5 Favorite K-pop MVs of 2018

We had lots of videos from some heavy hitters this year, plus one surprise League of Legends crossover.

1. “POP/STARS” by K/DA

This one is a little complicated, but just watch the video and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

K/DA is a virtual band whose members are the League of Legends game characters Ahri, Evelynn, Akali, and Kai’Sa. But the vocals are provided by real singers, including two K-pop idols of the group (G)I-dle, Soyeon (rapper/Akali) and Miyeon (vocalist/Ahri).  Basically, Riot Games wanted to promote some new skins for LoL characters and ended up creating the most awesome music video of the year.

Soyeon is one of the fastest rising stars in K-pop right now; she’s a great rapper, has amazing stage presence, and is a wonderful leader for her rookie group (G)I-dle, which had two hits this year.

See also:

2. “Sober” by Hyo

I’ve been thrilled to see Hyoyeon, the main dancer of Girls Generation, putting out more solo stuff.  This video just makes me want to dance around the house every time I watch it.  Also, I appreciate the diversity and body-positive visuals.

3. “Idol” by BTS

You knew BTS had to be on this list somewhere.  I love this video for its spunk and energy, its Korean cultural influences, and its drawings of leader RM with kitty ears.  This video was so good it got a Bad Lip Reading treatment.

4. “Egotistic” by Mamamoo

K-pop follows US music trends, so it’s no surprise that many singles this year featured Latin music influences; Mamamoo is one group that did it very well and will have you yelling “bicho malo” right along with them.  They are such a wonderful mix of talent and confidence, and their live performances are some of the best in K-pop.

5. “Ddu-du Ddu-du” by BLACKPINK

Another killer hit by one of my favorite girl groups, BLACKPINK.  I don’t know what else to say about this except that it has all the swag you’d expect, including a glittery tank, and that Lisa is about the only person alive who could make those green gloves look cool.  Rapper Jennie also released a solo with a great MV this year.

Live Performances:

I’ve been watching more live performances from music shows and awards shows this year, so here are a few that I thought were really special.

  1. “Woman” by BoA on KBS Music Bank.  The legendary BoA makes her entrance by walking upside-down, then flipping over and performing the whole song live with the energy of idols half her age.
  2. “Latata” by (G)I-dle on SBS Inkigayo.  Can you believe these girls are rookies?? I can’t!  I think I watched every single stage promotion of this, their debut song.
  3. “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” by Key on You Hee-yeol’s Sketchbook. SHINee’s triple threat Key had a solo debut this year, and while promoting his song he also performed this lovely Coldplay cover.

5 Favorite K-pop MVs of 2016

Another wonderful year of K-pop music videos; here are some of my favorites.

  1. “Blood Sweat & Tears” by BTS

Just when I thought I couldn’t love BTS any more, they came out with their Wings album this year.  This video, aside from the catchy song, has great choreography and complex scenery, plus the classic BTS cryptic/philosophical story.  Normally I hate it when MVs put a break in the middle of the song, but I didn’t mind it so much here.  Rap Monster is reciting lines from Hesse’s Demian; sales of this book have apparently jumped haha.

2. “Sayonara Hitori” by Taemin

Who knew SHINee’s maknae Taemin was actually an anime character?  Between the special effects and Taemin’s dancing, this is probably the most visually amazing MV I saw all year.  I also loved that this is the Japanese version (which I can understand better–and I think his Japanese has improved).

3. “Whistle” by BLACKPINK

I’m not the only one who loves this video, because it just won best MV at the 2016 MAMAs.  This rookie group is helping to fill a part of the 2NE1-shaped hole in my heart.  These four girls have such great style and attitude.  They already have four great songs out (“Playing with Fire” is another favorite), and I have a feeling I’ll be a fan for years to come.

4. “Cheer Up” and “TT” by TWICE

TWICE is back again this year with two cute videos.  I embedded “Cheer Up” because I think it’s marginally more original.  Each of the girls is playing a character in a different genre of movie (horror, action, romantic drama, kawaii magical girl, etc.), which is a fun way to play up some different tropes and give each girl a distinct personality (kind of important when there’s nine of them).  “TT” also has a cute use of Halloween costumes to achieve the same effect.

5. “I Like That” by SISTAR

While SISTAR is a very talented group, I’ve never really been a fan because their videos tend to be gratuitously sexy, to the point that I’m uncomfortable.  But this video has a very classy style of sexy, with a Chinese theme and some interesting choreography using their drape skirts.  The use of silhouettes near the end is also very striking.

Other Honorable Mentions:

  1. “Hate” by 4Minute—Before they broke up, Hyuna’s former group 4Minute gave us a follow-up to last year’s “Crazy.”  This one was produced by Skrillex, so wait for the drop.
  2. “Liar Liar” by Oh My Girl—From another younger girl group, this video has some great transitions, and I liked the references to Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland.  They also did a dance version wearing roller skate shoes!
  3. “Queen” by History—We needed some more guys on this list, and who can resist guys in suits? I don’t know what the part with the puzzle is about at all, but the rest is pure eye candy.
  4. “I’m Jelly BABY” by AOA Cream—I know I’ve said I don’t like cutesy concepts, but this one by the subgroup of AOA is so over-the-top with its magical girl theme, I just can’t resist.
  5. “Why Not” by Bulldok—Also known as “How’s This?”–this song is the debut of another tough girl group.  The first rapper looks straight out of Sucker Punch, and the second seems like she’s in a Final Fantasy game.

What do they (nearly) all have in common?

I was just reading this somewhere and it made me laugh; if you watch all these, you can see a trend appear: having all the members sit around a table.  Four or five of these videos have that trope (you can even see it in the thumbnail for “Blood Sweat & Tears), plus a few others I can think of (like Red Velvet’s “Russian Roulette”).  Too funny!