d better hope so too because if not it really is game over.  Until that time, “Ride On The Wind” treads exactly the same material as their last half a dozen songs, and is worse than almost all of them.  It’s such a tired, hackneyed formula at this point that any musical criticism of it is almost pointlessly self-evident, but the most important aspect to remember about any tropical shithouse song is that they often live and die on the strength of their chorus melody, and this one sounds like someone wrote it in about five seconds of fucking around on a keyboard in a music store when deciding whether to buy it.  The go-nowhere melody fits the rest of the song perfectly which also does absolutely nothing, so let’s hope that someone over at DSP Media is more motivated to do something to save KARD’s careers than whoever wrote this song.

29. Eyedi – Red

Eyedi has had some great songs in the past, so why does she sound like Diana Krall all of a sudden.  Diana Krall might be boring jazz trash but at least she had some hot jazz guitar in her band, Eyedi doesn’t even have that going for her.  I mean, there’s certainly guitar in this and it’s even quite well played with a few tasty licks but it’s all so completely buried inside the jazzy mush of everything else that’s going on that it might as well not even be there.  Korean singers in general need to understand the value of sticking to a particular type of sound in order to strengthen their brand as singers, this type of boring conservative shit doesn’t have anything at all in common with cool tracks of hers in the past like “Best Mistake“. I doesn’t matter how well she’s singing it or how good she looks in the music video if she’s doing exactly the same type of boring song that every second nugu writing for an OST is doing.  There’s absolutely nothing separating “Red” from the tidal wave of jazz-lite crap out there in k-pop, and there really is a ton of it, I know because I scour k-pop channels for content daily and the amount of stuff that sounds exactly like this being released from Z-list groups you’ve never heard of each and every day is unbelievable.  One may then reasonably ask “well why didn’t all those other artists get on this list” and the answer is the same reason why the police go really really hard on you with the lectures if you’re a good kid with potential in society who steals from a store once, they don’t want you to fall into a pattern and join the ratbags.  I’m trying to tell Eyedi that she needs to straighten her shit up and stop hanging out with feral jazz hooligans, because this type of shit is a gateway drug.  It starts off innocently with a few minor seventh chords and Fender Rhodes flourishes, and before you know it you’re down at the secondhand vinyl mart salivating over Miles Davis during his “fuck you I’m mainlining both PCP and acid in the one vein” phase.  Just say no, kids.

28. Minzy – All Of You Say

It’s impossible not to feel sorry for Minzy if you’re a reasonable human being with any empathy whatsoever, or even if you’re a cunt like Kpopalypse for that matter.  Back in 2NE1 days, Minzy had charisma to burn but always seemed to be relegated to the role of a bit player in her own group, and when she finally decided to call it quits I don’t think anyone wasn’t sympathetic.  Some would argue that it’s her unconventional appearance that hamstrung her chance to be part of the idol A-list, and there’s probably a lot of truth in that, but in my opinion it’s that very same unconventional appearance that gave 2NE1 a large percentage of their wings by positioning them (albeit fraudulently) as a “tougher” girl group with a “difference”.  So it’s a shame to see Minzy completely fail to capitalise on any of that as a solo artist, with “All Of You Say” being far too soft for anything that I’d ever want to see or hear Minzy associated with.  The song grinds along with a simple one-note bassline that wears out its welcome before the first chorus even finishes, and a set of chiming chords that have a nice ring-modulated twang but are so distant in the mix that they don’t really add anything except the fleeting feeling that we’re being robbed of a backing track better than this.  As the harmony in this song is essentially non-existent, the vocals over the top don’t really have any function either because there’s no progression, and the whole song just sort of spins around and around going nowhere, just like Minzy herself, sadly.  I don’t think this type of thing is her calling, she’s never going to be broadly accepted as a standalone commercial pop star, she needs to start a group like Dead Gakkahs or something where I think she’d be a great fit.  If there was anyone from k-pop who actually legitimately had something to scream about Minzy would be it, if she could actually funnel that energy successfully into some of her art instead of doing this stupid dance bullshit, she’d be able to make my song of the year – easily.

27. H.U.B – When A Blossom Day Of Cherry Blossom

Scooping the award for the most unintentionally comical song title of 2018 is H.U.B, who should have called this one “when a shit song of fucking shit”.  The main problem with this ultra-nugu attempt at god knows what is that for what is ostensibly an R&B song, there is no groove here whatsoever.  The drums are pushed way into the back of the mix, which is a really odd choice for any sort of R&B style song where rhythm is king, but they’re also doing some sort of repeated bass hit that would probably fit better on a Ministry record if they were a little louder so one wonders whether bringing them forward would have made the song sound even more awkward and ill-fitting.  Then again, even if the rhythm was any good, it’s not like there’s anything else going on here for it to compliment, so perhaps this is just a lose-lose situation no matter how we slice it and the best thing for this song would have been to just firebomb it and start over from scratch with something else completely.  The saddest thing about “When A Blossom Day Of Cherry Blossom” is that the most accomplished thing about it is actually the song title.

26. Bumzu – I Don’t Miss You

People who act like they would be able to run a k-pop company better than even the worst of existing k-pop agencies are definitely exceptionally naive.  It’s not their fault – the k-pop industry does its very best to keep the layperson a million miles away from anything resembling a “company perspective”, but as someone who has both tried running a record label myself as well as worked (and continue to work) very closely with CEOs in music and elsewhere, I can assure you that the average k-pop fan would throw any agency quickly in the red if given any meaningful control at all.  So unlike most k-pop fans, when I see absolute bullshit songs from Pledis being released like this new song from Bumzu here instead of the Orange Caramel, After School and Pristin full group comebacks that we all wanted in 2018, I understand that these are considered, planned decisions and there are legitimate business reasons behind them.  I don’t go around shooting my mouth off about how their agency has no fucking idea and are going to go broke tomorrow or whatever even though I haven’t seen their accounting and have no true insight into exactly how the internal finances of the label are being juggled, I just accept that both Pledis and a certain segment of Korea’s population have bullshit music taste and move on.  There’s no need to use guesswork and speculation to invent extra reasons to hate an agency’s decisions when their existing known and clearly on display for all to see action of adding to the enormous pile of boring Korean acoustic mid-paced ballad trash is a perfectly legitimate and acceptable reason, and all the reason that anybody needs.

25. EXID – Lady

In the 1980s, pop music was often bad but sometimes great.  In the 1990s it was pretty much all bad, and that’s the main reason who so-called “alternative” music took off so much during that decade – the commercial pop stars just weren’t getting it right anymore.  The reason, oddly enough, can be traced to one of the greatest groups of all time, Public Enemy, and their production team The Bomb Squad, who had such a massive influence on the way that pop music was created that they literally changed everything about how western pop songs were arranged and produced.  The wall-of-noise effects, 70s throwback sound collages, off-beat rhythms and bone-dry production that worked brilliantly for Public Enemy’s better tracks and cemented their place in music history, didn’t work quite so well when the sound trended and migrated to the commercial pop sphere.  All of a sudden the carefully-composed melodies and harmonies that made the better 80s electronic pop music work so well were thrown out the window, replaced with sample-heavy sounds, a reliance on rhythm and technically adept but musically careless semi-improvised singing to carry the songs, as pop producers rushed to latch onto the new trend and incorporate the more superficial elements of Public Enemy’s sound into their production, whether that sound suited what they were doing or not.  That’s why even though more pop music was being made than ever before, the number of western groups with an “idol” image that managed to make serious global headway was actually far smaller than it was in previous generations.  The few groups and artists who could work with the new sound yet still carry a pop tune did well, the rest of them sounded pretty much exactly like EXID’s “Lady” and were quickly forgotten, almost none of them being able to forge any kind of lasting career.  EXID have faithfully recreated everything that was shit for commercial pop music from about 1989 to 1997, so thanks girls for reminding me why I was listening to 4AD label’s artists for my melodic pop fix instead during that time.

24. Jung Ilhoon ft. Jinho – Always

23. Red Velvet – RBB

Everyone had a big old cry about my dishonourable mentions list when I took a fat and completely justified shit on Red Velvet’s “Bad Boy” (as if one irrelevant blogger’s opinion has any bearing on anything at all and you can’t just enjoy the song anyway if you want to), but it seems like SM Entertainment decided to up the ante and demanded that I give Red Velvet even more free promotion by making a sequel that gives me no choice but to criticise them even more.  Clearly it’s some kind of viral marketing strategy, but as a slave to music quality it’s one that I have no choice to go along with, so rather than get upset about her inclusion here, why not tell yourself that it’s part of SM Entertainment’s secret plan to make me write about Red Velvet more and just enjoy all the free publicity that I’m giving them.  Although a sequel in name, Red Velvet’s “RBB” or “Really Bad Boy” doesn’t have much in common with the original “Bad Boy” on any sort of musical level and actually comes off like another stab at the vibe of “Rookie” if anything.  However “Rookie” had a tough rhythm and a fantastic melodic bassline that carried the song beautifully through its weaker moments, and was a song that I really enjoyed, whereas “RBB” has a beat that drops out to half time right when it should be rocking full-throttle, sub-bass that doesn’t punch through the mix hard enough to matter and far too many layers of nauseating, warbling sing-songy vocal that pretty much just hangs around one note, bothering the track like an unwelcome party guest.  It’s just an irritating listen all round and hopefully Kim Jong Un doesn’t get wind of it lest he deploy his weapons of musical mass-destruction, mind you give how closely he follows Irene I’m sure he already knows about this and Moranbong Band are probably on their way over to Music Core right now.

22. EXP Edition – Stress

Well, EXP Edition are still trying, and while I can’t help but admire their high determination levels, it should be pretty obvious to everybody at this point that nothing much is going to happen for them unless they make some drastic changes to their approach.  You could write a book about their struggles and how much of the western fan reaction to them is racism and western preciousness/snobbishness about white people getting into k-pop culture, which I guess was the entire point of the group to begin with, to explore those aspects.  However in 2018 that social experiment is pretty much over, and once you take away the social experiment and all the “baggage” and everything else away from EXP Edition, all you’re really left with is a group of singers in Korea that have songs that aren’t as good as the songs that most other groups of singers in Korea have.  “Stress” is certainly a more fluid song than “Feel Like This” and definitely an improvement overall, and I’m thankful that it’s not some trendy bullshit like tropical house, latin pop or mumble rap, I definitely get the feeling that this song could have been a lot worse and EXP Edition if they’re reading should be proud for (just) staying out of the bottom 20 this year.  I mean, just look below, they’ve done better in this list than some pretty well-established stars, so they can rightfully feel good about that.  However the group still have the problem with writing repetitive melodies that just grind on and on with not much variation in the melodic line, whoever is writing the tunes here need to take a good hard listen to something like Snuper’s “Platonic Love” and try to understand why that song works and EXP Edition’s songs do not.  Also was it really necessary to leave the “ed” off the end of “stressed”, making the chorus “I’m just stress!” sound like a parody of Korean pop’s occasional Engrish?  Sure, I’m guilty of mocking Engrish all the time – after all, if you wanna mock Engrish, every wanna mock Engrish – but then I’m just an asshole with a stupid blog who finds that shit funny, I’m not the one trying to break into the Korean pop scene as a serious and respected artist.  Fair enough if they can’t get their Korean pronunciation quite right, I’d definitely forgive them any slip-ups there, but it’s harder to defend them when they don’t even get their English correct because such a basic flaw rubs against their own narrative of being earnest hard workers with a love of K-pop striving for perfection against the odds.  However I still agree with a lot of people that the criticism of EXP Edition is unfair on many levels, and rest assured that if EXP Edition could one day pull off something of the quality of “Platonic Love”, they’d get the same accolades – at least from me, if nobody else.

21. Nine Muses – To. MINE

Hey everyone, hands up if you’re a Nine Muses fan!  Now keep your hand up if your idea of the perfect Nine Muses comeback is the four of them sitting in a room wearing long white dresses and singing a mid-paced acoustic ballad that sucks dicks.  I’m reasonably certain that there are few hands remaining aloft at this point, which makes me wonder what Star Empire were thinking when they got Nine Muses to dedicate this song especially to their fans.  If I were getting Nine Muses to do a song “for the fans” I think I’d try to make the song bang like T-ara’s “Sexy Love” and for the music video they’d all be snorting lines of cocaine off each other’s naked buttcheeks, because I think that’s what the majority of their fanbase would want, or at least I hope so, I’m pretty sure the desire for fun hasn’t been completely leached out of the bones of the current generation of k-pop fans yet.  Or then maybe it has.  This video has like 48 million upvotes and five downvotes so it’s quite possible that I’m wrong about this and Nine Muses fans think this is a better song than “Gun” or “Ticket” but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the “fans” who are gushing about this song in the YouTube comments are just supporting the group out of a mixture of obligation and peer pressure, and secretly all wish that this song was just about anything else instead, or at least that another group had made this crap so that they didn’t feel obligated to stan.

20. Holland – Neverland

Holland actually had some great songs in 2018 and you can read about those on the favourites list for this year.  However his debut “Neverland” was absolutely fucking atrocious.  The main problem with the song is the wobbliness of the vocals, however contrary to popular belief at the time, this wasn’t to do with Holland being “underdeveloped as a vocalist” or whatever nonsense today’s vocalfaggots subscribe to.  The truth was that the singing was fine and really no different to how any male performer in k-pop sounds, however the compression on the vocals is too light, meaning that the volumes aren’t equalised correctly so Holland sounds like he’s fading in and out of the mix throughout most of the track.  It’s an engineering issue, not a vocal skill issue, and on subsequent tracks where Holland actually remembered to turn his compressor on his voice sounds fine.  A slightly wobbly vocal line might not have been such a huge problem however if the songwriting was any good, but “Neverland” creeps along with the type of bland, tuneless mid-paced warbling R&B nonsense that most artists only get away with in the first place because they have properly engineered vocals that fool you into thinking that they can actually do all those ad-libs with consistent pitch and volume.  Only the video content really flies the fag flag properly, with fantastic extended kissing scenes clearly designed to make Korea’s homophobes feel as uncomfortable as possible, but it’s a pity that more of this knockout-punch pride-energy wasn’t transferred to the musical content.  It’s a mystifyingly nondescript let-down of a debut song for the “first gay k-pop idol”, because LGBTIQXYZABC types are usually knocking it out of the park with fantastic songs, so I’m not sure what went wrong here.  Fortunately Holland was able to channel his Freddy Mercury energy for some much better songs later in 2018.

19. Kyung Dasom – My Love Song

Most songs that get on this list obviously do so by accident – after all why would someone endeavour specifically to write a song that managed to work its way on the worst-of list written by some scumbag blogger in another country, logic dictates that of course they wouldn’t bother with something like that.  However occasionally a song comes along that seems so keenly attuned to the kind of attributes that I completely despise in music, that I wonder if someone had in fact written it deliberately for exactly this purpose.  Kyung Dasom’s “My Love Song” is just such a song – starting off with that marimba bullshit that’s in all the tropshit songs now, and then coming in with the horrid overdone R&B vocal, then adding in several layers of instrumental noodling around with lame jazz chords, including (of course) some Fender Rhodes worked into the mix – it’s like they read all of the “things Kpopalypse dislikes in music” series and set about to specifically incorporate as much of it into the song as possible.  So if that was their aim then I guess the songwriters and producers of this trash can take a big bow because they’ve certainly done well to produce a piece of music that I despise, however there is one brief moment at 1:18 where the song actually shuts the fuck up for half a second, and I really enjoyed that part which I guess wasn’t part of the plan, so maybe next time try harder guys.

18. WJMK – Strong

The group WJMK is a combination of some girls from WJSN and some from Weki Meki.  I was lucky enough to see WJSN’s Seola when I went to Sydney’s KCON in 2017, when she came out with EXO’s Chanyeol and did a cover of “Stay With Me“.  It was a great performance, even though she had a bit of a deer-in-headlights look to her (which I think was on purpose given the type of song it was), and she seemed like a nice girl from what I could tell given that I was pretty far away from her on the stage.  Little did I know what her agency had in store for her during the upcoming year.  If I’d known that her next musical adventure would concern a song that sounds like a sloppy Red Velvet reject in the verses before transforming into a Sistar summer comeback type song with the horrible “ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” vocal riff I think I would have tried to go to the high-touch to slap her hand in person.  The high-touch was the only event that I skipped at KCON, as high-touches always freak me out because more germs are spread through hand-touching than through kissing, so every k-pop fanmeet with high-touches just has to be a germ factory and I don’t want to get a whole arena’s worth of viruses on my fingers.  However if I knew about this bullshit song being in the works I could have contracted some really infectious illness, coughed on my hand just before slapping hers, passed my germs onto her and she would have been able to take a legitimate sick day instead of recording this crap.  That is, assuming she wouldn’t have fallen sick anyway, I bet these people wash their hands for a full three minutes after an event like that to get the “fanboy” off.

17. Suzy – I’m In Love With Someone Else

The album that Suzy released which contains this song is called “Faces Of Love”, and just because of word association and no other reason, when I see that album title and hear this song I always stop thinking of Suzy and instead start thinking of the “Faces Of Death” 1970s snuff documentary cinema series.  As anybody who has seen it will know, when thinking of “Faces Of Death” it’s impossible not to immediately think of the film’s most iconic scene, the one where a group of restaurant diners feast on a live monkey’s brains.  Although this scene like many in the film is faked, on the exceptionally grainy bootleg VHS copy that I had it looked real enough, and it was hard to not stare into the eyes of the monkey and feel compassion, if not for its death then certainly for the humiliation of having to have its head strapped down to a dining table for a few hours while some idiots made a crappy fake snuff film.  Thinking of the monkey being forced to serve the whims of the film crew of course then makes me think of other situations where there is a similar power dynamic at play, such as the powerlessness that Korean pop idols must feel when they’re forced to perform endless formulaic cookie-cutter ballads with overblown production, hideous show-off vocals that are all about “proving” how well the singer can sing instead of actually serving the song, and exactly the same musical elements always being followed in exactly the same pattern with no subtlety or artistry.  Of course then that puts me right back where I started, thinking about Suzy and this shit piece of music.  There’s no escape from thinking about this bullshit, which is as good enough a reason for it to be on this list as any other.

16. Jimin – Hey

Jimin’s iconic “Hey!” line is all over the majority of AOA feature tracks, to the point where it’s become a viral joke among that group’s fandom, much like Way being in the mafia has with Crayon Pop fans.  Indeed, caonima YouTuber and creator of quality viral k-pop content isaymyeolchigr discovered that if you surgically extract just Jimin’s “heys” out of all the AOA songs from debut until 2017 and string them together, you have almost enough material for a complete new song.  So when I heard that Jimin’s next solo song was going to be called “Hey” it felt like a stroke of genius – I mean, of course, right?  Talk about a dream assignment for any songwriter – how can someone even get this wrong?  However the song is oddly weak as piss – instead of building on the stock that Jimin has acquired as AOA’s rambunctious rapper as well as her breakout success in Unpretty Rapstar, the writers of “Hey” have forgotten completely what made “Puss” so great and have given her some completely lightweight la-la pop crap that not only isn’t appropriate Jimin solo material but isn’t even as hard-hitting as the better tracks from AOA as a full group.  Jimin doesn’t look any good either, with a Hyuna-style makeover that doesn’t fit her and she just ends up looking comical rather than cool.  Most unforgivably of all, even the actual “hey” chants don’t sound any good – instead of the quick, crisp “heys” that are all over AOA songs, Jimin is made to sing “heeeyy” in a slow languid way through the chorus that drags over the beat and kills all that cheeky charm she used to have.  Being asked to create a solo package for Jimin based around the word “hey” should have been a no-brainer, but somehow the people involved who were given this golden opportunity managed to fuck up every single thing about this.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and listen to “Puss” one more time and weep for what could have been.

15. Solid – Memento

When I think of the word “solid”, I think of the texture and consistency of the most recent shit I had, so I suppose that’s an appropriate name for a long-dormant k-pop boy group, because like a three-course pub meal with too much extra garlic bread these “mature age” comebacks start off seeming like a good idea but never come out the other end as a final product well.  It’s got nothing to do with the performers being older, and more to do with the industry’s idea that “because you’re an old performer, you have to do something serious and boring” (to S.E.S’s credit, even though their comebacks in 2017 were all hot garbage, at least they tried to evade this trap).  Solid’s “Memento” actually doesn’t start too bad with a slowly building snare roll which makes me think that the tune may actually be going places, but then at the one-minute mark that’s replaced by stodgy power-ballad drums that quickly put the brakes on the tempo and the realisation quickly sets in that this song is going nowhere good.  They try to pick it up again in the second verse with the extra bass drum but every time the song hits the chorus the feel completely changes and the rhythm grinds to a halt, it’s like “nope – you’re having too much fun, remember you’re OLD, just slow it down a bit”.  The song is deliberately trying to stop itself from being too exciting and as an old cunt myself I feel sorry for the members of Solid for sounding less exciting than trot performers who are probably twice their age.  If anything the song makes me feel a bit younger than I am because at least I’m not into decrepit “old man” music like these cunts, so I guess I got some small joy out of this trash, but it would have been nicer if I could have experienced that joy without actually having to listen to this to confirm.

14. Girlkind – Broccoli

There’s been some great mixtape rap releases this year from Korean artists, and my favourites list this year has a couple that I recommend you go and check out.  There’s also lots of complete crap that came out as well, like Girlkind’s “Broccoli” which is actually terrible and by far the worst mixtape rap this year.  Imagine shopping for beats and settling on the absolute non-beat that is featured throughout this song, Blind Freddy could have walked into any bargain hip-hop record store and randomly picked just about anything and it would have sounded better than this.  With such a lame excuse for a rhythm there was no way anything the girls did over the top of it was going to be any good, but Girlkind made absolutely sure that no quality seeped in by going for the most gimmicky chorus imaginable.  It seems that broccoli is what girls in Koreans sing about when they’re going for “zany” Orange Caramel territory and failing, and I have no idea why this is the case but that doesn’t mean I have to tolerate it or find it interesting.  Oh and we can thank Public Enemy yet again, the “triplet flow” which Chuck D pioneered on “Bring The Noise” has now been co-opted by every useless nu-school wannabe rapper across the globe whether it suits their song or not, now including Girlkind, lucky us.  Those damn Public Enemy boys they sure have a lot to answer for when it comes to the shittiness of popular music these days, someone should shove that clock right up Flavor Flav’s ass, perhaps with a broccoli attached for good measure.

13. Lipbubble – Yellow Pink

One of the most common lies perpetrated by people who wish to slander Kpopalypse in various public social media spaces is that nugus get a free pass on the worst-of lists as I focus on more well-known groups to farm troll clicks.  While I certainly welcome all troll clicks and I hope people coming here to be trolled and bitter failures find their time well spent, regular readers will know that nugus have always appeared high on my worst-of lists ever since listing began (upvote if you remember Heart Rabbit Girls).  Lipbubble is as good an example of this as any other, with “Yellow Pink” being one of the most notably awful girl group songs to exist ever since girl group songs were a thing.  Most notable is the harmony which sounds like it isn’t changing much even though it’s actually moving quite a lot, because the sub-bass underneath it is so weird and offputting, but there’s also good reason to mention the horrible synth lines that come in and out for no reason, the stupid funk guitar which clutters up the mix while not adding anything in particular and of course the horrible screechy incessant vocals that never shut up which every girl group seems to have now.  It’s just another example of Z-grade agencies getting things oh-so-wrong and it happens more often than most people think because writing good pop music is (contrary to popular belief) really difficult stuff, and while lots of money doesn’t guarantee a hit it certainly increases the probability because you can use that capital to hire experts.  I don’t think there were too many experts involved here except the one who designed that heads-up display, maybe we should rate all girl groups using the categories “cute”, “sexy”, “love” and “chic”, whatever they mean, now there’s a job for a future Kpopalypse post.

12. Shannon Williams – Hatred Farewell

Hey man, Shannon is great, don’t you diss her.  I really feel for her, it must be a shit deal having to put up with her record label making all sorts of wacky decisions, getting 0.6 comebacks per year and generally being an exceptional talent (yeah, the T-word, I’m problematic, I know) that is constantly overlooked because nobody has any clue how to market her, she’s my woke queen of k-pop and I respect her a whole lot.  Shannon is in a perilous situation too because of her “vocal talent”, something which is a huge double-edged sword and one of the worst situations for anybody in k-pop to find themselves in.  She struggles with the same kind of dilemma that also affects Mamamoo – because she can sing so well, and intuitively understands pop vocals to the point where it’s second-nature, nobody really wants to actually write properly for her, hence she’s had two great songs over four years and a whole load of shit.  “Hatred Farewell” is definitely a song that’s been written thoughtlessly, and the fact that the backing track is completely absent for the first minute of the video illustrates the point perfectly – Shannon has to do all the work, because nobody else will.  That would be okay, but Shannon is a young person and her musicality is still a work in progress, while she can sing just about anything k-pop can throw at her technically speaking, she can’t really be expected carry a whole song on her own when it comes to making the right aesthetic musical choices.  That’s fair and normal for anybody of her age but it does mean that this song is near-unlistenable as a result, sort of the k-pop ballad equivalent of listening to Michael Angelo Batio play everything he knows how to do on guitar at once.  Shannon if you’re reading I’m sorry for writing this negative review but I can’t lie to my readers and say that I liked this song, you’re still a great T-word and I hope one day you get the recognition, fame and success that you deserve (plus another song as good as “Hello” and not more ballad trash like this).  That probably won’t happen anytime soon though, because we both know what your agency is like – so why not hit me up for an interview while you wait for them to finally get their shit together?  Contact details here – think about it.  I promise you if nothing else the k-pop Internet will shit its collective pants.

11. Tiffany Young – Over My Skin

And then there’s people who are experienced enough and have enough artistic control to do better, and just don’t.  As far as visuals are concerned, the best thing Tiffany Hwang Young ever did was leave SM Entertainment.  These days she gets to wear what she wants, her smiles actually look natural now and not forced by the iron rod of Lee Soo Man, and the staging and video for “Over My Skin” perfectly encapsulates the newer, more carefree Tiffany who is allowed to make a whole new range of dance moves and facial expressions that SM would never have sanctioned.  Unfortunately, this newfound emancipation also extends to the music and Tiffany is now free to make shithouse blues-based tunes that would have never passed double-blind testing at SM Entertainment’s quality assurance factory subdivision.  The sole redeeming feature of “Over My Skin” is that half-a-guitar-riff that cuts in and out incessantly, but it’s also the song’s biggest problem – because it’s a pentatonic blues riff, only blues-based singing works over the top of it, and the song remains permanently stuck in a box as a result, repeating that one riff over and over and never really getting anywhere, like a rat doing circles in a cage on the sand and gradually sinking into the trench it unwittingly makes for itself.  The song gets even worse with the one real break in the proceedings, that is filled with so much annoying vocal caterwauling that when that same-old riff cranks back in, it’s almost a relief.  At the end of the video Tiffany yells “cut!” and stares at the camera, with a look that suggests that she’s got something on her mind, let’s hope it’s a plan to improve on this crap for next year.

10. PLT – Hocus Pocus

A few poor sensitive dears got a little bit upset with me about my negative review of NCT 127’s “Touch” in the dishonourable mentions list, and while I can understand the suspicion that I might be hating on them “just because” (because I am aware that some k-pop fans do in fact do that) I had very legitimate musical reasons for not liking that song which I outlined quite specifically in that post.  However if you were one of those upset NCT fans who had trouble hearing what I was talking about, or perhaps you were thinking that I was just making it up, I now present to you PLT’s “Hocus Pocus” which has exactly the same problem with the music – just a more extreme version.  It should be easier for you to hear the misaligned degrees of “swing” in the vocal line versus the drums and keyboard pads in the backing track, which are moving at two vastly different ratios that are misaligned by nearly a quarter of a beat.  I guess someone thought it sounded “cool” but that just shows me that the song was green-lit by someone who doesn’t understand rhythm, one of those people who always claps out of time at concerts because they don’t know where the beat is.  I guess if the song wasn’t the most basic of R&B trash anyway, they might have gotten away with this, but the song generally being otherwise dull and nondescript means that there’s really nothing else but this glaring and very distracting flaw to focus on.  The clumsily lurching rhythms makes the song pretty much useless except perhaps for the purpose of scientific study to see if it is possible to get motion sickness just from listening to music alone without actually being in motion.

9. Minty – You Do

Most of you probably don’t remember Minty, but those of you who follow “women’s issues” in Korean culture might remember her as the one who had a feminist preamble in front of one of her songs for some reason.  Of course feminism isn’t a hugely popular concept with a lot of people in Korea, and I guess that’s why she’s going with the anonymous appearance in all her videos.  I don’t think it’s primarily an “art concept” as much as it is just her trying to avoid being recognised in public and given a hard time for her political views, and fair enough really, given how dickish some men can get about these things – you don’t have to be a radical feminist to be able to admit that some guys do become really insecure and stupid about women asserting themselves.  On top of that I’m guessing that she doesn’t want us to judge her by her face, and she also quite clearly says that she doesn’t want us to judge her by her body, and that’s fine, so I won’t judge her by either of those things.  Instead, I’ll judge her by her music, which so far is absolute bullshit, and “You Do” is easily the worst of her songs so far, with boring funk music and oddly farting synths backing up her generally annoying-as-tits monotone whine.  E.via/Tymee used to sound a little bit like this when she started out, with the horrid fake-ass cutesy routine, but she dumped it as soon as she could and moved onto something else probably so she could rap more in her own voice and sound more naturalistic and “real”.  Maybe Minty could take a leaf out of Tymee’s book – if not to be taken more seriously (it’s feminism in Korea after all, so her chances of that are unfortunately slim) then at least for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

8. Jjangyou – Koki7

Trufax: I had depression for over a decade.  It was a really shitty thing, but a doctor eventually found a fix for this about six or seven years ago and my life has been looking good ever since.  However years of chemical brain imbalance I think has left some permanent damage to my brain chemistry.  One of the things I really notice is that my emotions still to this day are fairly muted – I don’t tend to have big emotional displays of any kind, everything is just kind of “flat”, I still feel emotions fine but it takes a while to access them.  Because of this, if I’m ever in any kind of competition where the task is to try and restrain my own emotional reaction, then I always win, as it’s so easy for me to pull down any emotional reaction that I’m having, the other person will always laugh/cry/be grossed out/etc first.  My girlfriends have always tried out the “who can make the other one laugh first” game on me and they always lose it.  However, I think this song is going to be the game-changer, ladies and gents.  Don’t tell my current girlfriend about “Koki7”, because if she finds out that I just can’t stop myself from laughing out loud every time at the seventeen second mark when that guy begins his hilariously inept vocals, I’ll probably never win another “stare-off” competition again.  All she would have to do to make me laugh is start imitating that guy’s voice and I’ll be rolling on the floor, laughing and crying at the same time.  I think I’ve found the Korean version of IceJJFish, and it’s really a bit scary that this song is all the way down at number eight, but it;s also good to know that perhaps my brain chemistry is recovering more than I give it credit for.

7. BM – Be Mine

When I first heard “Be Mine”, I wondered why “Big Matthew” from KARD reminded me of Australian/Sudanese rapper Bangs, and then I realised that he started off this horrible song with the phrase “it’s your boy, BM” which is an exact copy of Bangs’ phrase “your boy, Bangs“.  There are other similarities too.  BM’s song is a rap song but also has a tropical shithouse base, much like some of Bangs’ more recent material such as the iconic “Take U To McDonalds“.  I’ve also noticed that both Bangs and BM have a tendency to move very awkwardly in front of the camera, neither of them looks completely comfortable in front of the lens, which seems to have a hard time capturing them flatteringly despite both men being clearly very attractive (amirite).  Also, some of BM’s high-pitched mouth noises are easily as inexplicable as anything that Bangs has recorded during his career.  However what Bangs never had was some guy pretending to play the toot-toot noises on an actual flute-thing, and that’s definitely a point in Bangs’ favour.  It’s bad enough that we have to put up with the toots at all, let’s please not draw extra attention to it by assigning those toots to a fictional indigenous instrumental player when they were quite obviously cooked up on a keyboard in the studio by some exceptionally bored and lazy individual.  But then maybe I’m making assumptions and perhaps that dude is the person responsible for 100% of the songwriting on this track and probably the last half a dozen KARD comebacks too, now that would actually explain a few things.

6. Don Mills ft. Dbo – Yonge & Finch

You know you’re in trouble from the moment this video starts, when you see that horrible washed-out purple, red and green colour scheme which all the trap-crappers use now because it’s reminiscent of “It G Ma” and they wouldn’t mind riding off that awful song’s success a little.  However there’s a paradox here – if Don Mills is really as “Yonge & Finch” as he claims, surely he doesn’t need to ride off anyone else’s success?  This means that one of two possibilities is true, either he’s actually broke and desperately needs the extra cashflow, which means he’s a liar, or he has tons of cash and doesn’t need to ride of anyone’s anything, which means that he actually thought “It G Ma” both looked and sounded good, which means that he has terrible taste.  Of course “Yonge & Finch” isn’t musically as bad as “It G Ma”, but then few sounds ever created by any lifeforms on planet Earth since the geological formation of the continents are quite that terrible.  It’s still pretty fucking shit, with Don Mills and Dbo seemingly insistent that their extended Autotuned singing passages over this crap beat are actually a good idea.  Why no rappers in Korea actually want to rap anymore but want to do singsongy Autotune crap instead I have no idea.  Is anyone actually buying this junk?  Are there really people out there thinking to themselves “I can’t wait for Don Mills to bring out a new track and when it does I hope that he doesn’t rap at all but just sings with hard Autotune across the whole thing, I also hope the beat is really slow and dull so I don’t get too excited while I’m listening”?  I guess there must be for him to have a career, fans of this shit feel free to leave some comments below explaining your worldview and the appeal of this song to confused people like me, thanks.

5. First Bite – Move Over

It’s easy to hate on this song because it has something vaguely to do with Edward Avila, and why not because there’s a guy who certainly deserves to be despised.  For those who don’t remember him (which is completely understandable and forgivable) he’s that creepy guy who loves Korea’s beauty standards and basically told Pristin’s Kyla “lose some weight fatty” just to get his YouTube revenue up even though she was already medically underweight anyway.  People who think I’m k-pop biggest asshole might like to fucking rethink that – at least my “problematic” (pfft) content is just shitty tasteless jokes, satire, and subverting of people’s expectations for a cheap giggle and occasional educational purposes, whereas ol’ Eddie actually means everything literally at face value.  Anyway he also directed the music video for “Move Over”, which stars three performers, one who actually looks like a younger, shorter version of himself, and who even has the same name, damn that really confused me for a while.  Maybe it really is him after his body shrunk as it rejected the 67th round of botox that he so proudly injects into himself, who knows – but if it isn’t I do feel sorry for the guy as well as the two girls who got roped into this with promises of k-pop fame and are probably getting their KFC box meals snatched away from them by their management as I type, in a cruel mimicry of the slave-driving Korean idol system Edward seemingly has a hard-on for.  Anyway let’s talk about the music for a bit because that’s shit too, and there’s plenty of reasons to hate this song that don’t have anything to do with the people involved.  The songwriters are sort of aiming for that latter-day Hyuna/CL sweg-riffic approach with the slow beat, sub-bass and wall-of noise textures, and that sort of shit can actually work well if done right, but the beats don’t go hard enough, the noise isn’t punchy enough, and when the posey cringe rapping stops and the singing starts it’s just the usual ramble without any carefully considered melody, because there’s really nothing happening there for the vocalists to harmonise over.  Just one extra chord in the chorus would have probably been enough to stop this from sucking as much as it does, but as it stands it’s just a mush of Phrygian-raised-3rd shit with a fairly standard k-pop pre-chours in there to try and break up the sheer monotony.  K-pop needs to understand that if they’re not going to be doing Slayer or Sepultura covers there’s really no need to fuck with Phrygian mode at all.  As a side note I’d like to see Edward Aliva do a v-log where he tells Kerry King to LSWF, now that’d be a conversation.

4. Young Stone ft. Bloody Web – In Your Eyes

I don’t even know who these clowns are, but what I do know is that at 0:16 in this song there’s a vocal noise that sounds exactly like someone snoring.  I’m pretty sure that was the engineer in the studio who heard the backing track he was supposed to be mixing, thought to himself “why the fuck should I even bother” and used the opportunity to catch up on some sleep.  He’s got that fucking annoying nose-snore too, the type that indicates a very deep slumber from the person at rest but that keeps anyone else in the audible vicinity nervously awake.  Clearly this nails-against-the-blackboard grind has affected Young Stone and Bloody Web’s ability to “get busy” over the top of this track and produce any raps of worth, with most of the words just sounding like “fucking” even though they probably are something else that’s just been mispronounced and mumbled badly enough that it sounds like a swear.  Or maybe there’s actually no swearing mumble rap in this song at all and all the rude words I heard were actually just me mumbling under my breath about how hip-hop has almost completely died as a genre.  This isn’t even “mumble-rap”, it’s “snore-rap” – just when you thought rap couldn’t get any more shit, these guys have taken it down to the next level.  One positive thing though – “Bloody Web” has got to be one of the best rapper names ever, I’d love to know how he thought that one up, hopefully it wasn’t while visiting my country and getting trapped in the lair of a bird-eating spider.

3. Hyomin – Mango

Plenty of butthurt people on various social networks cry “bias” over these lists, accusing me of putting in popular songs to get troll clicks, hating on certain groups I don’t like just because, or whatever other bullshit theories to try and strawman me as anything else other than a music fan searching for gold in a pile of mango-encrusted shit.  However seeing Hyomin from long-time Kpopalypse stanning faves T-ara so high up here should easily prove to all and sundry that I really don’t give a flying fuck about anything except for one thing – whether I like a song or not.  Not that there’s much else to like about “Mango” either, mind you – the usually-outstanding Hyomin looks mostly silly here, and while that’s kind of the idea as her dancers grapple with some sort of surrealist sub-PSY zaniness, the result doesn’t pan out because there’s no real hook here to make the silliness make any kind of sense and tie up the various stiff almost vogue-ing maneuvers into some kind of sensible narrative package.  We all know why PSY is ogling at girls who try to ignore him in “Gangnam Style“, but we don’t really know why Hyomin’s backing dancers stare blankly into space, act like robots or shrug their shoulders in time to the beat.  Nevertheless, the video still makes more sense than the song, a weirdly sparse tune with nothing but a terrible trap beat, a bit of marimba doing the harmony and Hyomin trying to carry the rest, which would be fine if she had anything decent to sing, but she doesn’t.  “Mango” seems to be pitching for the same kind of sparse, loose feel as IU’s “Bbibbi“, and that’s not a song I liked very much this year but at least it had some vague languid semi-catchiness – “Mango” with its directionless verses and horrible chorus that just sort of wobbles around two grating syllables makes “Bbibbi” sound like fucking “Bohemian Rhapsody“.  The result isn’t the worst song ever created, but it’s certainly the worst song anyone in T-ara has ever been involved in creating, and the opportunity cost hurts as it comes at a time when T-ara content in general is slim to none.  Let’s hope the planned 2019 T-ara group comeback is something completely different, or failing that, at least something not quite this shit.  Even nothing at all would be preferable, I don’t mind at all if the girls go off and eat a few mangoes of their own while they wait for the tropical shithouse fad to finally die and someone to write a decent song for them again.

2. Highteen – Timing

I’ve talked before in roundups this year about how CinemaSins is one of the most boneheaded, by-fuckheads-for-fuckheads YouTube channels in existence, and its popularity is helping to dumb down society at large.  The main reason why is because the video makers of the channel completely fail to grasp anything except surface-level content, consistently missing the actual meaning of the vast majority of what they review, either out of (at best) sheer stupidity, or (at worst) willful ignorance to farm ‘sins for clicks’ from a gullible, immature audience by deliberately hiding context and hoping you’re too lazy to notice.  Highteen’s “Timing” strikes me as exactly the kind of product that they would make if they floated a girl group for an EXP Edition-style stab at k-pop, and insisted on creative control over the entire thing.   All the elements are there, but none of it fits together in a way that makes sense, because the creators have no clue or simply don’t care about the context of what they’re doing.  When Twice insert camera gestures into their dancing it relates very specifically to the theme of the lyrics, when Red Velvet pretend to be mannequins there’s a very specific symbolic reason why that’s done, when the girls from Highteen play around with teacups or present cakes to a rabbit, it’s because the director didn’t have any better ideas but figured it seemed like something other girl groups might do to appear “zany” so why not try it.  It’s even more conceptually vapid than “Mango” because at least Hyomin’s directors clearly had a concept of some sort and understood what they were aiming for even if they completely failed to make it translate to the final product – whereas the team behind “Timing” simply either have no idea about anything to begin with, or aren’t even trying.  The same kind of surface-level thoughtlessness permeates the music, which is just a fairly transparent thrown-together mixture of various ideas that other groups have done before and better, and doesn’t really have any common theme other than this except being in the same musical key.  The final nail in the coffin is the hideous chorus where the word “Timing” is repeated ad nauseam with the kind of melody that your little sister would use to tell you to fuck off with when you were kids if you started to mess up her dolls’ hair just after she combed it.  The whole thing is just an embarrassment for everybody involved and if I were these girls’ parents I’d be contacting the agency and demanding some time or money be knocked off the contract to compensate for this sheer unprofessionalism.

So what’s the worst song of 2018, according to Kpopalypse?  Drum roll please, Ayeon…

1. Rui – I Don’t Care

There’s been a trend over the last few years of k-pop fans with some music theory knowledge forming blogs about k-pop with a “musical analysis” bent to them, and while I definitely support this trend, I also think that it’s a harder uphill battle than most people realise to make that kind of content interesting enough to be worth doing.  It’s often been said to me that if I wanted to, I could easily write such a blog myself with the amount of knowledge that I possess, and if only I tidied up my “problematic language” a bit, such posts may become really popular.  I feel like this is definitely true, however I’ve always resisted doing exactly this, for a few reasons.  One is that I give no fucks about popularity or making “nice posts for nice people”, I enjoy expressing my shitty sense of humour and bad language, and if I couldn’t do that, I’d stop blogging completely, as the whole point of this blog is partly for me to be able to “let it all hang out” and express things that I’m not able to do in any of my other professional capacities.  I think the audience I have that does enjoy my writing actually likes this aspect of the blog, the fact that it’s unfiltered, whether they agree with the thoughts presented or not they at least appreciate the emotional honesty of it.  The other reason why I haven’t dived headfirst into k-pop song analysis on a deep level is that it’s difficult to write about music theory for the layperson, as doing so involves understanding of a lot of technical and music-theory-specific terminology as well as what that terminology and theoretical practice truly means and how to apply it to commercial pop music.  Any such “music analysis blog” therefore has to circumvent this issue – how willing are they to train the layperson in theoretical aspects, or do they just not worry about it and write something that reads really dry and confusing to the majority?

One aspect of the “music theory analysis reviews” that I’ve noticed is that people who write these only ever write about the songs that they like, and the point of the analysis therefore just seems to be trying to convince others how good these songs are.  However, if my web traffic has taught me anything, it’s that readers tend to actually enjoy it more when I’m shitting on a song than when I’m saying something nice, even if they’re fans of the group or song in question, they’re actually interested in the rationale behind my negative opinion for some reason.  I can relate –  when I read someone else’s content, especially if they’re getting analytical, I’d rather read them describing what they thought failed, because there’s actually no writing about k-pop’s failures, from any sort of analytical perspective, anywhere that I can find.  I think the reason why nobody wants to analyse “failed songs” is that the motivation for most people to do musical-analytical reviews at all is a form of opinion self-validation and receipt-bringing – i.e “look, this song is great, I have the data and analysis to back it up!”  However given that music is inherently subjective, no amount of analysis can really prove a song’s worth or lack thereof, because people’s brains process music in different ways and very little is known about how this process actually works and what factors influence different people liking different musical material.  There’s not a direct objective relationship between certain sounds and quality in the way that one can assess plumbing work as either good or bad by looking at whether the pipes leak or not – in music, it’s possible to “like” or “not like” the “leaky pipes” and neither point of view is absolute.  As such, the best any musical analyst can ever really hope for is “here’s why I like it/don’t like it”, and that’s why my reviews tend to focus more on (my own) entertainment and opinions and (crappy) humour rather than breaking a song down to its components to explain why I feel that it works or doesn’t.  I do try to insert some type of (very) broad analytical content here in lay language just so readers can see that I’m not just hating on their faves for kicks and yes I do actually have a musical basis for my opinions, but I deliberately don’t get too heavy with it.  I also don’t want to give people the air of “my opinions are more important than others” or “because I’m a qualified music teacher and university post-graduate I’m better than you”, because I think that the snobby attitude of music scholars really stinks and as I mentioned before it’s all subjective anyway, so those things shouldn’t matter (and don’t).

So if I wanted to, I could easily write a whole thesis about Rui’s “I Don’t Care”, breaking everything down on a theoretical level, and some of my readers would gladly read that thesis – there’s certainly enough in this song that sucks for me to easily do that.  However, that’s a really unappealing prospect for me, because it would involve listening to this garbage a whole bunch more times to transcribe it and theoretically pick everything completely apart, and I really don’t want to listen to this song any more than absolutely necessary, for the sake of my own personal mental health, and to preserve my own enjoyment in making posts like this one rather than turning them into a chore.  So instead of that, here’s some quick dot points which cover everything that I feel is complete bullshit about this song and which weren’t too tedious to write out:

  • The off-rhythm on the keyboard is a bad choice of patch and sounds like it’s hiccuping (from 0:24)
  • There are discordant notes being played in the saxophone part (first one at 0:20), intentional but it sounds like ass
  • The descent on the keyboards also clashes in a really ugly ways with the vocals (from 0:42) thanks to semitone intervals
  • Harmony vocals for no reason at 0:54, these don’t match the pre-existing (and very minimal) harmony in the backings
  • Rui’s voice is mixed with too much boxiness throughout, it could use a cut somewhere, if it were me in the studio with this shit I would have started with 600Hz and worked from there
  • Vocals are also unnecessarily evenly double-tracked, adding too much extra information, a good solution would have been to pull one of the tracks right to the back in the mix to still get the thickening effect without the clutter
  • Sax, keys, vocals and multiple guitar layers all in a similar horizontal frequency space fighting for room, the mix sounds cluttered, some parts needed to be either dropped or farmed out to other instruments with a wider frequency range so it doesn’t sound like such a car crash of sound
  • Bass guitar sounds good on its own at 1:38 but probably needed the mids EQed out of it a little to stop it from cluttering up the mix once everything else comes in
  • TR-808 style drum patches fill out the tops nicely but are the wrong choice for a song that largely relies on “organic” instrumentation, either change the other instruments to something more synthetic to match, or throw out the drum machine and get a rock beat in there (or at least a drum machine with rock patches)
  • Did the electric guitar riff that drives the chorus really need to be played staccato with no sustain at all?  The song is abrasive enough
  • Listening to Rui chant 알게뭐야 over and fucking over again in the chorus is seriously irritating
  • Melody for everything except the pre-chorus generally sounds like it was written while taking a dump, too much blues-scale style half-spoken rambling nonsense, especially in the second verse where some really random-ass stuff happens for no reason
  • Pre-chorus and breakdown are also the only places where we get any real chord changes, a few more harmony shifts elsewhere would have given the song some variation so it didn’t sound like such a grind for most of its running length
  • The turntablism is annoying and doesn’t really add anything except even more clutter because the song doesn’t have a well-defined rhythm anyway
  • The intro drums aren’t too bad but don’t seem to have anything else to do with the song and are never used again
  • Could they have thought up anything else rhythmically for the pre-chours and breakdown instead of that one-hand-clapping noise

So basically, pretty much everything.  Is Rui’s “I Don’t Care” the worst k-pop song ever created?  I think that honour still belongs to the song that peaked the 2013 list, but it’s certainly not very far off.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed me picking it apart and this has satisfied the OCD music nerd within you.  You’re welcome!


That’s all for this list!  Hopefully you enjoyed listening to and reading about these terrible songs more than I enjoyed writing this crap!  Also don’t forget to check out the 2018 favourites list to restore some of your faith in k-pop for 2018!

20 thoughts on “Kpopalypse’s 30 worst k-pop songs of 2018

  1. FYI “To Mine” is actually a 2015 song (from the same album as “Sleepless Night”) although of course there were twice as many of them when they first released it. I’d post the video of the original recording but that’d get filtered so nevermind.

    • Also, tbh I only skim your worst of lists because I’m apparently the only reader who isn’t that interested, but I did quite like the bullet list of things wrong with the #1 pick so count this as a vote for more of that sort of thing.

  2. Where the fuck is “Kiss and Make Up” by Dua Lipa ft. Blackpink? I’m a BLINK, but even I can’t defend this piece of shit.

      • It’s interesting that you should bring this up because I’ve actually been contemplating starting a K-pop blog. The problem is, I don’t know very much about music, especially in regards to song structure and time signatures and the like, so I wouldn’t be able to analyze these songs as well as you do. For me, it all boils down to “do I like this song or not?” Also, as you’ve clearly noticed, I’m a little too biased towards some of these girl groups, and I don’t think people want to keep hearing me say “All hail Twice and Loona” or “BTS is so f**king overrated”.

  3. I appreciated the bulleted list on what is wrong with I Don’t Care. How many times did you make yourself listen to that mess to pick out all those details? Respect, man, that must have hurt. (I guessed that would be the #1 song here and I finally got something right lmao)

    • And since we know it neither is worse than The Song That Must Not Be Named, which is worse: I Don’t Care or The Baddest Female?

  4. 1. Not too edgy this time, kpopalypse, since lots of those are songs everyone give no fucks about,
    2. Damn KARD does not age well,
    3. I don’t really like “that” side of EXID as well,
    4. RBB is literally a flop that every argument defending it is biased

  5. Since you brought it up, I want to press the issue more. Some great groups are sitting around doing nothing, wasting their short careers, and yet you defend these management decisions? If noobs were in charge, they’d go down in flames, etc? How is this any different?? Whatever the situation, any reasons at all, these stupid companies should not have even FORMED these groups if they can’t give them good music and promote them. How frustrating for the artists, to work hard and finally debut, only to languish later and disband in utter failure.

  6. 1: Yeah, “All of You Say” just reminds me of a forgotten C-side Destiny’s Child song.

    2: I liked WJMK’s “Strong” because I’m a sucker for weird, off the wall “in order for the group to be taken seriously this song should probably have never never left the recording studio” sorta things, a la “I don’t like your girlfriend”.

    3: Girlkind’s “Broccoli” evokes the kind of screaming in my ears that I think you’d probably get after a heart attack as your blood rushes to try and keep you alive.

    4: I like “Hocus Pocus” too for the same reason as 2. Really pushes the definition of music, like any solo Hitchhiker track.

    5: Yep, Rui’s “I Don’t Care” is actually painful to listen to. Nothing has been eq’d properly, leaving an extremely muddy mix with a bass harmony on the vocals reminiscent of 2002 era J-Pop.
    As for… “There are discordant notes being played in the saxophone part (first one at 0:20), intentional but it sounds like ass” – I don’t think it’s intentional.
    Combined with the title, I think it’s the producer’s subconscious pleading for help as he throws his MIDI keyboard against the wall with Garageband open.

    6. Sad Eyedi’s on the list, but not surprised. Pandering to the depths of sin OST Ballad genre, which rarely produces something worth listening to. Luckily, she fully redeemed herself in my eyes with “Caffeine” – a song that came in a 3 way tie for my #1 favourite song of 2018.

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