Welcome to KPOPALYPSE‘s worst songs of 2014! Let’s round up 2014’s greatest K-pop stinkers!
20. Akdong Musician – Give Love
When The Rolling Stones first broke through the international marketplace in the mid-60s, many Rolling Stones fangirls were interviewed about why they found the group preferable to their main music marketplace competition at that time, The Beatles. The answers were varied, but a lot of girls came back with statements along the lines of, “The Beatles are pretty but they’re so clean cut … but the Rolling Stones are so much more fascinating, because they’re so ugly!” That’s kind of how I feel about Suhyun from Akdong Musician — her fascinating charms draw my eyes to the screen like a magnet, and I know what I’m looking at is not attractive by any objective standard in society, yet I can’t look away.
In that Hi Suhyun song which is really just a rehashed version of Lee Hi’s “1,2,3,4” with a slightly better beat, I wince at the MV when looking at Lee Hi, who looks like some botched YG Entertainment genetic lab experiment where they tried to cross Diana Ross with Gollum. But Suhyun honestly is styled really good there for the first time, and when they’re both on the screen my eyes go straight to Suhyun every time. Maybe this is what CL really meant by “bad meaning good”? I’m wondering if Suhyun might blossom into a very attractive woman when she comes of age, and we all know how YGE artists are notorious for “getting prettier” over time, so with the correct styling and maybe a little Gangnam fairy dust, who knows? We’ve all seen pre-debut school photos of K-pop idols that look ugly as fuck but then gradually transmogrify into fantasy pin-ups over time. You are all laughing at me now, but you just might find yourself fapping to Suhyun by 2019, so remember that I told you this could happen.
For now, though, know that even this bizarre can’t-quite-place-it ugly-but-fascinating thing that Suhyun has got going on doesn’t even provide 1% of the required motivation to make me want to listen to this fucking awful nightmare song ever again ever. I don’t even want to watch it with the sound down, simply because it evokes memories of what the music sounds like, and I’m trying to blot it out of my brain, like a Vietnam war veteran hiding from the sound of his neighbour’s leaf-blower because it sounds like a helicopter chain-gun warming up. Forget how the performers look, because that’s just a red herring, the true ugliness in Akdong Musician is the music.
19. Block B – Jackpot
Block B were a good group with some good songs — “Nalina” and “Nilili Mambo” will probably remain two of the better male K-pop songs out there from the past few years — but then something happened to Block B to change everything: they left their label.
They’re probably making a lot more than the $14 that Stardom Entertainment paid them now thanks to breaking out from under their previous company’s shackles, and good on them all for making that move. However, there’s been an unfortunate side-effect — it seems that in the process they also severed the ties with whoever was writing all their old material, as the new emancipated Block B can’t turn a trick anymore, musically speaking. I hear that Zico himself has a fair hand in the productions these days, and maybe he should stop all that and leave it to the experts, because their new songs are just a mess. Nowhere is this more evident than “Jackpot”, a horrible song that flits back and forth between a 6/8 swing feel in the verse and a 4/4 disco-rock chorus with all the clunky awkwardness of the gearshift in your grandmother’s Volvo.
It would be tolerable if the individual sections were decent, but the melodies all have that horrible boy-group cheese-grater quality, and by the time you get to the point in the MV where the girl is running away from Block B’s thugged-out bicycle-riding swag-lords, you’ll be wishing that you could also run away from ever hearing this again.
18. Taeyang – Eyes, Nose, Lips
It’s easy to fool a K-pop fan into thinking they’re listening to the song of the year. Just do the following:
-Make sure the song in question is a piano-based ballad with not too much drum machines, especially at the start. Electronics are for kids, piano is “deep and meaningful” shit for serious music people, man. You can sneak the trendy trap bullshit in later on in the song if you want, but only once the piano’s been fully established.
-Use mainly dark and moody photography in the MV. It’s artsier, so therefore anything you shoot with it is more artistic, and hence musically better. Also, if you have to paint abs onto the lead singer, it blends in better if you shoot it nice and dark..
-Make sure your fog machine is in full working order. Fog is symbolic: it represents mystery and the unknown, like the mystery of Taeyang’s musical genius, or the mystery of Koreans lapping up every cookie-cutter ballad that YGE puts out.
-Fire is also good because it represents the burning passion of YGE fans stanning their faves in forums and blog posts against mean haters who just want to bring them down. So if you’ve got a prop, why not set it on fire?
-Even though we’re in sensitive ballad territory, preserve some of the hip-hop vibe by having the singer wear a beanie and a gold chain. You wouldn’t want someone to stumble into this video halfway through and think they’re listening to 2AM or something.
-Male chest must be exposed. This is very important, and it’s not about skin exposure for the pleasure of fappers, because it shows the performer’s willingness to be vulnerable in front of his audience and share his emotions deeply (plus his body odours, which is definitely another hip-hop vibe enhancing thing). Remember this important fact to defend your bias with when people start complaining about double-standards.
-Busting out a few Michael Jackson-style dance moves in the climax of the song is totally appropriate because when guys get really emotional and express their deepest emotions, they dance in a carefully planned, tightly choreographed manner.
-If you want drunk sluts to sing this at karaoke and have a good time, they’ll never remember complex harmonies and vocal phrases, or adventurous arrangements and harmonic patterns, so remember to keep it simple. Dumb the song down as far as it can go — and then a little further if you possibly can. Basic lyrics, basic chords, basic melody … the less interesting, the better.
Presto, Song Of The Year, bitches.
17. B.I.G – Hello
There’s a phenomenon in Australia which is extremely widespread and has been so since colonial days: it’s called the “cultural cringe“. Essentially, it’s the opposite of patriotism — Australians mostly find their own culture to be extremely fucking corny, and we groan whenever we see homegrown portrayals of it in a positive light, because we know the truth that Australia really ain’t all that.
Rest assured that something like B.I.G’s “Hello” could never have emerged from Australia, and listening to it with the captions on (because you need to understand the lyrics to really appreciate the thudding awfulness of this one) makes me wonder if Koreans roll their eyes at this stuff and find it as mortifyingly embarrassing as I would if I saw some Australian rappers do a similar song for export about the virtues of Chiko rolls and lamingtons. Not that improved lyrics would have worked much better, because there’s no saving that horrible trap beat, but I actually feel bad for Korea and get “secondhand cultural cringe” from listening to this.
Also, fuck these guys for bragging about their fast Internet while my government dithers away wasting billions trying to squeeze more juice out of Australia’s shit-tacular copper network instead of replacing the whole damn thing with fibre-optic cable at about a third of the cost like the previous government was going to do. I’m not sure what I hate more, Tony Abbott’s government or this song’s lyrics … but fuck them both.
16. GP Basic – Pika Burnjuck
Every K-pop idiot cried pathetically like little babies when super-cute girl group Pritz dressed up in some sexy Nazi cosplay for their great BABYMETAL rip-off, “Sora Sora“, as if Nazi-inspired fashion isn’t already in everything from ‘Pink Floyd – The Wall‘ to ‘Star Wars‘. On the other hand, nobody gave two shits when GP Basic dressed in nearly exactly the same type of getup for “Pika Burnjuck”. If anything, GP Basic’s Nazi concept is more authentic than Pritz due to the lack of frilly dresses, which I’m pretty sure were verboten for SS girls in uniform, but strangely nobody noticed that because “Pika Burnjuck” was actually a piece of music bad enough to do the impossible in today’s no-fun ultra-PC age: it made people forget that they hate Nazis.
Cruise the comments section of YouTube, and all you’ll see under “Pika Burnjuck” — besides the obligatory “good on them for not doing a sexy concept” stuff that we always get from pathetic fangirls nowadays — is people saying that the girls are trying too hard to be gangster, which must look pretty hilarious to any actual gangsters out there, not to mention any Nazis. Besides being generally musically awful, the song actually has not one but two breakdowns in it, a traditional dubstep one that we all hate, and another one where they just remove all the music and leave only the drumbeat, which maybe isn’t actually that bad of an idea come to think of it. Maybe they should have ran with that idea for the entire song and left out everything else. Now that would have been a marginal improvement.
15. Switch – Bikini
“Bikini”, by Switch, has so much sound fighting for space but not much of it getting through, and there were only feelings of relief when “Bikini” ended. On another note, it seems that “Bikini” is statistically a dangerous name to give a K-pop song. There were two songs called “Bikini” released in 2013, and they both made it onto my worst-of list for that year as well.
At least the girls of Switch look good in their bikinis, even though their underwear also seems to reflect the “too much going on” theme of the music. Oh well, points for effort. And boobs.
14. GD & Taeyang – Good Boy
G-Dragon made it very clear recently that Taeyang’s basically just his fawning lapdog, so we can safely say that G-Dragon should take full responsibility for this. Taeyang’s input probably consisted of nodding his head and saying “yes, this sounds good, you are great, G-Dragon” over and over, and the whole song is a good example of just how bad music can get when a creative artist is surrounded by too many yes-men. If you get so large that nobody will ever step back and tell you that you suck, exercising quality control becomes difficult because a somewhat objective outside opinion is harder to find. So it’s a good thing I’m here to tell him how much this song blows and give G-Dragon a taste of reality he’s unlikely to get elsewhere — let’s hope he’s reading.
Even the video looks poor, with too much awkward prancing around from everybody involved, and its only notable visually-interesting feature is that G-Dragon and Taeyang are wearing caps from the 1988 Seoul Olympics. It took me back to 1988, a time that I remember well. A time when rap music was decent, shithouse abominations like trap and dubstep hadn’t been invented, G-Dragon and Taeyang were just jizzloads floating around inside daddy’s ballsack, and people didn’t try to look gangster while wearing glow-in-the-dark dreads while someone blew bubbles in the background. Nor did people back then sample the beat from Hitchhiker’s “Eleven” and do half-assed lame raps over the top, shave their song’s name crookedly into the back of their skulls, or have a chorus hook as lame as “I am a goooooood boy”, which I guess was what Taeyang was saying to himself all throughout the recording session as he shambled around on his foreknuckles, dutifully doing whatever G-Dragon told him.
It’s like Private Pyle made a rap song, Jesus Fucking Christ.
13. Fly To The Sky – You You You
This awful, festering, putrid, pustulent, putrescent boil on the Korean music scene was a huge hit, and it begs the question: Why does Korea like disgusting worthless ballads so much? I’ve long pondered the elusive answer to this question, and I had a theory about this a while back. I thought that Koreans like ballads because they work so hard, pulling all those 18-hour days, seven days a week, and when they’ve finished their shift and get home, they just want nothing more than to sit and listen to something soothing and relaxing and non-stressful. Then I found out that “hard-working Koreans” are just a myth and that Korean workers actually have the worst worker productivity of all OECD countries. Bam, that sure turned my theory into dust! What a bunch of slack assholes with no determination!
I have a new theory now: I think dull-as-fuck music like this piped through the office public address system passes away the hours with maximum calm, as Koreans sit in their offices pretending to work hard pulling all that overtime while they’re really getting drunk, chatting up the person who comes to change the coffee machine or perfecting their League Of Legends builds. Some consultancy group probably did a study somewhere that showed that awful ballads like this are the least likely to result in industrial action due to gradually sapping the motivation out of employees to question or work, or think or do anything really. Soon all of global society will be controlled this way, with ballads that numb the senses, lulling people into a near-comatose state.
Forget radiation poisoning, bath salts, or medical experiments, it’s going to be Korean ballads like this one that bring about the zombie apocalypse, and you you you are going to be in hell hell hell.
12. Pascol – Merry Black Day
There’s a porn movie I have where a girl is blowing two guys at the same time. She’s holding one dick in each hand and she swaps every few seconds between blowing Guy A and stroking Guy B and vice versa. This is fairly standard porn threesome foreplay procedure, but then all of a sudden, something different happens. Just because it’s probably been a long day of shooting porn and our female pornstar is somewhat bored, she decides to lighten the mood by getting the two guys’ cocks and touching their ends together. The guys both simultaneously say “No! Don’t go there!” while the girl starts laughing like a hyena as they both instantly lose their erections. The director yells “Cut!” and they wait a few minutes for them to get hard again so they can reshoot the scene. Then she does it a second time — it’s hilarious, what a troll! How those guys felt at that moment when their cockheads met and started rubbing together against their will is pretty much how I felt when the bridge of “Merry Black Day” kicks in at 1:19 and the song changes from a cute and appealing rap-lite kinda thing into some kind of pathetic R&B warble-fest and falls to shit. There’s no rescuing the song from that point onward, and I know it’s supposed to be a harmony, but the vocals and the backings are sounding fairly out of key with each other at that point. They can’t seriously be passing off a bridge and chorus this bad onto a pop audience.
In the video, they’re going for a happy, fun hip-hop vibe, but the maudlin slow beats and unlistenable vocal wanking ensures that this song misses its mark completely. You can wear all the Crayon Pop-inspired tracksuits that you want, your song isn’t going to be any fun to listen to unless it actually sounds like fun instead of some kind of fucking necrotic funeral dirge.
I get the vibe while watching this video that even Pascol themselves hate the song, as they hide their boredom behind sunglasses and sway to the beat in a non-committal, half-interested fashion. The Suicidal Tendencies jumper at the start of the video seems more appropriate to the mood of what’s going down here, because these girls do look somewhat on the brink (don’t do it, kids), but then even Suicidal Tendencies were an upbeat thrash group and never had anything quite this boring — it just makes me wish I was listening to “Trip At The Brain” instead of this crap.
11. g.o.d. Feat. Megan Lee – The Story Of Our Lives
Here’s how I believe the recording session for this song went down:
Megan Lee is in the recording studio vocal booth, cutting her verse for g.o.d.’s latest song. She’s wearing big studio headphones and is chewing bubble gum. “What take are we on?” she asks into the big grey vocal microphone.
“Take 36. When you’re ready. Try and put some emotion into it,” comes the instruction from the audio engineer. The engineer watches Megan through the glass. Next to him is the producer, who looks on silently.
Megan sighs. “I don’t even want to do this fucking shit. I’m so bored.”
“It’s only four lines, come on, Megan. Get this done and you don’t have to listen to this song ever again.”
“Good, because I fucking won’t!” Megan snaps back. “This song fucking sucks dick! And don’t think for a goddamn second I’m going to be in that fucking stupid video! He can get one of his slutty actresses for that!”
“We can talk about the video later. Let’s just get your vocal part down.” The engineer takes a deep breath and keeps his cool — he’s used to dealing with kids like this. “Let’s go, come on. And take your gum out.”
“I swear, if I even have to set foot in the same room as that Kim Tae Woo asshole … he fucking disgusts me,” Megan mutters as she inserts two fingers inside her mouth, removes the lump of stale chewing gum, and sticks it onto the metal sheet music stand at chest height in front of her. “Okay, I’m ready.” Megan clears her throat.
“Okay, we’re rolling. Do your best.” The engineer presses record on his digital workstation and the backing track’s piano intro comes through Megan’s headphones. Megan closes her eyes and tries to focus, but when she hears the “Love / What is true love?” spoken intro, her eyes widen again and she glares angrily through the glass at the engineer.
“FUCK you! Don’t play it from the fucking START! My bit isn’t even until after three minutes in! I don’t want to listen to this trash! Just forward it to the bit where I sing and press record from there, for fuck’s sake!”
“Listening to it all might help you get into the feel for the song, for when your bit comes.”, the engineer replies.
Megan is livid. “FUCK OFF! What ‘feel’? It has no fucking ‘feel’! This song is such fucking INSINCERE BULLSHIT! They’re trying to come off like they’re all sensitive family men and shit, but it’s all fucking lies! Kim Tae Woo is such a cuntface, I swear I am so close to suing that fucking slimy lizard, don’t fucking think I won’t!”
“Are you finished? Can we do this?” the engineer replies.
“No, I’m NOT FUCKING FINISHED! This whole thing is fucking trash! ‘The Story Of Our Lives’, my fucking ass. More like ‘The Story Of Our Lies’! My parents are gonna take him to the fucking cleaners if he fucks with me any more!”
Not fazed at all, but gradually losing patience, the audio engineer replies: “You know, if you were to put a tenth of the passion and energy into your vocal performance that you do into trying to convince yourself how horrible Kim Tae Woo is, we’d be done by now.”
“FUCK YOU, YOU CUNT!” Megan screams, rips the headphones off her head and throws them at the engineer’s face. Shielded by the thick glazing of the control booth, the headphones hit the double-glass wall between them and drop to the floor. Megan storms off through the studio door to the outside of the building amid a tirade of obscenities.
The engineer laughs and turns to the producer. “Well … she didn’t like that suggestion.”
The producer shrugs. “Let’s not worry about it. Just assemble the best vocal part you can using the bits from what we’ve got. It’s not like it matters much, it’s only a ballad … and it’ll take less time than trying to get an acceptable performance from Miss Special out there.”
The engineer nods. “It’s still a paycheck. Good thing I get paid by the hour. Hey, do you think Megan knows that my wages are added to her trainee debt?”