10 Favorite Korean Songs of 2012

Whoops, we’re already a few days into 2013 and I just got around to finishing this post.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite songs of 2012!  For a person who has never watched Top Band, a LOT of my favorite music come from bands that have participated on that show.  It’s certainly seems to be doing its job of boosting talented professional musicians into the limelight.  Maybe I ought to try actually watching the show someday.  Enjoy, and here’s to discovering fresh new music in 2013!

몽니 – 더는 사랑노래 못 쓰겠다

I can’t remember when or how I found out about Monni, but I’ve been a fan of theirs since I fell in love with one of their older songs, “나 지금 뛰어가고 있어.”  I also thoroughly enjoyed their 2011 EP 단 한번의 여행 (especially “영원한 여름,” which I often say is a song that belongs on my life’s OST).  This year, Monni came out with their three-song EP 소년이 어른이 되어 and this song stood out easily.  My favorite Monni songs have had contemplative, nostalgic tones to them; this one’s more upbeat, fun, and quirky.  It’s a sound that’s a little different for them, and I like it!

버스커 버스커 – 벚꽃 엔딩

Is this Korea’s most overplayed song of 2012?  Perhaps.  Does that make me like it less in any way?  Nope.  I remember when Yekyung sent me this album, I would play this song on repeat for hours.  Bumjoon has a very unique timbre to his voice.  The slightly nasal yet soulful, earnest crooning?  Swoon.  I wouldn’t mind hearing him singing 그대여 그대여 over and over again hahaha.  And this music video wins for cutest MV of 2012.

Daybreak – 두개의 심장

AAAAAAAAAAAH.  Daybreak’s “좋다” is one of my all time favorite Korean songs and I generally think of Daybreak as my musical soulmate in every sense, so unsurprisingly,  I was EXTREMELY EXCITED when their new album SPACEenSUM came out this year.  It did not disappoint.  This track is my favorite.  It’s catchy, uplifting, and the perfect accompaniment to your Monday morning coffee.  It motivates me to get moving and accomplish things.  It’s also the type of song you should definitely listen to when you’re feeling depressed and insecure about yourself (i.e. me all the time) and it WILL make you feel better.  “너는 super duper superhero!”  How can you argue with that?

Toxic – 외로워

Another Top Band-er here.  Toxic makes me cry a little because they are so criminally underrated.  These guys have a fantastic, powerful rock sound that I don’t hear too often in Korean music, though that’s probably more apparent in their Top Band performances than in their EP.  First Bridge, which released in mid-2012, has a slightly different sound, but it’s still striking.  And how cool is it that the drummer sings?!?  Seulong’s falesettos are delightful.

Epik High ft 이하이 – 춥다

Aaaaaaahh Epik High’s long-awaited comeback had me so excited!  Lee Hi sounds nice, Epik High sounds great as usual, and the lyrics are wonderful.  Epik High is one of the many reasons I am so thankful I know a bit of Korean because their lyrics are pure poetry.  My favorite part is Tablo’s “I’m cold as ice” interspersed with Lee Hi’s singing.  It makes it apparent that the coldness they’re singing about is more than just physical coldness.  Whether it be spring or summer, you’re cold as ice, you’re the only one who’s cold.  A very lonely yet moving song.

Epik High ft Gaeko of Dynamic Duo – 아까워

Okay I love Epik High but overall I felt a bit cheated by their new album.  “춥다” skyrocketed my expectations for 99, maybe to an unreasonable degree.  In any case, 아까워 was definitely my favorite song after 춥다 because beatboxing!  IS!  SO!  COOL!  And also I really like the lyrics and overall feeling of the song.  This is the ultimate oppa song.  This is the song that a caring oppa would sing to a younger girl that he’s known for a long time and is very close to (and has developed romantic feelings for), warning her that she’s dating a  worthless jerk.  Yet, the song isn’t aggressive or plaintive; it’s gentle and cajoling.  The beat matches exactly how I’d imagine a conversation between an oppa and his girl would go.

Soran ft 김정열 of 10cm – 미쳤나봐

I’m… a little sad because 10cm is kind of my go-to band and I know they came out with a brand-new album in 2012… but none of the songs really stood out for me.  Not even “Thank You and You?,” which sounds nice enough and did well on the charts.  It may be that the entire album was mellower than I expected it to be.  Soran, on the other hand, released their first full album and did very well with their ridiculously adorable single “살 빼지마요” which I loved.  This song brings the best of both worlds.  Their voices are lovely together, it’s cute and relaxing and ugh let’s face it, any song where Kim Jung-yeol sings the part of the doting boyfriend, I’m a fan.

Casker – Blossom

Casker released a beautiful new album in 2012 called 여정 – it’s almost a crime to have to choose just one song because the album is so seamlessly put together.  All the songs are part of a single entity; it’s impossible for me to pick my favorite.  I chose Blossom as a representative song for the whole album because it has some of the most thoughtful lyrics I have ever heard in a song.  Listen to this song when you’re on a subway or train or bus or walking down a crowded street.  It really makes you think.


Nell had a productive year.  Slip Away came out in early 2012 and Holding Onto Gravity near the end.  I think this is just a matter of taste, but Slip Away is easily my least favorite Nell album (my sister’s going to kill me haha).  I just felt very… meh about all the songs.  But Holding onto Gravity brought me right back.  “백야”  has a hauntingly beautiful music video, similar to “그리고, 남겨진 것들” but was far more captivating to listen to.  It reminded me of why I liked Nell in the first place.  Separation Anxiety is still my overall favorite album (and “멀어지다” my favorite Nell song) but this one’s creeping up there.  “Coin Seller” is another lovely track from this EP.

김성규 – I need you

So 2012 was the year Infinite’s Sunggyu got to indulge in his dream of becoming a rock musician with his solo album 또 다른 나.  I call it an indulgence because (as much as I like Infinite and Sunggyu!) his vocals are not exactly strong enough to pull off some of the strong melodies included in his album.  Nell’s own Kim Jongwan composed “Shine” which made me both extremely happy and uncomfortable by equal measures.  It’s a great song and Sunggyu does a good job of singing it – but there’s this nagging feeling that the song would have sounded 1000000x better if Nell had performed it themselves.  Sunggyu’s made it no secret that he’s a long-time admirer of Nell and I’m sure he was thrilled to sing a song composed by Jongwan; my only criticism is that “Shine” was a bit too much Nell and not enough Sunggyu.  That’s why I like “I need you” much better.  A lot actually.  It’s my favorite track out of the album.  It’s soft, youthful, earnest and very nice to listen to.  And although it was composed by Nell’s bassist Lee Junghoon, the song suits Sunggyu’s voice and age much better.

Wow, what a long post.  Music has always been a main source of motivation for me in language learning, so I always have a lot to say about my favorite songs and artists.  Hope you all discovered something new from this post too.  Can’t wait to see what I’ll discover in 2013!

3 thoughts on “10 Favorite Korean Songs of 2012

  1. I love the list you have compiled. Although it’s not exactly my taste, I still managed to find a lot of new bands that I could enjoy. So thanks very much. And an Infinite stan I’m so glad that you included Sunggyu’s I need you. Also my favorite track of that album.


  2. I like the list that you’ve made. Although not exactly my taste I discovered a few bandsthat I very much enjoyed. And I also like that you’ve included Sunggyu with I need You, which happens to be my fav song too. As an Inspirit, it’s an album that I’ve hard on replay for many times. So it’s good to see mentioned here :)


  3. I feel the same about 10cm. I was so happy when they released their 2nd album, but I miss the sound of their 1st album. Not liking 권정열’s new hairstyle either…I tot he was pretty attractive then he cut his hair in such a weird way. Whyyy :O

    Have you heard this song he did? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At0sfkiOHm4
    I really like this style and the lyrics, also the songs they sang on Infinity Challenge with Haha. I actually heard (and recorded) some buskers in Hongdae playing the same song. Even though it was not 10cm, but their song, i was all fangirly and the bf was just like ‘sigh’.


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