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!
February 2010 Overall Thoughts
Well, I’m glad that I wasn’t running The Bias List back in February of 2010, because I’d barely have anything to write about! I promise, after we get through this month there will be a more consistent slate of releases.
Much like January, February 2010 was largely ballad-focused with a few definite standouts. Without too many songs to write about, I want to look at Kara’s Lupin and its producers Sweetune. This team had crafted magic in years past with hits like Mister and Wanna, but I really think that Lupin was a turning point. It revealed a new color to Sweetune’s synth-heavy production style, and this would continue to develop with the 2010 debut of Infinite, the ascension of Rainbow and of course Kara’s own discography. It’s a watershed moment in K-pop, and easily takes my top spot this month.
Elsewhere, there’s not a lot to say. T-ara continued promoting their excellent Absolute First Album and its upcoming repackage Breaking Heart. It’s hard to find exact dates for when music videos were released for the album’s many singles, but I’m pretty confident that the mv for You Drive Me Crazy was unveiled this month. At the very least, it was created in February 2010!
Come to think of it, we rarely see K-pop promotions like this anymore. Not counting its pre-releases, Absolute First Album/Breaking Heart was promoted with no less than four singles, stretched out over multiple months.
(Somewhat unrelated, but when I very first got into K-pop I thought that — based on their names alone — Kara and T-ara were sister groups, or sub-units of the same entity. Oh, the good old days!)
Ahn Jin Kyung – Bad Person (ft. Mir) (video)
U-Kiss – Bingeul Bingeul (video)
TOP THREE SONGS
3. 2NE1 – Follow Me
2. T-ara – You Drive Me Crazy
1. Kara – Lupin (review)
I love Lupin but I think I prefer You Drive Me Crazy, which sounds like a lost Britney hit.
Crazy, I’m Really Hurt, Bo Peep and Like the First Time, what a singles run for an album!
What you said about T-Ara and Kara reminds of when I thought SNSD and Girls Generation were different groups lol.
My top 3 songs for the month:
You drive me crazy is eliminated as it was technically released in November of 2009, but it would fail to make the top 3 anyway.
1. Kara – Lupin
Big surprise. It is a classic in all ways to explain the word. I wish Sweetune would do something like this again. RIP Goo Hara. Lupin is always a joy with the difference between the verses and chorus. Nick had compared it to Abba, but honestly I feel like this chord-changing aggressive experiment is something Abba would not try. Not an insult to Abba, but this song is something totally different, a classic in all ways.
2. U-Kiss – Bingeul Bingeul
My favorite guilty pleasure dance track, there is no denying the energy here. Sure, the autotune is heavy, but in a fun way. Plus, the pre-chorus is pretty melodic. In fact, I think early U-Kiss were masters of the pre-chorus. Kevin and Soohyun’s vocals stand out even through the autotune. Eli’s rap is still weird though.
3. Ahn Jin Kyung – Bad Person
A distant number 3. It is a good song, but no Lupin or even Bingeul Bingeul.
You were not alone in the T-ara/kara confusion! This was right around when I first got into kpop and there was a lot to learn. Also back on subject, it’s nice to see a top three consisting of all girl groups, even if that is because of a lack of options. Still, looking back on these three it’s a joy to see how each group had their own distinct style. 2ne1’s yg hip hop, t-ara’s electronic sexyness, and kara’s sweetune pop synths. It sure makes me nostalgic!
Me too! These days, it feels like so much girl group (and boy group) music is interchangeable. I miss the days of groups having their own distinctive sound and largely sticking with it.
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I think this could be true if we talked only about some relatively new groups which haven’t found their particular style yet, but I don’t agree.
I mean: BLACKPINK, Itzy, Oh My Girl, WJSN, Dreamcatcher, Apink, GFriend, Red Velvet, Lovelyz… definitely have a trademark sound and have generally stuck to it for the most of their singles runs.
You’re definitely right about those groups. Perhaps I was generalizing a bit.
I think the fact that there are SO many more acts now than there were back in 2010 just makes certain sounds and trends feel more ubiquitous. That, and the fact that writing about K-pop everyday makes me way more critical (and sometimes jaded) than I was back then.
Still, I do think a few of these groups have veered further away from their signature sounds in recent years (Nonstop and Obliviate being recent examples). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as long as it doesn’t cause their music to become too generic.
I honestly think it’s a much bigger issue with boy groups these days.
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I see your point! Concerning Nonstop & Obliviate, I can say that I also hope both Lovelyz and OMG don’t leave their distinctive sounds behind.
PD: I didn’t wanna talk about boy groups’ situation because you know I’m not much of an expert on that topic! ♥️
KARA Lupin for the win. Easily one of my favorite kpop girl group songs ever, I rank it higher than Kara “Step it up”, largely because of that killer key change into the chorus.
On a related note, we did the latest Just Dance app on the Nintendo Switch over the holiday break. 2NE1 “I am the Best” is on it, as is BlackPink “Kill This Love”. I don’t remember who YG’s American agency representation is in the US, but whoever it is did a good job to get them placed on the app.
The kpop industry is vastly, vastly over supplied. The nerd in me has a mental bell curve of quality vs quantity. The peak height has increased greatly, but the width of the peak hasn’t proportionally changed, meaning that the total quality songs in that little leading edge of the curve still gives us a handful or three of awesome songs every year, but the height gives us a whole lot more basic kpop in the middle of the curve. That is my mental picture.
Also TVXQ = DBSK = Tohoshinki. That took a while to learn too.
Lupin is fantastic. Sweetune was insanely great. If they could ever produce for a mainstream group again. We could only wish.
Lupin’s “as usual, it’s mine” runs in my head when I see foods.
The chorus sounds so magical. And the key change at the finale, killer.