On Another Note: 5 Great K-pop Boy Band Songs

By popular demand (read: exactly one person, you know who you are), music posting is back, and it’s more K-pop. Since I did a short survey of my favorite girl group songs, I thought it would only be fair to create a boys version.

iKON — Love Scenario

With its simple, clean, and catchy sound, it should be no surprise that this has been the radio hit of the year in Korea. The music video matches perfectly — I like the section with the turning chairs for the way it subtly hides faces, and there’s something aesthetically pleasing in the way duplicates are used throughout the video. This song is an apparent favorite among elementary schoolers, and it’s had an unintended consequence: some parents have tried to ban the song in schools, ostensibly for being “inappropriate,” but really just because their kids won’t stop singing it all. The. Time.

A.C.E — Take Me Higher

This is my personal song of the summer. A.C.E is an interesting bunch. The members have the raw singing and dancing talent of top-tier groups, but their label is tiny and has very little budget. Their first two singles are catchy, but in an attempt to stand out from the pack, they were written in an unconventional genre, hardstyle. Unfortunately, their style was a bit too unconventional, and the group didn’t gain much attention at first. After the members competed on survival TV shows, though, they gained more exposure. “Take Me Higher” capitalizes on that exposure and also departs from their original sound, instead going full-on bubblegum pop. And honestly? It’s their best work yet. Let’s hope that this song… takes them higher.

Note: this is actually a 5 member group, but one of the members, Chan, is taking a temporary break after being included in the winning group on a survival show, The Unit.

BTOB — Movie

In the video for “Movie,” each of the members act out roles from popular films. It’s a fun, danceable bop with a cute gimmick and a disco vibe. What’s not to like? For me, what gives this song extra spice is Peniel’s rap in English. K-pop is no stranger to cheesy rap, but hearing the same kind of lyrics in English adds an extra layer of absurdity to it. I have a suspicion that Peniel wrote these lyrics as a joke and decided to put them in the final version of the song just for kicks.

Block B — Nillili Mambo

“Nillili Mambo” is one of the first K-pop songs I ever listened to, and it was totally by chance. I’m a fan of the webcomic Homestuck, and a popular fan-made animation was set to this song. The lyrics are a bunch of vaguely party-oriented word salad, but you can’t deny that the music absolutely bangs. Just ignore Zico’s atrocious dreadlocks and enjoy the weird Pirates of the Caribbean plot.

BIGBANG — Fantastic Baby

I was debating with myself what my final selection for this list would be. I enjoy recommending songs that people might not know, but I also want to pay homage to the greats. I was considering recommending a lesser-known BTS track, but then I thought about Fantastic Baby. It’s one of the songs that went semi-viral in the wake of “Gangnam Style,” so it’s more likely to be recognized by casual listeners than many other K-pop tracks, but in my opinion, if there’s one person out there who hasn’t heard this song, that’s one person too many. It’s bombastic and over-the-top, yes, but it’s undeniably cool, and it fuses the electronic sound of earlier K-pop with the loud visuals and high production quality of newer K-pop. And it’s the home of G-Dragon’s most iconic look!

Wow. Fantastic, baby.

Did you enjoy any of these songs? What other music topics should I cover? Tell me in the comments!

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