With 2014 coming to an end, JpopAsia's staff has taken a look back upon the year and share their favorite music from Korea.
: 2014 will be looked upon as the year A Pink cemented its place as a K-pop mega group. Prior to its 4th mini album "Pink Blossom", A Pink had seen its fair share of success, but it wasn't until "Mr. Chu" was released that the group really blew up. In terms of career trajectory, "Mr. Chu" can be see as A Pink's version of Girls' Generation's "Gee". In fact, it can be argued that A Pink is the new Girls' Generation. However you view them, there is no denying that A Pink had an outstanding year.
: It could be argued that Akdong Musicians had the best debut of 2014. The duo's debut album "Play" stayed on top of the charts for over a month. The album produce popular singles such as "200%" and "Melted". The overall track list was flawless. But what really made it so exceptional was an unquantifiable, almost magical force the permeated throughout every second of the album. "Play" is a soaring accomplishment many artists aspire to but rarely achieve.
: BangTan Boys released their first full length album this year, and it is bursting with American hip hop vibes. The track list features a wide range of styles. "Danger" and "What am I to you” are strong and powerful, while "Rain" and "Let Me Know" create a more somber atmosphere. The songs convey different emotions while maintaining a defined theme. With BangTan's member Suga composing the track "Let me Know", fans are able to see the group's diverse talent and passion for music.
: Epik High brings forth an old school hip hop sound with "Born Hater". The most enjoyable aspect of this single is the diverse range of rappers who participated. Each rapper shared their own experiences and thoughts, often through the use of metaphors, in order to depict their own meaning of haters. Epik High managed to utilize various English phrases in such a manner where they do not interrupt the flow of the song, instead reinforcing the strength behind their words. Epik High created a hit hip hop tune that is extremely fun to sing along to, especially if you have experienced the wrath of haters first hand.
: "GOOD BOY" was a part of YG's HIPHOP Project and the closest we could get to the comeback of BIGBANG in 2014. What's better than having GD and Taeyang trying to convince you that they're actually good boys? The next time I have a party, I'll make sure I'll have this played when I make my entrance. You're all invited. And of course, we're still hoping for a BIGBANG comeback soon. 2015, perhaps?
: This is rather different from the bubbly and romantic ”Baby”. It’s sinister. It’s dark. It’s haunting. It’s madness. It’s an obsession. It’s a desire to control the woman you love. It’s stalking and filming your lover when she is totally oblivious of her surroundings. John Park looks like a manic serial killer in this macabre themed video; there is something animal-like in his gaze. Captivating cinematography, eerie piano melody and soul-stirring vocals make this release truly irresistible.
: Quirky, fun, flirtatious, classy. Almost musical-like with a retro feel to it. And did we mention that these talented ladies have stunning vocals? We absolutely adore Mamamoo. One of the best rookie bands of the year. Be sure to check out their latest release “Piano Man”.
: Showcasing her talented vocals, Song Ji Eun departed from the usual love concept in this heart-wrenching ballad. She utilizes an extremely effective technique where the beginning of the song solely focuses on her voice, then the background music slowly builds up, erupting during the chorus and bridge before falling into the background again for the verses. The meaning behind the lyrics is relatable to many around the world who suffer judgement due to the inevitable feeling of love. This makes "Don't Look at me Like That" one of the best ballads released this year.
: No one could have predicted that Soyou and JinggiGo would have had one of the biggest hits of 2014. "Some" came out of nowhere, but thank goodness it did. Harking back to the great R&B collaboration of the early 2000s, "Some" follows the format of a man and a woman teaming together on a song to bring their perspectives together to create a fully-realized experience. With its relatable message of wanting to know for certain that the one you love loves you back, it's no surprise that this song dominated charts and is widely considered the best song of 2014.
: The wait is over. Teamin was the first SHINee member to debut as a solo singer. “Danger” is a super catchy and dynamic dance track. Taemin is known for his great singing abilities, but it’s definitely dancing that he excels at. Michael Jackson influenced choreography is without a doubt one of the strongest points of this release. SHINee’s dancing routines are always difficult. “Danger” was not an exception. It’s especially noticeable during live-performances. After all, Taemin is one of the few artists that can sing and dance at the same time without breaking a sweat.
: From relaxing “Empty”, to reggae-like “Don’t Flirt”, to ambitious “I am Him”, “2014 S/S” is a perfect example of a great debut release. Many of you have probably noticed after listening that this is not a sound you would expect to hear from a band signed under YG Entertainment. Winner has its own unique sound, not an easy thing to come by in the Kpop industry nowadays. With a little help from Choice 37, Airplay and future iKON members, ”2014 S/S” has it all: attitude, vocals and style. Watch and learn new rookie bands, watch and learn.
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