After listening to some KPop, I feel that the ballads in KPop are the spiritual successor to the ballads in Cantonese pop. Cantopop ballads seem to be forever stuck in the 90s and have never upgrade to the 21st century’s production qualities. The KPop ballads from their dramas are produced like Western music and are very good.

But, this post is about Pop music so here are a couple of other great KPop songs that I heard this year

Gain – Bloom
I think this video is distracting (for good reasons) and because of that it actually detracts from how good the song actually is (also the bare music track doesn’t have the slow intro). Took a few listens but I really like it. I like how there is a Korean music style where the chorus is varied as it is repeated; by the end of the song there are a lot of pregnant pauses and it seems like the instrumentation is going overboard and getting out of hand with the song ending just in time.

IU – Good Day
This song is from a few years back, but it’s new to me. Like Bloom it has a great “pregnant pause” in the chorus. It is also a rare song that sounds extremely positive (i.e., major key) yet captivates my interest – it just works. The beat is simple and heavy too which seems like it wouldn’t work with a positive song, but it does. The video is funny and over the top but matches the music in that respect.

BoA – Only One
I’d heard of BoA even before I started listening to KPop and had thought of her as a Janet Jackson clone (dancer & hip-hop-ish music). The dancing part attracted me to this song in the beginning, and it is quite magically in a different way than how Girls’ Generation dancing is magical. Both are synchronized but while SNSD dancing is more like a bunch of people dancing the same thing at the same time, the dancing in Only One is like a bunch of people intertwined into a creature. The piano hook is also great (there’s a lot of piano in KPop)

SISTAR – Loving U
This song is an example of how KPop is frustrating. You have 4 identical and not-very-attractive girls who are manufactured into a pop group, yet they have a catch song with a great hook. Why couldn’t the industry give this song to a better group to sing instead?