Welcome to the yearly tradition of assigning
a completely subjective listing an objective listing of this year’s best K-Pop music videos. As always, the awards have a slight (as in steep) girl group bent because that’s what I mostly pay attention to. Without further ado, your annual Sluggies go to…*
*Sluggies are voted on by the various media experts, industry insiders and musical critics that reside within my head.
Idol of the Year: IU
I am not sure if a singular figure in K-Pop seemed to receive more (well-earned) praise and (largely misguided) criticism this year than the Nation’s Little Sister. Either way, there’s little denying that CHAT-SHIRE, regardless of the seemingly endless controversies surrounding it, was a huge success and a great step forward for one of K-Pop’s biggest and best stars. May the reign of IU never end.
Best Rookie Group Debut (Coming From A Complete Non-Expert In All Things Rookies):
TWICE: Like OOH-AHH
Not much of a surprise with this one. TWICE’s debut was a damn solid song, a fairly fun video and, more than anything else, “Like OOH-AAH” had the look and composure of a professional group (even though the group is basically made up of fetuses). I wasn’t that excited about the crop of rookies that had debuted midway through the year but TWICE (Momo) definitely helped redeem the class of 2015.
Runner up: Seventeen – Adore U
Best Solo Music Video:
3. IU – “Twenty-Three”
Yeah, the solo videos are pretty stacked if IU’s “Twenty-Three” comes in third (It would probably be first or second if put up against the music videos for groups). “Twenty-Three” is great not only because it’s groovy and catchy – it also represents real artistic growth for a performer who seemed caught between a Disney princess and a young coffee shop performer. Hopefully, “Twenty-Three” is harbinger of things to come for IU (Outside of all the bullshit that surrounded her comeback).
2. Lim Kim -“Awoo”
Wonderfully offbeat, quirky and funky, “Awoo” is a perfect antidote whenever one tires of hearing the never-ending supply of sugar-rush dance pop that the K-Pop genre is known for. The video is shot with an eye for abstraction and color in a way that makes each shot seem like a portrait and Lim Kim’s voice is as transfixing as always. In pretty much any other year, this would take the number one spot if not for…
1. Ga-In – “Paradise Lost”
Perfect in every way. I’m not sure if there’s anything left to say about how Ga-In has consistently and successfully pushed and navigated a discourse of sexuality in her videos. In “Paradise Lost,” Ga-In nails everything. The choreography is ruthless, the vocals pack the power of a jackhammer and every single shot is breathtaking due to the brilliant use of mirrors and reflections and Ga-In’s insane screen presence. Best comeback of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Psy – “Daddy,” Taeyeon – “I”
Best Group Music Video:
5. Red Velvet – “Dumb Dumb”
While the solo performances were relatively easy to pick, the groups were a bit harder due how close in quality a lot of these releases were. So, Red Velvet stans should know that “Dumb Dumb” oscillated between the second and honorable mention spots in
my mind the panel of experts’ minds before settling here and I’m still not entirely sure if this is too low. “Dumb Dumb” is a great sample of, well, dumb fun that just so happens to be backed by some fantastic horns and some delightfully brassy vocals that really comes together well during the song’s choruses. Red Velvet nailed this one.
4. Big Bang – “Sober”
For all of G-Dragon’s affinity and taste for hip-hop, pop-punk songs like “Sober” seem so much more suited for his (and Big Bang’s) talents and aesthetic tastes. “Sober” propels forward with all the brashness of a garage band and the polish of one of K-Pop’s biggest acts and the results are surprisingly addictive and cohesive. I’m usually a bigger fan of Big Bang’s slower tunes but “Sober” was a summer highlight for 2015.
3. Wonder Girls – “I Feel You”
Yes, the trailers were better. Yes, the final product felt like a huge bait-and-switch. Yes, the band concept probably wasn’t pushed as far towards rock as many would have liked. Still, taken as it’s own release outside of the context of its promotion, “I Feel You” is a wonderful throwback and tribute to eighties music (and your enjoyment of it will largely fall on how much one enjoyed pop during the Reagan era) that does a great job at paying attention to details from the MTV-knockoff logo to the pink and teal lighting of the sets to that damn keytar. Also, I’m pretty sure that Yubin slays and resurrects me fifty times per viewing of this, so that has to count for something.
2. Brown Eyed Girls – “Warm Hole”
The tongue-in-cheek aspect of “Warm Hole” would be enough for this to be an annual highlight but Brown Eyed Girl’s “Warm Hole” also manages to be a ridiculously catchy song that is just plain enjoyable (I may or may not have accidentally hummed this out loud in public on a couple of occasions). The visual imagery and creative ways in which the video evokes the vagina is damn fun and borderline subversive. Taken together, it “Warm Hole” one of the most memorable releases of 2015.
1. 4Minute – “Crazy”
“Crazy” is simply 4Minute firing on all cylinders. The frenetic dance beat sounds tailor made for the group and not one second of the production is wasted by 4Minute, who bring a comfortable swagger and aggression to the proceedings. The song may be called “Crazy” but the most impressive thing about it is how in control 4Minute sounds and looks throughout the music video. It may not be the most inventive video of the year but no one brought as much heat to 2015 as the women of 4Minute.
Honorable Mentions (And these were really, really close too): SHINee – “Married to the Music,” Mamamoo – “Um Oh Ah Yeh,” SNSD – “You Think”
And that will do it for 2015. The Waifu list will likely be posted on Wednesday. Tell me how wrong I was with this below.