Now when I start this list, I want to let everyone know that I’m basing it on the full package, the song and the video. Otherwise “Recipe” by Brown Eyed Girls would have taken all 10 slots and I wouldn’t have a blog post.
Kpop doesn’t fit well into a list this small. It would probably be easier to compile a list of 40 videos than it is to talk about 10. What get’s hard is determining what goes where in the list. My list is very personal, and it’s as much about my personal tastes as it is the quality of the song or video. For example, “Rum Pum Pum” was a sleeper hit for me, but I don’t feel like it impacted my Kpop viewing experience as much as these songs did. A band could have put out a song that I rather enjoyed from the start, like “Gone not around any longer”, but didn’t really have that lasting quality. Some songs were good, but over hyped, and felt like a let down. Others are just perennially outside of my taste no matter how decent the song is.
So what did I think were the top 10 Kpop Videos of the Year?
10. “I’ve got a Boy” by Girl’s Generation
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if this was going to make the list. The song has a musical type feel to it, which I actually like, but I’m not a fan of the bridge. The video looks like they took F(x)’s item collection, dipped it in rainbows and unicorns then rolled GG in it. Is no bueno. But I love the dance. It’s sexy without being butt shaking and all sorts of other “hey look at my body parts” dance moves, in that all the dance moves have power to them.. If the video was styled the same way they danced, it would be fantabulous. What really won me over was the talking piece. Without changing their image (something that GG really needs, mind you) they changed their sound to something that spread well outside of kpop, on to the youtube front page, into the best video slot and traveled on to the Time’s best singles of 2013 list. I could ask friends about what they thought of the song artistically and actually have a conversation about the musical piece stylistically. Any song that allows me to bleed my Kpop life into my everyday life deserves to be in the top songs of the year.
9. “While You’re Sleeping” by JeA
Leave it to JeA and Nega Network to put music first. I was completely in love with Recipe, but that had no video, and I wasn’t as starstruck by Kill Bill as the rest of the Ksphere was. This song had both the elements of a good song and video. The video was minimalistic, allowing the viewer to view the singer as the instrument and let the focus be on the sound, rather than the visuals. Excellent.
8. “Be the Light” by Block B
Decent song, much better when you consider that Block B was crumbling the previous year because of statements and a shitty entertainment company. Also that they’re a RAP group. What clinched it for me, was when my Korean friend heard me listening to it when it came out and had a conversation about how decent the lyrics were. Apparently, when Zico writes, its not trite. It’s hard for me to appreciate, but I’m glad to listen to words that aren’t always some conjugation of love. On top of that, me and other kpop fans have been interpreting the video as BB getting the snot beaten out of them by their old entertainment company, and the women are the fans that receive the collateral damage. It might not mean that, but since meaning is in the interpretation, I think that’s not a far reach.
7. “Dream Girl” by Shinee
The video where SM proves they can, in one video, make a non boring in a box video and provide an applicable context for their random ass styling. I really like the sound of the song (save the annoying ass bleeps that were added for effect in the video), since it requires a level of singing and depth present in few other songs in Kpop. The dance isn’t quite on par with “Everybody” but I like that they chose to dance with the mic stands. It was all together a different Shinee song, and I rather liked it.
Also, they are all very good looking. Just saying.
6. “Miss Korea” by Lee Hyori
This was certainly the way to get introduced to Lee Hyori. Generally all I heard was that she was Kpop’s ‘sliced bread’, but I never knew what songs were so influential or the like. Hyori comes out with a single, and it’s simple. Cool, I was expecting that based on what I had heard. What I was not expecting was a confident star that makes a video that sends a message and brings more meaning to her song lyrics (which I felt compelled to look up after I watched the video). Lastly, she acts her age. That shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is, but it’s Kpop. 30 is like death. Hyori is 34.
5. “Hurricane” by B.A.P.
Addicting. Seriously. The beat is phenomenal. The video makes decent use of the location, and has some decent shots and dancing moments. What makes this song is the Engrish. This was the only song I could blast in my college lounge and everyone would yell “We hurricane” during the chorus. My friends would light their loofs on fire. It suckered non kpop fans with the ridiculous pronunciation and kept them there with the excellent production. Done deal.
4. “What’s going on?” by B1A4
Also translating into “What’s happening”, this song is the perfect example of my own personal bias towards a group. I thought this group was full of teenyboppers and ridiculous. I wanted no part of it. Apparently I can take ridiculous if it’s beheading mannequins with a pillow. Also, the song isn’t called Beautiful Target. That helps.
But seriously, there’s not a part of this song and video I don’t like. Even the Japanese version is something for me to watch, with all the ridiculousness and a more succinct and feminist message. This is how you do a box video.
3. “24 Hours” by Sunmi
Funny that the Wonder Girl that left years ago is the only Wonder Girl really in the game right now. I went in to this song having no expectations and came out surprised. I loved the look, with the bare feet and leotards. I thought the white and black imagery was really great, how as she got more involved with this shady dude, the clothing got darker. While the tango section wasn’t the greatest (for me), I understood it’s importance musically and in the video as the turning point. And I loved what they did where they rewound time. I thought it was very clever, all around.
2. “U & I” by Ailee
I’m happy to say this Kpop powerhouse is from my home state. I think we can claim this victory for New Jersey. U&I was the perfectly balanced soulful track that “I’ll show you” tried to be and fell short. The video had some great images, including the only band that I actually believe that knows how to play their instruments in the video (I’m looking at you SNSD). Honestly, Ailee is the perfect balance stuck between the soulfulness of Lee Hi, the cuteness of SNSD and the confidence of 2ne1 or Lee Hyori, and I really like where she’s at. Fingers crossed for an English album.
1. “Wild” by Nine Muses
If sultry-ness was all it took to get the top spot on my list, After School or Girl’s Day would be sitting in this place. This song was perfectly balanced with the video, with piano elements in the soft sections and electronic sounds powering through the chorus. The raps were decent, the melody something belonging in an Anime opening. And the video. You can’t go wrong with 9 models posing in lingerie, shot in black and white with the red elements added back in. What they do with the rose is just exceptional, and I find that all of the girls are wearing outfits that suit their charms perfectly. What makes this exceptional is that all of the girls appear confident, even the ones who are portraying a more shy and coy type of lady. The coat drop and the cape swing are gifs that should live on in infamy. I dare SNSD to attempt something even half this good. We might break Kpop then.
5 Honorable mentions:
Hyde by Vixx– The song caught me off guard. Rather enjoyable, especially the dance.
Gotta Talk to U by Seungri– Seungri, how did you outshine the rest of the YG cast?
Ringa Linga (Dance version) by Taeyang– The regular video was meh compared to this great dance video. Well done.
All Day I think About You by 2PM– The song is decent. The visuals are on some 9muses level shit. Colab?
Bar Bar Bar by Crayon Pop– You want to talk different in Kpop? Listen to this. Starts out annoying, ends up refreshing?
There were other songs I enjoyed that are not on this list. Have your own list or a song choice to dispute with me? Write it in the comments.
Happy New Year, and well wishes for a great 2014