Kim Youngdae is a music critic that votes for the Korean Music Awards (Korea’s Grammys, basically), and he recently started a YouTube channel and listed the 120 best K-pop idol singles from the past 10 years (plus honorable mentions).
Of course, this is just one man’s opinion and just because he’s a critic doesn’t make his judgment final. However, because many international K-pop fans seem to be under the impression that music critics don’t exist in Korea or something, I thought this was worth covering just for the exposure to this side of things. Plus, for newer fans of K-pop this basically serves as a crash course of sorts.
The videos also come with English subtitles, which should help give you an idea of his actual thoughts rather than just seeing a list.
There were many comments that people familiar with K-pop will already know, but he provided some notable observations/opinions that I thought were particularly interesting.
-Everybody talks about SNSD‘s “Into The New World” as setting the tone for girl groups, but he brought up the point that Big Bang‘s “Lies” did the same for boy groups. While I always got that feeling, I did realize it’s rarely talked about.
-A student’s reaction to Taeyang‘s “Look At Me” was the first time he considered the sex appeal of K-pop idols, which is … kinda shocking?
–Brown Eyed Girls‘ “Abracadabra” was the idol track that made him take notice of K-pop as something worth paying attention to musically.
-I’ve personally always liked INFINITE‘s older work, but his comments on not only “The Chaser” but “Be Mine” made me realize that they’re really overlooked when people talk about groups that had a major impact in K-pop.
–B1A4 is a group that he likes for their distinct and consistent quality more than the general public or fandoms seem to appreciate.
–VIXX is a group he feels is on par with any other major group, musically speaking.
–Brave Girls‘ “Deepened” flopped but received positive marks from him for its uniqueness, and he wondered if we’ll ever see anything like it again.
-I found his comment about Ladies’ Code‘s transition from upbeat before the tragedy to dreamy on “Galaxy” and beyond interesting. He notes that since the accident they’ve changed their sound to a world one might create in their imagination to hide from pain.
–NCT U‘s “The 7th Sense” was noted for standing out as being ahead of the trends instead of reactionary like the rest of K-pop.
-Hearing the reaction to BTS‘s “Fire” at KCON in Los Angeles last year made him realize there was something special brewing with the group.
-He described Red Velvet as a pop art icon, which … works, actually.
-He mentions that idol music is discussed rarely or unwillingly by critics in Korea.
Overall, I enjoyed watching it for the fresh perspective, even if it was almost 140 minutes in total. I did wish it was biased more towards the early years than the latter years, but the choice was understandable depending when he really started taking K-pop seriously and just for content reasons.