This is inspired by this, and OH MY GOD, WHITE PEOPLE PLEASE.
IT IS NOT ‘GAING-NAM’ OR ‘HAI-YOONA’ or ‘TAE-YAYNG’ MY GOD, PEOPLE. HOW HARD IS IT TO COPY PRONUNCIATION?!?!?!?!?!
‘gAH-NG-NAHM’ ‘HYUH-NUH’ ‘TAE-YAHNG’ THERE!
/I’m so sorry/
/I did not mean to freak out/
He, or rather, ‘they’ seemed to miss out on some rather iconic songs. I’m not going to reach back too far, but for fans like me who got into the K-Pop fandom in the past few years, we’re going to take a look at the 12 most iconic songs you should be looking at in the beginning.
This goes by my favorites when I first got into the genre, songs I was introduced to and told that I needed to listen to, and what I personally KNOW were game changers in the past few years.
The only other rule that is imposed on this list is that every artist, unless it’s from a member going solo from the group, is listed only ONCE.
This list is in no particular order.
Let’s get started!
#12 PSY “Gangnam Style”
As much as a fan as I am NOT of PSY, I do have to put him on the list. This song reached overseas not only to other Asian countries, but all the way over to the US, where, annoyingly enough, it became a phenomenon.
I say annoying because of what I went through. Nothing like watching TV and not being able to get excited about a K-Pop star on TV because your friends are side-eyeing you.
The video is the highest viewed music video, let alone K-Pop music video on YouTube with over 1 BILLION views.
#11 Super Junior “Sorry Sorry”
One video that list did get right (okay, they got a lot right, but still), was “Sorry Sorry” from the group’s 3rd album, “Sorry Sorry” back in 2009.
It features iconic dance moves and a catchy chorus.
#10 KARA “Step”
This was my first KARA music video. I remember watching this back in 2012 and just absolutely LOVING this song.
Though the lineup of KARA changed drastically from time to time since the group’s debut in 2007, the general feel and overall cohesion of the group never changed.
#9 JYJ “Ayyy Gurl”
This was released in 2010, and was one of the first songs to signify the separation of JYJ (Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu) from DBSK (soon to be known widely as TVXQ, their Chinese translated name).
They were still under SM Entertainment at the time, and would move to CJ-es the next year to release their first full album, “In Heaven.”
[The official music video from SM has been deleted and not added to CJ-es’ YouTube, so I will be using a fan-uploaded version]
#8 TVXQ “Keep Your Head Down”
This album signified the return of TVXQ as a two member unit, Yunho and Changmin. Worldwide they began to market themselves as TVXQ instead of DBSK, which symbolized a change from 5 members to 2.
#7 2NE1 “I Am The Best”
2NE1 went on hiatus in 2010, and in 2011, released a slew of singles and their 2nd mini album, “2NE1 2nd Mini Album.” No, literally. That is the name of the album.
“Lonely” was released first, followed by “I Am The Best” and “Hate You.”
It was re-distributed (the original YG released single was taken down from iTunes and replaced) through Capitol Records in 2014, had a direct impact on the digital Dance, Mainstream and Rhythmic radios in America the same day.
It was used in several commercials, and made it to the #1 spot on the Billboard 100, as well as becoming the 8th K-Pop music video to surpass 100 million views.
#6 HyunA “Bubble Pop”
“Bubble Pop” marked HyunA’s solo return in 2011, which also continued her sexy concept from debut, “Change (2010).”
This iconic song has lead many to love the rapper of 4Minute, as well as introduce them to K-Pop. It’s actually the song that made me love her.
#5 EXO “Wolf”
Despite how awful the song seemed, it was actually really popular. I remember the day it came out, in fact. This was the first single from EXO’s first full length album, “XOXO (2013).”
I remember when it was leaked too, everyone was losing their shit.
Despite how much you did or didn’t like it, this music video and song were extremely popular, and helped EXO build a name for themselves after their mini album, “MAMA (2012).”
#4 BIGBANG “Fantastic Baby”
This album was actually the first BIGBANG comeback I was present for as a fan.
I mean, technically I was present for “Tonight (2011),” but I wasn’t a fan then.
In 2012, BIGBANG came back with their 5th album, “Alive (2012).” This song garnered over 1 MILLION views in less than three days, a huge feat for K-Pop music videos at the time.
Either than or over three million in one day. I can’t remember and now the search engines are taken over by the fact that BIGBANG’s “Fantastic Baby” has surpassed over 200 MILLION views as of January, 2016.
#3 SHINee “Ring Ding Dong”
This is from SHINee’s second album, “Lucifer (2009),” and the video contains some of the best ‘worst-of’ English lines I and my friends have had the pleasure to quote. And omg, the list…the list described the song as “…lyrics dedicated to winning a woman’s heart.”
Sure, if the lyrics, “RING DING DONG RING DING DON DING DINGA DING DING SHOCKA LOCKA SHOCKA LOCKA” are seductive to you, sure. Whatever floats your goat.
I first found them via my friend Elizabeth, and it just happened to be the first video I clicked on. Thus, my downward spiral into K-Pop.
#2 SNSD “Gee”
This is like the icon of iconic girl group songs. “Gee” was released in 2009 for the girls’ first mini album, “Gee (2009).”
Containing all nine members (Jessica did NOT leave until 2015), the girls talk about being in love and shit. It’s cute af and pink as hell.
And Minho from SHINee is in the music video as the shop employee. ❤
Last but not least…
#1 DBSK “Mirotic”
If there is anything you should take away from this list, it’s that I’m extremely biased. But is there a point? Yes. Yes there is.
How the hell did they put “Why Did I Fall In Love With You,” a J-Pop single, instead of “Mirotic (2008),” a Korean single?!?!?
I don’t know, but “Mirotic” definitely deserves a Top 10 place on any K-Pop list.
It surpassed 80 million views in the original upload from sment (the old SM YouTube account). This was the last album to feature members Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu before the group split.
The song was deemed too sexual for people under the age of 19 because of the lyric, “I got you under my skin,” which is the least sexual lyric of sexual lyrics I’ve ever heard. It’s not even sexual. It’s like saying, “I can’t get you out of my mind,” or some such equivalent.
This was my first DBSK music video, and it came highly recommended. Once you take a look, you’ll be able to see why.
DBSK/TVXQ/THSK (Japanese translated name)/ JYJ are some of the most influential artists in K-Pop, which is why they are deemed and consider themselves, the Kings of K-Pop.
Yes, I made it an entire list without listing BoA. Why? Because she’s my honorable mention. I’d love to add her to the list, but she almost never came up as a recommendation when I first got into K-Pop.
Almost. But since I started with her, it’s possible that I just needed to be steered in a different direction.
The song I choose to put here is her song, of course, “No. 1.”
Were any of these songs YOUR first K-Pop song? What song influenced you to become a K-Pop fan? Comment below!