2013: Japan & Korea’s All Kills
The more traditional side to k-pop was repped by old-timers Jewelry, who put out the underrated synth gush of Hot & Cold, probably the best 80s tribute of the year (file it alongside Flatline by British ex-Sugababes trio Mutya Keisha Siobhan). It’s first class pop that doesn’t let up, follow any trends, nor tread through the usual motions, all things which could have been very easy for a group that’s been around as long as Jewelry to do.
Listening to all of these tracks’ high production levels, it’s ironic that the year in k-pop was actually won out by Crayon Pop, a group who make songs that sound like karaoke backing tracks. But what fun tracks they are, right? Bing was the first one I heard, and its Osaka-set MV made me look forward to my own Japan trip in the summer . Of course, their monster hit was Bar Bar Bar which could be heard everywhere in Seoul this year, eclipsing even Psy  or I Got A Boy. It’s so turbo-charged and traditionally k-pop, with a rap solo and everything, yet still startlingly fresh.
They’ve also released the incredibly infectious Lonely Christmas which sounds as Christmassy as a Mediterranean school disco.
Check out some great Korean indie on the next page.