6:05 pm - 12/31/2012

Let’s Face It: 2012 Was Not Kpop’s Best Year



OK. 2013 is staring us in the face and if I look back at the long stretch of 2012 behind me, I see fields of rookie artists and a lot of lackluster comebacks. In general people will look back at 2012 as the “year of Gangnam Style” and at the MAMAs 2012 it was proclaimed over and over again that 2012 was “the year of Kpop.”

But does one song’s mainstream success define the success of the whole genre?

The way I see it, 2012 punched out a few outstanding songs… and a lot of tracks pulled out of the folder labeled “Back Up Title Tracks (Use on Short Notice)”.

First up, 2012 was by far the year of YG as most of this year’s outstanding selections came from them – “Gangnam Style”, “Fantastic Baby”, “Bad Boy”, and “1, 2, 3, 4”. Titles that don’t even require me to state who they’re from – we already know- and we’ll likely be blasting and singing to them well into 2015.

Now, as for the songs that were pulled out of the aforementioned “Back up” folder… I’m not going to pick on any rookies since with new artists we’re never sure what to expect. With established artists it’s a different story. Because established artists have debuted and been given time to soak up the spotlight, there’s a certain level we expect them to reach. It’s not unreasonable to have high expectations. Most of these artists have undergone enough training for five debuts, and once they’ve had a taste of that stage, they’re ready to face our criticism.

KARA



Kara’s first release of this year was “Pandora” and the consensus across the community was pretty much “Yeah, it’s good, not their best”. The last words are important. This song attempted to straddle two different sounds and while it managed to find balance in both the light and dark elements of the song, at its most basic levels it’s weak as a title track. In the long run, it’ll be songs like “Mister” “Honey” and “Step” that will keep KARA afloat as a staple of the Kpop boom.

After School



The graduation of Kahi aside, After School is still totally capable of carrying its status as a three-year veteran of the Kpop scene (considering how quickly new groups pop up – three years might as well be legendary). But lately their releases have not been promising. Splitting the group into a Red and Blue group last year was an ill achieved way of releasing a single. This year they released “Flashback”. The dubstep bridge couldn’t save the song from the uninspired melody and recycled beats. In the overall arch of After School’s career, there have been much better singles. “Flashback” unfortunately is one of their weakest.

SHINee



Oh it pains me to even have them on here, but here’s the thing about SHINee. All their releases have been amazing, including “Sherlock” but here’s the other thing: “Amigo”, “Replay”, “Love Like Oxygen”, and “Lucifer” were all better. You know it. I know it. And I’ll bet you your next SHINee CD purchase, they know it too.

f(x)



“Electric Shock” was played so much in Korea at the time of its release I would start to hear it… That “E-e-e-Electric” chorus in complete, hushed silence. No doubt the song is catchy and gets in your ears. That doesn’t make it outstanding and moreover, not one of f(x)’s finest releases.

U-Kiss



Oh U-KISS. We could write a whole Shakespearean tragedy about you. U-KISS has released some stellar songs in the past – in fact, this might be the only year that I feel U-KISS wasn’t up to par with their previous work. “DORADORA” was a mess, a hot mess, but a mess nevertheless. It wasn’t consistent and failed to live up to its predecessors “Man Man Ha Ni” “Neverland” “0330” and “Shut Up”. That was followed up with “Believe” which was not bad, but not memorable either. “Stop Girl” however was the opposite of “DORADORA” in that it was refreshing, easy on the ears and well harmonized. But because it plays safe, it falls slightly short of being a heightened memorable release, something that U-KISS definitely needs.

T-ara



I like everything that T-ara has released this year, but they were obviously trying to repeat the success of “Roly Poly” and “Bo Peep” and while that did happen for “Lovey-Dovey” (released at the very beginning of 2012) it didn’t feel quite as deserved. “Lovey-Dovey” might as well have been titled “Roly Poly The Sequel”. “Sexy Love” might as well have been titled “The Lovey-Dovey Sequel”.

T-ara’s sound is practically its own genre now. The songs themselves aren’t bad. Everyone loves to shuffle to “Lovey-Dovey” and what was expected to be a bad comeback single “Sexy Love” turned out to be fantastic. But the songs are starting to blend together rather than stand out. What was once a refreshing sound for T-ara has now become nothing more than a reusable hook. At some point someone is going to say “Enough with the sequels. I’m ready for something new.”

Super Junior



Oh dear. Is the all mighty Super Junior going to be criticized as well? Well, not quite, because no matter what, nothing can be worse than “Mr.Simple”. “Sexy, Free & Single” was, in this author’s opinion, Super Junior’s best comeback since their “Sorry, Sorry” promotions. And that’s great right? 2012 was a good year for them!!

…And then they released “SPY” and that opinion shattered into a thousand pieces. They tried to experiment with something new and released the Frankenstein of pop songs. I’ll take “I can’t stop thinking about you girl” over “go kick it in the butt” any day of the week. At least they did one thing right. It’s not a Super Junior song unless the English lyrics do not make sense.

Girls' Generation



I can see your eyebrow lifting right now and I can feel your judgment. But Taetiseo is still a part of Girls’ Generation. My thoughts on “Twinkle” are pretty much on par to Kara’s “Pandora” – not a bad song, but not the best compared to the other tracks on the album. “Baby Steps” and “OMG” in particular would have made superior singles, but they chose to go with “Twinkle”.

MBLAQ



“This Is War” was a powerful change for them, but like all artists, we’ve come to expect more from them. “This Is War” evokes the type of emotion that’s difficult to access and doesn’t keep me interested enough to give it repeat listens. It was an admirable effort but they can do much better.

HyunA



Love her, just not that song. “Ice Cream” has a lot of misplaced sounds and is constantly playing with the tempo. The results are kind of messy, but that’s not what makes the song sting. It’s those lyrics. “My diamond ring so bling bling” “Chocolate ice cream like my dark skin” “I got 31 flavors” …I’ll stop there.

Wrapping it Up

So 2012 wasn’t the best year for comebacks, but there were some artists who came through with strong singles this year B2ST with “Beautiful Night”, Secret with “Poison” and “Talk That”, Sistar with “Alone”, Infinite with “The Chaser”, TVXQ with “Catch Me” and 4Minute with “Volume Up”. We’re talking about an entire year’s worth of releases so there’s no way to list everyone. Some songs teetered on the brink of greatness, while others barely made it to the edge (even 2NE1′s JK comeback offering “I Love You” fell short).

The reasons why Kpop comebacks sort of flopped this year might be attributed to the focus on overseas activities, leaving the Korean promotions to take a bit of a hit this year in terms of quality.

2PM for example didn’t even have a comeback this year. 2NE1 also greatly focused on overseas activities. Another reason could be that that by focusing on new artists, established artists were left with the crust of promotional activity, entrusted instead to lean back on their popularity to carry them.

Longtime fans of Kpop will probably feel that 2012 was a decent year, but not as impressive as previous years and overall the singles just don’t stand out as much. We’ll see which ones stand the test of time and come back to this subject one year later. 2013 is on the horizon and I’m going to assume that some of the artists I’ve listed are going to step out of their comfort zones to release some really impressive comeback material next year.

Source - GTG.com
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bestsama 31st-Dec-2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
that's because of the lack of sooyoung
aeries_amethyst 1st-Jan-2013 08:22 am (UTC)
I couldn't agree more lol XD
setsuna16 31st-Dec-2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
BoA was thrown no shade, and that is the way that it should be.

BUT... I will always be bitter about the amount of content Only One the album has. It felt more like an EP than an actual album.

I'm going to watch all the kpop music videos that I enjoyed this year now.
kamoteatmani 1st-Jan-2013 02:21 am (UTC)
I'm just happy the author acknowledges the queen tbh
markthatcoin 31st-Dec-2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
"Oh U-KISS. We could write a whole Shakespearean tragedy about you." mostly this. was listening to Neverland earlier today.
sub_divided 1st-Jan-2013 05:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, but I disagree that "Believe" is bad. That's a great song.
b1gay4 31st-Dec-2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
would have been 999% better if 2NE1's single didn't suck
markthatcoin 31st-Dec-2012 11:46 pm (UTC)
amen
queenhinata 31st-Dec-2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
if i'm being completely unbiased, eh i pretty much agree
rosamajalis 31st-Dec-2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Agree. 2012 was lackluster.
xredada 31st-Dec-2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
This year was great for rookie groups (in terms of what they released, not popularity unfortunately) and was also the first time I really got into boy groups. But I agree mostly with the article, a lot of 'meh' singles from some big names.
markthatcoin 31st-Dec-2012 11:48 pm (UTC)
i agree this was good for rookie groups, as the year progressed became more aware of a lot of people i'd written off as nugu

also my B1A4 bbs proved their fabulosity to the world and i'm bursting with pride
rikayla 31st-Dec-2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
Let us reminisce the good ol' days of 2008 and 2009 ;___;
joongielover 1st-Jan-2013 01:48 am (UTC)
;__; *a moment of silence*
boba_holic 31st-Dec-2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
Idk, I thought 2012 was pretty good, at least for the artists I care about. Pretty much all my faves including Ga-In, Junsu, TVXQ, SNSD (I'm counting Girls' & Peace here), and Big Bang all had good stuff. I was really only dissapointed in Sherlock.

And overall the whole year was waaaay better than 2011 imo.

Edited at 2012-12-31 11:35 pm (UTC)
sub_divided 1st-Jan-2013 05:46 am (UTC)
Brave Brothers had a much better year this year, Shinsadong Tiger also improved a lot, and since those are the two hottest independent producers whose work is the most heavily promoted, that alone made 2012 a better year for Kpop.

Edited at 2013-01-01 05:47 am (UTC)
shanny_w 31st-Dec-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
Good post to share OP. The bolding was nice too :P I think this author is new at gtg since this is the only article under their name. I hope they'll publish more in 2013.
senshicalico 31st-Dec-2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
"That doesn’t make it outstanding and moreover, not one of f(x)’s finest releases."

Except 2012 was a huge year for f(x) (not that SM will notice.) The whole mini is absolutely solid which IMO you can't say about any of their other releases. Electric Shock is right up there with Nu ABO and Hot Summer, but it's probably one of their most popular, if not the most, songs right now.

Otherwise I mostly agreed with this (I think, I don't listen to the boy groups outside of BB) except it needs BoA and miss A's second EP of the year which we've all already forgotten.
kwaiirosesilent 1st-Jan-2013 12:15 am (UTC)
ia about Electric Shock. you'd think by now SM would give them a fan club name ughh
nortonamo 31st-Dec-2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
"It'll be better next year." cr: every kflop fan for the past decade.
bryanxboredness 1st-Jan-2013 03:01 am (UTC)
Omg this. For the past 2 years LOL
nyokou 31st-Dec-2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Compared to last year, my faves weren't that spectacular this year. Good but not great.
reii_chan 31st-Dec-2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I wasn't dissapointed about the music as much as the lack of nice variety shows.Hello baby is getting old.
song_jihyuk 1st-Jan-2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
IAWTC
g_odalisque13 31st-Dec-2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm in the minority when I say that I liked SHINee's and f(x)'s comebacks? Admittedly, Sherlock isn't as epic as LUCIFER, but the dance more than made up for it. And I still really love the song. And f(x)'s mini was great imo. Let's Try is ♥

Though I definitely agree about Super Junior. And being in the minority again, but I loved Mr. Simple and A-cha, but I really wasn't crazy about Sexy, Free & Single or Spy. I mean, they're alright? And I enjoyed performances b/c I like Suju, but this was pretty much the biggest letdown as far as comebacks go.

And though I like Pandora, it's definitely not one of Kara's strongest title tracks. So I agree there as well.

I thought Flashback was pretty good. Not as good as Bang! obviously, but it grew on me.

Hyuna is just...I really love 4minute and I love Hyuna in 4minute and Ice Cream is catchy and all, but I really don't think she should be doing solo work. So.

Finally, I loved TaeTiSeo's mini album. But I would hvae chosen OMG or Goodbye, Hello as the title track. But I still loved the video and the performances, so I really can't complain.

I don't listen to the rest of the artists here so I can't really comment on them.

But honestly, overall, I was pretty pleased this year? While there were a couple of groups that weren't as strong as in the past, there were just as many groups that really stepped it up (B1A4, my god, Tried to Walk is gold ♥). And I was impressed with a good amount of the rookies this year (Spica, EXO, Hello Venus, GLAM, AOA, NU'EST, and EvoL, to be specific). So, to sum up, I'm happy! lmao.
markthatcoin 31st-Dec-2012 11:48 pm (UTC)
love your last paragraph
ss501pixie 31st-Dec-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
Well at least this year's music was better then last year
_lightmycandle_ 31st-Dec-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
what a terribly written article smh

the biggest disappointment for me has been 2ne1's disaster of year...
iglossmyeyes 31st-Dec-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
mte. i couldn't even finish it with ~good, but not their best repeated milion times.
fatjackinc 31st-Dec-2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
kpop wont get better than 2009 tbh, we're all just aboard a sinking ship. But we might as well use it & abuse it till the very last~
uchuufuku 31st-Dec-2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
when I read the title I kind of agreed, but reading about half the songs mentioned reminded me that I kind of loved them, and I don't really stan for a lot of the groups here

I feel like some groups took some risks this year and whether or not it all worked out at least it's interesting, idk, 2012 won't go down in history as a banner year but it was fun~

Edited at 2013-01-01 12:02 am (UTC)
montauks 31st-Dec-2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
the debuts were good the comebacks were boring. lack of variety and active promotion too.

although gd's and big bang's comebacks was so SOLID
consequences 31st-Dec-2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
wow "this is war" was this year?

i feel like it was so long ago i don't even remember it being 2012 anymore.

this year was very mblaq-lacking. :(
markthatcoin 1st-Jan-2013 12:31 am (UTC)
it really was. i mentioned in another post, i always want to post things about them but there is literally never any news in the news outlets. i can't even find a definitive answer on seungho's injury! i hope they're planning something major now.
turdferguson 1st-Jan-2013 12:01 am (UTC)
2012 in Kpop for me:

- Wonder Girls, Miss A, and SPICA had the best (underrated) minis
- Glam, SHINee, Big Bang, Lee Ha Yi and Infinite had great title tracks

I love SHINee to death but I agree and it's also really telling that their "worst" title track is still really good. It's funny because ONTD had a similar article posted that got a lot of people butthurt. A lot of good stuff came out this year (i'm speaking in general) though, it just wasn't given enough attention or wasn't marketed enough for some reason.

OT: BUT SOMEONE ON MY TWITTER SAID (I FORGOT WHO) THAT WONDER GIRLS PERFORMED THEIR LAST SHOW IN CHINA??? CAN SOMEONE CONFIRM???

Edited at 2013-01-01 12:03 am (UTC)
markthatcoin 1st-Jan-2013 12:27 am (UTC)
did someone post the popjustice Best Kpop Songs of 2012 blog entry on ontd? (i haven't checked it lately aside from baby news of course...) i was torn because it's just a blog and not endorsed by Peter Robinson so i refuse to agree with it (lol)

"Glam, SHINee, Big Bang, Lee Ha Yi and Infinite had great title tracks"
yes. all of those songs are songs i will remember for years to come and i would be so torn if forced to choose one favorite from those.
heldermoita 1st-Jan-2013 12:01 am (UTC)
i kind of agree with everything, but
1) mblaq - i think it was one of their most solid releases. the whole concept of 'this is war' as awesome, much more mature than mona lisa and the best they had so far.

2) after school - i understand what was said about 'flashback'(even though i love it). but when he was talking about snsd, he included the sub-unit tts. so why did he forget about orange caramel? 'lipstick' was huge this year.

3) super junior - really? 'sexy free & single' great? just no.

4) dbsk - 'catch me' was one of my jams of the year, but this year sucked a lot for them. besides, 'humanoids' is one of the worst sons i've heard this year. it's like....... just too trash
markthatcoin 1st-Jan-2013 12:30 am (UTC)
i seriously loved MBLAQ's everything with "This is war." their stages at the gayos have been incredible, the flames in the background at MBC were amazing. definitely the right direction.
astronof 1st-Jan-2013 12:07 am (UTC)
i'll never be over krystal's hair in that 1st pic
pepper 1st-Jan-2013 12:09 am (UTC)
I didn't like most of the stuff released this year. But it was kind of better than 2011 imo. 2008-2010 were glorious compared to what most k-pop groups have been releasing lately.

Anyway, I disagree with the author, TVXQ's Catch Me and Humanoids were both the epitome of shit imo. KYHD and BUG were much better singles. I hate the direction their music is heading. Meh.

Edited at 2013-01-01 12:17 am (UTC)
soft_daisy 1st-Jan-2013 01:39 am (UTC)
Anyway, I disagree with the author, TVXQ's Catch Me and Humanoids were both the epitome of shit imo. KYHD and BUG were much better singles. I hate the direction their music is heading. Meh.

mte. The choreography was fine, but it's a waste when you think about the music they could have been singing/making instead.
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