Hello, it’s me.
Yes! Friends, I’m back, and boy do we have a lot of catching up to do. I’ll do everyone a solid and spare you the details – all pretty lame, anyway – and jump right in and tell you how much I’ve missed this whole blogging thing, AND all of you! No, really. It’s been awfully long, hasn’t it? And in a weird and twisted way, I feel like I’ve missed out on so much in my life. Or missed incorporating this into my life? It’s not as serious as it sounds, but if I can speak honestly for a moment, blogging always brought me a sense of fulfillment that very few other mediums of expression ever did. I found how much I enjoyed writing because of it, and to meet and befriend all of you in the process was an added bonus.
As I sit here (in a lovely little tea joint here in Austin), rambling away, everything feels so, so good. And so right! So what better way to get the spokes a’turnin again than to give you a nostalgic punch to the heart by reinstating an old tradition you old McRoth’s Residence readers will remember. Of course I’m talking about my “Top Korean Songs of The Year” special. Just as a refresher, my TKSO is a list that I cycled through every December on my old blog, rounding up my favorite Korean songs – pop and beyond – and praying to the powers that be that stans didn’t hunt me down for my assembly of songs. In other words, a standard blog post in K-Pop. Fun times, guys.
But wait! Before we jump in, I have put together a list of Honorable Mentions of 2015 to hold you through to December 01. Because what’s a comeback without a little tease, amirite?
All of the songs you’re about to listen to just happened to miss my Top 50 list by a hair. A haaaairrr, you guys. And by my, I mean ours. Yes! Back to join me in what became a yearly celebration in music is none other than former McRoth’s Residence regular contributor, Drowningn00b! We have joined forces to bring you some of our favorite songs of 2015 and I cannot wait to share them with you. So please, sit back, bundle up, and sip some coffee as I bring you my Honorable Mentions of 2015.
“Flower (Feat. Tablo),” by XIA
A haunting and fantastical power ballad sung by one of the greatest K-Pop voices you’ll ever have the pleasure of listening to. “Flower” is one of the few singles this year that had me feeling exhausted as hell by its final measure, on account of that I felt like I had just endured a year long trek through Middle Earth. Like, can Gandalf whisper to the winds and summon those eagle things for me please, damn.
“If You,” by BIGBANG
Sometimes less is more. “If You”, one of BIGBANG’s many releases this year, sees the quintet at their tamest. It’s the restraint in flash and fanfare in this that allows BIGBANG’s hidden vocal arsenal, which is in there somewhere, to rocket into my heart. Between you and me, I’m quite fond of BIGBANG’s singing (T.O.P, sing to me baby), and I get to hear it clearly here.
“Romance in Seoul,” by Neon Bunny
Neon Bunny! My electro pop princess. “Romance in Seoul” is a super chill song with a gorgeous blend of traditional instrumentation and a modern electronic layer of nuances and vocal production that sends me floating away. I really love the note of airy, outdoor ambience at the end.
“John Doe,” by Wonder Girls
The Wonder Girls might have let me down with their last couple comebacks post the glorious “Wonder World” era, but they returned this year ready to slay. And slay, they did. “John Doe”, a complete 80’s banger, is only one of a slew of rad tracks on their 2015 comeback album, “Reboot”.
“Love You,” by SG Wannabe
I can’t say I was as satisfied with SG Wannabe’s long-awaited comeback this year as I was hoping to be, but this particular single really stayed with me. There’s nothing quite like a feel-good vocal performance by some of modern day Korea’s vocal treasures to calm you down.
“Don’t Be Shy (Feat. Choa (AOA), Iron),” by Primary
THE reggae song of the year and the song of my summer. With ChoA’s come-hither and husky delivery, with Primary’s sick production and a video that was morbidly sexy, “Don’t Be Shy” was the alternative k-pop song this summer. – Drowningn00b
“Star Shell,” by NELL
If I’m looking for comfort music, NELL is always there to hold me. “Star Shell” is a classic modern-rock anthem that strikes all the right emotional chords without ever going overboard.
“Automatic,” by Red Velvet
Sensuous tones and beautiful harmonies, “Automatic” is the song that makes Red Velvet a vocal group with a strong foundation. One of the best K-Pop rookie groups to come out strong out of the gate in a long time. – Drowningn00b
Red Velvet might have had a dim entrance with “Happiness” in 2014, but it wasn’t until their “Ice Cream Cake” EP earlier this year that my eyes widened. The five-part group twirled their way into center stage, surprising everyone with an underlying tier of R&B badassary to their music that was spearheaded by this ear-tingling hit. – Arnold
“Hopeless Love,” by Jimin Park
2015 was a fantastic year for JYP, which has been a long time coming for the entertainment juggernaut, let’s just be honest. Jimin Park of 15&, although underrated for hell knows what reason, is a prime example of the greatness that sprouted from JYP this year. “Hopeless Love” is a simple, but incredibly expressive ballad that Park absolutely slays. Her voice has become one of my favorites, and I hope to hear a lot more from her in the near future.
“Crazy For You,” by G-Soul
Well, it’s about time. Showcasing the wide range of talent JYP has to offer (see above), G-Soul FINALLY debuted this year with some of the best R&B bangers I didn’t know I needed in my life. Not just that, but my homeboy dropped several amazing singles and EPs on errbody to shut us up. Or have us begging for more? You tell me. “Crazy For You” is a slick, electronically soulful masterpiece that I find myself repeating on a regular basis.
“위로위로 (Feat. L.Joe of TeenTop),” by Stephanie
The black and white concept that rocked so hard. Tantalizing and menacing, with a fantastic video both sexy and fun, “위로위로” is the song you play really loud on your Beats. – Drowningn00b
“Apology,” by iKON
Well, okay then.
I was not a fan of iKON’s debut EP at all, and you can visit my Twitter for the evidence. But even I have to admit that “Apology” is a pretty great ballad. It’s very BIGBANG, but just unique enough to land into iKON’s court for them to call their own. The raspy vocal lead is a standout detail in this that is so effective in keeping the ear listening, that I found myself spinning “Apology” more times than I had anticipated. Nice save, YG. Nice save.
“Remember,” by Apink
While not Apink’s strongest year in music, at least not by my standards (I prefer their earlier work to what they’re doing currently), “Remember” is just too gracefully beautiful not to like. It puts me in a good mood, and I think that’s enough to give it some recognition.
I know I missed a lot, but I’ve also gathered an abundance of Korean songs, ranging from classical to yoloswag hep-hap (oh yeah), for you guys to devour very soon. Like, two days from now soon. With the help of fellow writer Drowningn00b, I think we touched base on most of 2015’s insane musical landscape, which ran far deeper and wider than I ever imagined. So please stay put as we prepare to reveal some of our favorite Korean jams of 2015, as well as my top albums and EPs of the year later in December. Yeah, that’s a thing I’m doing again, too.
Until then, stay safe and in touch (if you’re so inclined) on Twitter and the ITHYK Facebook Page! Also don’t forget to share some of your favorite songs of the year in the comments section below! I’d love to hear them.