The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2013 (Day Four: 20-11)

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!

20. Ailee – U&I

From its gargantuan brass opening to that thundering beat and belt-it-out chorus, U&I is the pinnacle of Ailee’s discography. She’s yet to match the potency of its bombastic arrangement or the blistering melody, which matches Beyoncé for pure power.

19. VIXX – G.R.8.U

VIXX’s lighter tracks often go unloved compared to their more daring material, but G.R.8.U‘s punchy production and soaring hook retain their intense sound while supporting an effortlessly fun burst of pop.

18. Beast – Shadow

Shadow boasts a gorgeous melody, dark, dynamic production and a hook to die for. Beast rarely sounded more evocative, with an elegant aura that makes the most of each members’ talents.

17. Kang Seung Yoon – Wild & Young

Wild & Young surrounds Seung Yoon’s vocals with a chugging guitar riff that feels powerful and assured even as the BPM is more laid-back. The track surges with anthemic drive, building to an irresistible sing-along chorus. (full review)

16. VIXX – On And On

Forget about Thriller! If anything sounds like the undead pulling themselves from the ground and lurching around to a beat, it’s this hard hitting electro dance track.

15. Nine Muses – Wild

Wild is pure Sweetune through and through, with an edginess that offsets all the musical polish. From its unflagging beat to the insistent wall of layered vocals, the song never lets up.

14. SHINee – Everybody

Everybody is a schizophrenic beast of a song, with a blistering dubstep breakdown and intense choreography. At times, its sheer cacophony threatens to derail the structure, but that singalong chorus always brings us back.

13. f(x) – Rum Pum Pum Pum

With a bass-heavy (almost tribal) syncopated beat and more interesting, off-kilter production touches that you can count, Rum Pum Pum Pum is a perfect pop song laid on top of an instrumental that keeps challenging itself to get weirder.

12. EXO – Miracles In December

EXO’s most gorgeous ballad, fueled by the interplay between its gentle verses and soaring chorus. Billed as a holiday song, it’s effective no matter the time of year. (full review)

11. SHINee – Why So Serious?

Why So Serious sees SHINee tackle stadium rock in their own bright, off-kilter style. It’s as goofy as it is potent, with a knockout chorus and energy to spare.



19 thoughts on “The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2013 (Day Four: 20-11)

  1. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2013 (Day Three: 30-21) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. Wow, so many of these that I expected to be in the top 10 (G.R.8.U, RumPumPum, Shadow). Looking back at these tracks, I cant believe that 2013 was such a strong year, SHINee and SM really killed it back in those days.

    But looking at this, I’m pretty sure I can confidently predict 8 out the top 10 (especially ur no.1 and no.2 picks (: heh)

    Also what are your thoughts on the new Golcha teaser?


    • From the teaser, it sounds very much like Wannabe Part 2, which makes sense given the composer and the fact that this is being billed as “part two in a trilogy.” I don’t think this will every be my preferred sound for Golcha, but I’m kind of pre-programmed to like their music regardless of the style just because I like the group so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I believe this is one of the classic love it / hate it songs for SHINee. I personally love it, because of all the rock screaming, in like 5 or 6 part harmony. In my dream world, a kpop band covers this with live vocals. Further in my dream world, that group is N.Flying. Oh yeah! They might need help from Lee Hong gi though when he returns from his service, just to have that one more voice.


      • Oh my god, N.Flying covering this live would be amazing! I’m also firmly in the “love it” camp. It’s one of the only songs, K-Pop or otherwise, that I’ve never once skipped.


      • I actually don’t hate metal scream but, those are usually used to fill the empty space between the songs where as shinee is screaming all over the music.

        It’s definitely just preference thing tho, maybe years later it will grew on me


  3. I’ve got f(x) Rum Pum Pum at almost the exact same spot on my list.
    BEAST “Shadow” – that is a very confident song, well delivered. I had not heard it before. Nine Muses also is very confident, and I have no idea how the video passed the censors.
    Kang Seung Young – I also hadn’t heard this song before. It sounds like Bryan Adams or Mellencamp does kpop (not necessarily a bad thing).
    SHINee! I have both “Everybody” and “Why So Serious” in my top ten, plus a bonus SHINee you will find about tomorrow. VIXX “On and On” always sounded like a SHINee cover to me or perhaps EXO (not necessarily a bad thing).
    Listening to all these older songs, it really hits you how much personality the kpop groups were allowed to have and show. These days it is far harder to tell the groups apart.

    Also on my top 10-20 list of note:
    Teen Top “Rocking” at #11, as I commented yesterday.
    Girls’s Generation “I Got a Boy”. In theory it should be higher, but I just don’t listen to it that often.
    G-Dragon “Crooked”. Classic GD.
    ZEA “Step by Step” – This song is a traditionally structured pop song that would work in any language, and the harmonies are great to sing along with. Most of them sing it live well too, with real mics on stands! It is refreshing to not have yet another dance in that obligatory triangle format. I listen to this song a scary number of times cruising down the highway.


  4. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2013 (Day Five: 10-1) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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