8. 4MINUTE – Whatcha Doin’ Today
This upbeat jam always puts me in the mood to dance, which can be a problem depending on where I am at at the moment (the car is usually a frequent location…). I love 4MINUTE! They always have great singles that are fun to dance to, and this is no exception 🙂
7. Hyuna – Red
Hyuna is also a member of 4minute, the group who’s “Whatcha Doin’ Today” came in 8th place. Hyuna is probably one of the more globally-recognizable faces of k-pop after she guest starred in Psy’s Gangnam Style back in 2012 (2:11 on) and eventually in her own version, “Oppa is Just My Style.” However, these are not the songs she is known for in Korea. She’s arguably one of the best female solo artists in the market, being able to rap, dance, and sing very well. Her singles always do very well, and Red is no exception. This is by far my favorite single of hers to date, because she’s got to that point in her career where she is allowed to express more freedom in her songs.
6. KARA – Mamma Mia
I’m a little surprised about how much I fell in love with this song, seeing as how KARA was a group that I only recently started to gauge interest in. It might be do in part to them losing two of their five original members in early 2014 due to career changes, and how they held a reality competition to find a new member to fill in their group. This is practically unheard of in South Korea. If new members are picked, it is a very private process, and once the decision is final, not much information is given until the new member’s debut. There were seven girls vying for public sway to get into the already internationally-successful group, but ultimately, Young Ji stole most everyone’s hearts:
The six-part series culminated in Young Ji “winning” a spot on KARA. I watched about four of the episodes, which is why I felt so invested in her debut for this song. In a short amount of time, she had to learn all of KARA’s previous dances, redistribute previous members lines, and was literally thrown into the spotlight. The song itself is very good, reminding me a little of an 80’s/90’s workout song, and I really enjoy the accompanying dance. Party, party, party, mamma mia!
5. 2NE1 – Come Back Home
One of the most popular girl groups in the world, 2NE1 (pronounced “twenty-one” or “to anyone”) killed it this year with their album, Crush. You may have unintentionally heard a clip of their song I am the Best in a recent Microsoft television ad. Long before the ad, IATB has been one of the 10 most watched K-pop videos in history. In addition, CL is working with producers in the U.S. to launch her U.S. debut. CL has already released a song with G Dragon, Diplo, and Skrillex, but no matter how much I like her, the song is really awful. Wait till her debut comes out. She’s got an incredible voice and is one of the best Asian rappers out there. Between all of the members, they speak a variety of languages, which has really helped to fuel their growth and to make tour stops more personal.
Anyways. Come Back Home is probably my favorite music video of the year, with a futuristic dystopia-type setting. If you don’t watch any other videos, watch this one. It’s really good and the lines are all pretty spread out so you can hear each member’s voice.
4. T-ara – Sugar Free
T-ara does it again with their club-pumping hit, Sugar Free. Despite sounding like a song about diet soda, it’s actually about a relationship that has turned sour, with the guy lacking sweetness. I know I’ve said this about a lot of groups already, but every. single. single. they put out is so good. They’ve got that EDM vibe that is very popular in the U.S. and Europe…the kind of music that it doesn’t matter if you understand what they’re saying or not, but you have to get up and dance when you hear it. The music video is really hard on the eyes, however, with its incessant strobe lights. It’s a shame, because they really should have highlighted the dancing more. This is one where I’ll say you can skip the video, or watch a live performance, because you may just get a headache from watching the flashing lights.
3. AOA – Like a Cat
It really pains me to number these top 4 in any specific order, because they are so, so close in my book. I really should just give them a four-way tie for first place, but I gave the final rankings based on listen counts, how many dance moves I can mimic without really intentionally learning (haha), and how powerful the feels are. AOA is probably the group that grew on me the most this year, as I never really cared for their songs until I heard their first single of 2014 called “Miniskirt.” I realized how talented these girls all are! When “Like a Cat” came out, I was blown away with how catchy it was! The dance moves aren’t overly provocative either, which is a nice change from some of their company’s usual choreography. I can’t stop listening to it and you shouldn’t either!
2. f(x) – Red Light
Never has one eye of makeup looked so good. You all probably already know my affinity for this group from my post back in October, but here they are again, for good measure 🙂 I almost forgot about this song since it came out over the summer. I listened to it for so long, I took a break from it to hear all the other singles that have been out. After another listen though, it’s definitely at the top. The second girl from the left, Sulli, ended up taking a hiatus from the public within a month of their “Red Light” promotions, which caused the company to end the entire group’s promotions, despite successfully performing as a quartet multiple times. This made me so angry, because they are my second-favorite group in all of k-pop and were finally getting the recognition they deserve. I hope their next comeback is just as successful, if not more. F(x) fighting!
Side note: Krystal of F(x) (right) is the younger sister of [former] Girl’s Generation member Jessica (left)
1. TaeTiSeo (TTS) – Whisper
TTS made their first comeback in 2014 after a 2.5 year hiatus. They are a sub-unit of Girls’ Generation, and comprise 3 of the best singers of the group. Whisper is a pretty song where the focus is not on the dance, nor is there an accompanying music video. It plays on the strengths of each of the member’s voices and is not even their single they released (which is Holler, in case you are interested. It’s really good too!). Instead, it’s a soulful song that even Billboard Music describes as a “sensual, synthy R&B jam.” They even had their own 7 episode series called “The TaeTiSeo” that aired with OnStyle Korea! Both Girls’ Generation and their sub-unit are my favorite group in all of k-pop. Win!
Others worth mentioning:
SISTAR – Touch My Body – The perfect summer-ending song.
Bestie – Thank U Very Much – A fun song to dance with your “besties” to.
Dalshabet – BBB (Big Baby Baby) – An 80’s electro-pop sound with understated tones and a strong choral beat.
AOA – Miniskirt – While I don’t care for the music video, the song is great!
CL – MTBD – The K-pop female rap song I have been waiting for…
EXID – Up and Down – Finally, some recognition for the amazing group! The only song to ever go through promotions twice in the k-pop industry.
Rainbow Blaxx – Cha Cha – The first song of Rainbow’s sub-unit, Rainbow Blaxx.
Girl’s Day – Darling – Another fun summer song.
Ladies Code – Kiss Kiss – the last song that Ladies Code put out, less than a month before a horribly tragic car accident took the lives of best friends and members, Eun B and RiSe (2nd and 3rd from the left below), in September. May they rest in peace. They were taken too soon 😦
What were your favorite songs of 2014 (k-pop or not)?!