Finally we have come to the last installment of this series! So far, I’ve shared with you about thirty tracks that I was obsessed with this year and to round things up, here are the final ten ❤
“If You Do” Got7
Got7 have always been one of K-pop’s most hardworking groups. 2015 saw two comebacks from them – “Just Right”, which came out in July and “Mad”, which came out in September. The first album really didn’t do too much for me by way of impact or sticky hooks. However, I appreciated the self-esteem boosting “Girl Put Down That Makeup” message of the “Just Right” MV.
In contrast to the feel-good summery vibe of “Just Right”, “Mad” came out a little bit more intense and I listened to “If You Do” and another track from the mini-album called “Good” a lot back to back.
“I” Taeyeon (feat. Verbal Jint)
Guess what. I really really really really really didn’t like Taeyeon and I really wanted to hate her solo effort. I didn’t even want to listen to the single, “I” because life is too short to hate, ya know?
In the spirit of getting to know something before I diss it, I listened to “I”. I could not hate it. I could not hate a track that sounds like it could have been written by Cynthia Alexander and tells me my life is a beauty. I could not.
“Closer” Oh!My Girl
Oh!My Girl’s second mini-album was even better than the first. I thought the imagery in their music video was dreamy and gorgeous. I’ve always wanted a “Picnic At Hanging Rock” concept for a girly group, and Oh!My Girl sort of nails it here. The witches-in-training Stevie Nicks vibe is strong in this group, and the choreography formations for this track is pretty cool, especially when viewed from a top shot, as the group recreates the twelve Zodiac formations.
“Ooh Ahh” Twice
Twice is the girl group that nobody saw coming to take the crown. I honestly thought my favorite nugu girl group was Oh!My Girl, but Twice debuted in October and got themselves noticed big time. JYP scored huge points debuting this group, whose members were introduced to audiences earlier via an audition/reality show called “Sixteen”. (Hey, it worked for YG.)
“Ooh Ahh”‘s MV is a little Spice Girls in execution as the members are introduced representing some familiar girly archetypes (albeit on acid) – ditzy cheerleader, prim and proper schoolgirl, “tomboyish” jock, along with some newer archetypes – girl gang leader and goth girl lite. But there are zombies and those are always cool in music videos.
“4 Walls” f(x)
SM Entertainment liked their forests in 2015 because here’s another MV where idols blindly make their way through foliage. (The first one was “Love Me Right” by EXO.)
I think 2015 was the year I changed my mind about idols that I used to dislike because I never liked Krystal before, but I kinda sorta like her now, thanks to the power of her ~aesthetic~
“Chained Up” Vixx
Oh, finally VIXX – a comeback that I really like! These boys haven’t really been pushing my buttons since 2013’s “Hyde” so I was pleasantly surprised when they came out with “Chained Up”. The concept is kink, and that’s really all this group needs. The red collars against stark white suits are sexy. The line “I’m on my knees, freeze armor down” sounds like “I’m on my knees, freeze. I’m a dog” which hey, also works.
Like I said, biases are everything in K-pop so even though this single came out of left-field as a promotion for the new “Star Wars” film release in Korea, I gobbled this baby right up. There are only three members featured in this MV for whatever scheduling/budget reasons – Kai, Baekhyun and Sehun. I am obsessed with Baekhyun’s stylized light saber – it’s so him. He is the type to put all sorts of cellphone charms and doodads on it. The thing that really sets this firecracker off is of course, Chanyeol’s rap. The MV unfortunately doesn’t end in any satisfying way – there are no combat scenes to speak of, no hint of emo Kylo Ren. It never goes anywhere, but surely there are fanfics for this. There must be.
The color palette of the “Run” MV – a muted corn flowerish blue suits the vibe of BTS’s second comeback for 2015, “The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Part 2”. This picks up from where “…Part 1” leaves off. The two comebacks were always meant to be a diptych, and when listened to back-to-back, BTS completes a larger narrative. If “Part 1″‘s key image is a flower, then Part 2’s key image is a butterfly, and it flits through the tracks in Part 2.
With images that may have been informed by the films of Ingmar Bergman (“The Seventh Seal”, in particular), and also The Sigur Ros’s music video for “Glosoli”, “Run” has had its own share of fan-generated interpretations that range from the inevitable “Paul is dead”, (in this case “Jin is dead”,) to more poignant ones alluding to adulthood as death.
“Run Away” Royal Pirates
Royal Pirates have never released duds. While their 2014 comeback was more modest than their debut earlier that year, “Love Toxic” had solid and consistent songwriting that only really suffered from a lackluster music video for their title track. The band has continued to steadily grow their fan base and remain true to their sound and direction for the group while navigating the image-obsessed/idol dominated K-pop music industry.
I feel that RP are K-pop’s equivalent of BBC’s Sherlock in that when a new season is finally released, it is just too damn short and fans have to wait forever for the next season.
The band released their third mini-album, “3.3” this year, and considering the harrowing accident RP’s bass player James Lee had in June, the mini-album is a glittering triumph.
The MV for “Run Away” has its stunning and chilling moments – a white rose being placed on a bass guitar, James smashing it through metal, drummer Soo-yoon (who has since changed his stage name to EXSY [which really suits him]) hunched over his drums. It feels cathartic, and while things are not as okay as everyone who cares about this band would like them to be, the band pushes on.
“Sing For You” EXO
Really you thought this list could have ended differently? Nope.
So that’s pretty much my favorite 40 K-pop Tracks I Listened to in 2015. K-pop wise, I think everyone who follows it can agree that we have survived the awfulness of 2014 and that 2015 was marginally better in that there were fewer shitty things that happened in the world of K-Ent.
I’m already looking forward to the fresh comebacks the first of January brings – there are a couple that are on the horizon! Exciting stuff.
Here’s to another year in K-pop!