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I had a lot of fun with this selection! There are some iconic songs on this list ♥
For the original content and quotes check out the Billboard article here~
If you would like to see the previous posts in this series click here ♥
50. EXO, “Growl” (XOXO (Repackage), 2013)
This song may be ridiculous if you actually look up the lyrics, but it sounds sooo good!! It has the smooth, cool vibe that exo are known for and I still love singing the chorus!
J.B explains that “the ingenious blend of the sparse, Southern hip-hop beats and dynamic bubblegum-pop melodies showed EXO had the potential to win over a whole new generation of fans around the world.” And that’s exactly what they did! Myself included (but with their first album, not second~).
As I’m not used to listening to EXO-M’s version it sounds weird, but the vocals and feel is still great!
Also, the dance for this! And Kyungsoo with his little bow tie! I love him haha 😂
49. FTISLAND, “I Wish” (Five Treasure Box, 2012)
Lee Hong Ki has perhaps one of the best and most unique voices in kpop! This is one of the first bands I loved when I started listening to kpop, and they remain so (apart from that one piece of trash who isn’t in it anymore *chef’s kiss*).
For I Wish, they “switched up their usual punk and heavy-rock sound by infusing it with Spanish guitar and a twist of tango” — J.B. I also love how Jae Jin’s vocals often add a softness to the songs. Despite this twist, “the group’s signature energy and lively vocal delivery from singer Hongki were all on display — particularly on the rockin’ chorus — to hook in longtime fans even with this swerve in their sound.” — J.B.
FT ISLAND are a great band and I would highly, highly recommend checking them out ♥ This album – Five Treasure Box – is on the whole a solid one!
48. EXID, “Up & Down” (Up & Down, 2014)
I first heard this group when they released Every Night (it’s great, you should listen to it!). However, it was Up & Down that truly put this group on the music map! L.S. explains that EXID had “a few ups and downs after a promising debut, but the sleeper success of this trip-hop, trumpet-infused extravaganza was the perfect prelude to the new version of the quintet.”
This was a certainly more mature and cooler sound to what they had previously been releasing. I would have put 덜덜덜(DDD) 뮤직 비디오 on the list instead but that’s because I really love that song, but Up & Down was the reason for this sound existing so it’s fine! 😅
47. SHINee, “Lucifer” (Lucifer, 2010)
MY CHILDREN!! Every time I see them on this list, I gain a year in health haha 😂
Lucifer is such an iconic song that most people who listen to kpop or even just watch Korean variety will have heard!
Lucifer “showed the world a new side to the quintet as something a bit rougher and edgier than their earlier hits. It was accompanied by isolation-heavy choreography that showcased the act’s compelling synergy.” — T.H.
They all sound so good! Also, people need to stop sleeping on Minho’s rapping!
46. After School, “Shampoo” (Virgin, 2010)
I never really got into After School, I think I only really know of the First Love and Flashback. I mostly know of their individual work after it fully disbanded (as well as Orange Caramel which feels like a fever dream haha) There are some incredibly famous people in this group! Nana, Kahi, Uee and Lizzy!
I will say, I’m not too big a fan of the overly sweet elements. Certain aspects are really pretty, especially when they all harmonise together. I got goosebumps~ Plus, it’s a pretty cute MV concept. The song Shampoo “boasts one of K-pop’s most unique takes on romance, using “Shampoo” as a poetic metaphor for a love that can sweetly envelope someone like a lingering scent but also sting your eyes if treated without care.” — J.B.
45. TVXQ!, “Keep Your Head Down” (Keep Your Head Down, 2011)
Keep Your Head Down is again a very iconic second wave generation song. This was after the split which left just YunHo and Changmin and the very real prospect of was this the end of TVXQ? Obviously, we know it wasn’t as both are still going strong – together and solo wise. And it had a lot to do with this song!
In Keep Your Head Down, the pair “served up the verses and raps with a theatrical flair surrounded by dramatic horns and gritty, industrial electro-pop melodies.” — T.H.
I would just warn that this is very SM and a product of early second wave, so the MV is a little hard to watch – the fashion and effects are… something haha!
Also, side note: am I the only one that forgets that Changmin’s stage name is Max and he recently released a new song and I was like wtf is Max? 😂😂😂
44. HyunA, “Bubble Pop!” (Bubble Pop!, 2011)
Hyuna is a queen and we stan in this household! And we take no criticisms on that!
Bubble Pop! is “quirky, cutesy, sexy K-pop at its best” and “was an early viral hit that showed the scene’s potential in captivating larger, international audiences on YouTube.” — J.B. This song will always make me feel happier if I hear it!
This solo “rightfully became a defining moment in making her one of K-pop’s top, boundary-pushing divas.” — J.B.
Also, Lee Joon is in the MV ♥
43. LOONA/ODD EYE CIRCLE, “Girl Front” (Mix & Match, 2017)
ODD EYE CIRCLE are a 3 member subunit of the girl group LOONA. They evoke the popular “girl crush” concept.
Girl Front is about getting the courage to tell someone that you love them. “Every bit of instrumentation showcases the varying concomitant emotions. Most brilliant is the chorus’s wavering vocal melody and its evolving tone: at first chipper, and then teeming with infatuation. It all leads to a final, fearless decision: “I’ll say I love you!”.”— J.M.K.
Personally, this song isn’t anything special. The MV is very well made though and certain aspects of the vocals are good, but they have a very high, girly sound that I’m not overly fond of. This is strange because I really like every LOONA song I’ve heard…
42. ZE:A, “Ghost of the Wind” (Illusion, 2013)
I never got into ZE:A’s music. The only reason I know of them, is because of Kwanghee and Kim Dong Jun from variety and Park Hyung Shik and Im Siwan from their acting careers. Apparently, they haven’t disbanded, but are focusing on their solo activities.
According to M.M. Ghost of the Wind is ZE:A’s “most sophisticated work, with its swirling strings, hollow operatic chants, and consistent thrum of energy. Raps are interspersed throughout the song, matching the polished instrumental’s momentum beat for beat, while mature vocal performances convey the haunting tale of an all-consuming love.”
I feel like if I had listened to this when I first started to listen to kpop I would have really loved this group. The song is good, but it does stay on the same level for a quite a bit of the song, so I was waiting for more.
41. Dalshabet, “Someone Like U” (Naturalness, 2016)
This is another girl group, I’m not familiar with. However, I’m going to check them more out after this.
Someone Like U mixes the stereotypical cute girl concept with a more sexy concept (both in sound and MV concept). It works surprisingly really well!
T.H. explains that Dalshabet “served up one of the most fun and vengeful breakup tracks ever, as they pray for the object of their affection to meet someone just as terrible as they are.”
Did you have any faves on this?
Thanks for reading! I hope you are having a lovely day and staying safe ♥