The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #50~#41

[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]

Introduction
#100 – #91
#90 – #81
#80 – #71
#70 – #61
#60 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

50. GD & TOP – 뻑이가요 (Knock Out)

GD TOP - GD TOP

From GD&TOP (2010)
Label: YG Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: G-Dragon, TOP; additional composition by Diplo
Links: music video, audio, live

Critical opinion of G-Dragon really did an about-face between the days of Heartbreaker and One of a Kind, and a big turning point was this album out of left field. “Knock Out” is remembered for its chewy series of hooks (both sonically and lyrically), and for good reason – the kind of careless swagger exhibited here is not made overnight. TOP is entirely in his element here as a charismatic rapper as opposed to a technical one. “Knock Out” has a solid claim to the title of best idol hip-hop song.

49. SHINee – Dream Girl

SHINee - The Misconceptions of You

From Dream Girl – The Misconceptions of You (2013)
Label: SM Entertainment
Composition/Arrangement: Shin Hyuk, DK, Jordan Kyle, Ross Lara, Dave Cook
Writing: Jeon Gandhi
Links: music video, audio, live

Airy, spacious, expansive – “Dream Girl” lends itself to spatial adjectives. All of SHINee’s third album was a forceful display of electronic mastery, but the seamless instrumental integration and controlled tempo in this song stood out even there. It’s probably the song that signaled the completion of SHINee’s musical identity.

48. 2NE1 – 내가 제일 잘 나가 (I Am The Best)

2NE1 - I Am The Best

From I Am The Best (single) (2011)
Label: YG Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Teddy
Links: music video, audio, live

2NE1’s best-known song had attitude and swagger in droves. It’s a song of, by, and for CL, though Minzy makes herself known; the iconic chant is driven by her, as are the song’s interjections and most impactful parts. As if there wasn’t enough headiness and trance in the song proper, the outro features an exotic and enrapturing string backup. Few songs manage to capture and hold attention like this one.

47. Sistar – 나혼자 (Alone)

Sistar - Alone

From Alone (2012)
Label: Starship Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Brave Brothers; additional composition and arrangement by Crazy Park
Links: music video, audio, live

I’ve ragged on Brave Brothers plenty of times in the past, but give credit where credit is due: he’s placed several songs on this list, and “Alone” is the latest one. The staccato beat and whistles illuminate a nebulous mood, and the vocal line plays its seductive role while only using intentionally limited range. Sistar haven’t yet matched this.

46. Infinite – 추격자 (The Chaser)

Infinite - Infinitize

From Infinitize (2012)
Label: Woollim Entertainment
Composition/Arrangement: Sweetune; additional arrangement by Hong Seung-hyeon
Writing: Song Soo-yun
Links: music video, audio, live

Infinite’s songs had been top notch pretty much since debut, but they were all slightly lacking in the catchiness department. Sweetune changed that with “The Chaser”, employing a traditionally inspired and instantly memorable singalong chorus to headline their explosive arrangement.

45. Rainbow – A

Rainbow - A

From A (2010) (digital single)
Label: DSP Media
Composition/Arrangement: Sweetune; additional arrangement by Hong Seung-hyeon
Writing: Song Soo-yun
Links: music video, audio, live

That booming brass and punchy beat are the attention-grabbers, but listen closer and there’s also sublime vocal design: the chorus makes full use of the seven voices available to craft its main melody as well as the embellishments and accents that give it rich dimension. The Sweetune guys understood Rainbow better than any other composer, and it shows in “A”‘s classy achievement.

44. Secret – Magic

Secret - Magic

From Secret Time (2010)
Label: TS Entertainment
Composition/Arrangement: Shinsadong Horangi, Kang Ji-won, Kim Ki-bum
Writing: Kang Ji-won, Kim Ki-bum
Links: music video, audio, live

In an era of samey hook songs, TS and Secret dared to do something different. The debut single’s overt focus on brass and funk was novel and refreshing. The sound was not as dense as that of other mainstream pop, but that actually made “Magic” feel less harried than its contemporaries. TS would follow up with essentially a copy in “Madonna”, but for a few months, “Magic” was unique.

43. TVXQ – Rising Sun

TVXQ - Rising Sun

From Rising Sun (2005)
Label: SM Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Yoo Young-jin
Links: music video, audio, live

The lyrics still make no sense. There are more mood and act changes than you’d care to count. We don’t know why the screams and various flairs were necessary. None of this makes sense, but that was the power of TVXQ and Yoo Young-jin’s SMP in their heyday: they were convincing. “Rising Sun” didn’t need to be coherent to be good. A rousing chorus (appearing only twice) with vocal acrobatics, insane kinetic energy, and thrilling instrumentation were enough.

42. god – 길 (The Road)

god - Chapter 4

From Chapter 4 (2001)
Label: Sidus HQ
Composition/Arrangement: Bang Si-hyuk aka Hitman Bang
Writing: J.Y. Park
Links: music video, audio

It’s an austere song from a group whose middle name was austerity; like many of their songs, the value is in the lyrics. Here’s what I wrote about them five years ago: “In a time of uncertainty for many teens and young adults, when [an economy] still recovering from crippling recession left little opportunities, god sang of the struggle that they had with their future, of the role of destiny, and of dreams. [People] still testify to the powerful effect that this song had on them when they were young, and I feel that its message, summed up by the chorus, rings more true than ever today.

41. Girls’ Generation (SNSD) – 소원을 말해봐 (Genie)

Girls' Generation - Genie

From Genie (2009)
Label: SM Entertainment
Composition: Anne Judith Wik, Nermin Harambasic, Ronny Svendsen, Robin Jenssen
Writing: Yoo Young-jin
Arrangement: Yoo Han-jin
Links: music video, audio, live

It’s hard to follow up something like “Gee”, but “Genie” made for as effective a one-two punch as you could have asked for. Like the choreography – sharper than any release since “Into the New World” – the melody and arrangement were aggressive, but still bright and wholesome. (And a lot of fun to listen to, of course.) It was a logical step forward based on what we knew about SNSD. “Genie” is a perfect example of group image driving musical synergy.

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10 thoughts on “The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs – #50~#41

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