1. Epik High
Tablo, Mithra, and DJ Tukutz have been in the industry since the early 2000s. Their lyrics often carry a strong message, and there is even Tumblr for Epik High wisdom.
Watch this first.
3. “Trot” and “High Technology”
Watch this second. ;)
“High Technology” does nice work talking about people’s reliance on technology.
“Breakdown” was banned due to the torture featured in the video.
6. “Don’t Hate Me”
“Don’t Hate Me” came out in 2012 after Epik High signed with YG Entertainment. How many pop culture references can you spot?
Tablo is even amazing outside of Epik High. Over the years, he’s faced many hardships from depression and the Tajinyo scandal in 2010, Tablo has managed to become one of Korea’s most established rappers and even has a book called Pieces of You.
Jinsil from Mad Soul Child lends her voice in this song about toxic love.
Big Bang’s Taeyang joins Tablo in the song. The song has pretty instrumentals, and it’s easy to singalong to
10. Let’s Hear it for Rookie Groups
2013 has many rookie groups worth mentioning, and they’re looking for fans.
11. Yell. O.W. “This is My Story”
Yell.O.W. debuted in August and are already making waves in the industry. Their voices are a little huskier than typical K-girl groups, but it’s a welcome change from the typical “aegyo” image and sound popular in the industry.
12. Ladies Code “Bad Girl”
Ladies Code had some strong buzz prior to their debut since leader Ashley had a popular YouTube channel; RiSe was a Miss Korea contestant in 2009 and on the show We Got Married; and Sojung was a finalist on The Voice of Korea.
13. BTS “No More Dream”
Bangtan Boys already earned the respect of Kpop fans, some of which are just as passionate as EXOtics. With two solid debut songs under their belt, the A.R.M.Y is surely happy and looking for new recruits.
14. Royal Pirates “Shout Out”
Royal Pirates dabble in the rock genre. They’ve been together as a group for more than four years, and they’re known on YouTube for their cover songs, making their debut this year one of the most anticipated.
Shinhwa debuted in 1998 during the days of Sechkies, H.O.T., and S.E.S. They’re still performing today, proving that everything gets better than age.
Fun Fact: Andy Lee was almost a member of H.O.T.
16. “This Love”
“This Love” along with “Venus” introduced new generations to the Kpop world to Shinhwa.
19. SS501,TVXQ (DBSK), JYJ
Fans continue to wait somewhat impatiently for these two groups to return. SS501 has not officially disbanded, though each of the members are now in the throes of solo careers. TVXQ is still around, but as a two-member group; the group split into TVXQ and JYJ when a contract dispute with SM Entertainment created controversy.
20. SS501 “Love Ya”
21. TVXQ “Mirotic”
This song was banned for its “suggestive lyrics.”
22. TVXQ (Current Configuration) “Catch Me”
23. JYJ “Empty”
24. 4Minute and Hyuna
The girls from 4Minute are known for their vocal style, dance, and their sexy leader, Hyuna. Hyuna also has a successful solo career.
25. “Volume Up”
26. “Bubble Pop”
The dancing, at times, is awkward, but when many think of Hyuna, “Bubble Pop” is usually what comes to mind outside of her being featured in “Gangnam Style.”
Beast, or for the “Nasties” out there, B2st, has become a powerhouse in the Kpop world over the past two years. While they have their Engrish moments like in “Shadow” and Yoseob’s “Caffeine,” their songs are catchy and iPod-worthy.
“Fiction” won the Best Dance award at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA).
30. “Black Paradise”
“Black Paradise” is featured on the Korean drama Iris II.
In recent years, SHINee has become one of the powerhouse groups in the Kpop industry through sharp dancing and vocals. Check out their performance from the 2012 MAMA to see their live performance of “Sherlock” and “Lucifer” with Exo!
In the early 2000s, BoA introduced many non-Koreans to the Kpop genre via lending her vocals to the Inuyasha OST and club hits. 13 years later, she’s still proving while she is one of Korea’s idol queens.
One of BoA’s firsts from her ID; Peace B album. She was 13 when she made her debut.
35. “Eat You Up”
This song was featured on her album for her American debut.
36. “Only One”
“Only One” marked her return to music in 2012.
37. Ladies Night
The Kpop world is rich in female groups ranging from sexy to aegyo concepts.
38. Wonder Girls ft. Akron “Like Money”
Hyuna originally called Wonder Girls home before leaving due to health reasons and joining 4Minute. The group is popular in Korea but has even won fans in the U.S. via a Nickelodeon movie and touring with the Jonas Brothers a few years back.
39. T-Ara “Lovey Dovey”
T-Ara has been mired in controversy the past two years, but that shouldn’t cloud the music.If you can sit through their ridiculously long music videos, their retro sound is definitely worth a listen!
40. Miss A “Touch”
“Touch” shows off Miss A’s ability to be dark and edgy. Since their debut in 2010, the group, which is comprised of two Chinese members and two Korean members, has had a string of hits starting with “Breathe” and most recently “I Don’t Need a Man.” While not promoted, “Lips” also has a strong following.
41. Secret “Love is Move”
Secret stands out because they incorporate the sounds from different decades into their music.
42. The Seeya “Be With You” (featuring Taewoon of Speed)
The second-coming of the group Seeya, The Seeya has some great vocal abilities.
43. Step into the Man Cave
While not as big as super-rookies B.A.P and Exo and established groups like Big Bang and Super Junior, there are several male groups that produce great music yearly.
44. B1A4 “This Time is Over”
Writer’s Note: This song needed to be promoted more. That is all.
45. Teen Top “To You”
The “ooh-a-ooh-ooh” part is guaranteed to get stuck in a listener’s head.
46. Nu’est “Action”
Ren is really pretty. As a female, I would ooze confidence if I looked like him.
47. Block B “Nillili Mambo”
Block B has quietly become one of the strongest groups in the industry. While they are on hiatus due to contract issues, their comeback is hotly anticipated.
48. Speed “That’s My Fault”
Fun Fact: Taewoon Zico’s brother. Zico is the rapper from Block B.
49. Speed “It’s Over”
Because Speed is awesome, that’s why.
50. MBLAQ “This is War”
While “Smoky Girl” is their song for 2013, “This is War” provides one of their best performances to date.
51. Going Solo
Kpop isn’t just about idol groups.
52. Se7en “Somebody Else”
53. Ga-In “Bloom”
Ga-In is the leader of Brown-Eyed Girls and has some great solo chops. This video was banned due to the masturbation scene.
54. Lee Seung-Gi “Return”
“Return” was considered one of the best Kpop songs of 2012, staying on the charts for a few months into 2013. In addition to singing, Lee also acts and most recently starred in Gu Family Book with Miss A’s Suzy.
55. Ailee “Heaven”
American-born Ailee is making quite a name for herself in the Kpop industry. “Heaven” is her debut song, but prior to her debut, she had a following on YouTube due to her song covers and for acting in Dream High 2. Her song “Evening Sky,” while in Korean, is featured in the American film Now is Good.