It’s time to flash back seven years to 2012, an era of huge choruses, thumping dance beats and an endless supply of sci-fi influenced music videos. 2012’s charms were endless, but here are fifty of the absolute best singles.
To be eligible for this top fifty list, songs must have had a Korean release as a title or promotional track between Jan. 1st and Dec. 31st, 2012.
PART ONE: Songs 50-41
PART TWO: Songs 40-31
30. B.A.P – Power
Building on Warrior‘s successful sound, Power injects just enough boyband cheesiness to make it tremendously fun rather than in-your-face aggressive. The stomping beat and heavy-metal inspired production is perfectly executed.
29. ZE:A – Phoenix
Phoenix marches forward like a call to arms. It’s the group’s most aggressively in-your-face single, firing its oft-repeated refrain with an addictive confidence. A group with as many members as ZE:A should sound enormous. Phoenix does just that.
28. Ailee – I’ll Show You
A modern-day equivalent of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, I’ll Show You begins as a ballad before transforming into a thumping dance track with enough vocal and instrumental fireworks to fuel an entire career. It was the first time Ailee showed us just how unstoppable she could be.
27. Nu’est – Action
Action‘s pulverizing beat crashes in like a wrecking ball, augmented with strings and chugging electric guitar. It’s the group’s most immense-sounding moment, and stands as an excellent reminder of 2012’s aggressively ambitious sense of sci-fi style.
26. Bigbang – Bad Boy
Hearkening back to the group’s hip-hop roots, Bad Boy displayed a laid-back, effortlessly cool charm. Many younger idol groups strive for “swag.” Here, Bigbang perfected it.
25. Epik High – Don’t Hate Me
Don’t Hate Me‘s radio rock sound works wonders, giving Epik High’s hip-hop base a sing-along appeal that highlighted their charisma and knack for an incredible hook.
24. A-Jax – 2MYX
Building on a specific late-90’s Max Martin boyband sound, 2MYX‘s unflagging kick and mammoth chorus feel nostalgic in the best possible way. Its crisp arrangement and tight melody represent pop music at its most potently concentrated.
23. Park Jinyoung (JYP) – You’re The One
Almost two decades after his debut as a solo artist, JYP distilled the best aspects of his vast discography into the smooth r&b of You’re The One. It’s not his most instant, in-your-face title track, but the sheer perfection of its melody endures. The song’s been covered in many genres, but always retains its effortless sense of warm, soul-driven pop sophistication.
22. Kara – Pandora
In a year where Sweetune expanded their sonic ambition, Pandora acts as a powerful statement of intent. Its aggressive synth attack augmented Kara’s already-robust sound just enough to feel daring, fresh and innovative.
21. Beast – Beautiful Night
One of the few straight-up party songs Beast released as a single, Beautiful Night is a sterling example of what a properly-executed hype track can be. It’s a pure shot of energy, fueled by one of the group’s strongest choruses.
NEXT: NUMBERS 20-11
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I find it very ironic that I only like 2 of these 10 songs. The other 8 fit into the category of “everyone else seemed to love them but they just were never my style” both back in the day and today. That’s why it’s your list and not mine.
Now I’m curious which two they are… and how you’ll respond to my top twenty!
I was waiting for beautiful night!
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I was going to throw a fit if “Pandora” wasn’t in the upper half of this countdown. It’s definitely another one of my favorites ever – probably would put it at #2 on my 2012 countdown. Almost nothing beats metal-influenced Kara. I was also waiting for “Beautiful Night” and “I’ll Show You”. 2012 really did have that many incredibly song strongs, seriously.
You might be surprised to hear – considering the songs I usually gush about in your comments section – that Epik High is my favorite group ever, so seeing them here is nice (though I can’t agree that “Don’t Hate Me” is their best single.) Still, so many fans dislike the 99 album that I have to thank you for giving it some love.
I figured your position for Pandora would be higher than mine. Love the song a lot, but for me there are greater gems in the (pretty flawless) Kara singles run.