From an over-abundance of debuts to a handful of career-defining comebacks, 2012 has been a big year for K-Pop. But what were the best, most important songs of 2012? Here at allkpop, we're trying to answer that question with our 'Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2012'!
We combed through this year's many, many releases to bring you a list of fifty of the year's most noteworthy songs. Check in every Wednesday between now and January 2nd for the next group of songs in our ranking. Today, we bring you the ranking for numbers twenty one through thirty.
30. Super Junior "Sexy, Free & Single"
Label: SM Entertainment
Release date: July 1, 2012
Production: Yoo Young Jin, Lasse Lindorff, Thomas Sardorf, Daniel Obi Klein
Anything Super Junior releases is bound to be a hit; there's no denying that. However, having built their sound around the "SJ Funky" style of "Sorry Sorry", "Bonamana", and "Mr. Simple", changing their formula was a bit of a risk. "Sexy, Free and Single" didn't go over quite as well as they might have hoped (it actually lost to SISTAR's "Alone" the first week it was eligible to win on a music show), and the album seemed rushed in order to get it out before Leeteuk's enlistment. However, even a so-so hit for Super Junior is a big hit in the larger picture of K-Pop- their album sold more physical copies than any other album this year- proving that this group is still a force to be reckoned with.
29. Wonder Girls "Like This"
Label: JYP Entertainment
Release date: June 3, 2012
Production: J.Y. Park "The Asiansoul", Hong Ji Sang
The Wonder Girls had a lot riding on this comeback. After spending a long time in America and giving other groups the chance to challenge their place as one of K-Pop's top acts, they had to come back strong to defend their top-tier position. "Like This" was a slight departure from the retro style hits of "Be My Baby" and "Nobody", but was still insanely catchy with line-dance style choreography perfect for flash mobs. While "Like This" wasn't the runaway hit we were quite hoping for, the song still charted well and won on three music shows.
28. TVXQ "Catch Me"
Label: SM Entertainment
Release date: September 24, 2012
Production: Yoo Young Jin
"Catch Me" is an interesting song that points to a new musical direction for TVXQ, who received a lot of praise for their flawless live vocals despite intense, difficult choreography. The album charted well in both Korea and Japan and was one of the highest-selling physical albums of the year, but the song failed to earn any music show wins. It may be that TVXQ lost some momentum in the Korean market by spending most of 2011 and 2012 in Japan. TVXQ is again leaving for a Japanese tour soon, and one has to wonder if they intend to make Korean promotions a priority in the future.
27. Block B "Nillili Mambo"
Label: Stardom Entertainment
Release date: October 17, 2012
Production: Zico, Pop Time, Nusoul
Block B took a lenghty hiatus after their Thailand incident, and took their time not only making up for their mistakes but also working hard on their music. Leader, composer, and songwriter Zico chose to showcase maknae P.O's deep-voiced rap and lead singer Taeil's vocals more than ever done before in their title tracks in "Nillili Mambo" (Taeil infamously sang for 4 seconds in their earlier title single, "NanlinA"). As a result, the song enjoys an incredibly wide range up from Taeil's 2nd-octave high notes down to P.O's 'cave' deep notes, bringing a fresh, new sound that mixes well with Block B's characteristic sound.
26. Leessang "My Love"
Label: Jungle Entertainment
Release date: May 25, 2012
Production: Gary, Gil
Leessang scores a huge hit with every one of their songs, which is impressive because they themselves compose and produce every title song and most of the rest of the album. They showed listeners that they haven't been neglecting their duties as musicians even as they stayed highly active in 'Infinity Challenge' and 'Running Man'. "My Love" continued their tried-and-true style of Gary's calming half-beat rap with Gil's gritty chorus. Even though "Someday" featuring Yoon Do Hyun was their title song, "My Love" was much more widely loved, as it gave fans their trademark Leessang sound.
25. Orange Caramel "Lipstick"
Label: Pledis Entertainment
Release date: September 12, 2012
Production: Lee Gi, Seo Yong Bae
Sub-units and solo projects are a great way for idol groups to experiment with styles that would be too risky or too big of a change for the entire group to try. Of all groups, perhaps no sub-unit has embraced this line of thinking more enthusiastically than After School's quirky little-sister group, Orange Caramel. Thus far best known for absurdly cute songs and dances such as "Magic Girl", this year's "Lipstick" gave some edge to the trio's aegyo, creating a very clear and unique identity for themselves, and (in some's eyes) outshining their parent group's 2012 comeback.
24. BoA "Only One"
Label: SM Entertainment
Release date: July 22, 2012
Production: BoA, Kim Yong Shin, Kim Tae Seong
Twelve uninterrupted years is a respectable run for any act's career (for comparison, The Beatles only lasted for thirteen years), and no one would fault BoA if she decided to let her career wind down after all this time. However, rather than close the book completely, BoA started a brand new chapter with the release of her first self-written and self-composed single, "Only One". With her first Korean comeback since 2010, BoA reaffirmed herself as K-Pop's leading lady and number one dancing queen, while also teasing at a bright future as a singer-songwriter.
23. F.T. Island "Severely"
Label: FNC Entertainment
Release date: January 31, 2012
Production: Han Seong Ho, Kim Do Hoon, Lee Sang Ho
When F.T. Island released their ballad-heavy mini album, 'Grown Up', they said they wanted to show their more mature side. The band has touched on themes of pain and heartbreak in the past, but "Severely" had the group reflecting on past mistakes instead of just wallowing in misery- certainly a step in the right direction as far as maturity goes. While "Severely" didn't bring anything new to the table in terms of musicality, it did remind us of all the reasons F.T. Island has gotten where they are- excellent songs, strong musicianship, and beautiful vocals.
22. INFINITE "The Chaser"
Label: Woolim Entertainment
Release date: May 15, 2012
Production: Song Soo Yoon, Kim Seung Soo, Han Jae Ho, Hong Seung Hyeong
INFINITE turned their 2012 comeback into one of the year's biggest spectacles with their never-before-attempted five showcases in different parts of the country in one day. 2012 has been a banner year for INFINITE, with "The Chaser" getting a triple crown, several members taking well-recieved steps as actors in dramas and musicals, and leader Sunggyu drawing praise for his time on 'Immortal Song 2' and for his solo debut, among other accomplishments. "The Chaser" marks a turning point for the group on their journey towards becoming one of K-Pop's top groups.
21. Seo In Guk and Jung Eunji "All For You" (Reply 1997 OST)
Label: CJ E&M
Release date: August 28, 2012
Production: Jung Jin Hwan, Kim Han Bum
If there was one surprise hit of 2012, it was definitely tVN's little nostalgia drama, "Reply 1997". With A Pink's Eunji and soloist Seo In Guk as the break-through stars, a duet seemed inevitable. The production team had already committed to only using era-appropriate music, so it couldn't be a new song, which is why the duo recorded a cover COOL's 90's hit "All For You". Fueled by the drama's popularity and the general 90's nostalgia trend happening in K-Pop, the cover was a huge hit. It prompted a special stage on M!Countdown, even though very few OST songs have been performed on music shows this year.
We're only halfway there- check back next week on Wednesday, December 26th for songs eleven through twenty!
[ 41-50 | 31-40 | 21-30 | 11-20 | 1-10 ]
allkpop's 'Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2012′ was compiled by rex_music, jennywill, and contagion. This list is staff-determined and is not in any way connected with the fan-voted 2012 allkpop awards.