2011 has been a year of great comebacks. For too often, a quality artist or group makes a comeback that is completely lackluster and disappointing; however, I am quite happy to say that this year’s comebacks (and debuts) have been more than satisfactory. Here are my top ten artists of 2011:
With the release of their album “Love Delight”, the vocal powerhouse duo has been garnering a lot of attention for their amazing talent. It’s been a great year for the two with Min Kyung participating in Immortal Song 2 and Hae Ri starring in two musicals (Mozart and Tears of Heaven). Both members are quality singers who are recognized for stellar live performances as well. I really enjoyed their album “Love Delight” because it showcases their versatility and all-round awesomeness.
Yes, you are the best. No one can deny that the fierce ladies of 2NE1 deserve a spot on the top ten. After blowing up the Korean music scene with their unconventional style, the girls have gone on to break records, top charts, and even receive recognition in the United States. With the exception of “Hate You”, I have loved every song that they released this year, and their album was a work of art itself. Although much credit has to be given to Teddy, YG’s mastermind, 2NE1 has worked hard to deserve their place at the top. What I like about 2NE1 is that although the group has an extremely distinct style, each member brings something unique to the table. Together, they are able to tackle almost every genre (ballad, reggae, pop, electronica, rock, etc.) and still be recognized as 2NE1.
I’m not even going to try to hide how much I love Infinite. Before their debut, the boys caught my attention with their sharp practice videos and teasers. Up until the latter half of this year, they did not receive much attention for their amazing albums and live performances. However, things started looking brighter for them when for the first time, they came in first on a music program. *I thought it was hilarious how their company would only move them out of their mega-cramped, leaking dorm into a brand new one once they won first place* What really stands out about Infinite is there raw talent and musical style. With a few exceptions (“Before the Dawn” being one), their music has this fun, 90’s pop style to it that is rarely seen in Kpop. Their debut single “Come Back Again” is still my favorite song of theirs because it really reminds me of my Radio Disney days. Additionally, the boys of Infinite are known to have dance skills that beat out even the most popular boy groups in Kpop. It’s kind of crazy how in sync they are during their live performances, all while delivering stellar vocals. With lead singer, Woohyun shining in Immortal Song 2, Hoya being recognized for his dancing and rapping skills, and both Sungyu and Woohyun to debut in a musical next year, the future is definitely looking bright for Infinite.
About a year ago, I didn’t really know who B2ST was. I had heard their song “Shock” and thought it was mediocre. When they released “Soom”, I felt it was the same song, just reengineered so I didn’t think too much of the group. However, the boys made a stellar comeback with “Fiction”, a ridiculously awesome song that even won the group Best Song. Their 2011 album “Fiction and Fact” was one of the only albums where I can honestly say I loved every single song. After being the underdogs for so long, B2ST came back with such intensity and originality. Also, many of the members were successfully in their individual endeavors. Leader Doo Joon featured in Eluphant’s “Kidult”, Yosoeb sang for Bang Young Gook’s “I Remember”, Hyungseung debut in a subunit with Hyuna, and Ki Kwang acted in the popular drama “My Princess”. B2ST has been highly successful this year and deserve all of the recognition they have been receiving.
I’m kind of a sucker for MBLAQ as I’m really into their style of music (a cool fusion of electronica, dance and pop, think Y, Stay, and Again). However, in 2011, the boys made did a 180 in their musical style by taking a more mellow twist on things. Despite their title single “Mona Lisa” being more upbeat and mainstream, the rest of their album consisted of songs that had more of an indie feel to them. I really liked this transformation and am super excited for their upcoming mini album.
Brown Eyed Girls
As the queens of awesomness and badass-ness (yes, I understand that isn’t a word), the ladies of BEG had a great year in 2011. After their 2-year hiatus, they came back more powerful than ever with their album “Sixth Sense”. Before their release, BEG mentioned that they had already created an entire album, but decided to scrap it since it wasn’t good enough. It was apparent that a lot of hard work and effort went into the production of the album. I was also extremely impressed with the improvement of Ga In and Narsha’s vocals; not that they were bad to start with, but the intensity and power behind their voices was really great to hear.
It’s a shame that Lee Jung’s 2011 album “Let’s Dance” kind of flew under the radar this year, but the singer makes it into my top ten because of his amazing vocal performance. Although in the United States, Lee Jung’s style and vocal abilities are not out of the ordinary, in the Korean music industry, it is hard to come by. I loved his album “Let’s Dance” because he infuses rap, ballads, soul, pop, and much more. He also collaborated with artists such as Lessang, Hilary, and Yammo.
Tablo’s album was the one of the albums that I anticipated the most in 2011 and it did not fail to disappoint. His musical and lyrical genius is pretty well known both in the States and in Korea. With his move to YG Entertainment, I was a little bit anxious that Tablo’s unique style would be lost in YG’s distinct sound, but fortunately enough “Fever’s End” held to his own. Part 1 of the album had an extremely depressing but interesting tone to it, while the second part was more uplifting and hopeful. I’m glad that Tablo has had the chance to spread his wings after going through such a devastating scandal.
Although 4Men has always been my favorite ballad group, they really exceeded my expectations in 2011. They released an amazing album, “The Artist” that contained tracks that diverge from their usual style. I loved that although they are known for being the best within their genre (ballads), they can also sing pop and R&B flawlessly. Additionally, their maknae, Shin Young Jae sang a gorgeous cover of 2NE1’s lonely that brought the group a lot of attention. Check it out here
Although I wasn’t the most avid fan of their new album (I only really liked three of the songs), Big Bang definitely deserves a spot on this list. The three songs that I did like (Stupid Liar, Love Song, and Café) were absolutely amazing. I don’t know how YG managed to get five of Korea’s most talented people all in one group, but kudos to them. All three songs are unusual in both the Korean and American sense of the word and are sung/rapped with so much skill and talent. With Daesung’s musical-themed drama on air, Taeyang featuring in label mate, Tablo’s single, T.O.P smoking things up for various magazines, Seung Ri’s awesome album, and G-Dragon endorsing Bean Pole and GMarket, all the members of Big Bang have had an amazing year.