Miles’ 5 Favorite Kpop Songs of 2012

Kara – Pandora

Who knew that Pandora was a man and that by opening a box he would unleash a quintet of Korean girls to sew seeds of pop destruction across the earth? In this song, Kara sings, raps, screams, and screeches against a menacing backdrop of guitars, brass, and synths, daring their lover to unwrap all of their sexy secrets (spoiler alert: they killed a man).  In typical Kpop inventiveness they take some English words “up and up, ah ah”and transform them into a chant about an erection.  Well played, goddesses.

Mighty Mouth feat. Soya – Bad Boy

With Bad Boy, Mighty Mouth and Soya take rap back to its roots: pop. This buddy anthem has Sangchu and Shorry J proving their credentials to Soya over some playful beats, pleading with her to be their Queen Elizabeth, their Michelle Obama.  In the chorus, Soya rejects them in the cheeriest way possible, hinting that, if she plays her cards right, she could get to bang the tall one and the short one.  As a cultural note: in Korea, bad boys wear tangerine suits and lots of costume jewelry.

Lee Hi – 1,2,3,4

Now here is a song whose message is clear despite the language barrier.  All of those important pop words (sick and tired! liar! sexy! game over! hey baby!) are in English, and the rest of the Korean lyrics are sung with so much soul and emotion by Lee Hi that we know right away that this is a tell-off anthem. With this, her debut single, Lee demolishes much of the Kpop formula.  There’s some a capella bits to remind you that she came second place in a singing competition show, and a shooby-doo-wop-wop breakdown to remind listeners that Doo-Wop lives on in the voice of a 16-year-old Korean popstar.

Exo K – History

As far as I’m concerned, no Western boyband can even approach what’s happening in Korea.  We put up with One Direction and the Wanted because we have to, not because they excite us or challenge us in any way.  With Exo’s History, we get a tribal beat that drops in and out as needed, a bridge that lasts nearly half the song, and a rap that blends seamlessly with the rest of the track, avoiding the lack of fit that so many other kpop rap sequences suffer from.  Maybe Exo K don’t have the showboating personality of One Direction, but they let the music speak for itself.

Dal Shabet – Mr. Bang Bang

For some, all of Kpop may be their guilty pleasure, but as I have no qualms with my love of the genre, my shameful enjoyment comes from Dal Shabet.  With every sentence punctuated by a synth burst, the ladies express their frustrations with a man who can’t seem to “shoot their heart.”  In the breakdown they soften a little, noting that while they have insides “hotter than a shotgun” they are still just girls who need a hug.  In the end however, Dal Shabet learn that sometimes a girl’s gotta make the first move, and sometimes that involves putting a bullet in the guy’s aorta.


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