#1 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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#2 Posted by NegativeCero (3084 posts) -

Hey man, keep this shit in the beta forums.

But, really I do find some of this catchy, which I guess means the record companies who manufacture the image of these groups won in a way.

#3 Posted by JasonR86 (10000 posts) -

That's a lot of Asian stuff happening there.

#4 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

@NegativeCero said:

Hey man, keep this shit in the beta forums.

But, really I do find some of this catchy, which I guess means the record companies who manufacture the image of these groups won in a way.

I guess I could also address this here. Many people look at popular, mainstream music as soulless garbage. And if it is that to you, then fine.

Understand that I have been a serious music snob in the past. My favorite band of all time is King Crimson for fucks sake, but I have changed my tune somewhat. Either something is enjoyable to listen to or it isn't. There are many different reasons to enjoy music. Sometimes I like to sit and brood and listen to Hauschka and other times I just want to see a cute girl sing and dance. I see pop music as a great form of teamwork. Writers, producers, choreographers, and performers coming together to make something great the people will enjoy.

Put it this way. Most of these people aren't song writers. Most of these songwriters are not performers. How much great music would be lost if it was one person only writing their music that they themselves will perform? Let writers who can only write, write and performers who can only perform, perform.

#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (36566 posts) -

You did not mention Gangam Style anywhere in this blog. For that, you have my approval.

#6 Edited by Yummylee (23193 posts) -

So errr, how about that, erm, gang... nam... st-*shots fired*

Some of these songs are actually quite catchy. Haven't heard a lot of kpop, though I do love listening to music sung in different languages for some reason. Also while this here is a Japanese song, I'mma gonna plop it in here anywhoo just to fill this shit with even more Asian! Plus it's just a great song at that; greatest PS3 installation process ever since an instrumental version (edit: actually, I think it may have had the vocals, can't quite recall) of this was played over it.

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#7 Posted by UitDeToekomst (780 posts) -

wow. I am now officially rooting for North Korea.

#8 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -


I welcome music spam of the Asian persuasion! As for Gangnam Style - I think it's a good song, but obviously we are all tired of it by now, Kpop fans even more so. Also, the actual album that song is from is only so-so in my estimation.

#9 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4745 posts) -

I have not heard much K-pop and that is an over whelming amount for the current moment. I'll start giving them a listen later.

I do really like IU's album Fantasy. I guess that came out last year.

#10 Posted by Aronman789 (2737 posts) -

@McGhee said:


I welcome music spam of the Asian persuasion!

France is in Asia, right?

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#11 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -


#12 Posted by Aronman789 (2737 posts) -


#13 Posted by Subjugation (4781 posts) -

I went on a dark journey following links at the end of these videos and ended up at ... I don't even have words for ... what is this?

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#14 Edited by Sooty (8195 posts) -

Gangnam Style also isn't pop.

I'll throw in some Cantonese hip-hop, because Sleepy Dawgs:

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#15 Posted by Empirepaintball (1456 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

That's a lot of Asian stuff happening there.

My thoughts exactly.

#16 Posted by aurahack (2483 posts) -

I didn't like Touch as much as I thought I would. :( I haven't given it enough listens, though. I should revisit it and see if I like it more than I did.

Rest of your list seems legit, though. Good stuff, mang.

#17 Posted by envane (1188 posts) -


#18 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

@Sooty: Yeah I thought the radio stations in Sleeping Dogs were pretty cool.

#19 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

@aurahack: Thanks. While I loved every song of Touch, I sadly thought "I Don't Need a Man" and the rest of Independent Women Part III to be their weakest release yet.

#20 Edited by No0b0rAmA (1511 posts) -
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Good Korean music!

The majority of Korean music I was exposed to when I was younger was stuff my dad put on in the car, so old stuff is the only music I like, let alone find tolerable. Cannot stand K-Pop.

#21 Posted by Yummylee (23193 posts) -

@Sooty said:

Gangnam Style also isn't pop.

I'll throw in some Cantonese hip-hop, because Sleepy Dawgs:

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Niccccce. One of my favourites across the entire soundtrack, and Sleeping Dogs has a damn fine soundtrack.

#22 Edited by Kidavenger (3861 posts) -

Younha - Run and J Rabbit - let it flow were the only ones I could get through, they were both good but the others were ughh

#23 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

@rebgav: Heh, If there was an eleventh spot, it would probably go to Volume Up. There were quite a few good releases this year. In a different mood I may have done it a little different.

#24 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4311 posts) -

Oh you would Mcghee, Oh you would..... but you know what, theres absolutely nothing wrong with this

#25 Posted by Flappy (2404 posts) -

This topic is probably the best/worst thing that can happen to me. On one hand, it's cool that I'm listenin' to legitimate Kpop, but on the other, it puts me in this weird, musical rabbit hole.

Am I the only one that wonders why certain Kpop groups (Girl's Generation comes to mind) has like, a bajillion members as opposed to five or so?

#27 Posted by ESREVER (2810 posts) -

Well that was a nice, unexpected time sink. Thanks for the write up and putting those videos together, McGhee.


Gaddamn, Korean ladies are damn hawt.

#28 Posted by McGhee (6128 posts) -

@ESREVER said:

Well that was a nice, unexpected time sink. Thanks for the write up and putting those videos together, McGhee.


Gaddamn, Korean ladies are damn hawt.

Thank you. My goal is to only spread the love.

#29 Posted by Cianyx (55 posts) -

Pity After School didn't make the list. Shampoo is my favourite K-Pop song but then again, I was never a fan of the kpop sound in the first place. Hence why out of AS offshoots, I prefer Park Kahi's solo over Orange Caramel.