Traditionally, I like to create a top-10 list for the K-pop songs I enjoyed the most for the past year, and while I will get to that, there is one category as a half-joke/half-serious reflection.
2013’s 2012 Song of the Year
This category is strictly for a song that came out in 2012, that I kept on revisiting throughout 2013.
Wonder Girls – Like This
Weird that my favorite song from last year won again this year. I miss the Wonder Girls. The version that created Like This is no longer around, the group itself is on a hiatus, so who knows if we will get more Wonder Girls music in the future. If we don’t, then Like This is a great way to end it.
Also, I like to listen to music as I shower, and a lot of times I chose to listen to the Wonder Party album just for Like This. It gets active in the shower.
Now on to my list.
10. Sunny Hill – Darling of All Hearts
I didn’t see this coming. I’m not a fan of Sunny Hill. Never hated them or anything remote to that, but the folk/trot direction of this song sold me. I have a thing for K-pop songs, that don’t really sound like pop music. Also, love me some polka dots.
9. Ailee – U&I
I don’t have strong feels one way or another for her controversy. What I do care about is that voice. She makes hitting those high notes sound easy. The song is fun, as in, I’m gonna get up and do a little two-step when I hear it. Also, Ailee grew up in New Jersey, so any excuse I have to shoehorn Redman and Naughty By Nature into this list, I will take it.
8. D-Unit – Lockdown
Outside of the first two songs off their Affirmative Chapter. 1 album, I liked the album. The first two songs I felt tried too hard with the Hip-Hop/R&B elements. But, it was at Lockdown when the album found it’s balance. Not only that, Lockdown is my favorite song from that album ,and it was difficult for me to find many songs I liked more than this one.
7. T-ara – I Know The Feeling/Because I Know
T-ara has released quite a bit of music in 2013. Yet, this is the only song I wasn’t lukewarm on. I’ve enjoy the mid-tempo, quasi-ballads from the group. As I’ve been told in my writing endeavors: keep it simple, stupid. Looking back on stuff like T-ara N4’s Jeon Won Diary, or even Girls’ Generation’s I Got A Boy, I appreciate trying shit out, but it can be too much. There is a reason why they call it a strength. Not that T-ara can’t do other styles of music (cause they have proven that they can), but sometimes you gotta do what you know.
6. KARA – Damaged Lady
Speaking of groups that have changing members, Kara is gonna change come 2014. It’s depressing. It’s an aspect of Asian Pop that we don’t like/ignore. Established lineups and groups changing due to graduations, contracts, or other issues. I’ll certainly miss Nicole in KARA, and potentially Jiyoung could leave as well. This situation does place Damaged Lady in another context, but the song itself I liked on its own. Sounds like quintessential KARA. That’s all I really need.
5. BoA – Action
It seems like not many people realized BoA’s music output was pretty damn awesome in 2013 across Japan and Korea. Although this song was created for a global event about design and collaboration, I was attracted to this song immediately. I love the bouncing between English and Korean in the song, and I think the song works for what it’s promoting. Part of me wishes that BoA had a Korean version of Message, cause that would’ve made it on this list over Action. Point is, BoA’s placement on this list was pretty set.
4. IU – Havana
I still believe that Havana is somehow influenced by The Girl From Ipanema. Whether that’s actually true is up to IU and her peoples, but the feeling of warmness and sweetness remains. I’ve never been to Havana. I want to believe that the attitude and vibe that lives there is captured by this song.
3. f(x) – Rum Pum Pum Pum
Luna is my favorite member from the group. When she sings her lines in the beginning of the song, it was great. Rum Pum is another song that I like to nod my head to, or get another two-step going. It’s too fun for me not to rank it high.
2. Brown Eyed Girls – Recipe
A lot of songs off the Black Box could’ve made it at this slot. I Want To Fly, Kill Bill, Boy, and Satisfaction were all interchangeable at this #2 spot. If you haven’t checked out Black Box, please dedicate some time to it. It’s not very long, and it’s quality music from the quartet. That being said, Recipe stands out to me the most. I love when a song has bounce to it. Add on top of that their sultry voices, and a Tupac reference from Miryo? Outta here.
1. IU – The Red Shoes
I have a thing for K-pop songs that don’t sound like pop songs. Big band swing music, IU’s vocals, and an adorable I-can’t-control-these-shoes dance is a great mix. It’s done so well. When I first heard the song, I thought to myself that this was top-10 material. Over the course of the year, it became more clear that no other K-pop song released in 2013 was going to top this for me. I can’t recommend this enough. Thank you, IU.
Girls’ Generation – Express 999
9Muses – Glue
I look back on 2013, and feel as though 2013 was a down year for K-pop. Compared to 2012, I had a much more difficult time picking a top-10 cause there was so much I enjoyed. The highs of 2013 do match the highs of 2012, but the depth was the key difference for me. Midway through the year, I thought I would have to scrape just to get 10 songs period. Luckily that wasn’t the case. Here’s hoping that 2014 has straight-up great music for the entire year.