4minute best 2014
After getting hell from everybody for not doing my usual year-end list last year, I managed to get off my ass and do one for 2014.

Because of time constraints, on top of the fact that I just didn’t listen to nearly as much K-pop this year as I have in the past, I decided to only cover idol groups this time around. I’m not going to be one of those people that makes a ranked list without being 100% informed on the subject, so I’m sticking to what I know and have promised myself I’ll get my music mojo back in 2015.

Before you read this, let me just apologize in advance for not including Orange Caramel’s “Catallena.” I know that technically it deserves to be on here, and very high up too, but I just found myself so fatigued by OC fever this year that I couldn’t do it. I already regret my decision, but what’s done is done…

Other than that, everything on this list is absolutely factual and accurate, just like the Bible, so please enjoy and take it all as gospel.

4l move
25. 4L – Move

For a song about a bunch of desperate gangnam unnies banging the first guy they see, “Move’s” sparse tango production is surprisingly sensual and sophisticated. This is a great example of a song being much better than it really has the right to be.

wassup showtime
24. Wa$$up – Shut Up U

K-pop’s first twerk-dols successfully ripped-off one of the best tracks from f(x)’s Red Light album and turned it into a snarling girl power anthem.

fiestar one more
23. FIESTAR – One More

If there’s one thing that pop music desperately needed this year, it was for a Korean girl group to turn Jamelia’s eternally-catchy “Superstar” into an anthem about group sex.

Red Velvet happiness
22. Red Velvet – Happiness 

Basketball beats, cheerleader chants, and unbridled enthusiasm; “Happiness” was the Pink Tape repackage single you always wanted.

strawberry milk ok
21. Strawberry Milk – OK

I was one of the few people that loved “Uh-ee,” but I enjoyed seeing Crayon Pop remake old Japanese idol pop over Korean disco-trot. Maybe I’m just a sucker for otaku-friendly music videos?

2ne1 crush
20. 2NE1 – Happy

A lot of songs from Crush could’ve made this list, but on an album absolutely bursting with melancholy, it was the sad underbelly of the seemingly upbeat “Happy” that turned out to be Crush’s most affecting moment.

sistar touch my body
19. SISTAR – Touch My Body

K-pop’s most reliable girl group took HyunA’s “Bubble Pop!” and pumped it full of hormones and viagra to create yet another SISTAR summer classic.

laboum what about you
18. LABOUM – What About You (Single Version)

I could’ve put either one of LABOUM’s two singles in this spot, but the wistful “What About You,” with its retro dance-pop flavour, felt more refreshing than the hyperactive production of “Pit-a-Pat.”

dal shabet bbb
17. Dal Shabet – B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)

Dal Shabet sang about taking a big cock over a Eurythmics remix and paired it with a fabulous music video that looked like behind-the-scenes footage from a slick Nylon photo shoot. To put it simply, it was a gay man’s wet dream.

akor but go
16. A.KOR – But Go

A.KOR did every form of non-sexual media play imaginable this year, but unfortunately it still wasn’t enough to turn this explosive mix of blistering Middle Eastern beats and tear-stained rage into a hit.

kara day&night
15. KARA – Mamma Mia

Korea’s second most resilient girl group (after T-ara, of course) returned to relevancy after spicing up their usual synth-pop sound with disco glamour, wind machines, and a human life jacket named Youngji.

sistar i swear
14. SISTAR – I Swear

Having one seasonal hit this summer wasn’t enough for the mighty S-I-S-T-A-R; they had to have two. They also produced the sexiest music video of 2014, which is no small feat considering the influx of porno-pop clips this year.

4minute only gained weight
13. 4minute – Only Gained Weight

Since getting into K-pop years ago I’ve heard Brave Brothers reuse the same beats and melodies over and over again, but somehow 4minute’s ‘Only Gained Weight’ –possibly his most simple and formulaic production this year– turned out to be his most poignant. Probably because there isn’t a person on the planet who can’t relate to getting fat, drunk, and miserable after being dumped.

lovelyz girls invasion
12. LOVELYZ – Goodbye, Chapter 1

I could’ve put several tracks from LOVELYZ excellent Girls’ Invasion album here, from the vintage-KARA-reimagined-for-2014 “Candy Jelly Love” or the old f(x) b-side “Getaway.” But it’s the bottomless melancholy of “Goodbye, Chapter 1,” a jittery synth-pop song about a girl struggling with depression after dumping her first love, that really speaks the loudest.

secret I'm in love
11. SECRET – I’m In Love

Despite its poor chart performance, “I’m In Love” was a stellar comeback single for SECRET that evolved their signature Beyonce-lite sound with shades of dance-pop and dubstep without ever losing any of the group’s identity.

rainbow blaxx cha cha
10. Rainbow Blaxx – Cha Cha

Like naughty showgirls from a bygone era dancing to a broken record, Rainbow Blaxx performed this weird (and deceptively catchy) ode to the men who ogle their bodies and buy their music.

t-ara sugar free
09. T-ara – Sugar Free

After listening to K-pop artists endlessly rip-off the EDM music of the West for years, it was refreshing to see T-ara take a more legitimate stab at the genre with this ferocious club anthem.

girl's day something
08. Girl’s Day – Something

The sad and sexy fusion has been done to death in K-pop, but Girl’s Day paired it with vintage Britney beats and a Christina Aguilera chorus to craft what has now become their signature single.

apink mr chu
07. A Pink – Mr Chu

Not sure what to say about this song except that it brought pure sunshine and joy into my life this year and if you hate it then I hate you.

girls' generation wait a minute
06. Girls’ Generation – Wait a Minute

I loved Girls’ Generation’s Mr.Mr. mini-album, but the b-side track “Wait a Minute” was the undeniable standout to me. It’s cute in a no-artificial-flavours-or-preservatives kinda way, with a homestretch that cascades down like gallons of Vita Coco. I loved it even more once I discovered that Sweetune’s B-team, Lee Joo Hyung and G-High, the same guys behind STELLAR’s new music, produced it.

f(x) red light
05. f(x) – Red Light

It took me more than a minute to get into this demonic hit because I was scared that f(x)’s obvious cool factor would trick me into loving a lacklustre song, but eventually the snarling beast that is “Red Light” swallowed me whole and I never looked back.

4minute world
04. 4minute – Whatcha Doin’ Today

I’ve loved watching 4minute go from club-hopping electro queens to sexy genre-bending hipsters at the hands of Brave Brothers, who has been giving the group his most innovative material since SISTAR flew the coop. The quickest way to describe “Whatcha Doin’ Today” is to say it’s John Waters’ A Dirty Shame condensed into a K-pop song, but simply calling it 4minute’s best song ever will also suffice.

STELLAR Marionette
03. STELLAR – Marionette

Everybody did the sexy concept this year (even the boy bands got in on the trend), but STELLAR was the first group who really went there with it. That alone made “Marionette” both the most memorable and controversial sexy concept single of the year, but STELLAR went one step further and added some much-needed complexity to the trend with a meta concept that simultaneously slammed oversexualized pop music whilst wallowing neck deep in it. Rainbow Blaxx did something slightly similar with “Cha Cha,” but they had fun playing the part of amorous showgirls for cash; “Marionette” is the opposite: it’s a song brimming with self-loathing and misery. It’s musical hate-sex so savage that it turns “Marionette” into an anti-sexy concept and cautionary tale about what the entertainment industry does to women.

Some might argue that Ga-In’s “Fxxk U” was the the year’s most thought-provoking K-pop single on women’s issues (it’s certainly the more obvious choice), but that honour really belongs to “Marionette”–you’ve just gotta dig a little deeper to see it.

STELLAR mask

02. STELLAR – Mask

After shocking everybody with “Marionette,” STELLAR went for the shock factor once again with their follow-up single “Mask,” but not for the reasons you’d expect–it was the pure elegance of the dreamy Sweetune production that was so surprising. STELLAR swapped the sleaze for sensuality, but retained their meta concept by using “Mask” to cautiously reveal the human beings behind the puppets. A stunningly beautiful bassline scored their confessional, with the occasional interjection from some alien synths that are nothing less than completely hypnotic.

K-pop as a genre often goes for the jugular, almost always favouring a more is more approach to making music, so to hear something as utterly graceful as “Mask” feels like a revelation.

aoa miniskirt
01. AOA – Miniskirt

There wasn’t really a question about AOA’s “Miniskirt” making No. 1 on this list. Sure, 4minute’s music was more complex and original, and STELLAR’s was smart and subversive, but as far as good hooks and replay value goes, nobody even came close to AOA this year. And isn’t that the most important aspect of pop music? “Miniskirt” may be typical Brave in a year which saw him produce about twenty near-identical hits, but it overshadowed every similar-sounding song in its path and marked a career high for both Brave and AOA–one that I don’t think the latter will ever match, let alone surpass. Like KARA’s “Mr.” or half of the Wonder Girls’ singles, “Miniskirt” feels like one of those modern girl group classics that you’ll still be able to play for years to come without ever getting sick of it.

  • LunaLLL

    I don´t agree with almost 80%, but that´s why is your selection of songs and not mine xD
    BUT you know? I almost never agree with any post you do here but still come back everyday. I guess I just love the way you express yourself on everypost and the way you write it´s so much fun and “relaxed” (don´t know how to explain it). Arcadey it´s now a “must check” page everyday.
    So keep ip up! :D I really love this site even as I don´t agree with a lot of things jaja I guess that´s the point of opinions, you may not agree but you still have to respect what other thinks :)
    PS: Sorry for the long comment, first time writing here ^^;

  • UncleFan

    AOA had a great year, even if the followup singles got to be a little repetitive. I’m glad they came out on top! Of course, I attribute their success to Jimin’s squeaky voice :)

    • tbh i fucking love jimin’s squeaky voice rap

  • Nicole Naeun

    Loving that most of my fave songs are in here! Although I never find 4L’s Move that good of a song, the production imo is kind of lazy and too minimum. But maybe that’s just me cuz I love noisy production like 4Minute etc etc.

    Oh, and also if STELLAR can get 2 songs up here, and why didn’t AOA? Am I the only one who appreciate ChoA’s fantastic vocal delivery in “Short Hair”? That song is a classic!

    Honorable mention: Brave’s formulaic-but-so-good Davichi’s “Don’t Move” (they’re idol group rite?)

    • UncleFan

      Yeah, ChoA is amazing. If she ever left AOA, it would be as bad as Eunji leaving Apink – their sound would be fucked.

      • Nicole Naeun

        I hope ChoA shines bright like a diamond in 2015, her vocal tone only already surpasses Hyorin’s and Ailee’s, she should be the bigger star!

        • UncleFan

          … and she’s HOTTER, too.

        • from what i gather pretty much any casual fan of AOA only knows choa lmao

          • _craypopper

            … and the chipmunk.

          • …hahahahahahaha
            hahahahahahahah
            ahahahahahahhah
            ahahahahahahaah

            dead at chipmunk!

            i love jimi, she’s my bias on aoa, but i also love yuna – her turn as secretary hotness on “miniskirt” and “short hair” were amazing and gave me lesbian urges.

          • hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….

      • Suzy Sooyoung

        Couldn’t give a fuck about that ahjumma.

    • Db

      I agree with you about 4L’s song. While I liked what I heard, it was lacking a little oomph. Had the production been a bit richer, it would have propelled the song to greater heights.

      • The simplicity is why it’s so good!

    • Suzy Sooyoung

      Move is so underrated and iconic! I’m so sad more people don’t realize it!

      Gurl let’s be real Short Hair = Miniskirt 2.0, so it’d be pointless.

      • Nicole Naeun

        Short hair =/= Miniskirt SMH! Just because they have the same ‘eh eh eh’ doesn’t mean they’re the same songs! Is it so hard for you flops to understand the unique jazzy charm that only Short Hair offers this year? Short Hair is like a slutty female version of a Michael Buble’s song! Short Hair is everything GaGa wanted that flop jazz album with whatshisname to be! #JazzSongoftheYear

        • Suzy Sooyoung

          omg u just killed me and sent me to heaven with that “slutty version of a michael buble song” thing LMFAO

  • KingBeaArthur

    NO ORANGE CARAMEL?? YOU’RE DONE, SON!!! I’M BURNING THIS SITE TO THE GROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “Whatcha Doin’ Today” deserves its position. Easily their best single since “Volume Up” (which is my hands down fave from them, forever & always). My only gripe is I would have swapped “I Swear” & “Touch My Body”, but that’s just my opinion ^-^ I’m happy both were represented.

    “Miniskirt” was crack & I couldn’t picture another song being #1 for 2014!

  • redblue

    WHAT! AOA NO.1. thats just… i mean i love then and they are good and stuff but “miniskirt” is not actually that good of a song! i would prefer T-ara and queen Qri to be No.1. Sugar free is the best song of the entire year! too was it was a flop because of those stupid netizens that just talk shit and judge everyone…

    • William Love

      I like to believe that sugar free is one of t-ara’s least radio friendly singles – it’s a fantastic song but it’s so firmly planted in the club that the crossover appeal is limited. But also cause K-netz can’t let shit go lol

  • Db

    While I agree that Miniskirt is the defining moment for AOA, it took me over half a year for it to hook me in. Like A Cat was much more instant even though it’s basically Miniskirt 3.0. Not my personal choice for #1, but still a good choice.

    I still don’t get A Pink. They just bore me to death with their dated early 90s pop sound and their stale image. I’ve tried watching a few of their LUV performances and they look asleep on stage. I get that the song is sad, but they need a little energy.

    Same with Lovelyz. I lump them in with A Pink. Not my cup of tea at all.

    Secret finally redeemed themselves with I’m In Love this year. As you can see, cute isn’t my taste and I’m not here for Yoo Hoo Secret. Both Hyosung and Jieun had really good solo ventures this year as well. Goodnight Kiss is still amazing to this day.

    Some omissions from your list would be Purfles’ 1 2 3, Kiss&Cry’s Domino Game and of course OC’s Catallena. WTF on that last one!

    Stellar really impressed me this year! Mask is so subtle and understated. Sweetune did a bang up job!

    My biggest surprise of the year has to Wa$$up. They really stepped up their game! Shame they didn’t even chart with Shut Up U. They’d have stood a better chance had they come from a bigger label. They still retain the title of trashy queens from me, that is if and when Rania make a comeback.

    My top songs of the year all surprisingly came from S. Tiger. EXID, Dal Shabet, Fiestar and T-ARA all brought their A game and blew everything else out of the water. Sugar Free is my most played song of the year and my personal #1. I even bought my first kpop album, a signed copy of And&End, because of it. I love it that much! It mixes all the elements I love about kpop, like the chorus and melodies (and Soyeon’s signature voice), with the hard hitting beats of EDM.

    Kudos on the list and please keep writing! Happy new year!

    • Nicole Naeun

      A Pink really failed big with LUV they really should just stick with cute concepts (tho it’s a good song I luv it).

      And I pity you for being one of the unfortunate flops who cannot understand Lovelyz’ lovely charms and uniqueness :(

    • tbh i would have replaced ‘touch my body’ with either catallena or my copycat, because i just like i swear SO much better it i feel like that deserves a statement lmao

      idk i really loved nonono last year but i haven’t been able to get into anything apink has done before or after :

  • Suzy Sooyoung

    wow a lot of hits that honestly I could swear were from last year or something. Damn kpop really moves quickly! LOL

    With that said I think u really captured the best songs in here (minus OC of course, they’re my bitches).
    Let me just state that STELLAR are deservingly topping this list because c’mon their impact was STRONG this year out of a tiny little song called Marionette. Then , they released the classy single other girlgroups wished they had released – MASK. See, Mask is fucking ICONIC and I don’t give two shits about anyone disagreeing.

    As for the rest, hmm let me see, well FIESTAR’s One More, SISTAR’s songs or even Rainbox Blaxx weren’t songs I first got into, but with time they eventually SLAYED ME. The same goes for Up & Down which isn’t sadly on this list.

    With A.Pink, this was def the year I got into them again (after their FLAWLESS first debut mini album). Mr. Chu and LUV are just perfect k-pop songs. Deal with the queens!

    Songs I will never get into: 4Minute’s trash songs, f(x) – sorry I just think it’s plain horrible – and Red Velvet’s Happiness – not because their song is bad, I guess. But the song bores me. On the other hand, BE NATURAL completely suited them and SLAYED.

    Important mentions:
    1)SECRET’s IM IN LOVE. Goddamn that song really had me shaking my pussy for MONTHS. It’s such a good song and forever the koreans be damned for not buying it and turning it into the kpop hit it deserved to be!
    2) Lovelyz, what a surprise to see such a cool new group!
    3) KARA’s Mamma Mia. I was so worried about the new member but they include her with so much ease that u can barely see her there. My eyes were on Hara the whole time, And yasss for the kweens to come up with such a GOOD song!

  • MinahFag

    Great list but its missing Exid’s “Up & Down” and Nicole’s “MAMA” somewhere. I really liked Kiss & Cry’s “Bad Girl/Revenge” too even if the mv was a mess. And ofc Miniskirt would be #1. Its my most replayed song of the year.

  • Other than the lack of Orange Caramel’s Catallena, aka best song of the year in the whole Asian continent (minus Taiwan where PLAY slayed), the rest of the list is fine. I would have put Touch My Body on I Swear’s position (I just couldn’t get into this Loving U 3.0 as much as I wanted), and that random Bravesound + 4minute song, I don’t get the fuss about that song either, but I love that you included so many flops that I like. Oh and thanks for including Miniskirt, which is the best AOA release of the year (maybe not, but who cares).

    • Oh and EXID’s Up&Down, I thought you would include it, but it’s okay, too many releases and this is just a Top 25.

  • JammySmoochie

    Get that Arcadey love 2NE1! lmao

    Do we get a separate list for the amazing solos of Sunmi, Hyuna, HA:TFELT, Gain, and the like? Your lists are awesome btw. Maybe it’s time I hop on that AOA/Stellar bandwagon.

    • I wanted to do one, but I didn’t have time :( I was finishing these off before i went away for a couple of days for NYE

      • JammySmoochie

        It’s okay. You’ve done enough. Thanks!

  • bjs4mike

    No Mamamoo? What is this?

    • They’re good but overrated. Fave song of theirs is peppermint chocolate which is basically k.will song and their b-side baton touch.

      • Marhaebwa

        wooooooooow…even though baton touch is hot…woooow.

        One day, you’ll see the light. Until then, may the Holy Moo of Hwasa, Wheein, Moonbyul and Solar look over you.

  • elibeans

    I think I’m the only person who liked Short Hair more than Miniskirt but the latter was definitely their breakout hit so it deserves the spot. I’m not a huge AOA fan but they’ve had an absolutely great year. Great list overall.

  • CY

    Shocked 2NE1 was even there, and I would’ve put Darling and Hot Baby instead of Something and TMB high up on my list.
    Glad you paid OC and Mamamoo dust too, I can’t at their overratedness

    Other than that, I have no complaints. 2014 was an absolutely stellar (har har) year in Kpop.

  • yosafbridge

    Completely biased viewpoint : no EXID on your list?????? What other song this year dared start off with a saxaphone jazzy solo. It was the equivalent of SNSD’s IGAB in concept except EXID actually pulled off the execution and was nowhere as clunky/jarring in the transitions between the jazzy parts and the poppy parts.

  • meowmel

    the list is perfect no EXID?? WHAATTTT

    • I love EXID but I don’t think Up & Down is the best song ever. Good but doesn’t SLAY me.

      • meowmel

        Its kay at least i agree with your list. Was surprised is all

  • vjx89

    The top 5 is pure perfection, but i would put Catallena at Mask’s spot.

  • negredo

    LOL. people who whining why their fav not include should make their own post.

    but

    don’t forget to include T-ara.

    hahahaha!

  • Johnnyyy

    No SNSD-TTS?? Lol. I’m out.

  • justpassingby

    I love most of the song in the list, although I’d prefer to limit 1 song per group to give other group a chance.

  • snailsong

    2014 was such a great year for girl groups, every song on this list is fire (although I’m sad that mr.mr itself didn’t make it) btw I’ve loved your site forever but figured I should start showing some appreciation by commenting ~~ happy new year :)

  • Pez

    As someone who knows fuck all about kpop other than a bit of girls’ generation and only listened to like half the songs on this list, holy shit, how can sugar free be so ridiculously good and also rank so low?
    Hell it’s made me into a fan, I’ve been gobbling up t-ara for the past 2 days.

    • SMH it’s only taken you three years of me going nuts for T-ara to finally see the light!

      But yes, I should’ve ranked it higher. I did this list in a big hurry coz I had to go away for NYE and didn’t have lots of time

  • even though i’m with those who missed catallena here, i am completely satisfied with this list, especially the top 3 positions. stellar not only released two of the most poignant singles of the year, but also managed to produce interesting videos and mini-album – all my love to “guilty”, the gorgeous single that could be.

    i’m also happy that you included b-side songs on it, it makes your list more interesting than those others that only cover the single releases. GG’s mini-album was unfairly trashed even by sones, but while people like to hate on snsd the hyperly active fandom just likes to whine most of the times; “wait a minute” is perfection, along with “goodbye” and even the generic “soul” rocked my world since the mini’s release.

    i loove looooove “only gained weight” and “sugar free”, girl’s day “something” is still one of my most listened songs of 2014 and aoa also had a fantastic year.

    my only objection to this list is f(x)’s “red light”, basically because i got sick of the group this year (except for the sole presence of platinum goddess krystal as a clockwork orange gangstress). it’s not like a didn’t like the song, but not only the song but the whole album felt like f(x) ripping off f(x)’s pink tape, which in my opinion is their best album, so i wouldn’t have ranked “red light” so high.

  • nick

    If this was a female solo list I’d expect Goodnight Kiss right up there…amiright?