Hi there, people of the world! Am I the only who feels this year flew by faster than B.A.P made comebacks? No? Well, I know this much because my writers and I have once again joined our forces to serve up McRoth’s Residence‘s annual Top Korean Songs of the Year post for a fourth year now, and I am more than proud to present it to you today in all its glory.
Every year the TKSO format sees improvements, and of course I’ve gone and given it one more tweak to make it even better than the last. This time, TKSo2012 will span over two weeks. Since there are a total of 50 songs on this end-of year list, I’ll be revealing five songs a day (Monday – Friday) for the next two weeks until we’re stuffed with the best in Korean music. Then, starting December 17, I’ll be revealing my picks for best albums of 2012, which should be fun and exciting and stressful. Yay. There will be a total of ten albums, both of mini or full-length nature, and will be revealed two albums a day for that entire week. **starts brewing coffee**
So for those of you new to the TKSO experience, here’s how it will work:
> There will be a complete 50 song list for Top Korean Songs of 2012, which will include some songs from the first 25 (check out the Mid-Year Roundup here) and some chosen from the second half of the year. Each of my writers (sans TESTAMENTVM, who’s swamped with schoolwork atm) has contributed one new song/single/track that was released between July 1 and now. Because I went ahead and integrated the Mid-Year Roundup and the Honorary Mentions to this list, some of those will take their final bow here as well.
Basically, most of the work was already complete six months ago, but this final list represents a complete picture of the best music released this year (according to us), including work from the second half of 2012. It’s my favorite post to work on as a K-blogger and I’m sure it’s one of your favorites to read as well.
Now, for a few thank-you’s:
First off, I am forever grateful to lolpenny, drowningn00b, TESTAMENTVM, Compliant, and Renshukki, as well as Budy (who reviews music videos) and NaRae (op-ed writer) and all my past writers for contributing their time and their ears. McRoth’s Residence wouldn’t be the amazing home for passionate music junkies that it is without you. Thank you. And thanks too, to you, my fellow readers, for spending your precious time here. You’ve made blogging fun and meaningful, and thanks so much for always being awesome. I hope we meet right back here again next year, when we do this all over again.
Now, without further ado, go on you badass people and enjoy and share the first five Top Korean Songs of 2012, chosen and presented by McRoth’s Residence, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the next batch of awesomeness!
“Be Mine” is a refreshing “I Don’t Care“-style song that maximizes 2NE1‘s vocal strengths by (finally) giving most of the song to Minzy and CL, and putting Park Bom in a better position to excel by keeping her within her range and within a respectable volume level in the chorus.
(editor’s note: Oh, and it’s their most interesting work since “Lonely“, which surprised me, as this was something put together by the fans. Goes to prove that Korea would actually prefer 2NE1 sounding less club-y and more, well, 2NE1-y.) – Compliant
AFTER SCHOOL – “TIMELESS”
“Timeless” is one of those few songs that enables itself to mix great vocals, emotion, meaning, and a sense of drama into a giant, yet soft magical puzzle. Though the balance shifts up and down at times, it fits together beautifully and unleashes a rather flattering and warm feel that pushes the direction of an imaginary experience of loneliness to a deep sense of belonging. The great harmonizing of Raina and Jung-Ah were put into good use, and the lyrical meaning remained kept and synchronized onto one wonderful melody.
Even if flawed, the song ravishes and dissipates those parts to reinforce itself back to one uplifting song. In addition, the presence remains calm throughout, making this one of the easiest tracks to listen to on replay. – Renshukki
AILEE – “I’LL SHOW YOU”
To be honest, this looks like one of the laziest picks on this list. Not only is Ailee basically the safest choice since vanilla ice cream, but “I’ll Show You” is Track 1 on her newest mini-album, ‘Invitation‘.
In the first minute or so, there’s a dramatic, tense atmosphere constructed by simple piano chord repetitions, a string section, and some simple drumming and clicking. But all of a sudden, the song thrusts the listener from a mellow cello-enriched ballad to something with exponentially more upbeat, and this is the single biggest problem I have with this song. If it’s such a huge problem, why would I even call it one of the top songs of the year? Because I’m lazy. Seriously though, the first chorus really only serves as a sampler before we run into a pause – one that’s very intentionally placed, as if to let the listener know that a crossroads has been reached, and from this point onward, one of the forks in the road WILL be chosen. This fork ends up being the new tempo (as opposed to the old, slower one) and to the song’s credit, it sticks with the new tempo. The only time it reverts to the old, slower section is at the bridge, which serves as your typical change of pace before hitting the final chorus.
The background instrumentals used for the majority of the song do nothing to take away from Ailee’s singing. In spite of their dance-heavy nature, the instrumentals manage to avoid the trap of drowning out the artist. I mean, when your artist is the #1 female pop singer in Korea, drowning her out would be a horribly stupid idea. In the slower sections, she exudes a more mature timbre by tapping into her lower range. Once the song hits the sections that get you dancing in your chair, Ailee goes straight into showtime mode, singing and belting with an utmost passion. – Compliant
B1A4 – “THIS TIME IS OVER”
B1A4 is a K-Pop group that doesn’t necessarily strive as hard for Hallyu global status as most, but rather have taken to marching to the beat of their own drum. They’re one of the most under-appreciated boy bands out there, and I have only come to this realization recently listening back to their work this year. While flailing from decent songs to cringe-worthy tunes all year long, they have (at least) maintained a sense of consistency throughout their flamboyancy of a career in Korea and, to my pleasure, managed to release really enjoyable treats amid their quirky discography. One being the early 2012 release of “This Time is Over“; a song that didn’t receive as much love as it should have, but, hey, here I am showing it some because it deserves loads.
Unlike their overly chipper debut track “Ok!” and the psycho follow up single, “Beautiful Target“, “This Time is Over” lays off the crack pipe for a good three minutes. The song is a mid-tempo R&B/Pop ditty wherein B1A4 test their hand at angst and emotion. It’s definitely one of their better musical efforts, as we get a cleaner listen to their voices, their vocal unity, and versatility as a boy band.
To my surprise, B1A4 showcase a very interesting vocal range on this song. The majority of the members have a sweet lower register that is decently emphasized in the pre-chorus and rap sections of “This Time is Over”. I was totally not expecting the deep tonalities in B1A4, especially coming off of the cracked out high of “Beautiful Target”, but it was certainly pleasant to listen to them give us a different side to their style. As someone who found this song to be unremarkable before, I’ve grown to appreciate it over time and to appreciate B1A4′s efforts as a K-Pop boy band, because they’re one of the very few who actually sound like one. – McRoth
More from B1A4 this year:
“This Time is Over” Single Review
‘Ignition’ Album Review
“Baby I’m Sorry” MV | “Baby Goodnight” MV | “Tried to Walk” MV
B.A.P – “WARRIOR”
Strong, brave and down right exciting – B.A.P proved to be one of this year’s formidable rookies, dropping mad swag, fierce rap and (surprisingly) solid vocals in their bold debut single, “Warrior”. Many months later, and the calamity of their first impression has fallen by the way side, but in no way, shape, or form does that dismiss the fact that B.A.P left a very significant mark early in the year. And quite an important one at that.
Rookies have been stepping up their game in 2012, and B.A.P’s massively energetic “Warrior” set the tone perfectly. From a badass string section, to a brassy riff and fierce delivery, B.A.P were given a goldmine with this song. And of course, the fact that they’re talented in all the right places was the final emblem atop one of the most memorable singles of the year. – McRoth
More from B.A.P this year:
‘Crash’ Mini-Album Review
“Power” Single Review
“Stop It” Single Review
B.A.P, Not Your Normal Bowl of BAP Op-Ed
“Warrior” MV | “Power” MV | “No Mercy” MV | “Crash” MV | “Stop It” MV