So I'm sick of shopping and incredibly bored. It's cold and raining outside. So I thought to myself,
Why not draw the ire of the entire forum by posting my top 10 Kpop albums of 2012?
*ahem* Some of these groups could be called "indie" or whatever, but I'm including them anyway. Because it's my list, damnit! I'm also kind of bad at describing music. I'll do my best.
Number 10: Orange Caramel - Lipstick
Nana, Lizzy, and Raina are the adorable powerhouses of After School. The name Orange Caramel comes from the idea that their music would be light and refreshing. Their 1st full album "Lipstick" is a collection of previous hit singles along with a couple new songs. When combined with the cutest dance you've ever seen, the title track "Lipstick" becomes the perfect example of what Orange Caramel was meant to be, perhaps too sweet for some.
Number 9: T-ara - Day by Day
This has been the roughest year for T-ara since the struggles of their initial debut. But before all the controversy of the allegations of bullying within the group and a member being fired, a scandal that completely wrecked their image in Korea, T-ara released one of their best albums to date. "Day by Day" still has T-ara's great retro style with songs like "Huh" but it also has more powerful, ballad-like tracks with Day by Day, a track made all the better by Hwayoung's rapping. A true tragedy that the girl that stood out to me the most in this album would be the one to soon after be kicked out of the group.
Number 8: Busker Busker - 1st Album
These guys are one of the few actual bands in mainstream Kpop. Some music shows actually do not allow bands to play instruments live for their recordings but Busker Busker just said, "Fine, then we won't play your show." But Busker Busker blew up huge anyway. Their 1st Album became one of the biggest of the year. I wouldn't go so far as to call them the Korean Beatles, but their style has that flavor and they are immensely popular. The whole album is so well written from beginning to the end, very warm and uplifting.
Number 7: Gain - Talk About S
Gain, the sexy maknae of the greatest vocal girl group in the world, Brown Eyed Girls, released her second album "Talk About S" this year, and it's as fun and sexy as Gain herself. Each track of the mini-album has its own feel but each one blends into the next, with the great writing of genius composer, Lee Min Soo, really standing out on the main single, "Bloom." I don't know how a song can be so funky and upbeat one moment and so damn sultry the next.
Number 6: LeeSSang - Unplugged
LeeSSang are the godfathers of hip hop in Korea, but they're really much more than that. They write songs that branch through many genres, but you can always listen and say, "that's LeeSSang." Unplugged takes LeeSSang away from electronics and brings them back to more analogue sounds. "Hard to be Humble" is one of their more humorous and hard-driving songs.
Number 5: Younha - Supersonic
When you listen to this album you can really feel that Younha poured all of her soul into it. The writing, her passionate vocals, each song carries an impact. The main single "Run" really propels you forward, making you feel the that drive that the song and music video are trying to show you.
Number 4: Kara - Pandora
Kara is probably my overall favorite girl group, not because they are the best singers or the best dancers. They are some of the best overall performers. They have catchy songs, crazy charisma and they are hot as fuck. And that goes a long way in my book. "Pandora" is not quite as good as last year's "Step," but as their mini-albums go, it is one of their best. Kara once again made you think they were going all sexy with this comeback until you listen to the album and most the songs are still mixing in the cute Kara we fans still love. Kara is the best at being cute one minute and sexy the next.
Number 3: Miss A - Touch
Damn, this is such a catchy sexy song. It's like JYP, who wrote it, called up Brian Ferry and asked him to collaborate. It's even better when you watch it with the dance, one of the most complex and weird dances in Kpop. Love the bass in this song!
Number 2: Sunny Hill - The Grasshoppers
This is an EP of only three songs but it is near the top of my list. Sunny Hill is one of the only co-ed groups in Kpop, made up of 4 girls and a guy. But soon after the album was released, Janghyun the dude, was drafted, as happens to every male in Korea. So the four ladies went on to promote "The Grasshopper Song" with various guests taking Janghyun's place. The music video for "The Grasshopper Song" is definitely my favorite one this year. This song is special because it breaks out of the lovey-dovey lyrics you hear in 99% of Kpop. This song is about living your life and not just being another cog in the machine of what society expects you to do. This is a concept we may find ho-hum here in the states, but in mainstream Korean pop it's a challenging subject to tackle. Here is the MV with subtitles so you can get the message.
Number 1: J Rabbit - Looking Around
These two talented and hard working girls are as "indie" as you can get. They borrow equipment and instruments for their recordings. They write and record their own music. "Looking Around" is probably not only my favorite "Kpop" album this year, but my favorite album, period. Many of the songs they record for their albums, they also record videos and post them on YouTube, but even without watching their big smiles in the screen, you can hear their smiles through your speakers. Their music is like sympathy on a bad day and celebration on a good day. Lovely, amazing, etc. etc. etc.