[The K-Pop 100: Idol Group Songs]
90. FIN.K.L. – 영원 (Eternity)
FIN.K.L.’s final album (at least, to date) focused on maturation, and so a ballad was picked to be the lead single. With Ok Joo-hyun leading, the four members elegantly performed this easy-listening number that borrowed noticeably from Brown Eyes-style R&B pop. A soft melody and thoughtful arrangement later, we had the definitive FIN.K.L. ballad.
89. Big Bang – 마지막 인사 (Last Farewell)
Put the catchy chorus out front, then all but discard the verse so that you can get back to the chorus as quickly as possible. For all his faults Brave Brothers did this very naturally, and “Last Farewell” may be his best early work. Big Bang members cooperated, with TOP’s charismatic performance even bringing a bit of those verses back to life.
88. Take – 나비무덤 (Butterfly Grave)
The definition of a one-hit wonder, though a retooled Take is trying to change that this year. Maybe the group wasn’t so special; the mid-2000s was a time when good-sounding male harmonies were everywhere, and teams like Air Rise, M.Street, The Story and more gave us similar offerings. But none of them had a “Butterfly Grave” – this combination of an instantly memorable melody with real, fleshed-out drama in its short running time – and so Take is whom we remember.
87. Shinhwa – 열병 (Fever)
Back in the days when people promoted three or more songs per album, “Fever” was Shinhwa’s third single from Brand New. It frankly blows co-lead “Angel” out of the water: a ponderous pop-ballad driven by a cynical string beat, the song features a carrying performance by Shin Hye-sung as well as dryly forlorn rap verses, all en route to a thrilling finish.
86. SHINee – View
Abrasive textures were out and mellow ones in. Ambience and synth bass permeate “View”, and the now mature vocalists of SHINee eschew shrill highs in favor of a softer, more sensual approach. Shedding instrumental weight allows the song to move more freely and SHINee to play around more – a challenge they rise to. It was the right track at the right time in this group’s career.
85. CSJH The Grace – The Club (Featuring Rain)
It’s been an unlucky career for perhaps Korea’s most multi-talented girl group ever, but they weren’t without their moments. “The Club” wasn’t a hit like “One More Time OK”, but it was the better song. A nocturnal mood created by the simmering beat and muted strings turned out to be a great backdrop for The Grace’s rich vocals. Listening to Lina completely take over the song through her belting, roaring performance remains as satisfying as it did nine years ago.
84. Infinite – 내꺼하자 (Be Mine)
Infinite was squarely in that high-intensity SS501-like phase as of Over The Top, but overachieving in the end product. Sweetune presented an accessible beat with bold synth lines and pointed chorus. The crystal-clear harmony and sharp choreography – another Infinite staple – did the rest.
83. Koyote – 비몽 (Sad Dream)
An eminently danceable “na na-na na” hook and an active beat with one foot still in techno, all coated with a sad and wailing minor melody. This is the contrast that Koyote (along with Baek Ji-young, Lee Jung-hyun, later Typhoon…) thrived off of, and “Sad Dream” did it with the best balance in juxtaposition and confidence in the formula.
82. Beast – Shock
From Shock of the New Era (2010)
Label: Cube Entertainment
Composition/Writing/Arrangement: Lee Sang-ho, Choi Gyu-sung, Shinsadong Horangi; additional writing by Yong Jun-hyung (Beast)
Links: music video, audio, live
A lot of boy bands over the years have iterated on this kind of energetic-yet-tender dance track, but Beast hit gold with “Shock”. An appropriately electric arrangement and effortless, satisfying melody line blend seamlessly, and there’s no wasted space within the four-minute running time.
81. Baby V.O.X. – Game Over
That quickly-spoken chorus was a nice fad to have around; Kim Hyung-suk made great use of it alongside double backing in the frenetic “Game Over”, crafting a catchy and instantly memorable hook. Boyish Story unfortunately didn’t sell too well, but musically BV was still at their prime in that era.