I really got into K-pop this year, thanks to the girl group 2NE1, a no nonsense, fun and crazy female quartet who can do it all — rap, R&B, dance, and from different walks of life. They became my starter drug into a burgeoning music industry and genre that is ripe for world domination. And when I mean world domination, I mean thousands of fans from around the world, thanks to open business model that wants to build a worldly fan base. Much like hallyu with the popularity of Korean TV dramas and movies, K-Pop has jumped into the limelight, with not only a Pan-Asian craze in Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, but also Europe and the US.
2NE1 is the perfect example. With all 4 members (CL, Minzy, Bom, and Dara) fluent in English and Korean, not to also mention conversational Japanese and Tagalog, 2NE1 has become a force to be reckon with, selling out concerts around Asia and also building a fan base in America, and winning the MTV Iggy Best Band in the World Award, where they recently performed at Times Square a couple of weeks ago. They also recorded an American album that was produced by Wil.I.Am, which is set for release sometime in 2012.
So, yeah, I got K-Pop obsessed, and soon enough, I became hooked on watching the latest music videos on Youtube, which rack tens of millions of views in a matter of days. And since I recently blogged about my upcoming top ten random lists of the year, I figured this would be a fun exercise to check out some slickly produced music videos, in which Korea is so known for. So here’s the top ten of the year:
10. IU – “You & I”From rising chanteuse IU comes a steam punk inspired music video that has lots of clocks and gears… kind of like HUGO! This has all the tropes of a classic K-Pop music video (cute girl, cuter boy with Asian perm, perfect skin, and pure love), and the song is alright, but this longform video has a cute story and looks big budgeted too. Plus, it’s kind of Christmasy!
9. SUPER JUNIOR – “Mr. Simple”One of the most popular boy groups in Korea and Japan, Super Junior is your quintessential super boy groups that are comprised of androgynous beings that are traded like baseball cards to millions of screaming teenage girls and their moms. This video really showcases the super K-Pop group, catchy dance hooks, sci-fi looking sets that look like a cross between a dance club and an Apple store, and solid dance numbers. There are so many boys in this group, there’s even a fat one! Blow your mind!!!!
8. MISS A – “Goodbye Baby”Miss A is another reason why K-Pop producers are fuckin’ business smart. This group is comprised of two girls from China, hence setting the ground work for them to also strike it big in the second biggest economy in the world. This particular music video, signaling their comeback this summer after a short hiatus, is full of sexy dance numbers, an ego-crazy director, a white guy who looks like the crazy director’s assistant, and a human size glass casing that looks like it came from the Fortress of Solitude. The storyline also reminds me of this old New Edition video, for some reason, but you know, more sci-fi and with hot Asian girls.
6. BIGBANG – “Love Song”BIGBANG is one of the biggest boy bands in Korea, with crossover appeal in Japan and other territories. They’re also the bigger brothers to 2NE1 and under YG Entertainment. Already veterans in the K-Pop scene, this catchy slow tune, shot in black and white in the Nevada desert outside of Vegas, is one of the more artistic videos to come out. All in one shot, it reminds me of great music videos from the ’90s, something coming from U2.
5. 2NE1 – “I Am The Best”What, you open this blog entry with your undying love for this group, yet I didn’t place them as numero uno? Yes, this is a great video, from their best pop song to come out this year, but I think their music videos last summer were better (watch “Go Away”, in particular). However, this video still rocks, from the opening shot of CL with the WWE Champion belt to the ending shot of them shooting their machine guns and wreaking havoc on their futuristic set. 2NE1 is still the best K-Pop group, in my opinion. “Nega che chalaga!!!”
4. 2NE1 – “HATE YOU”So, I kind of rectify not putting 2NE1 at #1 by having two of their videos in my top ten this year. This animated video has the girls as bounty hunters searching for their bounty, a Korean pretty boy, who can also transform into some Hulk man beast. The character designs are by noted graphic artist Mari Kim. It would be so killer to have this spin off as an anime series that can live on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. One can only hope!
3. GIRLS’ GENERATION – “The Boys”Girls Generation, SNSD, GG… This girl super group goes by many names, depending on what country you’re from, but they are the biggest K-Pop group right now. This particular video has some great, slick imagery from old Hype Williams videos, ranging from a snowy scene, to raining rose buds, and a slo mo white dove! And with good reason… They’re all hot, have long legs, are channeling ’90s Janet Jackson, and to quote a line from this song, “Girls’ Generation makes you feel the heat!”
2. CRISPI CRUNCH – “Thumbs Up”Yes, this rap duo is called Crispi Crunch. Maybe they’re big fans of breakfast cereal. Either way, this is one of the funniest music videos I’ve seen in years and this uncensored version that was only released online internationally, is a riot. The song is also catchy and truly captures K-club culture in a Night at the Roxbury kind of way. These guys are the next big comedy act!
1. HYUNA – “Bubble Pop”Hands down, this is the best K-Pop video of the year. HyunA, the rapper from girl group 4Minute, shakes her booty like it’s nobody’s business. It’s perfect as a summer song, and has an infectious quality. It also went viral and crossed over to the mainstream, with praise from Perez Hilton and made Spin Magazine’s Best Songs List. Keep making those Betty Boop noises, HyunA!
And there you go folks, my top ten K-Pop music videos of the year. K-Pop fans, did I make the right choices? Chime in in the comments section.