2012 in review, K-Pop edition Part 1

2012 was a pretty big year for K-Pop, we saw solid entries from staple groups like BIG BANG, SHINee and miss A, successful debuts from EXO-K/M, B.A.P and Block B and it even made the world stage with the man whom you are probably already aware of in PSY.

I’m going to break down what I thought was the best 5 from each side of the fence from the year and a few worthy mentions.

Male Artists

5. B.A.P – Warrior

B.A.P (which stands for Best Absolute Perfect) is a 6 member group now synominis with two things, bleach blonde hair and powerful rap. Nothing displays this love of hair product and shouty vocals like Warrior. Whenever I listen to this song I cannot help but follow along with the HOO’s at each segment; certainly a song to pump you up for a session in the gym or a solid run. Must be the testosterone.

4.  TVXQ – Catch Me

Now veterans of arguably the biggest powerhouse in K-Pop, SM Entertainment; TVXQ returned with this catchy (see what I did there)  track that features an almost egyptian come synth tune paired with a house beat that could see it slot directly on to any DJ’s track list in a Western Club. And while it does make use of the dreaded dubstep, it is done so in a limited and tasteful way as such I can forgive the (self?) proclaimed kings of K-Pop.

3. SHINee – Sherlock

wubwubwubwubwubwub SHINee’s back wubwubwubwubwubwub. It seems while you can escape Western pop’s traditional antics you cannot escape dubstep (much to my dismay). Thankfully it is combined together with pitch perfect vocals, a little rap and more synth noises than a trip back to the 80s. Weird combination, yes but it does work. This unholy mix session is due to Sherlock actually the end product of two different songs coming together in unison, the dubstep/rap number Clue and the snare drum/synth overload track Note. I guess some opposites can make a whole…

2. EXO – History

It took a lot of will power not for this to be number 1 but EXO, who debuted after twenty billion teaser trailers (I gave up after number 5) with MAMA, blew me out of the park. I didn’t think it would be possible for debut group to have such a diverse but consistently high quality selection of tracks on an album much less one from a group that is divided in two in an effort to conquer both Korean and Chinese markets. Ambitious but they have done something special.

History is a rather simple song; the tribal soundtrack and occasional pop of electro playing second fiddle to the showcase of strong Korean or Mandarin voices that display a good range and variety.

1. BIG BANG – Fantastic Baby

Despite being the 3rd released single of their album entitled ALIVE, the highly charged fun dance number Fantastic Baby has fast become the favourite among fans and myself. Designed to do one thing and one thing only, Fantastic Baby will get you out of your chair and trying your latest dance before you can say “Boom Shak-a-lak-a!” Switch on and get moving!

Special Mentions

Block B – Nillili Mambo

Debuting around the same time as B.A.P and featuring men of similar testosterone-fueled nature, Block B is just as outlandish with a good mix of varying hip hop and steady beats (not to mention how silly their music video is).

LEDApple – Time Is Up

I was never a fan of the instrumental K-Pop groups masquerading as bands (CNBlue was the low point for me at the 2011 K-Pop Music Fest in Sydney) but credit where credit is due, LEDApple‘s Time Is Up is a catchy song that will grow on you. Doesn’t hurt one of the members is actually Australian

PSY – Gangnam Style

I don’t think this one needs explaining but Gangnam Style, designed as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the province of the same name in South Korea where by the ladies dress to a high fashion standard during the day and let their hair down come the cover of nightfall has taken the world by storm. Why? Tough to say. Having a combination of easy to remember key lyrics, catchy beat and ridiculous dance moves helps; ultimately, I think the song expresses best what PSY wanted from the song; pure, simple, no-nonsense fun. Oppa Gangname Style

The lovely ladies of K-Pop are featured in Part 2

Anything you would change in this list? Simply want to add your opinion? Comment below!

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