After a week, here we are with the remainder of the Top 45 K-Pop Songs of 2014 countdown! In case you missed it, here’s Part 1.
Why 45? Because I feel like it. Because 50 is overdone. Because there were more than 20 good songs this year. Because I’m including non-titles unlike a certain music chart.
Songs 25-1 will be revealed here. Have you figured out what Number 1 is yet?
25. (goD)BSK (AKA DBSK AKA TVXQ) – Spellbound
The Kings Max Changmin and UKnow Yunho released their iconic follow-up track “Spellbound” and got robbed of literally every music show award by SNSD and 2ne1. They could never be this flawless. The dance is so on point, as TVXQ’s dances always are, and it’s literally impossible not to be ‘Spellbound’ while listening to the smooth R&B song. The tempo is a bit slower than I usually prefer in songs, but it’s irrelevant since it was the perfect follow-up to a *spoiler alert* even more perfect comeback song.
24. Stellar – Marionette
While this video made waves for its provocative nature, sadly the genius song was rarely, if ever, discussed by fans who instead focus on the video and how ‘trashy’ it is. A song by Sweetune, known for their KARA, Infinite, and 9Muses songs, “Marionette” is one of the most interesting girl group tracks of the year. The melancholic beat paired with lyrics not-so-subtly insulting the ‘doll like’ image women are expected to have (both as idols, and every day people) is a winning combination. The music video also had more impact on K-Pop than anything else released this year.
23. 4Minute – Whatcha Doing Today?
While many fans criticized this song, I found it to be one of 4Minute’s best title tracks. “Watcha Doing Today?” brings the fun vibe of 4Minute’s older songs back and it’s much less repetitive than last year’s smash “What’s Your Name?” While overall, I prefer their work with Shinsadong Tiger over these Brave Brothers songs, this is the best Brave Brothers song of the year. Gayoon’s voice is one of the highlights, and this track does a great job of showing how much she’s actually improved since 2009. Plus HyunA and Jiyoon’s rap break is something we’ve needed for years and have finally been gifted.
22. Crayon Pop – Uh-ee
“Uh-ee” is Crayon Pop’s official follow-up to their iconic “Bar Bar Bar” from last year, and while this song really is nowhere near the perfection of Bar x3, “Uh-ee” has it’s own charm. It follows the fun Crayon Pop formula, and no other group could have executed this song so effortlessly. People keep ragging on Crayon Pop for being a ‘joke’ but who said music has to be serious for it to be good? Not me.
21. Sistar – Touch My Body
I was never really a fan of Sistar overall, but “Touch My Body” changed that. Firstly, the dance is the most iconic girl group dance of the 2014, which alone propels the song into the top half of the countdown. Secondly, the song pissed off ‘feminists’ who complained that the song was ‘inviting boys to touch them unwantedly’ – where if they actually bothered to read the lyrics, it’s clearly about a woman trying to take initiative in her relationship. Thirdly, it’s a fun summer song, and nobody can deny fun summer songs. The saxophone break right before the last verse is also something I hope to see more in K-Pop, because it was one of the most unexpected, yet appreciated aspects of production I heard all year.
20. EXO-K – Overdose
I want to vomit…saying I like an EXO song, but alas, I liked an EXO song. I think this is the best thing they’ve ever done. “Overdose” was written by the same team behind SNSD’s “Mr. Mr.” so obviously the same people complaining about “Mr. Mr.” didn’t like this song either, but it’s perhaps the reason why I liked it so much. The song is just as catchy as “Growl” but is more interesting, and really more unique. The BGM is really why I like it so much, though. I swear.
19. IU + Seo Taiji – 소격동
Nation’s Little Sister IU is making her second appearance on this list with her collab with K-Pop legend Seo Taiji. Seo Taiji has always brought a unique sound with his music, and is at the forefront of trends. “소격동” is no exception, and the instrumental sounds like something I’d hear on a hipster radio station over here in the States. However, IU’s haunting voice is what really brings the song to life. Another melancholic song, “소격동” is a song IU should keep in mind while preparing her new album, because the sound suits her quite well.
18. HyunA – French Kiss
While “Red” is the most perfect video to come out of 2014, on the A-Talk mini, “French Kiss” is the song that truly showcases HyunA’s talents the best. She can rap, and her singing voice isn’t truly as ‘horrible’ as K-Pop fangirls try to claim. “French Kiss” is a funky up-beat song in which we get the best of both worlds. It’s seductive, fun, cheeky. In a word, it’s HyunA.
17. Fiestar – One More
The funk vibe of “One More” is a welcome change from Fiestar’s last release “I Don’t Know” and suits the risque lyrics quite well. Yezi’s rap break after Cao Lu’s part is the worst part of the song for me, and why it couldn’t be any higher up on the list, but aside from that, “One More” is essentially a perfect pop song. It has a fun, ‘earworm’ chorus, and enough repetitive lyrics for it to get stuck in the listener’s head.
Well as we all know Super Junior released a perfect album, so these are the first of two entries on the list. I did try to keep SuJu to a minimum, but it was hard considering This is Love is the best thing they’ve done in 5 years and was the best K-Pop album of the year.
I need to cheat with these two tracks, because it was technically a double release and I can’t decide which track is actually better. Both songs blow “Flopacita” out of the water, and are excellent examples of SuJu singing songs that suit them, rather than what SM thinks they should be singing and releasing. This two-for-one combo prove to be Super Junior’s best follow up songs since “It’s You.”
“This is Love” is great when Heechul breaks out into his self-written rap break that sounds extremely Heechul-like, and the fact that you get Eunhyuk and Siwon singing the choruses only comes once in a lifetime. Even though Ryeowook and Kyuhyun don’t get as many lines as they should as main vocals, their lines count in that they’re actually the difficult lines to sing.
“Evanesce” is a wonderful melancholic song. It’s smooth, and you can feel the emotion in the member’s voices as they sing. While being smooth, it’s still complex, and it’s not as upbeat, nor as wondrous as “This is Love”, which is why it serves as a perfect contrast song in the two-for-one release.
15. Dal Shabet – BBB
“BBB” opens with a Eurythmics-like synth riff, and it was indicative of a 80s throwback jam to come. I love throwback songs, and “BBB” is one of the best 80s throwbacks of the year. Shinsadong Tiger’s production was on point this year, and “BBB” is easily his best work. Subin’s breathy vocals in the verses, Gaeun’s speedy raps, and Woohee’s almost whiny choruses are what makes the song work on a next level and hopefully Dal Shabet will follow a similar formula when they finally have a comeback.
14. Infinite – Back
I wasn’t a fan of Infinite’s first release this year, “Last Romeo,” because it was so far from their typical sound, and really didn’t have any catchy hooks. However, their follow up track, “Back,” was everything I expected from them and more. While the song starts off sounding like a ballad, it builds through the verses and leads into an exploding chorus. Both Hoya and Dongwoo sing rather than rap, and their singing voices are shocking in the best way possible. They’re really being wasted as rappers. Even L, Sungjeong, and Sungyeol’s whinier tones work quite well in “Back.” Unfortunately, Infinite F happened in December, bringing my interest level in Infinite back down to ‘casual fan’.
13. 15& – 티가 나나봐
I remember I was in Korea when 15&’s “Somebody” came out, and I thought the song was really catchy. But it wasn’t until “티가 나나봐” that I realized how well these girls can truly sing. “티가 나나봐” is a 90s reminiscent R&B ditty centered around the member’s vocal ability. It’s sad JYP doesn’t try to promote them more, as they have potential to be as big as Davichi.
12. Ladies Code – Kiss Kiss
What can I say about “Kiss Kiss?” I could write an essay on how much I adore Ladies’ Code. “Kiss Kiss” followed the formula Ladies’ Code had been using for each of their releases prior, and is even funkier than last year’s “Pretty Pretty.” Considering it’s the last song the group released before the unfortunate accident, I personally would be remiss not to include it in the countdown even for just that reason as they were one of my favorite girl groups. However, the song itself is definitely one of the best released this year, and deserves it’s place at number 12.
11. Kyuhyun – At Gwanghwamun
While I almost considered using “At Close” here instead, simply because of Kyuhyun’s vocals in the song, in reality “At Gwanghwamun” is truly the best song on the mini. It’s still charting in the top 10 on Instiz on a daily basis. The longevity. Many fans also discuss how difficult the song is to sing, and that also gives “At Gwanghwamun” extra brownie points. The song is both soothing and exciting, and anyone who calls it a ‘snoozefest’ should be forced to listen to GDYB’s “Good Boy” on repeat 24/7/365.
The last chorus is like the climax of a story that you never want to end. Apparently there’s rumors of Kyuhyun preparing for his second solo album, and if the songs are anything like “At Gwanghwamun,” I can safely say, it will be a masterpiece.
Tip: If you’re ever in the market for new speakers or headphones, just check how this song sounds on them first. I recently bought a Bose Color Soundlink Speaker for myself, as Kyuhyun sounded even better than usual on it. I recommend the product to anyone, and have not been paid to write that. (However I would like to work for Bose…Bose Corporation, please hire me and I’ll be sure to slip some more product placement into my reviews.)
10. Lovelyz – Candy Jelly Love
People also complain how this song is too boring and vanilla, but obviously it’s clear that they have no taste. It’s rare for a group to get my attention without at least a couple of songs released, but Lovelyz’s “Candy Jelly Love” is one of the few songs that have brought me to care about a rookie group. I know many of the members have had solos (none of which were on my radar before Lovelyz debuted) and they had their pre-release track “Goodnight Like Yesterday,” but “Candy Jelly Love” is a perfect synth pop song with solid vocals throughout. As I said in a previous review, I love how the song is like a throwback to a 1980’s Lionel Ritchie song but with sugary sweet vocals on top.
9. Jeon Hyosung – Goodnight Kiss
Secret’s Sexpot Hyosung finally got her solo song this year, and it’s easily the best female solo of the year. Yes, even better than Queen HyunA’s solo. Even though I had low expectations seeing as it’s a Duble Sidekick track, the song itself is pure genius. It’s a mix of different playground rhymes mixed with a trap-inspired beats. While it had the potential to be disastrous, Hyosung’s sensual vocals brings the song to a whole new level. The obvious “boom boom zoom zoom” grab from B1A4’s iconic “Beautiful Target” brings the song into even further levels adoration from me.
8. T-Ara – I Don’t Want You
Ok, lets get this straight. T-Ara slayed this year. As I said about B1A4 and SuJu, I could fill the list with just songs from T-Ara. While I loved “Little Apple” and “Sugar Free” was the EDM remix of “Number 9” that I didn’t know I needed, “I Don’t Want You” from the And & End EP is the best song they released this year. While I don’t want a cutesy T-Ara, this just…works for them. It’s cute but subtly sexy, a bit cheeky, and actually works for each member’s voice and has no cringy high notes. There’s no over-production and the instrumental, as I said in the past, sounds like a Lindsey Buckingahm production, I can’t help but love it. I want to chill to this song while sitting in a French bistro.
7. Orange Caramel – Catallena
Orange Caramel have been on my watch list since “Lipstick” and “Catallena” is an even better song. The Europop-Disco inspired track is just as catchy as “Lipstick,” but the girls sound better. For those that don’t know the song is essentially about a girl crush, and more songs like this are needed in K-Pop. The MV obviously adds to why the song had such an impact this year, so it would be ridiculous not to mention how clever and unique it is. Apparently it was controversial since the girls were under plastic wrap and it ‘made light of human life’ – yeah, but they’re sushis.
6. Super Junior – Raining Spell for Love
After much contemplation, I’ve realized that “Raining Spell for Love” is the best song from Mamacita/This is Love/7Jibsus. “Raining Spell for Love,” is a complexly produced song that follows the formula we thought we’d leave behind in 2013 of combining multiple songs together. However “RSfL” does it in a perfect way that allows the parts to transition into each other, and form one piece of complete, perfect, music. As I love to compare my faves to Lindsey Buckingham, this song sounds like a gem left behind from his Go Insane sessions that somehow SM Entertainment got their hands on. The song is so perfect, you’ll be wanting more as soon as it ends and wonder where 3:23 went.
5. DBSK – Something
As I said, DBSK had a perfect title track this year with “Something.” The jazzy vibe of the song was perfect for DBSK, and I love the brass instrumental throughout. The big-band sound is something that K-Pop doesn’t see much of, and DBSK pulled it off perfectly. UKnow Yunho didn’t have any awkward raps, and Changmin actually was able to show off his voice outside of his known ability to scream. As DBSK are the performance Gods, it would be wrong not to acknowledge how perfect the dance is for “Something”, specifically the string-dance which could have easily broken some bones if not executed perfectly.
4. Ladies’ Code – So Wonderful
As much as I love “Kiss Kiss”, “So Wonderful” is the superior of Ladies’ Code’s two releases this year. Even though many fans complained about the dance and the sound of the song being close to the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody,” part of that contributed to why the song worked so well. It’s not as if “Nobody” just came out yesterday, so I don’t see any problems with the similarities. The yearning vocals of “So Wonderful” contribute to why the song works so well, and even with the homage to “Nobody,” the song still has that signature Ladies’ Code sound that we can only hope to hear again someday.
3. B1A4 – Love Then feat. Hareem
This is B1A4’s best song of 2014. It reminds me of the song from The Rescuers, and the 1970s singer/songwriter vibe is so perfect for B1A4. The difference in genre alone fits their quirky niche. Gongchan has never sounded better. Jinyoung isn’t his typical line-hog self, and Baro doesn’t rap – he croons. All of these things add to why “Love Then” is B1A4’s best song of the year, and one of the best songs of the year period. I enjoy Hareem’s additions to songs (I particularly really enjoy his work on Sunny Hill’s “Darling of All Hearts”), and I think he’s a big reason as to why the song worked so well and has such a polished sound to it. I’m hoping B1A4 will revisit this genre again, and Baro will consider crooning more in the future, because he doesn’t need to rap in every song.
I had a lot of trouble deciding which of the top 2 songs should be called the Best Song of 2014. Both are perfect songs but are totally different from one another. One is a modern sounding breakup song with a twist, while the other is the most unexpected throwback ode to a girls’ perfection.
2. BEAST – Good Luck
The thing with “Good Luck” is that I can see why Billboard did name it as the best K-Pop song of the year. Yong Junhyung really outdid himself with “Good Luck.” I’ve been a casual fan of BEAST for the past few years, only really liking a couple of their songs and stanning for Jang Hyunseung because of Troublemaker. BUT! “Good Luck” has had such an impact on me, I’ve officially decided to declare I’m a stan of BEAST, and I’m really into basically everything they’ve done since Midnight Sun now and I’m slowly getting into their older stuff.
Back to the song, Fairy-dol Yoseob starts it off with a ballad-y opening, only for the song to synth into a upbeat rhythm with a complex production. The boys then sing about a tumultuous relationship in which the voice then bids the girl a bittersweet goodbye where it’s hard to decide if the speaker is truly happy for her, or is saying it with a bit of jest and anger. The ambiguous interpretation that is left up to the listener is part of why the song works so well.
It’s safe to say that BEAST shot up my bias list this year, and when I remake my Top 10 Boy Groups post, which is in desperate need of being remade, they’ll be in the top 5.
1. Block B – HER
I’ve been a fan of Block B since 2012ish, and really loved their “Very Good” album last year. They hit a bit of a bump in the road with the lackluster “Jackpot” but they more than made up for it with “HER”, a 1980s-meets-1950s jam that stood out more than any other song this year. Block B sing about a girl who can be considered a masterpiece, there aren’t any words to say, and how she’s akin to Olivia Hussey – likely the cutest lyrics to a song this year. The video is full of color and ostriches, and even an overabundance of Zico doesn’t ruin this song one bit. It was nice hearing Park Kyung ‘sing’ instead of rap, and while Jaehyo has, and always will, get shafted with lines, it doesn’t ruin the song in the least.
Like B1A4, they’ve always been a bit quirky, and this song truly brought it to the forefront. Even though Block B have been a primarily hip-hop based group, they succeed in taking influences from other musical genres and mixing it with their hip-hop style. “HER” brought Block B to the mainstream, and I’m hoping they’ll take it as a cue to continue with this style of song in the future.