Sunday, July 27, 2014

15 Best K-pop Albums & 25 Best K-pop Songs of 2013

Following’s the comprehensive list of the top releases of 2013, and takes into account almost all the song released during the year. There were many releases that initially impressed me but as time passed, they lost their appeal. I nitpicked at any glaring inconsistencies I could find. I am not as keen on following idol releases these days, which might have been a result of exploring the emerging non-mainstream artists. It’s also because I didn’t do this at the end of last year as I should have.

Two years ago or maybe even one year ago, if I had made a list of my favorite songs, it might have been predictable because I would recall the go-to idol releases of the year. I follow the indie scene more than I did before and that has influenced my decision here to a great degree.

It’s nothing serious, so without further ado, I hope you enjoy listening to the songs because I’ve included videos as well.

25. 사랑노트 (Love Note) - The Nuts
2013.02.28 / Indie Rock / Single

24. Black (Ft. Jennie Kim) - G-Dragon (BIGBANG)
2013.09.05 / Pop / Album: Coup d’etat

23. 슬픔이여 이제 안녕 (Bye, Say Goodbye) - Jaurim
2013.10.14 / Rock, Alternative / Album: Goodbye, grief

22. Two Melodies (Ft. Crush) - Zion.T
2013.04.09 / Hip-Hop, R&B / Album: Red Light

21. 잘 알지도 못하면서 (You Don’t Even Know) - Kim Ye Rim
2013.06.17 / Indie Pop / EP: A Voice

20. 인어의 눈물 (Baby Don’t Cry) - EXO-K
2013.06.03 / Pop Ballad / Album: XOXO

19. 날마다 타인 (Everyday Stranger) - Han Hee-jung
2013.06.05 / Indie Pop, Ballad / Album: Everyday Stranger

18. 조용필처럼 (Like Cho Yong Pil) - Phantom
2013.01.17 / Pop, Rap / EP: Phantom Theory

17. 엄마 (Mother) - 강아솔 (Kang A Sol)
2013.11.14 / Indie, Folk / Album: 정직한 마음

16. 모자 (Hat) - 솔튼페이퍼 (SALTNPAPER)
2013.04.15 / Modern Rock / Album: Saltnpaper

15. 거울 (Mirror) (Ft. Sunwoo Jungah) - 정키 (Jungkey)
2013.10.18 / R&B, Soul / Double Single: New Balance

14. One Shot - B.A.P
2013.02.12 / Pop, Dance / EP: One Shot

13. Rose - Lee Hi
2013.03.28 / R&B, Soul / EP: First Love Part.2

12. Wash Away (Ft. Ailee) - Geeks
2013.04.29 / Rap / Album: Backpack

11. Beautiful Life - Drunken Tiger, Yoon Mi Rae & Bizzy
2013.09.13 / Rap, Pop / Album: The Cure

10. 한숨 거둬 (Retract Your Sigh) - Kebee (Eluphant)
2013.09.04 / Rap / Double Single

09. 화분 (Flower Pot) - 요조 (Yozoh)
2013.07.23 / Indie Pop, Dream Pop / Album: 나의 쓸모 (My Instrumental)

08. 진격의 거인 둘 (Return Of The Kings) - Dynamic Duo
2013.07.01 / Rap / Album: Luckynumbers

07. 삐딱하게 (Crooked) - G-Dragon (BIGBANG)
2013.09.05 / Pop Rock / Album: Coup d’etat

06. 뱁새 (Baepsae) - 선우정아 (Sunwoo Jungah)
2013.04.02 / R&B, Soul / Album: It’s Okay, Dear

05. 그리워해요 (Missing You) - 2NE1
2013.11.21 / Pop Ballad / Single

04. 다시, 시작 (Start, Again) - Lim Heon-il
2013.05.04 / Rock, Modern Rock / Album: To Love

03. 나는 너를 본다 (I See You) - Han Hee-jung
2013.06.06 / Indie Pop, Ballad / Album: Everyday Stranger

02. 벽 (Ft. Ven) - Pinodyne
2013.04.02 / Rap, R&B / Album: Pinocchio

01. 하얀 (White) - 옥상달빛 (Dalmoon)
2013.04.22 / Indie Pop / Album: Where


15. P-Type – Rap
2013.07.29 / Rap / Brand New Music [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

P-Type comes out swinging and never lets up. The release further cements his mastery and certainly creates a broader avenue for him. The collaborations bring out the best in him and make each song distinguishable yet an essential part of the greater piece. I enjoyed the production from GRAY but the track with Bumkey was disappointing. As a whole, the sounds are very melodramatic but P-Type steps up to the challenge.

14. 글렌 체크(Glen Check) - YOUTH!
2013.11.19 / Electronic Pop / Sound Holic [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

Glen Check are the happier other half of M83’s teenage self. The sounds here are a bit different from Haute Couture as the later was more hard-hitting. They don’t quite manage standing up to the level they established with the former release but it’s pretty much on par, save for a few let-downs. There is too much concentration on anthem for the audience that it takes away from what they did best in Haute Couture, not caring about external sources and just going with the flow. Youth! does however signal an exciting future from the electronic bunch.

13. 이하이 (Lee Hi) – First Love
2013.03.28 / R&B/Soul / YG Entertainment [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

Those who read the review for First Love should already be familiar with the amount of adoration I had for this release. It wasn’t so much about the tracks themselves but just how they collectively stacked up to form a credible and authentic tracklist. At the same time, it’s the effect of Lee Hi as a budding vocalist that carries the album beyond and till this day, makes this one of the best debut albums. The emergence has been remarkable and the many YG producers that worked on this album have a big hand in the aftereffects. For once, there were no gimmicky tracks and everything felt timeless and singular because of it. There’s some clear distinct tracks, and many of them stay true to its form, be it Soul, Jazz or Indie.

12. 스웨덴세탁소 (Sweden Laundry) - 잠들 때까지 (Until You Sleep)

11. 지드래곤 (G-Dragon) – 쿠데타 (COUP D`ETAT)
2013.09.05 / Pop Rap / YG Entertainment [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, Part.1 / Part.2, YesAsia]

10. 안녕바다 (Bye Bye Sea) - 난그대와바다를가르네 (I Cross The Sea With You)
2013.07.12 / Soft Rock, Indie / Fluxus Music [Listen to the Album]

09. Dynamic Duo - Luckynumbers
2013.07.01 / Rap / Amoeba Culture [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

08. 임헌일 (Lim Heon-il) - 사랑이 되어가길 (Into Love)
2013.06.04 / Rock / Neowiz Internet [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

Lim Heon-il of rock band Mate has an intriguing voice and uses that methodically as he proceeds through the tracks in Into Love. There’s also a vulnerable side to his voice and in various tracks that can be classified as rock-ballads, it shows. The album doesn’t quite live up to the expectation set by the beginning track “다시, 시작 (Start, Again)” because the others beside it don’t explore the rock sound intricately as much and stay ballad-ary. The lyrics offer hope and in “은혜 (Grace),” the rocker diverts and sings about God, which is quite odd for a rock release like this. The diamond in the rough mentality of many tracks are enjoyable and the production atmosphere highly contagious.

07. 팔로알토 (Paloalto) – Chief Life
2013.11.25 / Rap / Hi-Lite Records [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

Paloalto has a confident style that matches with the type of beat prevalent here. The only chief complaint I have is that he utilizes the same types of rhythm and beat that it becomes redundant too quickly. Would’ve loved to him be more creative with the melody, though that doesn’t take away from the fact that his flow is superb and next to none. The featurings from Reddy and Basick are a relief as they switch the pace up and provide a relief with their different sounds. Definitely, this is one of the more confident rap releases of the year that doesn’t go overtop with too much useless rants.

06. 권순관 (Kwon Soon-kwan) – A Door
2013.04.11 / Ballad, Rock / Happy Robot Records [Listen to the Album]

Kwon Soon-kwan simply does what he knows works for him and it’s simply amazing, hearing an artist so very comfortable in their own skin.

05. 옥상달빛 (Dalmoon) - Where
2013.05.06 / Indie, Soft Rock / Magic Strawberry Sound [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

As a duo, Dalmoon are still developing and Where is a release that signals the prime years ahead of them. The sounds they dabble with here might not be something they’ll turn back on later on but what they’ve created is something instrumental in their growth. Even if they do decide to look back on this, they do so with their heads held high.

04. 선우정아 (Sunwoo Jungah) - It’s Okay, Dear
2013.04.02 / R&B, Soul / Magic Strawberry Sound [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

It’s Okay, Dear is at its simplest a melancholic treat. Sunwoo Jungah makes use of all her jazzy tunes and comes up with many soulful pieces. The instrumentals are just right without being too monotonous. “Baepsae” just might be the sleeper release of the year and showcases her superb singing style.

03. 요조 (Yozoh) – 나의 쓸모 (My Instrumental) [Official title: Existence and Happiness]
2013.07.23 / Indie Pop, Indie Rock / MagicStrawberry Sound [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: YesAsia]

The first half of the album is much stronger and probably the reason the album stands out. Even though Yozoh fails to sustain the momentum, what she has here is enough to catapult her music above the threshold. Yozoh’s simple approach becomes endearing and therefore makes it easy loving this release. There are hints of rock and girl-power anthem thrown in for good measure as well.

02. 한희정 (Han Hee-jung) - 날마다 타인 (Everyday Stranger)
2013.06.05 / Indie, Rock / Pastel Music [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: iTunes, YesAsia]

Favorite tracks: 나는 너를 본다 (I See You), 날마다 타인 (Everyday Stranger), 흙 (Soil)

Listeners get an early taste of Han Hee Jung’s quirks with this album. She has a relentless approach to her yet manages to come across as laid-back. The songs in the album are very unique and showcase a singer who is aware of what works and not afraid of taking risks.

01. 강아솔 (Kang A Sol) – 정직한 마음 (Honest Soul)
2013.11.14 / Indie / Electric Muse [Listen to the Album]
[Buy: YesAsia]

The songs in the album flow together almost too unrealistically. The atmosphere build-up begins with the instrumental intro and never lets down. Understandably, some may look the other way as the album might be too hard to digest due to its slow pace but there’s something for everyone here. The serenity is almost too blinding and Kang A Sol’s voice and technique perfect.

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