20 Best K-Pop Songs of 2013: K-Town Picks

From Billboard Korea's offices in Gangnam to the East and West coasts, check out the songs that the Billboard and Billboard Korea staff were blasting all year from K-pop veterans to the top boy and girl groups.

Following last year's inaugural ranking of Billboard's 20 Best K-Pop Songs of the year, the Billboard and Billboard Korea staff once again scoured the K-Pop Hot 100 and beyond to find the best songs to represent popular music hailing from South Korea. With bounds of fantastic singles released this year, the following is the 20 we feel break language barriers, push conventional music boundaries and highlight the fantastic range of music the K-pop scene produced in 2013.

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20

G-Dragon feat. Missy Elliot, "Niliria"

 

The "Supa Dupa Fly" rapper brings her tongue-in-cheek flow to GD's spits and growls, even mixing two of their respective signature hits in one lyric: "Get your freak on, baby / Get your cray on, baby." The song is an infectious concoction of Eastern and Western sounds, sampling vocals from the Korean traditional folk song "Niliria" while mixing strong hip-hop elements and electronic thump, enhanced by double reed and siren sounds.

19

Kara, "Damaged Lady"

Six years into their careers, Kara is still proving to have a few tricks up its sleeves. The same zippy synths heard in past singles like "Wanna" and "Pandora" are now juxtaposed with noisy, electric guitar riffs. The edgy, rock-inspired production backing the girls' coos and raps shows that a veteran girl group can still shock listeners.

18

Glen Check, "Young Generation"

Synth-pop group Glen Check's dancefloor jam is an infectious mix of scraggly electro guitar, palpitating synths and head-bopping beats with a heavy '80s ambience that's helped the duo thrive above its contemporaries.

17

Beast, "Shadow"

The six-member boy band exploded back to the scene after a long hiatus with "Shadow." The lavish, piano-driven composition features highly-charged vocals, falsetto-driven chorus and sharp rapping, accompanied by goth-like music video to make it one of the more exciting summer singles.

16

miss A, "Hush"

While "Hush" is one banging pop track, the quartet teases listeners by purring over a swelling, electro-pop production complemented by bongos, piano and acoustic guitar until the beat hits at the second verse and explodes by the chorus. Instead of giving it all away the beginning, miss A showcase a perfected art of the aural tease.

15

Lee Hi, "Rose"

The monster rookie who landed on this year's 21 Under 21 showcased a different side of herself after a pair of throwback-inspired singles "1,2,3,4" and "It's Over" with this melancholic dance track. The 17-year-old belts -- and coolly raps -- over a dramatic production, comparing her alluring love to a thorny rose.

14

Zion.T feat. Gaeko of Dynamic Duo, "Babay"

One of the most promising rookies to make an official debut this year was, hands down, the multi-talented, quirky singer Zion.T. The electro-funk track "Babay," featuring hip-hop veteran and labelmate Gaeko of Dynamic Duo, is a fun, bouncy track that indicates Zion.T as a major force to look out for in 2014.

13

2PM, "A.D.T.O.Y."

Sweeping violins, surging electro beats, knocking drum 'n' bass: 2PM's "A.D.T.O.Y." is the type of progressive R&B track dudes like Usher would kill for. 

12

Girl's Day, "Female President"

 

After the girl group revamped its image with the electro-pop banger "Expectation" -- which at times recalled the beat from Nicki Minaj's "Pound the Alarm" -- Girl's Day came back even stronger with its follow-up single. Incorporating everything from tribal beats and trumpets to hand claps and rocky guitars, "Female President" is not only a composition triumph -- with each chorus switching up its structure -- but also vocal, with the girls belting their hearts out.

 

11

Bumkey feat. E-Sens of Supreme Team, "Bad Girl"

Until the tango-inflected, hip-hop track "Bad Girl," Bumkey had struggled to land a huge hit. Teaming up with acclaimed rapper E-Sens, Bumkey's buttery vocals mixes with E-Sens' precise rapping atop a groovy melody that has listeners snapping fingers and bopping heads immediately.