Made a YouTube playlist of my favorite tracks from K-pop's lower commercial tiers.
In ascending order. As you can see, I like both it and that:
Leader'S "Hope" (2011). The song is called "Hope" but the sound is heartache 24/7. I left NYC several years before Hot 97 or whatever it was came in with a Latin freestyle format, but I can imagine this humid emotion emanating daily from car radios and bodegas on my block (I lived on the northern end of Mott Street, which was nominally still part of Little Italy, but the Italians had mostly moved to more well-to-do neighborhoods, being replaced by immigrants from the Dominican Republic).
D-Unit ft. Vasco "Stay Alive" (2013). Produced by Zico of Block B, this is a lot more natural than his own group ever was at creating a hip-hop idol sound, emphatic rapping with a backdrop that's half dreamy and half disorienting.
Chi Chi "Sexy Doll" (2012). A come-on that sounds at least as ominous as it is salacious.
Z.Hera "Peacock" (2013). Haven't yet discovered who wrote this, but it's someone with a far better understanding than I of Chopin or whomever, the track moving along towards inevitable bliss, while the singer uses the strain in her voice to suggest struggle and uneasiness. She just debuted, and I'm hoping for great things.
Clinah "So What If" (2011). Fractured power pop. It feels Japanese.
Tiny G "Minimanimo" (2013). I wonder if Bo Diddley had the least inkling in 1955 that he was setting the beat not just for buckets 'n' guts, but for sprites and nymphs.
Miss $ "Physical Or Emotional" (2012). Back to the dark Bodega wail. Miss $ had been a so-what r&b act for several years until they suddenly blossomed into passion.
Evol "Get Up" (2013). Get ur twisty little freak on, and take it to the disco.
GLAM "I Like That" (2013). Samples New York City sorrow, then pushes towards a joy most complicated.
Flashe "Drop It" (2012). A lot like "Bo Peep Bo Peep" in the way it teases and nags you.
New.F.O "Bounce" (2011). While the video apes 2NE1-style imperiousness, the band bubbles and bounces.
ChoColat "I Like It" (2011). Young Melanie wants it all, with a massive voice of promise and pain.
Crayon Pop "Bar Bar Bar" (2013). Perhaps they're lucky not to be stars. They get to spray everyone in their audience with water pistols.
E.via (now calling herself Tymee) "Pick Up! U!" (2010). The queen of the lower reaches, she can be anything from a severe art bitch to the cutest and quickest of the wild spirits. Here she gives us fractured power pop, fractured dance pop, fractured Poképop.
Fat Cat "My Love Bad Boy" (2011). Putatively cute and catchy, our heroine breaks her voice into scrapes, sparks, and splatters, and the sort of hooks that rip flesh.
Honorable mentions: Gangkiz "Honey Honey," A-Jax "Hot Game," MYNAME "Just That Little Thing," Blady "Spark Spark," Delight "Mega Yak," X-Cross "Crazy."
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I crossposted this on ILM's K-pop 2013.