15 Songs You Should Have Listened to in 2014 (But Probably Didn’t)

2014 was a amazing year for K-pop! We saw the release of great songs like “Overdose” by EXO, “Back” by Infinite and “Something” by Girl’s Day. K-pop goes well-beyond the typical dance music featured so heavily in most music videos today though. It literally covers all types of popular music in Korea and can include everything from R&B, rap, electronic, pop, etc. With so many great songs being released, however, sometimes other songs fall through the cracks and are forgotten- despite being really amazing! Do you think you know every great K-pop song released in 2014? Think again! Read on to see 15 Songs You Should Have Listened to in 2014 (But Probably Didn’t).

M.I.B. – Chisa’ Bounce

With a definite dance beat and club feel, this song is quickly rising in popularity as K-pop fans are discovering M.I.B and their unique sound. Although M.I.B. has been around since 2011, they have often been overlooked in an industry saturated with boy bands. However, the group is finally coming to the attention of a broader audience, due in part to the sudden rise in popularity of the group’s oldest member, Kangnam.

Megan Lee ft. Yong Junhyung of BEAST – 8dayz

Although Megan started an acting career at the age of 10, she is most famous for her indie songs and videos posted on youtube. This song, however, was her official debut under the label with whom she signed. The upbeat tempo shows the influences that Western artists (such as Adele, Bruno Mars, and Kelly Clarkson) have had on her music and showcases her clear vocals and guitar skills.

BEAT WIN- illusion

Did you know over 100 rookie groups and artists made their debut in 2014? With so much competition, it’s hard to stand out and make an impact on fans. Some go for the sexy concept, some try for cutting edge lyrics and others attempt a unique sound. With BEAT WIN however, they just stuck with solid vocal performances, a cute song, and a catchy music video. The concept totally worked because it seemed so natural and fun for the guys. With easy lyrics and an upbeat chorus, you’ll be singing along in no time!

John Park – U

Recently, artists and musicians are finding more opportunities outside the traditional pop genre in Korea. This track by John Park is definitely one of the songs which leaves behind the typical K-pop sound and delves into what most people consider alternative pop-rock. If you’re a fan of artists like One Republic and The Fray, chances are you will love this song, as well as Park’s complimentary vocals.

Topp Dogg – Arario

Many young groups in K-pop are trying to become more Western in an attempt to appeal to a broader, international audience. However, Topp Dogg shows they still take immense pride in their Korean heritage by incorporating traditional outfits and instruments into their song and MV. The combination of traditional and modern makes for a unique sound and holds your attention throughout the entire song.

MAMAMOO – Mr. Ambiguous

Hands down, MAMAMOO is one of my favorite rookie groups from 2014. While “Mr. Ambiguous” perfectly showcases their full vocals and catchy, vintage sound, the fun music video is full of cameos by famous male celebrities such as Bumkey, Jung Joon Young, and CNBLUE guitarist Lee Jonghyun. Also noteworthy is MAMAMOO’s other jazz-inspired song, “Piano Man.”

Eric Nam ft. Hoya of Infinite – Ooh Ooh

“Ooh Ooh” is the prime example of what a K-pop song and MV are meant to be- fun, different, catchy, colorful, and visually pleasing. With his smooth vocals and funny personality, Eric makes this song shine even more. While some fans may recognize Eric from his hosting job on the program After School Club,” there is no doubt that he is an equal competitor to other artists in terms of talent.

BESTie – Thank U Very Much

While the verse of this song is solid, at first it doesn’t appear to be very different from the many other K-pop songs out there. However, as the song progresses, you begin to feel a light, pop vibe very reminiscent of the early 90s and singers like Mariah Carey. The lyrics are easy to sing along to and the melody is really catchy as well. For me, this was a song that quickly got stuck in my head!

Legend – Left Out

So many boy bands have been debuting lately and it seems like they’re all competing to have the fiercest, hip-hop sound. That’s why it’s so refreshing to have a rookie group with a song that reminds you of the classic days of K-pop. A definite throwback to the early days of groups like SS501, the vocal-heavy chorus of “Left Out” features a light, feel-good vibe with a modern twist.

Lucky J – Can You Hear Me

This new group is made up of the 3 members J’Kyun, Jessi, and J-Yo. They debuted in July of this year and are a self-proclaimed hip-hop group. However, they definitely put their own flair and sound to their songs and go beyond what most people think of when it comes to hip-hop. This is one of my favorite songs of the year and features gorgeous, strong vocals by Jessi. I can’t wait to hear more from this group in the future!

HA:TFELT – Ain’t Nobody

A lot of people out there aren’t aware that the artist HA:TFELT is Ye Eun of Wonder Girls. When working on this project, she wanted to go with a totally different concept and pop-rock genre. With a slightly alternative sound, HA:TFELT doesn’t resemble the Wonder Girls singer at all. However, her trademark voice delivers powerful emotion on each track of her album, especially in the title track “Ain’t Nobody.”

ZE:A – Breathe 

“Breathe” is one of of my favorite songs and music videos by ZE:A. Although some fans complained that it was too similar to one of BEAST‘s music videos, the song is still unique in its sound and has a really catchy beat. Active since 2010, ZE:A has always delivered solid performances and had a number of successful songs, but they have never been able to achieve outstanding success. However, most fans blame this on the label and their handling of ZE:A’s promotional activities.

Kiss & Cry – Domino Game

Hands down, this is one of my all-time favorite songs of 2014! When I first heard it, I immediately thought of a South-American beat and flavor. Despite good reviews and reception of their first single, the group’s label decided to disband them after just a few months. Fortunately though, we still have one amazing song by which to remember them. Be warned however- one of the girls in the MV looks eerily similar to Super Junior‘s Leeteuk!

Yoon Mirae ft. Tiger JK and Bizzy – Angel

Formerly known as MFBTY, this group debuted in 2013 before changing their name. Yoon Mirae is the wife of Tiger JK and the two are both good friends of Bizzy. They term themselves as an R&B, hip-hop unit. Although they are more well-known in Korea, the trio virtually remains a hidden gem from most international audiences. However, this recording hit number one on four different Korean charts within 24 hours of being released!

Jun. K – No Love

This song is like a buffet for my ears- it has a little bit of everything! With sounds ranging from a Broadway musical to old-school R&B, somehow every piece comes together to form a near-flawless song. Although Jun. K is a member of the internationally-popular K-pop group 2PM, for some reason this song has only reached approximately 620,000 views on the label’s official YouTube channel. Out of all the songs on this list however, it is definitely one of my favorites!

BONUS: MC Mong ft. Ailee – Be Strong

As a bonus song, here is an audio-only version of MC Mong’s song “Be Strong,” featuring talented singer Ailee. Although MC Mong’s entire recent album is worth listening to, the vulnerable and bittersweet lyrics of this song make it really stand apart. Combining his rap and hip-hop skills with Ailee’s pure vocals, the song is definitely a winner! mamamoo2

Had you already listened to these amazing songs? Did you find any new songs you like? Which one of these songs is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below! In the meantime, stay tuned for Part 2 of “Songs You Should Have Listened to in 2014 (But Probably Didn’t).”

lee1086 is a Soompi writer who lives for music, playing the piano, Super Junior, and Eunsihae. She is also a fan of 3rd Wave Music, BIGBANG, EXO and more. When she is not watching the latest K-Drama or obsessing over the perfection of Lee Donghae, she is busy at church or hanging out with her family and friends.