Since the start of The Bias List in January 2016, I’ve always looked back at my three favorite title tracks by K-pop artists each month. Now, it’s time to look even further into the past, one month at a time. And, yes, the top three rankings count toward The Bias List’s personal artist scorecard!
Which month do you want to see next?
July 2014 Overall Thoughts
Following up on my look at July 2015, I wanted to focus on another insanely strong July in K-pop.
July 2014 was a particularly important month for me as a K-pop fan. Early on in the month, I started watching full episodes of Music Bank (provided by youtube, at the time). I haven’t missed a week since. This meant that, for the first time, I wasn’t just being exposed to releases I actively sought out. I was hearing everything. Even though I’d been listening to K-pop for years prior, weekly music shows helped to shape a more well-rounded understanding of the industry’s musical landscape.
The summer of 2014 was a perfect time to really dive in, because it delivered classic after classic. Looking back, I can’t believe how strong this month was. My top three is insurmountable, with one of my favorite K-pop songs of all time taking the top spot. But, the honorable mentions are nearly as exciting, with at least four tracks I’d give an easy 9+ rating to. It was an equally strong month for albums, with highlights from f(x), Nu’est, B1A4 and HyunA.
This July was the sound of a true K-pop summer, before tropical house and downbeat r&b became synonymous with the season. I’m not sure we’ll ever see a line-up like this again, and that makes me incredibly sad. But, at least we have this era to look back on. It’s truly the standard I hold each July to, which helps explain why I’ve been so disappointed with July 2019 so far.
100% – U Beauty (video)
Bestie – Hot Baby (video)
Block B – H.E.R (video)
Boys Republic – Dress Up (video)
f(x) – Red Light (video)
Fiestar – One More (video)
Girl’s Day – Darling (video)
Ha:tfelt – Ain’t Nobody (video)
Henry – Fantastic (video)
HyunA – Red (video)
Lucky J – Can You Hear Me? (video)
LU:KUS – So Into U (video)
Nu’est – Good Bye Bye (video)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. Sistar – Touch My Body
2. B1A4 – Solo Day
1. Infinite – Back
2014 saw the birth of some well-known girl group staples such as: Akdong Musician, Lovelyz, mamamoo, and Red Velvet. We also saw these new acts hit the stage for the first time: 4L (rebranded), 4TEN, Berry Good, Bob Girls, D.HOLIC, Laboum, Melody Day, MINX, Sonamoo, The Barberettes, and Wings. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed songs from every one of those groups I listed; so it was a great year for me, personally.
Female solo debuts included new arrivals: Cheetah, Heize, and Shannon. We also received solos from girls still in groups: HA:TFELT (Yeeun/WG), Hyomin & Jiyeon (T-ara), Hyosung (Secret), Raina (After School). While I’m not a good source for info on the manly side of K-pop, I do know 2014 brought us: GOT7, Hotshot, and Winner.
As far as July, specifically? You covered it all nicely and I remember everything you listed. The standouts for me were:
f(x) – “Red Light”: Proof that they haven’t lost their edge.
Girl’s Day – “Darling”: An ear-to-ear grin from start to finish.
HA:TFELT – “Ain’t Nobody” & “Truth”: Powerfully evocative.
The single standout for July, 2014 was SISTAR’s “Touch & Move” mini-album. Yes, “Touch My Body” was ubiquitous across TV stages, but the entire release served up some delicious treats:
01. Wow (Intro)*: a sultry and seductive appetizer (one of the best intros in K-pop).
02. Touch My Body*: A main course that draws them in from all corners of the world.
03. Naughty Hands (Feat. Verbal Jint): a sweet, but not saccharine, side dish.
04. But I Love You*: serving as a palate cleanser, one of my favorite SISTAR songs.
05. OK GO!: Dessert arrives, but it’s a single sour grape; not my fave on the menu.
06. Sunshine* **: The after-dinner aperitif takes you on a heady and spirited journey back to the days of disco. Another one of my all-time favorite SISTAR songs.
* These four songs are still on my playlists.
** If you’ve never heard this one, Nick, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Reference (entire mini-album broken down by song):
Bleh, it posted it as a video preview. You can either click the title in the video to go to YouTube to see the tracks listed, or click the “||” icons in the lower left to cycle through the tracks.
GRRR (I hate that I can’t edit). …or click the back and forward buttons in the lower left to cycle through the tracks.
Oh, believe me I’ve heard it! I always miss Sistar this time of year — especially upbeat tracks like Sunshine.
I tend to tack the new tracks from their Sweet & Sour single onto Touch & Go, which makes the whole thing even stronger. Hold On Tight is probably my favorite Sistar b-side ever.
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Another song that still makes my lists. They truly were the lively and colorful songbirds of summer and the industry hasn’t been able to supplant them with anyone since they sadly left the nest.
seeing these releases in their actual context (Darling and Red truthfully /not/ being the best summer songs in the month that they were released?? what!!?!???!) makes it feel like a fever dream now. wow.
also, i’m truly so envious of your dedication to watching full episodes of Music Bank, and every week too… i’m awful at paying attention to live performances, unless the choreography/stage design is truly engaging to me!
It’s become a sort of weekly ritual for me. I fast forward through some performances, but I like that it keeps me up to date with new releases and forces me to give added listens to songs that I might otherwise dismiss.
The HER EP from Block B! released 24 July 2014 has both HER and Jackpot.
(and as a bonus because the EP is a repackage: Very Good)
Jackpot is one of my favorite kpop songs ever. So many rhythm changes while staying the same tempo. So many good solo opportunities for the guys – each one gets a sizable chunk of each verse. All wrapped up in a whimsical package. Between HER and Jackpot, yes, these guys are having more fun than the rest of us.
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My Top 3 is one of the most solid Top 3’s I think I have made , My 1st place is really obvious followed by a more obvious placement and then followed by an even more obvious placement but all of them are still amazing. I have to say , I am impressed by infinite they managed to block my BIAS for B1A4 .
3: Block B – H.E.R
2: B1A4- Solo Day
1: Infinite – Back
This is my favorite summer of all of k-pop …… I WANT A SUMMER LIKE THIS!
Not only is the music great but the music videos are also amazing paired with amazing albums . The mvs for winter are so good in this era of k-pop but the summer ones look shit. I want good summer mvs which bring coziness of the sun or the intense drama. not some low budget mvs which have nothing and they are just in the building , I want them to go outside and act in the mv. Like -city type or road type or beach type just give me
and amazing music videos
The summer mvs for the current k-pop landscape looks shit , I mean that