Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Zaku's Top 20 Songs of 2014 (#10-1)

Now that you've had the time to digest my #20 through #11 picks for top songs of 2014, I'm back with the rest of the controversial opinions you'll accuse me of shit taste for!!

As a reminder, here are the criteria for the works selected:

CRITERIA:

  • Release from Jan. 1 - Dec. 25
  • Korean releases only (sorry Japan)
  • all tracks are fair game (meaning not only title tracks)
  • no double dipping -- a group can only appear once 


10. Mamamoo - Pianoman



I'll be the first to admit that I've been sleeping on this group since their debut in 2013. Even though Fany Pack had been gushing rivers about them for months on end now, I just brushed them off like I do virtually every other nugu group these days. Much to my shame, when I finally got around to compiling this list for my end-of-year review, I instantly fell in love with this song in particular.

It kicks off with a sultry croon about piano men before jumping into an uptempo jazzy number that hits all the right notes for me. Equal parts playful and sexy, I think this is where Mamamoo really hits their stride as this song is WAAAAAAY better than Mr. Ambiguous... even though there's still mention of misters in this song too. Maybe that's going to be their signature joke like The JYP Whisper or Brave Bros' BRAVE SOUND. The rap is serviceable, but they're really a stronger vocal group in general so it's understandable. Hopefully they won't have to do it very often.

Do yourself a favor and hop aboard their rookie hype train. 


9. Orange Caramel - My Copycat



Over the 4 years since Orange Caramel has debuted in 2010, they've quickly solidified their place in the Kpop world as the one subunit who's managed to blow up bigger than the original group. Much to the chagrin of the others (except maybe UEE), the trio have consistently shit on anything After School has done while Orange Caramel has existed.

Coming off the back of a very successful full length album (with a remix of Lipstick that I particularly enjoyed), I had pretty high expectations for them coming into 2014. Of the seemingly dozens of Orange Caramel releases this year (3 to be exact), I liked My Copycat the best. With a saxophone beat that'll dig its way into your brain faster than a Nana-inspired boner, the song is pure silly fun that captures Orange Caramel's successful niche as the aegyo group who does weird yet catchy shit better than most out there.

You'd be hard pressed to find a better workout song than this one from all of Kpop thus far.  

8. Girl's Day - Something



It's undeniable that 2013 was a fantastic year for Girl's Day with the strong release in Expectation and (weaker but still decent) Female President. Even though they started off 2014 with a great song, the rest of this year's releases all sucked except for this one.

In my initial review of this song when it first came out, I mentioned how it wasn't too outstanding at first listen but it was definitely a grower. This song was released in January, so it's had almost an entire year to take root and grow on you like a big ass tree of hotness. Many people have drawn parallels to SISTAR's Alone, both visually and aurally, but you shouldn't give a shit because the Girl's Day take is a helluva lot better in every category that matters. As an aside, if there was ever any more need for proof that Minah's the hard carry for this group's vocals, it would be this song that definitively silences any doubt. Her explosive delivery really punches you in the face, especially in the chorus bit where she goes "Nothing, It’s something,Stop it~ no uh~" and the instrumentals follow accordingly. It's really nice to listen to, and she's come a long way from her try-hard high note reaching earlier in the Girl's Day discography.

Not to mention the MV is pretty goddamn hot too.


7. EXO - Overdose



Ok, this is probably the part of the list where you're giving me a side-eye look of disgust and are hurriedly scrolling down to shit on my opinions.

Well fuck you too, cause I actually enjoyed this song a lot.

After the tragedies that were Growl and Wolf and whatever the fuck else happened in 2013, the EXO songwriters at SM must have purged the root of the problem because none of the shittyness that ruined our ears is in this song. It's a slickly produced song full of electronic blares and plenty of snappy drum machine that brings EXO back to the basics that essentially catapulted them into the ovaries and wallets of fangirls all over: sharp choreo-ready instrumental and hard-hitting vocals someone can wank over on forums. The best parts of the songs are actually the English bits for some reason. Whoever was responsible for the "OHHHH SHE WAAAAANTS MEEEE, OHHHH SHE'S GOOOOOOOT ME, OHHHH SHE HURTS ME" and "Too Much, neoya / Your love, igeon overdose" deserves a raise.

I still hate EXO's fans though.

6. WINNER - Love is a Lie



The debut of WINNER got me thinking about how much nicer YG would be if the rest of the company all took the alleged "high-class" concept to heart rather than the "real hip hop" or "true artistry" bullshit we see in the majority of their releases these days. I mean, it works for TOP and Seungri who have thus far escaped the Curse of GD (Daesung doesn't count because he's exiled in Japan) with their images and songs relatively intact. Face it, if YG put nice clean-cut guys and gals in nice classy outfits onstage and in music videos singing songs WITHOUT FUCKING TRAP or SWAG, people wouldn't hate on YG so much. People wouldn't give me shit for liking YG as a company so much either. Korean pop, if not Korea, hell if not the whole damn WORLD, would be a better place to live in.

Sadly, it's just up to WINNER to save YG these days and their debut gives me hope for that brighter future.

Of all the songs on it, I found Love is a Lie to be the best one. Fuck those slow burn balladey shits they actually promoted and made music videos for, I ain't here for that. With a nice and simple instrumental with nice and simple vocal direction, Love is a Lie delivers a pleasant surprise of a listening experience you wouldn't expect from YG productions of late. I don't know why no one thought to promote this song at all, but I don't pretend to or even attempt to understand what YG is doing anymore.

You might think it's a little too simple or basic to be so high up on this list, but sometimes all you need is the fundamentals to stand out in the field.

5. Fiestar - One More



Like many of the groups on this list overall, I only stumbled across how amazing Fiestar is this year with their latest song One More. When I heard it, there was no question it was going to be top song material and strong contender for song of the year.

With a simple instrumental to back up the delightfully earwormy hook of "hanananana hana deo," Fiestar delivers solid vocals with a sultry timbre to draw you into the song. In fact, everything about this song is designed to drive itself into your memory and stay there. From the melody, to the line structure, to the instrumental itself, all of it is like a big mnemonic so all you can think about is Jei's booty in those red highwaisted shorts (one of the few times I will approve of high-waisted anything) or Linzy's legs wrapped in shiny blue jean. Even if that image or something similar doesn't immediately spring to mind, you're still left with a legitimately great song on your hands rather than jizz so that's a plus too.

Shinsadong Tiger has had a big year this year, and this is definitely one of his better productions overall.


4. KARA - MammaMia



People had their doubts about the new direction KARA was going in after Nicole and Jiyoung dipped out, leaving Hara, Gyuri, and Seungyeon high and dry in DSP Hell. Out of that firey purgatory of "fuck u find ur own relevancy" and "who the fuck is Rainbow again" came young Youngji like a ravenous herald of a new era. Despite being (probably) the best thing that happened to KARA since the original K4R4 added Hara and Jiyoung, the Youngji era actually isn't too different from where the group was or was going before.

Even though the member line-up changed, MammaMia continues the trend of bright uptempo dance jams that started with the Sweetune-led productions. Using the talents of Duble Sidekick instead (who obviously saved the top shelf material for his bias group or something) this song is probably the best Duble Sidekick production of the year. It's full of high energy that kicks in right from the start and never lets up until the final note of the song finishes echoing in the air. I think KARA are the masters of this strange... "almost" aegyo-but-not-quite type of vocals layered on top of a strong dancing-friendly instrumental style, and they've consistently dropped hit after hit with it.

Hopefully Youngji doesn't get sexually bullied out of KARA because it'll be interesting to see whether the group chooses to stay in this comfortable groove or experiment with something different. 

3. Infinite - Back



Another extremely consistently good group, Infinite cemented themselves as one of my top Kpop boy groups for that exact reason. In a world full of shit and try-hard swag, Infinite's clean choreo and sharp production isn't the most groundbreaking of concepts to maintain, but again, it's a great consistency that makes good songs almost an expectation rather than a pleasant surprise.

With that said, Back is probably their best song yet. Like Kpopalypse gushed about in his write-up, Infinite are damn lucky to be getting this alternate reality version of 2NE1's Missing You. I didn't know who Rphabet is before this (notable productions include the criminally underrated I'll Wait for You by Rainbow, Miss A's fantastic Time's Up, and Infinite's Destiny prior to this), but he is needs to be getting more love calls from the industry rather than goddamn Brave Brothers all the fucking time.

Starting with a sombre piano intro and breathy vocals, the song builds up to a fantastic explosion of electro and fast beatz that carry through until the second time the song does the same thing near the climax the whole shebang. Normally, I wouldn't be a fan of such blueballing build-up let alone twice in one session song, but this time was well worth the wait. An easy hook ("I WANT CHU BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK") solidifies it as the top boy group song of the year.

2. Epik High - Born Hater



I'll probably catch more than a bit of flak and consternation-filled side-eye glances for this, but I didn't think Epik High's 99 album was that bad. Sure the YG influence was there, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion. I still enjoyed Kill this Love and Don't Hate Me, but whatever. For that reason, I and many other Epik High fans were rather concerned that the Shoebox album was going to be more of the same corrupting YG influence. ESPECIALLY considering some of the truly godawful shit that was being pumped out up til that point.

Thankfully, the titular man behind the company himself locked all YG personnel inside the company building, implemented a general emigration ban, and forced Epik High to go back to their own house to record the album, Despite the illegal escapes of several people like Mino, BI, and Bobby from the company premises, Epik High dropped one of the best albums of the year that got as close to their roots as they've come in the years since Remapping (in my opinion).

With a pounding beat that in and of itself wormed its way into my brain courtesy of the magic fingers of Tukutz, we get truly great performances from Tablo and Mithra Jin. Beenzino and Verbal Jint make guest appearances and absolutely killed it. I particularly enjoyed Beenzino's verse. Again, this may be a controversial opinion, but fuck it, I don't give a fuck. I honestly thought Mino and Bobby did solid jobs with their verses and they didn't stand out too bad or get shit on too hard by the other superior hyungs on the track. I'm still a little hesitant to extend the same praise to BI, but even he didn't manage to fuck up too bad to ruin the song for me.

AS AN ASIDE: The one thing I will complain about is how the MV introduced me to the qt3.14 Somin AND brought up my hopes up that she was rescued from that DSP hellhole after failing KARA Project 2.0. For the briefest of moments, I thought she made a sneaky cameo to prepromote her as a member of that new YG girl group or something... But alas, she's still a DSP trainee.

FREE MY NIGGA SOMIN


1. T-ara - Sugar Free



When T-ara announced a comeback in late 2014 with a set of confusing teasers but a promising instrumental, I eagerly rubbed my hands together in anticipation. My prayers were answered and more when the schizophrenic music video fired its seizure-inducing laser beams into my corneas.

Was there any doubt that a T-ara single was going to take top spot this year? Fuck any netizens who keep throwing cyber eggs at T-ara's feet and insisting that T-ara's careers are washed up, T-ara never goddamn left the building in the first place. Continuing the strong EDM-inspired singles trend that started with Sexy Love, solidified into gold with Number 9, and transmuted into diamonds with this latest release, Sugar Free is my pick for the best goddamn song of the year.

From the very first note, you knew that this was going to be one of the best goddamn things you ever heard in your life and it resonated with the primal urge to get up and shake your ass in the club in whatever set of genitals you carry. With a chord slightly reminiscent of DVBSS & Borgess's Tsunami, this song sends a tidal wave of arousal into your limbic system that can only be quenched by Jiyeon's race queen tracksuit clad ass in your face. Mustering up only as many fucks as Soyeon gives during her live performances, this song doesn't care if your body's too tired to keep up with this fast paced shot of adrenaline. You never wanted to get off this wild ride in the first place.

Whoever sucked the Tiger's Shinsadong off hard enough to deliver the toppest of top shelf material to T-ara's doorstep 3 years in a row deserves a raise and a goddamn gold medal of excellence for services rendered to the nation and the world. Give that intrepid man or woman a Nobel Peace Prize, it's that good. Someone suckle and caress that man or woman's sexual organs with the tender love and care they did to Shinsadong Tiger in supplication of their sacrifice.

---------

Sorry the second half of this list took so long to put out. New Year's Eve has been a crazy whirlwind of activity for me.

From all of us at Antikpopfangirl, I hope you have a wonderful New Year's Day and have a great 2015!!

26 comments:

  1. I was going to write my own top 10 list but I may as well just link anyone who asks this instead.

    Granted a few order changes and AOA like a cat included but borderline the same as mine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. Pour one out for the UCAADs who didn't make it. ;__;7

      Delete
  3. I like several Kara and T-ara song, but I just don't find neither Mama Mia nor Sugar free interesting at all.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I believe that's the purpose of T-ara's leader. Hyomin, Soyeon, and Qri have done very well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. FIESTAR Is slaying bitches!
    Too bad they werent in the Top 20 Girl groupd Sales. Well, they sold One more digitally only so...

    Sugarfree is also nice

    ReplyDelete
  6. LMAO T-ara at #1. I think this sums up 99% of akf readers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly my thoughts...u rarely see any article that bashes TAra the way top tier mainstream groups are bashed. Same in the comment section.

      Delete
  7. I agree with your comments on Girl's Day's 'Something'! And I'm hella surprised to see Overdose here LOL. I hated the song initially, but after getting used to it I started to like it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The reason why their career is over is because they will never win a trophy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who cares about trophies in the first place? All they are is a signal that your fanbase is insane.

      Delete
    2. Spoken like a true loser. I bet you've never gotten any too

      Delete
    3. I doubt that trophies mean much at this point in their career, really.

      Delete
    4. Who are we even talking about?

      Delete
    5. @kimchi-fag I've won plenty of trophies while in school. The thing is K-pop idols don't win these trophies on their own merit; they win them because of corporate backing and insane fanbases, thus devaluing the importance of trophies in K-pop.

      You can continue with the ad hominem attacks if it makes you feel better.

      Delete
  9. I must be one of the only people who hates Sugar Free. I mean I hate EDM but kpop has always been able to deliver the most horrible genres of music in digestable packages. Also. Praise Infinite. All their songs float in the same region of amazing but Back is just pure genius.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice to see more love for the amazing Mamma Mia.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I disagree with you guys about Orange Caramel being far superior to After School. If we're pitting the subunit's Korean material against the main group's Japanese material, my vote definitely goes to After School.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sugar Free seems to be making almost everyone's top list, with good reason too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. T-ara's my number 1 too, as long as I don't watch the MV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The MV gives you seizures in the first 5 seconds

      Delete
    2. It gives me an erection, not a seizure.

      Delete
  14. AS AN ASIDE: The one thing I will complain about is how the MV introduced me to the qt3.14 Somin AND brought up my hopes up that she was rescued from that DSP hellhole after failing KARA Project 2.0. For the briefest of moments, I thought she made a sneaky cameo to prepromote her as a member of that new YG girl group or something... But alas, she's still a DSP trainee.

    FREE MY NIGGA SOMIN

    LMAO.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Haha, everyone on AKF loves T-Ara...or maybe AKF is a magnet for Queens...like me. ( plus any K-Netizen hater automatically starts like T-Ara cuz we have a sense of moral support towards them. Kpopalypse should do a research on how a group can get so hated and so loved at once,and how different koreans and non koreans are when it comes to music quality and controversies and fandom-ism

    ReplyDelete