Editorial Pick #1: Good Ol’ K-Pop
Ever wondered what the best K-Pop songs during the early years of the 00’s or maybe the late years of the 90’s were? Read on to hear what K-Pop sounded like when today’s current idols were still trainees, and to hear some good, never-aging K-Pop songs, as I introduce to you guys my personal favorites when it comes to K-Pop in the earlier days!
During the early 00’s or maybe the late 90’s, I was just about 4-5 years of age back then actually. But as I have said times before when I was just new to reviewing music, I had serious love for the musical craft even since I was just a little kid. If I remember correctly, I believe I told you guys on a post before that I actually started to listen to J-Pop as early as 2001when I unintentionally watched an Utada Hikaru music video on Channel V entitled “Wait & See”. I even started to collect albums when cassette tapes were still of greater use. Remember this?
But when compare to my familiarity with the J-Pop scene, I can honestly say that I’m not that much familiar with many of the music releases of the time when K-Pop was yet to flourish as a worldwide trend. I got to know a lot of classic (well, maybe not classic. they are not that old anyway lol) K-Pop songs through different encounters, and right now, I can say that listening to these new discoveries is very different from listening to the current music K-Pop has been recently giving us.
When you listen to old hits, it sort of brings you back to memories dating back to when these songs were still played on everyday radio, and to when these song’s music videos were part of the daily or weekly music video countdowns. It is different with nostalgic K-Pop though. Speaking from my perspective, a perspective of not witnessing most of these songs playing in the mainstream, I can only imagine myself in that position when I would be able to witness these tracks on the mainstream. I can only imagine myself as a little boy, watching music videos of these songs in MTV or hearing these songs on the radio. That’s all I could do, just imagine.
But even with just imagining, I get a good feeling. It’s as if I actually grew up with these songs. I get the feeling of contentment because after all, it’s the good music that matters most.
Without further ado, here is a list of my top ten favorite K-Pop songs from the early years! 🙂
#10. BoA – NO. 1
(2002; NO.1) | MUSIC VIDEO
NO.1 was the main single of BoA’s 2nd full-length Korean album of the same name. The song apparently became bigger than her debut, causing the album to sell over 500,000+ copies in Korea alone, making “NO.1” her best-selling Korean studio album.
I actually didn’t think I would fall in love with this song. To be honest, it was one of my heavily disliked BoA songs before, but I guess I just grew the hatred out and I eventually learned how to love the song. The harmonization in the song which I love so much, probably is the main source of the song’s grace. Give the song a try, really. Don’t let first impressions hinder you, because this song truly shows why BoA IS NO.1!
#09. S♯arp – Tell Me Tell Me
(1999; The S♯arp+2) | MUSIC VIDEO
I was unfamiliar with S#arp before because I haven’t heard much about them. I stumbled upon them in Youtube through this song, and to my surprise, “Tell Me Tell Me” was actually part of Dance Dance Revolution 3rdMix! As soon as the song played, I was caught. The song was pretty catchy, and the song was so solid despite not having a heavy bass or a thumping beat pattern found in a typical dance song. Once you hear the song, trust me, you’ll be singing the lines “tell me tell me tell me tell me you love me” in your head. You might actually be driven by the song’s fast tempo and dance as soon as you hear it play.
#08. S.E.S. – Just A Feeling
(2002; Choose My Life-U) | MUSIC VIDEO
This song is just pure upbeat material. This would get you in the mood for dancing, and it would really make you feel like you’re dancing at a party on a night out. The fast beats were accompanied by something unusual-the piano. Much to my surprise, the whole song turned out to be so groovy despite the different choice of instruments. The overall melody is so catchy that I just had to put this in the list. The music video sets the mood for the song best, which featured the 3 girls dancing at a party. The song features outstanding feel-good material, which probably is one reason as to why I fell in love with this track.
#07. Mina – Answer The Phone
(2002; Rendezvous) | MUSIC VIDEO
I remember “Answer The Phone” being such a hit here in my home country, The Philippines. I was around 7 that time when this song was first played on the countdowns, but it was in 2003 when this song became an even more popular song. This song is actually the very first K-Pop song to achieve #1 on few music countdowns, thus naming it the very first K-Pop hit in the Philippines. It was so big that even a Filipino artist released an English cover of the song!
Well, I actually am not surprised because Answer The Phone is indeed one amazing song! This track would make you dance with the heavy and somehow fast beats, and this track will make you sing along with the catchy parts found in the song. Take the “Lalala” parts for example.
#06. Baby V.O.X. – Get Up
(1999; Come Come Come Baby) | MUSIC VIDEO
I love this song. The song’s arrangement sounds so old school, but it is as danceable as all the songs recently released in K-Pop. Just like any other song in this list, it was so catchy, but this song had a unique touch of catchiness in it. Actually, the whole song is pretty unique because there is something so unexplainable about the song that makes it sound so cool and amazing. The laid-back way the girls sang in the song went well with the fierce arrangement, which I believe is why the song had that certain difference in it. The song sounded like “RaNia’s DR. FEEL GOOD” for me, but with clothes on. lol.
#05. Shinhwa – Perfect Man
(2002; Perfect Man) | MUSIC VIDEO
I don’t know why, but “Perfect Man” ended up as the only song by a male group to break into the top 10. lol. Maybe the girl groups were quite better? Well, I don’t really think so, since the male groups were also good, as proven by Shinhwa’s Perfect Man!
For a song that was released 9 years ago, “Perfect Man” is really good! I can’t even imagine it playing on the television during it’s release time, because the song was pretty amazing in terms of overall creativity. It actually has everything for me, The catchiness, the dance moves, and the dynamic arrangement! “Perfect Man” just truly showed that Shinhwa was indeed composed of perfectly talentet men!
#04. Baby V.O.X. – Why
(2000; Why) | MUSIC VIDEO
I was actually debating with myself on what I should put on the fourth place since Baby V.O.X.’s “Why” was just as good, and was so close with “Get Up”, another song by them. But either way, I chose to place “Why” on the fourth place because for me, it had more layers in the backing track. I mean, “Get Up” was pretty good, but “Why” was slightly better in a way that its instrumental had variety of instruments, like the strings arrangement in the song.
Basically, I just love this song. I recently discovered this song through random YouTube clicking, and as soon as I heard it, I was awestruck. I immediately went on to find an even more HQ version of the song, and when heard this song in HQ, my heart and mind just went ASDFGHJKL.
#03. Eugene – Windy
(2004; 810303) | MUSIC VIDEO
Talk about freshness!
Like some of the songs in this list, I was kind of hesitating to put this in, but with a different reason. Since all the other songs were released at around 1999-2002, I didn’t want to put something quite recent here. But well, the song was just too good to be left out!
The song is around 7 years old now, but still sounds as if it was released just this year! “Windy” is just so amazing because not only is it catchy, it had a good mix of dance percussion and feel-good instrumentals, which made one heck of a windy ride! I was pretty disappointed to hear that this song did poorly on Korea’s music charts that time because I believe this deserved more. But hey, when a song’s good, no awards are needed to truly declare that it is indeed good, right?
#02. FIN.K.L. – Now
(2000; Now) | MUSIC VIDEO
When it comes to live performances, I think Fin.K.L. wins with a large margin securely separating them from other girl groups, whether they may be from the 90s or the new era. I mean, seriously, these girls know how to put on a show. I haven’t even seen them live, but from what I’ve been seeing online, I can easily say that only Fin.K.L. could pull off such great and complex moves while singing their own lines.
But about the song “Now”, it somehow became popular to the new K-Pop fans now because of the different cover version created by today’s girl groups, notably “KARA”, “Girls’ Generation” and “Wonder Girls”. Wonder Girls’ version became the most noticed by fans because it was them who took on the effort and released their own cover version with a matching music video that looks exactly like the original song!
“Now” is just a powerful song. The song has a certain energy that made it different with the releases during its own time. It was somehow ahead of the pack, as others would say, which is why the song probably became so big with the people. The song was so catchy, and the arrangement featured so much variety which is why it is completely impossible for the song to bore you.
#01. Lee Hyori – 10 Minutes
(2003; STYLISH…E hyOlee) | MUSIC VIDEO
When it’s the K-Pop soloists we’re talking about, only Lee Hyori comes to my mind when we’re talking about consistency. From 1998 until now, she creates good music, whether it may be in a group or as a solo act. I prefer her solo releases since it showed her independence and versatility, but that could just be me. What I do believe we know in common-me and all people aware of her-is that she is just so good as an artist. No, scratch that. SHE IS AMAZING. So many problems have kind of slowed down her progress in releasing, but she still gets more and more amazing over time. Greatly astounded by the constant high quality of the songs from her releases like 10 Minutes from STYLISH…E hyOlee, U-Go-Girl from It’s Hyorish, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from H-Logic, she stands strong as my favorite K-Pop solo female act.
Regarding the number one song…
10 Minutes is just pure love. Words can’t express how much I love this song. This song is catchy (yeah, like that’s a surprise), but at the same time, the song is just so simple. The arrangement wasn’t much of a banger, and it wasn’t as fast-paced as all the other songs in this list, but this song just remains superior with its simplicity. The sort-of-old school sound found in the arrangement was perfect for the overall mood, and the synthesizers made the track sound as tight as ever! I just really love this song. I bet you would too, so go listen to it now!
There were a few tracks which almost made it into the top 10, but sadly didn’t. Since they were all good, I decided to put at least 3 tracks here as part of the recommendations list!
G.O.D. – Road
(2001; Chapter 4 Road) | MUSIC VIDEO
I was supposed to include this into the Top 10 since it was sooo good, but I guess I just decided not to. Either way, “Road” was a nice change from the up-beat tracks in this list. This track goes on a different route with its mellow arrangement, but still is amazing with the G.O.D. members showcasing their vocal abilities! Just a random fact, KARA covered this song on a music show and did it great justice! You should go check it out also.
Sugar – Secret
(2004; Secret) | MUSIC VIDEO
Do you guys know J-Pop artist, ICONIQ? She’s the girl at the most-right, wearing something white. She was part of this girl group before studying in Los Angeles and eventually debuting in Japan.
I don’t know why the girls didn’t make it big with “Secret” because for me, this was their strongest title track, and the most memorable one too! The song even had its own share of catchiness, and it even had a good arrangement. In my list, this one good ol’ K-Pop song, really.
So there you go! My Top 10 list of great and somehow influential K-Pop songs in the earlier times! I enjoyed picking out songs for the list, and you guys can count on a new edition of Editorial Picks soon!
How about you, what are your favorite K-Pop songs from the earlier days? 🙂