2013 was a high-concept, musically diverse year in K-pop. 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.
Here are fifty of those classics, ranked all the way up to my favorite song of 2013!
Curious what I thought about other years? Check out all of my year-end countdowns here!
50. History – What Am I To You
Melding Latin influences to an emotional synth-pop melody, What Am I To You saw History expanding their musical palate while delivering one of the most affecting performances of their all-too-short career.
49. Kara – Damaged Lady
Favoring rock guitars and stop/start tempo changes over their usual super-pop style, Damaged Lady offered an edgy transformation while retaining Sweetune’s knack for a killer chorus.
48. Nu’est – Sleep Talking
An underrated single, Sleep Talking layers snoring (of all things) over sweeps of aggressive synths, a heavy electronic beat and an irresistibly propulsive chorus.
47. Infinite H – Special Girl (ft. Bumkey)
No title track better displays the potential of Infinite H. Taking the touch-points of modern hip-hop and wrapping them in a smooth pop styling, the song features the slickest, most indelible hooks of the duo’s career.
46. Teen Top – I Wanna Love
The first few months of 2013 were Teen Top’s to lose, as they released several singles from their full length album. I Wanna Love was the best of the bunch, with its synth-drenched production and gorgeous chorus.
45. Sistar – Give It To Me
Over slinky piano-and-strings production, Sistar’s sexier side blended with fierce, world-conquering pop songcraft. It’s like a brilliant K-pop revue.
44. Crayon Pop – Bar Bar Bar
Once that irresistible beat kicks in, soon joined by the chirpiest of K-pop chants, resistance to Bar Bar Bar is truly futile. There’s a reason why it’s Crayon Pop’s definitive hit.
43. Bestie – Love Options
A near-perfect Brave Sound pop romp, Love Options‘ bright, synth-fueled structure is roller-rink-ready in a wonderfully throwback way.
42. T-ara – Number Nine
Working again with producer Shinsadong Tiger, this underrated gem offered another chance to slowly mature T-ara’s dancefloor sound. The chorus is an absolute winner, building to a fevered pitch of relentless vocals.
41. Boyfriend – On & On
The Sweetune-produced On & On is a hyper melodic piece of summertime pop, with a gorgeous, harmonic chorus. The song absolutely explodes at the end as the drums kick into double time.