2012 has been a great year for k-pop. There were some strong comebacks from old favorites (i.e. ‘Sexy Free and Single‘ and ‘Fantastic Baby‘), and an even stronger amount of hit singles from fresh-faced rookie groups (most notably ‘Warrior‘ and ‘MAMA‘) that are sure to become k-pop classics. But like always, because of either timing, marketing, or just plain bad luck, some songs will inevitably get lost in the shuffle and won’t receive the recognition they truly deserve.
While there are many, many, many underrated k-pop songs out there, we only chose songs that were promoted heavily enough to merit their own music videos. Here is KPWOP’s top 11 most underrated k-pop songs of 2012:
11. A-Prince: You’re the Only One
A-Prince makes it onto this list because they appear to be virtually unknown in the k-pop world. I’ve barely ever seen them perform live at any of the major music shows, and I’ve rarely ever come across any of their music videos. My curiosity has been piqued. ‘You’re the Only One’ reminds me of a mix between ZE:A’s ‘Phoenix‘ (which by the way, is pretty underrated too) and other generic k-pop boy band songs like Boyfriend’s ‘Don’t Touch My Girl‘. It’s nothing special, and perhaps A-Prince will soon fade away, but I think it’s only right to give them a fair shot first, don’t you?
10. Exo-K: What is Love
This is a great song that just simply got overshadowed by bigger hits such as ‘MAMA’, and ‘History’ this year. With a smooth R&B beat, ‘What is Love’ really shows off the vocals of EXO-K’s D.O. and Baekhyun, while proving that this rookie group has some soul to their sound. Frankly, EXO should have promoted this song more instead of performing ‘MAMA’ a hundred billion times.
9. Miss A: Touch
This song is actually pretty well-known, but its widely unappreciated. You rarely see Miss A perform it live nowadays (with the exception of the latest KBS music festival) and it seemed to me like talk about Miss A went from ‘Good-Bye Baby‘ straight to ‘I Don’t Need a Man‘ (which, by the way, can probably be classified as the catchiest k-pop song of 2012). What a shame, since both the video and song are such a jarring departure from k-pop norm. I’d love to see more songs take a risk like this!
8. Urban Zakapa: All the Same
Urban Zakapa has been making some waves as a new indie-styled k-pop group, but they’ve yet to reach a large international fan base. I’ve barely heard about this song in the mainstream, which is crazy because the instrumentation, the emotion, the vocals, and the disturbing video all come together to create the whole package of a truly amazing k-pop ballad. Not to mention, Urban Zakapa is one of the few groups in the industry that actually writes their own music and lyrics. Beautiful.
7. Kim Sung-Gyu: I Need You
Hot off of Sung-Gyu’s solo debut ‘60 Seconds‘ came ‘I Need You’, which Woolim Entertainment seemed to just sneak in without really telling anyone. ‘I Need You’ seemed like it was just a continuation of Sung-Gyu’s ’60 Seconds’ promotion, seeing as how there wasn’t even a break between the two performances. As a Sung-Gyu fan, I had to happen upon the MV for this song almost accidentally, which really quite saddened me. I think the song itself deserves as much recognition as ’60 Seconds’, holding up quite admirably to the rock ballad sound Sung-Gyu has created for himself.
6. Cross Gene: La-Di-Da-Di
This was one of my favorite songs of 2012 and its ABSOLUTELY underrated. A mix of catchy electro-pop and silly English lyrics, ‘La-Di-Da-Di’ manages to stay away from meaningless acoustic distractions and the kind of heavy techno synth that wears you out after just a couple of plays. The best parts of this song however, come from the intricate and creative dance that’s executed with impressive precision: hints of Bollywood, tutting, martial arts, and sick isolations all make for one of the best, yet simplest, dances of the year.
5. LunaFly: How Nice it Would Be
How nice it would be indeed, if LunaFly had more recognition. This song is one that really hearkens back to the old American boy-band sound of the 1990’s, and frankly it wouldn’t be too surprising to hear something like this on American radio if it was in English. It also vaguely reminds me of a slower ballad version of Infinite’s ‘In the Summer‘ for some reason, but I think it’s plain to everyone that LunaFly has much more talented vocals. It makes me confident that LunaFly will have much to offer in 2013.
4. Brown Eyed Girls: One Summer Night
This song gives me the chills. It’s so silky smooth and soulful! It has that nice kind of color to its sound that is so hard to find in k-pop. At the same time, it does a good job of showing off BEG’s impressive vocal range without being too obnoxious, as Brown Eyed Girls is wont to do in some cases (i.e. ‘Sixth Sense‘ in my opinion). I wouldn’t mind more songs like this from BEG at the very least.
3. Jo-Kwon: I’m Da One
When this song came out, I was literally ecstatic. This music video does not fail to bring a smile to my face, and YET for some reason week after week it was Jo-Kwon’s semi-disturbing ‘Animal‘ that kept being promoted. With its incredible campy catchiness, ‘I’m Da One’ is not nearly appreciated enough. Everything about this song and video is just pure entertainment, especially the overly-dramatic overthrow scene in the middle of the music video.
2. FIX: She’s My Girl
‘She’s My Girl’ was a favorite of mine when it first came out in June this year. It has a bittersweet, dramatic quality to it, with a very talented group backing it up. I originally considered putting Phantom’s ‘Burning‘ on this list, but frankly F.I.X. is essentially Phantom, just with the added bonus of being able to dance. Plus, F.I.X.’s Jung Wook is the cousin of Super Junior’s very own Ryeowook. Nepotism at its best.
1. Verbal Jint: You Deserve Better
Verbal Jint is hands down one of my favorite solo k-pop artists out there right now. His rapping is great and his sound is universal. He always has amazing collaborations (Zico, The Black Skirts, Jo Hyun) and almost everything he produces is top quality music. ‘You Deserve Better’ is no exception; I could listen to this song on repeat all day. The video is pretty amusing too, if you watch it all the way through. Hopefully more people will soon get to know Verbal Jint and his genius, since I know we can expect great things from him for many years to come.
So there’s KPWOP’s top 11 most underrated songs of 2012. Since I doubt anyone shares our opinions completely, tell us what you think! What songs out there do you think are the most underrated of 2012?