K-Popcorn End-of-the-Year Review Pt 1: K-Pop Favorites!

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As we all know by now, 2014 has already ended and a new year has dawned upon us. A lot of things have happened in 2014 within the Korean entertainment and in South Korea in general and although there have been times where we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. But despite all of this, we all remained strong and stayed united through all the good and bad.

I’m not sure if I’m in any position to be writing an end-of-the-year review since I haven’t been active the past couple of months, but I thought it’d be cool to do something like this since other blogs and websites I admire also do something similar and since it’ll be an opportunity for everyone to come together and reveal their thoughts on 2014.

For the first part of my review, I’ll be touching upon K-Pop and will be revealing my favorite albums, music videos, and songs released in 2014. Since this is my first year doing this, there aren’t any specific categories I’m going to focus on. I think the best way to do this is to just simply state which albums, MVs, songs were your favorite from 2014 and why.

I guess I can start off with how impressed, glad, and happy I was with Epik High’s album ‘Shoebox.’ The whole album is just amazing and title track ‘Happen Ending’ is such a beautiffullll song. I have lost count of how many times I’ve listened to that song because it is so so good and to some this might go a bit too far but I would say that it’s one of the best K-Pop songs we have heard in a while. With ‘Shoebox’, Epik High returned to their original roots with songs like ‘Spoiler’ and ‘Happen Ending’ which I believe sounds similar to their pre-YG songs which I really really enjoyed and missed about Epik High (in fact, the other night while I was studying, I was listening to all of their oldies and experienced so many emotions. Talk about nostalgia, haha) so I was very happy that they continued with the sentimental, dark, and emotional tracks that they released a few years back. But I think it was also the fact that I just missed Epik High in general. It’s been a few years since we’ve last heard from them so I’m really glad that they put out new music this year and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a while until we hear from them again, but since ‘Shoebox’ is an amazing album, us fans will be content for a while.

Another favorite of mines this year is another artist from YG Entertainment – the one and only Taeyang! He promoted as a solo artist this year and came out with the very popular and sentimental “Eyes, Nose, Lips.” As much as I love that song and enjoy singing to it, I think the other tracks on his album ‘Rise’ deserves just as much attention and love. If I’m going to be honest, I’m not a big fan of Big Bang and therefore not a big fan of Taeyang, but I still listen to his music and whichever ones catch my attention I enjoy and listen to. ‘Stay With Me’, which also features his fellow Big Bang group mate and best friend, G-dragon, has to be one of the best and most addicting songs I have heard this year and in a while. The combination of Taeyang’s powerful and smooth R&B voice combined with G-dragon’s steady and pleasant rapping where he doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard just goes so well together and made the whole song sound so much more beautiful. It’s one of the tracks I’ve listened to the most this year and I can see myself listening to it maybe a thousand more times in the future.

Moving on, I have to give Teen Top some praise and love. I’m not a fan of Teen Top (in fact, there are many groups I’m not a fan of but I’m still willing to check out their music), but I did give their title tracks a listen and was impressed both times. First was ‘Missing’ which I immediately fell in love with upon the first listen. I love sentimental and dark and sad songs in the first place and ‘Missing’ is no exception which is why I probably fell in love with it. The vocalists sound so passionate (especially Niel!) and not only that, they have all improved by so much compared to when they first debuted with ‘Clap.’ They all sound stable and a little bit better than decent than when they first started out and you can clearly hear those improvements in ‘Missing.’ The second song from them I was impressed with was ‘I’m Sorry’ which is another sentimental and emotional and tender track which I also fell deeply in love with. Although I think it falls a bit short compared to ‘Missing’, it’s still nicely done and also very catchy. The thing about Teen Top though that I think makes them stand out compared to other groups is that they have this amazing and rare ability to pull off serious and gloomy concepts like”Missing” and “I’m Sorry” really well despite still being at a fairly young age which I don’t think many groups are capable of doing. My only wish is that they continue to pursue after these kind of concepts because it really suits them and because they are superb at it. So Teen Top has done some great things this year and I hope to see more of them in 2015!

Without going into too many details, some other favorites of mines would have to be 2NE1 with album ‘CRUSH.’ I happened to find my most favorite song from 2NE1 in that album and I’m glad that they delivered with this comeback as their comebacks prior to ‘Come Back Home’ were a bit lackluster. (Small fact: I cannot stop listening to CL’s ‘MTBD.’ I seriously have a problem).  Other notable comebacks from 2014 in my opinion would have to be B1A4’s ‘Solo Day.’ I’m not a big fan of B1A4 to the point where I really don’t check out their music either, but I’m glad I gave ‘Solo Day’ a try because I really like that song and album track ‘You.’ We can’t talk about favorite comebacks and not mention BTS / Bangtan Boys who promoted throughout the year continuously. From impressive and catchy ‘Boy in Luv’ to sweet and cute ‘Just One Day’ and explosive ‘Danger’, BTS has done a lot this year and has delivered for me every time. I feel like even though I love BTS a lot, I’m not afraid to be honest about my feelings towards the group and I have voiced a few disappointments and concerns in posts that I’ve written about concerning BTS before on my blog. If the title track didn’t deliver (as with ‘Danger’), usually the album made up and vice versa. I absolutely loved ‘Boy in Luv.’ I think it’s BTS’s strongest title track up to date and one of my favorite title tracks from them.

Then last but not least would have to be my most favorite group out of all of K-Pop – BEAST / B2ST. You can’t talk about 2014 and NOT mention BEAST. They made an explosive comeback with ‘Good Luck’ in the first half of 2014 and then promoted once again in the second half with ’12:30.’ B2UTIES were pretty spoiled in 2014 with two comebacks from BEAST (which is really rare compared to the amount of promotions we’ve gotten from BEAST in the past few years) and a reality show (Burning the Beast). It was just really weird getting so much BEAST because us fans were so used to not having enough of them that when we did in 2014 we weren’t used to it and we were all really happy and excited. B2ST always delivers and they definitely did not fall short of my or other fans’ expectations with their comebacks in 2014. Let’s just hope that they do the same and even better in 2015!

So far we’ve talked about comebacks but what about debuts? In 2014, we saw plenty of groups debut, with some of those being from the Top 3. JJ Project returned in a 7 member group who we now know as GOT7 and Akdong Musician from K-Pop Star and WINNER from WIN: Who Is Next also made their impressive and pleasant debuts. I have to admit that I only paid attention to the groups from the big name companies, but I was surprised with what I heard and what I saw. I genuinely liked GOT7, WINNER, and Akdong Musician’s debuts and music. I know that not many were impressed with WINNER’s debut, but I personally like their debut the best if I had to choose which debut I liked the most in 2014. Their album ‘2014 S/S’ consisted of just my kind of music and the music videos were all well done and so beautiful. I went from hating this group with so much passion to becoming a casual fan who now owns a ‘WINNER’ shirt. Like it’s pretty crazy. Haha. I also really liked GOT7 and Akdong Musician’s debut as well. Their music are songs that I still find myself listening to to this day so that definitely speaks volumes. You can say that I look forward to hearing more of them in the future.

Of course there were way more comebacks in 2014 than the ones I touched upon, but these groups were some of the bands that I liked and felt delivered the most in 2014. Which comebacks and debuts were your favorite in 2014? Comment below and discuss with me!

Credit: YOU and Me 4 XO 8 OFFICIAL channel, Siti Soleha Zuaimi, 2NE1, Akdong Musician, United Cube @ youtube

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