Pop Music’s Top Five Stories of 2013

December 23, 2013

By Park Si-soo

What was different in the 2013 K-pop scene from previous years was its far-reaching impact that traveled beyond borders. This seems to be attributable to Psy’s international smash “Gangnam Style.” With the New Year just around the corner, The Korea Times puts forth five noteworthy events that took place in the K-pop scene in 2013.

No longer ‘Girls’

Girls’ Generation

Girls’ Generation

With recognition from various awards, Girls’ Generation has made itself a household name of K-pop, along with Psy. The nine-member girl group surprised music critics around the globe in November by winning the “Video of the Year” prize at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards with “I Got a Boy.” The award-winning dance track was included in the 10 best songs of the year, selected by TIME Magazine earlier this month. The song was ranked 5th on the list, defeating “Cut Copy Me” by Petula Clark, “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus and “Love is Lost” by David Bowie among others. Last week, the U.S. Billboard Chart said it was the fourth biggest selling K-pop song in America this year, after Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman” and BIGBANG’s “Fantastic Baby.”

Roaring ‘Dragon’

G Dragon

G Dragon

The 25-year-old musical prodigy Kwon Ji-yong, better known as G-Dragon, has got himself ready to go global. Last week, he was ranked ninth on the Billboard’s 2013 Year End Chart in the category of World Alums Artists.

In November, the K-pop rapper and songwriter said he had teamed up with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber to record a track together. “To be honest, we’re already finished with the recording,” G-Dragon was quoted as saying during a press conference held on the sidelines of the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong, in which he won four awards, including artist of the year. “You can look forward to hearing it next year.” Having led the K-pop boy band Big Bang, the group’s song “Fantastic Baby” ranked as the third best selling K-pop song in the U.S. market, according to the Billboard Chart last week.

Legend’s return

Cho Yongpil

Cho Yongpil

Cho Yong-pil, arguably Korea’s most influential post-war musician, stirred a sensation in the idol band-dominated K-pop scene with his 19thalbum during the summer, a decade after his 18th. Making his debut in 1980, the 63-year-old swept domestic charts with the track “Bounce.” The song gave the veteran musician the BC-UnionPay Song of the Year at the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards. Early this month, the U.S. Billboard ranked the song second on the 2013 year-end K-pop hot 100 chart, edging out “My Love” by another veteran singer Lee Seung-chul, “Shower of Tears” by Bae Chi Gi and “Turtle” by Davichi. Last week, Cho was selected as the country’s best singer of 2013, beating out Psy in an annual year-end poll conducted by Gallup Korea. He received the most votes at 17.6 percent in the survey of 4,263 people aged 13 or older across the country three times from July through November, according to Gallup.

Rising sun

EXO

EXO

EXO’s rise was fast and furious. Making their debut in 2012, the 12-member boy band immediately rocked the domestic music scene and then quickly made inroads into many other countries. The band represented Korea at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards held last month in Amsterdam, in which it was named the “Best Korean Act.”

The band’s two songs — “Growling” and “Wolf and the Beauty” — from its first full-length album, “XOXO” (Kiss&Hug), were ranked third and fourth, respectively, on YouTube’s best K-pop music videos of the year.

The album was released in June and selected as “Album of the Year” at the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards last month. Since the release, more than 990,000 copies of the album have been sold globally, according to SM Entertainment, which expects sales to surpass one million by the end of the year to become the first million-selling K-pop album in 12 years. The group is currently divided into two units — EXO-K and EXO-M, which recorded the album in Korean and Chinese, respectively

Five powerful engines

Crayon Pop

Crayon Pop

Five-member girl band Crayon Pop burst onto the K-pop stage during summer with “Bar Bar Bar.” The hook-heavy upbeat music was considered good to listen to, but critics say the band’s meteoric rise was impossible without the bizarre choreography — called the “Straight-Five Engine Dance” — with which all five members jumping up and down like engine cylinders. Parodies of the hilarious dance flooded YouTube and other Websites. In August, Crayon Pop sealed a license and partnership deal with Sony Music Entertainment, under which the international music label will fully support for the band to repeat their success overseas.

The band was embroiled in plagiarism scandals, but successfully coped with them to win various year-end awards. Early this month, Crayon Pop received recognition as being the best for promoting Korea internationally from Seoul-based foreign correspondents.

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