Entertainment » Music

What Runs the World? 2011’s Top 10 K-Pop Songs

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Dec 29, 2011

2011 may have been the year of dubstep and saxophone revival but it was also the year that Korean pop music (aka K-pop) officially took over millions of American's iPods. Since 2009 K-pop has been gaining a growing audience thanks to Girls' Generation's breakthrough (and amazing) single "Gee" and the bright, almost trippy, colorful music video that accompanied it.

In 2011 more and more American music news outlets started to cover K-pop, including Spin magazine, which placed Hyuna's "Bubble Pop!" at number nine on their "Top 20 Songs of the Year" list. Billboard even created a "K-Pop Hot 100" chart.

K-pop hasn't just been successful in mp3 format, however. K-pop music videos are some of the most watched videos on YouTube with several of those views coming from Americans. "Bubble Pop!" currently has more than 23,200,000 views and 2NE1's "I AM THE BEST" has over 26,600,000. They have been so successful, YouTube decided to create its own K-pop channel.

So we've decided to round up the 10 best K-pop songs and music videos of 2011:

10. KARA - "STEP"
The five-member girl group KARA's lead single, "STEP," from their third LP is a club-ready banger that is full of fresh hooks, glowing synths and disco undertones. The music video has the girls dancing and singing in a sparkling club that is heavy on color blocking. The girls' outfits of course, are shiny, bright and commanding.


09. Girls' Generation - "Mr. Taxi"
Girls' Generation's "Gee" became one of the most popular K-pop songs ever produced. While "Mr. Taxi" may not have captivated audiences as much as "Gee" it still holds its own as a powerhouse dance-pop track. In the video the nine girls are dressed in black and yellow outfits and dance in black room in front of a giant blue flat-screen.


08. Wonder Girls - "Be My Baby"
Wonder Girls' "Be My Baby" is the group's first single since 2010. The jam feels like a wholesome 60s throwback with its innocent, almost Christmas-sounding hook, "Please be my baby," but everything is kept modern thanks to dazzling synths and dance beats. The classy video blatantly uses Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" as inspiration -- a video no one gets tired of.


07. GD & T.O.P. - "Knock Out"
Thanks to the wildly talented American producer, Diplo, (M.I.A., Major Lazer) GD & T.O.P's "Knockout" sounds and looks like a Missy Elliott song and music video. The beats are heavy and gooey, there is a wobbling DJ scratch that travels throughout the track and the hooks are infectious: "This is double-double, double-double, combo, double-combo," they sing. In the video, the two men, who are members of the boy group Big Bang, appear in a number of different outfits ranging from studded leather jackets to white jumpsuits, to 'blingged'-out-tuxes and much more.


06. 2NE1 - "HATE YOU"
The four-member hip-hop girl group 2NE1 released their second mini-album this year, which featured the stellar single "HATE YOU." The track is a stunning electro tune full of empowerment as the girls sing, "I hate you/ Ah-ah/I'm fine living without you," over handclaps and sun-drenched synths. The song is accompanied by an animated music video where the girls are superheroes and fiercely battle criminals and aliens.


05. f(x) - "Hot Summer"
f(x)'s "Hot Summer" is commanding summer-jam that has a hard exterior but is nicely contrasted by the girl group's soft vocals and vibrant synths and beats. The dance-pop tune's music video has the girls singing in a street in front of a pink army tank with black zebra stripes.


04. T-ara - "Roly Poly"
T-ara's single "Roly Poly" comes from their awesomely named mini album, "John Travolta Wannabe." The 12-minute music video has the seven-member girl group hitting up a disco club dressed in hip clothes with bright patterns and colors. The girls finally get up on stage to perform their hit -- a sweet pop cut with a killer melody and a chorus that is sure to be stuck in your head for days.


03. RaNia - "Dr. Feel Good"
RaNia might not be the most popular K-pop band but their single "Dr. Feel Good" (English version) is undeniably hypnotic and sexy and puts 2002 Britney Spears and Xtina to shame. The girls are dressed in leather short-shorts, boots and tops and slink around a dark room chanting, "Doctor, doctor feel good/ Come make me feel real good/ Strap me down to my chair/ I've been feeling real bad." The song is dirty, raw, uninhibited and ready to be blasted in any club around the world.


02. 2NE1 - "I AM THE BEST"
2NE1's music video for "I AM THE BEST" will leave you picking your jaw up off the floor. The four girls easily take control of your attention as they are dressed in leather body suits, chains, high, high heels and pieces of sharp metal. They sing their brilliant song while wearing studded leather jackets and smashing their own platinum records with metal bats. The song enters an entire new level during the Middle Eastern breakdown, two thirds into the track and they perform killer dance moves in front of a black pyramid. The girls then suddenly pull out machine guns and start destroying the set. And they manage to do all of this while still looking adorable.


01. Hyuna - "Bubble Pop!"
It's hard to deny the greatness that is "Bubble Pop!" It is K-pop's answer to Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me" but thousands of times better thanks to the spot on production. "Hold It Against Me" may have lacked personality but "Bubble Pop!" exudes charm thanks to the deliriously catchy hook, speedy handclaps, and the song's overall pop-glossy aesthetic. In the video, Hyuna dances around a beach in short-shorts and a basketball jersey. She also summons up the strength to breakup with her "ladies man" sleazy boyfriend. Towards the end of the track, you'll hear a killer dub step breakdown that makes the song sexier. In the final moments of the track Hyuna beautifully belts out notes over layered vocals, which finishes the song in the most satisfying way possible.


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