Now that KARA as a group seems destined for the history books, I thought it seemed right to feature them as the first artist in my Top Ten Songs feature, in which I try my best to rank my ten favorite title tracks from some of the best kpop groups. Throughout their career, KARA has seen most success working with production team Sweetune, and unsurprisingly my list is nearly all Sweetune-produced.
10. Wanna (2009)
In my opinion, this was the start of their imperial phase. The girls had worked with Sweetune before, but this song and album really developed the mold for the rest of their career. Things would only get better from here.
9. We’re With U (2010)
With its synthy, bubblegum beat and layered chorus, this set the template for groups like Crayon Pop before they existed. Not as flashy as some of their singles, but the anthemic melody is enduring.
8. Damaged Lady (2013)
This song doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves, underperforming when it was released in 2013. Much of that may be down to its sound, which favors rock guitars and stop/start tempo changes over their usual super-pop style.
7. Rock U (2008)
The earliest track on my list, and their first foray into working with Sweetune. It also marked a shift in their image, as the girls took on a cuter, incredibly catchy sound.
6. Jumping (2010)
Though perhaps not one of their more characteristic tracks, the sheer propulsion of the glossy production and vocal arrangement catapults this to just outside my top five.
5. Pandora (2012)
Less a song than a powerful statement of intent, in some ways Pandora is easier to appreciate than fully enjoy. It augmented their sound just enough to feel daring, fresh and innovative.
4. Lupin (2010)
Released as the group was gaining massive popularity, Lupin took a somewhat darker, more fashionable turn in comparison to the youthful material they’d released until this point. While the thundering verses get the job done, the Abba-esque, gorgeous chorus absolutely soars.
3. Mamma Mia (2014)
Some purists would likely balk at the inclusion of this song so high on my list, and to be honest I slept on it too when it was first released, but the shimmering, disco-tastic production and relentless chorus has stuck with me much longer than I anticipated. It’s a massive pop song.
2. Mister (2009)
I embedded the Japanese version, since it’s the only one with an actual music video, although the Korean version is the one that sits on my iphone. Whatever language, Mister is the definite highlight of the group’s early material. If that counting bit doesn’t get you fired up, I don’t know what would.
1. Step (2011)
None of KARA’s songs better represents what makes them such a great group than Step. It includes all of their best trademarks — those layered vocals, that propulsive synth beat and that climbing, euphoric hook. It’s the type of effortlessly fun kpop track we don’t hear nearly enough of anymore.