10 K-Pop Songs You’d Be Surprised to Know Never Won First Place

Sometimes it’s the song, and sometimes it’s the competition. Sometimes the stars just don’t align.

After School’s “Bang!”

“Bang!” was After School’s third Korean single, released in 2010, and the first appearance of eighth member Lizzy. Despite the fast-paced rhythm and eye-catching marching band concept, the single peaked at a respectable second place on the Gaon Singles Chart. The choreography was accused of plagiarism by German choreographer Camillo Lauricella, though the claim was refuted by Pledis Entertainment.

U-Kiss’s “0330″

Released in 2011, the music video for the softer, toned-down song “0330” tells an emotional story about a boy who can’t accept that his girlfriend died at 3:30. Although the album “Bran New Kiss” peaked at No. 2 on the Gaon Weekly Album Chart, the song never reached higher than No. 27 on the Weekly Digital Songs Chart. Like “Bang!,” the single was also involved in a plagiarism controversy, but this time another artist was accused of copying U-Kiss.

Jewelry-S’s “It’s All Right”

In the same year, hit girl group Jewelry’s subunit Jewelry-S (made up of members Yewon and Semi) released a digital single called “It’s All Right” (also known as “Forget It”). The dance ballad never placed higher than No. 44 on the charts, though it reached as high as No. 33 on KBS’s “Music Bank.”

SPICA’s “Russian Roulette”

One of my favorite underrated girl groups, “Russian Roulette” was SPICA‘s official debut song in 2012. Despite the fusion of rock, electronic, guitar, and strings, not to mention the amazing vocals, the album of the same name never placed higher than No. 46 on the charts.

ZE:A’s “Aftereffect”

Long before the ZE:A members made a name for themselves in solo careers, Star Empire Entertainment’s boy group released their second full-length album. (Side note: Watching this performance was such a throwback.) “Aftereffect” was composed by Brave Brothers and Galactika and released in 2012, the dance number charted at No. 29, their highest ever until “The Ghost of the Wind” in the following year.

Eric Nam’s “Heaven’s Door”

After being discovered on YouTube, the Atlanta-raised singer made it to the top five of “Birth of a Great Star 2” in 2011. “Heaven’s Door” was part of his debut album, “Cloud 9,” in 2013. Despite releasing the sweet acoustic-sounding number in both Korean and English, the song never surpassed No. 66.

9MUSES’ “Dolls”

This dance number with a fun groove was released in 2013 after some lineup changes the year before. Although the song peaked at a respectable No. 7, it never won first place.

Ladies’ Code’s “Pretty Pretty”

A pop song with a retro feel like many of Ladies’ Code’s songs, “Pretty Pretty” debuted about a year before the girl group’s tragic accident. The album did reasonably well, charting at No. 14 on the Gaon Weekly Album Chart.

miss A’s “Only You”

This catchy, long-awaited miss A comeback actually did nab No. 1 on the digital charts, but never won a single music show award. Member Suzy jokingly tweeted JYP when his own song, “Who’s Your Mama,” ended up conflicting with miss A’s performances. At the same time, the JYPE girl group faced stiff competition from popular boy band EXO.

GFRIEND’s “Me Gustas Tu”

One of my favourite songs this summer, this fresh, sweet comeback by rookie group GFRIEND recently went viral when the group slipped multiple times on a rainy stage. The song did better than their debut on its release, but peaked at No. 8 on digital charts after the incident.

What songs do you think should have won first place? Are there any others that should’ve won but didn’t?

Edit: The release year for After School’s “Bang!” was corrected from 2011 to 2010.

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