It’s the week of Lunar New Year, which means new K-pop releases will be few and far between. That makes this the perfect time to go back a few years and celebrate highlights of days past. Following up on last year’s countdown of my Top 50 Songs of 2012, The Bias List is tackling 2013!
I often credit 2012 as my favorite year in K-pop, but I think that 2013 was its most consistently strong. What little trends there were (I’m looking at you, dubstep) were overshadowed by a daring sense of experimentalism. Buoyed by the massive global success of 2012’s Gangnam Style, 2013 felt like the year that K-pop confidently pushed itself into the world. But, it was not yet held captive by western trends. It presented itself in a big, ballsy way.
This was a high-concept, musically diverse period. Hip-hop hadn’t yet taken over, and melody was still king. Instrumentals aimed for the rafters of stadiums, bringing in explosive guitar, sledgehammer beats and bombastic electro riffs. Songs played around with structure in artful, unexpected ways, often polarizing opinion before unveiling themselves as future classics.
This countdown will be structured the same as my year-end lists, with ten tracks highlighted each day. Like 2012, even the lower half of the list is full of music that could have threatened my top ten in weaker years. The same could be said about these honorable mentions, which I had an incredibly hard time whittling down. There are at least fifteen more that could’ve been included, so imagine how tight my criteria for the actual Top 50 list was!