Jams That Rocked My Year – 2014: Stray Bullets

So I’ve got ten (or so) more tracks to go on my long list of 50 Favorite K-pop Tracks of 2014! Regardless of much I liked (or disliked) the EP or full-length albums from which these came, I thought that these remaining tracks were standouts. jamsheader4 Here are some songs that I liked that didn’t fit anywhere else on the three other lists! Some of these are fairly obvious choices. Sometimes how much I enjoyed the song’s MV contributed to how much I liked the actual track.

Stray Bullets

“Delicious” – ToHeart

This is my favorite track by the one of the most celebrated “not ex-boyfriends” in K-pop, SHINee’s Key and Infinite’s WooHyun. The sub-unit ToHeart debuted in March, and was a collaboration between two artists from SM Entertainment and Woollim Entertainment (which is really owned by a subsidiary of SM Entertainment.) The MV’s premise is supposed to be Key and WooHyun in friendly rivalry over some girl, which we never see in the video. Instead, we see these two sharing a bathroom and pulling each other’s hair. It hasn’t convinced me of their supposed heterosexuality, but it has convinced me to come on, girl ! Love is so nutritious!

“Empty” – Winner

When YG Entertainment’s Winner debuted in August, they hardly felt like a debuting group and more like a group having a comeback. That’s how well-prepared Winner were at the time of their debut stage. Even their MV feels like one from an older, more seasoned group rather than a nugu  group. To be fair, when Winner debuted, no one was really asking who they were – everyone already knew. To market and promote its newest group (its “first new boy group after eight years”, as the hype went) YG produced a ten episode reality show called “Who Is Next: Win,” in 2013, pitting two groups – Team A and Team B against each other, with the grand prize being the coveted debut. The show effectively hit two birds with one stone – “Who Is Next: Win” introduced the group to its intended core audience while at the same time securing its fan base from the same audience. Really brilliant. Winner’s debuted in August not with a mini-album, but a straight-up full-length called  “2014 S/S.” As far as MV’s go, I enjoyed how slick and glossy the MV for “Empty” was. The boys looked fantastic – like they stepped out of a fashion editorial, shiny against drab, dirty backgrounds.

“Falling” – Space Cowboy (feat. Soul Dive)

Electronica act Space Cowboy released a mini-album in March called “Extremely” and it’s a little frustrating how little there is to be found on this artist because his stuff is amazing.

“Sleepless Night” – CNBlue The B-side to CNBlue’s comeback single, “Can’t Stop” from their fifth mini-album, this track grabbed me from when I first heard it in March. Starlit and dreamy.

“Evanesce” – Super Junior

The secret to coping with multiple personality disorder? Put them all in one boy band!

“How Do I Look?” – Beenzino

I guess I just didn’t get it but Beenzino’s 2014 mini-album, “Up All Night” was supposed to be a “concept album”, though I’m not sure if this was just an excuse for him to be a douchebag in his songs. The MV for “How Do I Look?” was used as a promotional video for the Korean franchise of “Next Top Model: Guys and Girls”, so there’s lots of eye candy here. It’s a fun uptempo jam to create one’s personal runway to, no matter where that is.

“Fantastic” – Henry

Henry’s 2013 debut, “Trap” was one of my favorites last year, so I was looking forward to his second mini-album released in July. “Fantastic” had a lot of the same elements that made “Trap” successful – a small sampling of Henry’s skills as a classical musician set against electronic and dance beats. “Trap” had the piano, while “Fantastic” showcases Henry on the violin. The highlight of this track is the drop after the creeping violin at the beginning, and again at the break after all the glorious zinging.

“I’m Not A Boy, Not Yet A Man” – Cross Gene

Poor Cross Gene. They’ve been around since 2012, but they’ve never quite managed to break free of their nugu status. This “Say You’ll Be There” soundalike was just too entertaining for me to dismiss, especially when the English title references Britney.

“12.30” – B2st

Shirtless drummer in shades, a flow that takes its cue from Musiq Soulchild’s “If You Leave”, dubstep farts, and man – that falsetto!

“200%” – Akdong Musician

K-pop Star season 2 winners Lee Chanhyuk and Lee Suhyun finally debuted with a mini-album, “Play” in April. These siblings are very cute – Lee Chanhyuk writes the songs, plays the guitar and sings while his sister Suhyun is the main vocalist of the duo. They’re like a K-pop Carpenters  – they make well-crafted and catchy pop songs that are underscored by sweet melodies. Despite his young age, Chanhyuk has shown his chops as a producer with their debut – keeping the sound bright and skippy by mixing acoustic arrangements with Hip-hop rhythms. Hugely likable and vastly talented, “200%” was their debut single, and the witty MV introduced listeners to a new and playful sound in K-pop.

“Eyes Nose Lips” – Taeyang

2014 was all about “Eyes Nose Lips” – as far as I’m concerned this is the Song of The Year. The song’s sparse arrangement gives the melody center stage. Less becomes more because a song like this doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles (only the help of Taeyang’s abs in the MV.)

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My total headcount for the tracks on this list ended up being a little over my original 50. Not counting the tracks I included in the OST Shortlist, my Favorite Tracks for 2014 totals to 52 – that’s one favorite track for every week in a year!

The Full List

The Soundtracks

“Best Luck” – Chen, from “It’s Okay, That’s Love” OST

“Romang” – Rose Motel, from “Misaeng” OST

“Tomorrow” – Han Hee Jun, from “Misaeng” OST

“My Destiny” – Lyn, from “My Love From Another Star” OST

“Roommate” – Lim Kim and Eddy Kim, from “Roommate” OST

Repeat Offenders

EXO: “Overdose” “Moonlight” “Thunder”

BTS: “Boy In Luv” “Just One Day” “Danger” “War of Hormone” “Can You Turn Off Your Phone?”

B1A4: “Lonely” “Oh My God” “Drunk On Music” “You Make Me A Fool”

Block B: “Jackpot” “HER”

Got7: “I Like You” “She’s A Monster”

Taemin: “Danger” “Ace” “Pretty Boy”

Royal Pirates: “Drawing the Line” “You” “Betting Everything” “Seoul Hillbilly”

The Female of the Species

“Goodbye” – Girls’ Generation

“If I Were You” – 2NE1

“Not Today, Not Tomorrow” – 15&

“25” – Song ji Eun

“OK”- Strawberry Milk

“I Got A Feeling” – Lodia

“Paper Heart” – f(x)

“Umbrella” – Younha

“Get The X Out” – Sunny Hill

“Thinking Of You” – So In Young

“Iron Girl” – Ha:tfelt

“I’m Different” – Hi Sohyun

“Touch My Body” – Sistar

Stray Bullets

“Delicious” – ToHeart

“Empty” – Winner

“Falling” – Space Cowboy

“Sleepless Night” – CNBlue

“Evanesce” – Super Junior

“How Do I Look?” – Beenzino

“Fantastic” – Henry

“I’m Not A Boy, Not Yet A Man” – Cross Gene

“12.30” – B2st

“200%” – AKMU

“Eyes, Nose, Lips” – Taeyang

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