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.
20. Super Junior – Sexy, Free & Single
Building on the successful template established by Sorry Sorry and Mr. Simple, Sexy, Free & Single injected a fresh jolt of synth-splashed 80’s funk to craft a potent dance track that manages to overcome some truly cringe-worthy English lyrics through the power of its euphoric sound.
19. G-Dragon – One Of A Kind
Artists like GD exist on bravado, and none of his tracks represents this vibe better than One Of A Kind. Over a spare, elastic beat, he shows us exactly why he’s one of Korea’s most interesting rappers. The song holds surprises at every turn, anchored by the sheer force of his personality.
18. B1A4 – Baby Good Night
You’d be forgiven for mistaking Baby Good Night for the coolest children’s song ever. And it would suffer from this sense of juvenile hookiness if it wasn’t for that unshakable melody and bouncy, carefree production.
17. Block B – Nillili Mambo
With a thundering beat and symphonic samples, Nillili Mambo blasts out of the gate with unbridled energy. From the creative flow of the hip-hop verses to that explosion of a chorus, it’s a total party starter.
16. Boyfriend – Love Style
Take everything that was great about 80’s pop, throw it in a blender, and you’ve got Love Style. Each note, and every punchy rhythmic turn, could have functioned as a lesser song’s chorus.
15. Bigbang – Blue
With its seesaw synth and touches of acoustic guitar, Blue built on the mellow restraint of some of Bigbang’s best work, tethering it to a melody so limber and deceptively simple that it tends to sneak up on you.
14. EXO – What Is Love
Rather than clobber listeners with a high-octane dance track, EXO’s very first release spotlighted their inarguable vocal prowess. None of their slow jams have come close to bettering What Is Love‘s mysterious, downtempo funk.
13. B1A4 – Tried To Walk
Tried To Walk is B1A4 at their pensive best, and a sharp turn from the silliness of Baby Good Night. In some ways, it feels like the Bigbang hit that Bigbang never recorded, but that yearning hook is a lush Jinyoung composition through and through.
12. Kim Sungkyu – 60 Seconds
60 Seconds positions itself as the perfect blend of Infinite’s propulsive, melody-driven sound and Sungkyu’s modern rock edge. It’s so good that they re-recorded it in a full-group version, though the original remains the definitive option — especially if you enjoy a bit of idol-star angst.
11. Girl’s Day – Don’t Forget Me
Don’t Forget Me‘s glossy, propulsive production is flawlessly executed, but the pop music perfection of its yearning chorus seals the deal. This is a tears-on-the-dancefloor masterpiece, and one of the most underrated girl group tracks of any year.
NEXT: NUMBERS 10-1