As the title suggests, this post features great songs released by female idols over the past year. Includes both groups and solo artists, many of which you’ve probably heard of, maybe a few you haven’t, but definitely a lot that you should listen to.
This year was packed with great songs from across the K-pop spectrum. Groups like GFriend cemented their place as one of Korea’s new “it” girl groups, Ladies’ Code’s remaining members finally returned to the music scene, and a new class of rookies made their debuts. This list isn’t necessarily a summary of the most popular singles released this year (sorry, Twice fans), nor is it meant to slight groups or artists that had hallmark years in terms of musical and recognition-related growth (but I still like you, BTS). To put it simply, these are the singles I couldn’t stop replaying this year.
In chronological order of release:
K-pop may be undergoing a generational shift. Many groups that led the Korean Wave’s charge are disbanding, losing members to contract termination and military service, or just generally declining. As they start to fade, more and more groups are entering the idol scene seeking success, hoping to become the next Big Bang or Girls’ Generation. Last year’s series of debuts, both from the biggest companies and from smaller ones whose groups had the talent or attention despite fewer resources, heightened the sense of a shift. Let’s catch up with the ones who’ve made a big splash in the expanding idol pool, and a few that should have but aren’t quite there yet.
I’ve already written a post sampling my favorite tracks released in 2015, but I want to dive deeper into something that made 2015 special: the quality of releases by female artists. A few big names, like Sistar, AOA, and even my usual perennial favorite Girls’ Generation, were disappointments. But on the whole, from the music to the visuals to the dances, 2015 was a year of leading women and women leading.
Many great tracks came out this year, some from established names, others from rookie groups and small companies. It was difficult to narrow down my expansive running list, but this should give you an idea of what excited me in K-pop in 2015 and what I’d like to see more of in the coming year.
In honor of their impending comeback, I wanted to share some of my favorite tracks from Infinite, the seven-member male group from Woollim Entertainment. Since their 2010 debut, Infinite has become best known for their intricate choreography and excellent synchronization, making their live performances some of my favorites in K-pop. The members have also done well outside of the main group, from leader Sunggyu’s solo work to the more hip-hop influenced Infinite-H unit composed of Hoya and Dongwoo, but it’s their material together that I enjoy most.
Two years ago, a friend of mine showed me a music video. I had never heard the song or the name of its contributing artists, but I immediately found the video creative and the song engaging. What stood out to me most was the unique voice of the vocalist in the sunglasses. I would find out that he went by the name Zion.T.
That was my introduction to Amoeba Culture, and the first step toward attending the March 28 New York stop of the Amoeba Culture Tour 2015. I had already been planning to visit New York City this spring to see my close friends who live in the area, so this concert came along at a perfect time. I went to the broadcast of a K-pop chart show, Music Bank, during my weeklong visit to Seoul in 2014, but in my three years of being a fan of Korean music, I had never been to a concert. Why not take advantage of the chance to see these artists whose reputation for live performance skill preceded them, and who don’t play shows in US very often? How could I not jump at the chance to hear Zion.T, owner of one of my favorite singing voices, in person?
Next up in Girl Group Spotlight is a talented foursome that’s steadily gaining popularity and currently heating up the stage of Immortal Songs 2. Here’s a rundown on my favorite female ensemble to debut in 2014, and a group I expect to make big waves in 2015: Mamamoo.
Singles weren’t the only tracks that caught my attention in 2014. Amidst the plethora of albums released, there were songs that received less exposure but are still worth a listen. Here are some that stood out to me this year.
With the year coming to a close, it’s a good time to share some of my personal favorite singles released in 2014. If you know anything about my taste in groups, then many of these probably won’t surprise you. But if you aren’t familiar with my choice of artists, maybe this will give you some idea of the types of songs I prefer. Without further ado, here are fourteen singles I jammed to this year.