When it comes to the founding fathers of modern k-pop, it’s hard to think of one more influential than Seo Taiji. He’s lauded for his solo work as well, but this countdown will focus on his material with Seo Taiji & Boys. The trio released only four studio albums together, but within that short time they amassed one of the most diverse discographies in k-pop and completely reinvented the genre. Many fans will also be familiar with the group for introducing then-dancer Yang Hyun Suk, who went on to found YG Entertainment.
10. Sad Pain (1995)
Marking a complete transition into mid-90’s alternative grunge rock, Sad Pain lurches forward on a downbeat guitar riff before launching into its giant chorus.
9. Goodbye (1996)
As the trio’s last single, Goodbye is also one of their most delicate. Hushed vocals mark a tentative farewell over a jazzy, barely-there backing track.
8. Eternity (1994)
Proving that they could attempt any style imaginable, Eternity sees the group tackling a baroque — almost medieval — piece of harmony-driven, symphonic balladry.
7. Anyhow Song (1993)
Anyhow Song builds on the success of their debut, upping the intensity of the beats and riffs while pulling in traditional instrumentation and blistering guitar-fueled breakdowns.
6. Must Triumph (Pilseung) (1995)
Must Triumph built on the group’s previous experiments with rock music, going full-on screamo during its verses before pulling back for one of the best choruses of their career.
5. You, In The Fantasy (1992)
Released as both an original album version and an intense dance makeover for its official music video, You In The Fantasy’s punchy, staccato hook and exhilarating background vocal are addictive either way.
4. To You (1993)
It’s not one of the group’s flashier moments, but the plaintive, 80’s-inspired balladry of To You pulses with unexpected emotion and brilliant melodicism.
3. Come Back Home (1995)
Bringing gangster rap to Korea, the attitude-heavy Come Back Home ushered in a whole new trend that would heavily influence the upcoming wave of first generation boy groups. A total classic.
2. Dreaming Of Bal-Hae (1994)
I can only imagine how unexpected a shift in sound this was upon its release. Dreaming Of Bal-Hae distills all the best elements from alternative, grunge, hip-hop and classic rock, cobbling together an incredible high point for early 90’s k-pop. It’s an absolute opus, from the first, plaintive verse to that rousing chant at the song’s climax.
1. I Know (1992)
In many ways, I Know is the song that birthed what we now call modern k-pop. Taking heavy influence from the West, the song fuses new jack swing with alternative rock and hip-hop, creating a thrilling blend of perfectly realized hooks that remain as potent today as they were twenty-five years ago. This is one of k-pop’s iconic moments — perhaps its most iconic.
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