Throughout the month of December, we brought you our list of the best and most important K-Pop songs of 2012. Now, we’re pleased to present the best K-Pop music videos of 2012!
Read on to find out where your favorites rank in our list- Today, we bring you the top twenty five.
25. HyunA “Ice Cream”
Label: Cube Entertainment
Release Date: October 21, 2012
HyunA‘s solo comeback with “Ice Cream” was certainly one of the most talked-about of the year. Pre-release, the video was teased as being super sexy, and had most people anticipating that it would get banned by broadcast stations or MOGEF itself. However, the video manages to stay just shy of crossing the line, and was never penalized further than a 15+ age restriction. “Ice Cream” takes the comic book goofiness of 2011′s “Bubble Pop” to a whole new level, dropping in on some kind of Batman-related rally to deliver ice cream to an angry crowd. In return for HyunA’s cameo in “Gangnam Style“, Psy makes an appearance as an ice cream thief in the beginning of the video. After the release of “Ice Cream”, the video raked in views at an unprecedented rate, catapulting it to YouTube‘s Most Viewed charts and earning mentions on major music sites like Billboard.
24. Eru ft. Junhyung of B2ST “I Hate You”
Label: YMC Entertainment
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Emotional break-ups and dramatic love triangles are staple storylines in all forms of media, including music videos. As such, these stories can feel a bit tired and overdone. Eru‘s video for “I Hate You” manages to avoid this problem by using an unusual split-screen filming style (15& later used a similar technique in their debut video “I Dream“) and a surprise twist at the end keeps things both interesting and memorable.
23. John Park “Falling”
Label: Music Farm
Release Date: February 21, 2012
John Park‘s “Falling” is a beautifully shot video that uses a shipping container to demonstrate the different stages of a doomed relationship- an unconventional choice, but one that works to great effect. The singer begins the video sitting inside of a cargo container on an airplane. As he sings about confessing to the person he’s falling for, the container is ejected from the plane. It freefalls from a high altitude through the clouds, allowing John Park and the contents of the container to float around inside the container as if they’re flying. The good feelings don’t last forever, though, as the container crash-lands in the ocean, knocking Park out cold as the box slowly fills with water. The video ends on a hopeful note, as the container washes ashore and Park escapes, having the opportunity to start all over.
22. Hello Venus “What Are You Doing Today?”
Label: Pledis Entertainment
Release Date: December 13, 2012
Set-based videos don’t have to be boring, and Hello Venus proved just how effective this kind of video can be with “What Are You Doing Today?“. Armed with nothing but a few set pieces and some cup-and-string phones, the video makes use of a cute color scheme and simple-but-little-used effects that make the girls appear to be sliding past the camera on conveyor belts. They even make fun of the common music video trope of having one love interest for multiple band members by ending the video with their love interest looking confused and exhausted, tangled up in a pile of cup-and-string phones. “What Are You Doing Today?” proved that it’s totally possible to make simple, low-budget videos that are still interesting and engaging, which is something we hope to see more of in K-Pop’s future.
21. MBLAQ “This is War”
Label: J.Tune Camp
Release Date: January 9, 2012
This isn’t the first time MBLAQ gave us a dramatic music video – they did it once before in “Y“. However, this time around they decided to take out the literally flashy outfits and put in much more drama scenes than dance scenes, even borrowing an idea from the comic and movie ‘Wanted‘ . Member Lee Joon takes the role of the main character who isn’t afraid to use his gun first, and thankfully as one of the rare idols who is praised for his acting, takes us on a mini-drama trip. Even Thunder seems to be acting jts fine. The only problem with this music video is that in J.Tune Camp seems to be recycling concepts – Lee Joon’s girlfriend cheating on him, Lee Joon beating up a fellow member who ends up with said girlfriend (it was Seungho before it was Thunder), Lee Joon shooting at people, and even Lee Joon buying plane tickets he doesn’t end up using was all seen before in “Y”.
20. Lumi-L “Popopo”
Label: OTWO Entertainment
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Adorable ’93-liner and Fine Arts major at School of the Art Institute of Chicago Lumi-L popped onto the scene earlier this year, promising to be a “stream of light” in the K-Pop industry. Her debut video, “Popopo“, certainly lived up to that title, and probably takes the cake as the most brightly-colored video of 2012. The video features a neon, watercolor cartoon of Lumi-L who walks and dances through a kaleidoscope of sets that grow more and more fantastical as the video progresses. Back in October, Lumi-L announced on her official Facebook page that she’d finished recording a comeback song, and we can’t wait to see what new and interesting things she has for us.
19. Seo In Young “Let’s Dance”
Label: CJ E&M Music
Release Date: October 18, 2012
Some fans were a bit disappointed with Seo In Young‘s first 2012 comeback, “Anymore“. The video had potential to be interesting, but got lost in trying too hard to be quirky. All was forgiven, however, when her follow-up, “Let’s Dance“, took us on a trip all the way to outer space, in search of the elusive Planet of Diamonds. The video blends modern elements with campy, 70′s sci-fi TV shows and movies, if those shows and movies took place at a disco.
18. UV “I Want to Live With Her”
Label: MUZIE SOUND
Release Date: September 4, 2012
I don’t know if UV made the song just so they can film the music video, but in the end the product was quite genius. The music video pokes fun at almost every aspect of Korean dramas – the cheesy love video calls, the dramatic poster, the mother who always seems to be against the relationships, a water-splashing-on-the-face scene, and the son who defies his mother to follow his love. They even provide hilarious subtitles for those who don’t speak Korean such as “Ah!!~ (screaming)“. Every one who watches K-dramas have to admit – these scenes are always in dramas. And in the end, if that wasn’t enough, they even parody Star Wars. However, the best line in the ‘drama’ has to be this: “I’m not calling you ‘mother’ anymore. Grandmother!!“.
17. EXID “Every Night”
Label: AB Entertainment
Release Date: October 3, 2012
The girls of EXID brought us a dark comedy with their sexy video for “Every Night“. We know something sinister is afoot when the girls mix up a bright red elixir, which appears to be a poison intended for an ex who’s wronged one of them. The girls show up in combat gear and gas masks at a super-swanky party and throw glass vials of their “poison”, which turns out to be made from the concentrated juice of red peppers. The vapors from the juice cause everyone at the party to sneeze champagne all over the guy- a mostly harmless, but still pretty gross and embarrassing- method of retaliation.
16. Yoseob ft. Junhyung “Caffeine”
Label: Cube Entertainment
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Yoseob‘s “Caffeine” tells the story of a guy whose ex-girlfriend is “like a [sic] caffeine“, keeping him awake when he should be sleeping. In the video, the further Yoseob gets from the relationship (and, therefore, the longer he goes without sleep), the further he gets from reality. At first, he imagines himself breaking away from the laws of gravity and being chased by shadows. Later, he imagines his ex giving his heart back to him and then pictures her happy with another man. Things don’t end well for Yoseob- he imagines himself burning the luggage she left with- perhaps so she wouldn’t be able to leave- as well as photos and other memories of her. However, much like what happened in 2AM‘s “I Wonder if You Hurt Like Me“, as Yoseob erases the memory of his ex, he also erases himself.
15. Epik High “Don’t Hate Me”
Label: YG Entertainment
Release Date: October 19, 2012
Anyone who’s worked in retail or customer service can probably relate to the boredom and frustration that the guys of Epik High face in “Don’t Hate Me“. It’s a video you can watch over and over and find something new every single time, as it’s packed full of gags and puns and some of the cutest little monsters you’ve ever seen in your life. After the very trying times that Tablo has gone through since their last release, it’s a real relief to see that the members haven’t lost their sense of humor.
14. Taetiseo “Twinkle”
Label: SM Entertainment
Release Date: April 30, 2012
Girls’ Generation‘s powerhouse subunit got to show off their diva sides with their glitzy debut video, “Twinkle“. The story was simple- the girls arrive early for an event and are photographed by the paparazzi on their way in. We follow them as they get ready for their performance, and finally watch them take the stage. The paparazzi wait outside to catch them leaving, but the girls send out a decoy and laugh at the photographers’ disappointment. It’s a simple story, but because the girls are constantly moving from room to room and extras keep moving in and out of frame, the video holds on to your attention. Keep an eye out for cameos from members of EXO, particularly Chanyeol. In the Japanese version of Girls’ Generation’s “Genie“, he played a celebrity being surrounded by Girls’ Generation as the paparazzi- this time around, he’s one of the members of the paparazzi.
13. Orange Caramel “Lipstick”
Label: Pledis Entertainment
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Orange Caramel‘s “Lipstick” draws from a couple of sources for inspiration. Combining the worlds of competitive table tennis with video games and shoujo anime with neon-colored square dancing costumes may seem like a recipe for disaster, but the magicians at Pledis Entertainment managed to fit it all together into one of the most addicting music videos of 2012. In the first level of the “game”, the girls feign ineptitude at ping-pong so that their crush will teach them how to play. Once they’ve finished their lesson, they see their instructor lose to an obnoxious opponent, so the three of them conspire to get revenge by beating the guy so badly at ping pong that he’d be too embarrassed to return. Upon accomplishing this goal, they find that their instructor is actually engaged, which brings them to the boss level of their game- a tournament against the bride-to-be. As the girls gear up for the final round, the video comes to a close, leaving us all to wonder who won in the end.
12. Dal Shabet “Have, Don’t Have” (“Don’t Have” version)
Label: Happy Face Entertainment
Release Date: November 13, 2012
It’s not often that we see music videos that take place out among regular people in the real world, so setting their video in a Korean farmer’s market made the “Don’t Have” version of Dal Shabet‘s “Have, Don’t Have” stand out from the crowd from the start. The video takes things a step further by parodying a popular Korean documentary series, “The Human Theater”, by displaying the members’ names, ages, and their lines on the screen the same way that the documentary would. It’s a lot of fun to see the culture clash of idols in stagewear hanging out with normal people, but it’s even more fun to see the people at the market playing along with them. While the “Have” version of “Have, Don’t Have” is a more standard K-Pop video, it’s still pretty cute and definitely worth checking out.
11. Naul “Wind Memory”
Label: Santa Music
Release Date: September 19, 2012
Naul‘s “Wind Memory” was one of 2012′s biggest hits, and it brought us one of the year’s most epic music videos. It’s so beautiful and is filmed on such a large scale that it seems a little strange to call it a music video- it’s more like a mini-movie set to music. On the surface, the story is about a little girl whose father saved her from being killed by asteroids falling from the sky. When she is older and getting ready to marry her Prince Charming (played by Lee Ki Woo), she thinks back with gratitude to her father’s sacrifice. However, because the story is cut so short to fit the length of the song, it leaves some things (such as the fish drawing) to viewers’ imaginations. The prevailing theory seems to be that the video is a metaphorical retelling of the Christian story of salvation, which makes sense as Naul is reportedly a devout Christian. However, until Naul himself reveals the answer, we’ll never truly know what story he was trying to tell.
10. B.A.P “Warrior”
Label: TS Entertainment
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Usually, the traditional dance-in-a-box music videos aren’t creative – in fact, they’re boring and unoriginal. However, B.A.P knew they had to make a huge impact in an industry that was already saturated with male idols. Despite the format that we’ve seen over and over in K-Pop, B.A.P made their music video work in a graffiti-overridden, tattered back alley. Instead of traditional songs about love, the boys sang about breaking free, and reflected that by pulling their chains, reaching from behind bars, and destroying cars to have them go up in flames. The music video never leaves the watcher bored for even a moment, from the start up until when the puppeteer Zelo is killed at the end by his own puppets.
9. Nell “The Day Before”
Label: Woollim Entertainment
Release Date: April 9, 2012
Mental illnesses, such as depression, are largely taboo in South Korean culture- a large contributing factor to why that country has one of the highest suicide rates of any country in the world. Nell‘s “The Day Before” broaches the topic of what it means to lose a loved one to suicide, such as how survivors are often left wondering what exactly went wrong and what they could have done differently to prevent it. In this video, the man with the camera (played by Song Jae Rim) imagines a final conversation with his friend (played by Lee Min Ki), seemingly based on the things in his friend’s diary or suicide note. The cinematography of this video is brilliant, reflecting the style and themes of the book which Min Ki is seen reading (“And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos” by John Berger, which deals largely with the idea of “the lens [as the] secret of narration” and how that applies to the way we understand people who have passed away). As is most often the case in real life, we never find out the reasons behind what happened. Also mirroring real life, judging by the length of the conversation, the reasons are too complicated to simply explain away. Unfortunately, all of the imagining in the world can’t bring someone back, which is why the camera man can only sit and watch as his friend fades away. While the story is left somewhat open-ended, there are hints that Jae Rim is able to come to terms to some degree with Min Ki’s death- for example, through his glass of wine and leftover toast on the table, as wine and bread are used in Christian communion as symbols of remembrance and forgiveness. It was a brave choice on Nell’s part to make this the topic of their first comeback in four years, and to have dealt with it in such a sensitive way makes “The Day Before” one of the most powerful music videos of 2012.
8. Block B “Nillili Mambo”
Label: Stardom Entertainment
Release Date: October 16, 2012
The boys went to Vietnam specially to film the music video and their individual teasers, and the result was an incredibly fun music video. The Block B boys steal diamonds and run away with gambling money, and play a group of pirates under Captain Zico. The music video is full of randomness: Kyung chases a chicken around with a frying pan even though he has a just-sharpened knife, Taeil never loses his lollipop even though he’s in a gun-chase, P.O cares more about his hair than getting shot in the head, and U-Kwon is missing bullets in his gun, not to mention everyone in the music video chooses to use their fists instead of the guns they have. However, that’s exactly the point of the music video – just some crazy, random fun with a loose story. Not only that, but the music video takes the Vietnam’s scenery to the fullest extent and features some of the best cinematography in a music video for 2012.
7. G-Dragon “Crayon”
Label: YG Entertainment
Release Date: September 26, 2012
There was never really a question as to whether or not G-Dragon would be on this list- it was more of a question of which of his videos would make the cut. While “One of a Kind” was fun and “That XX” was beautiful and an interesting new direction for G-Dragon, nothing really stood up to the unabashed zaniness of “Crayon“. The G-Dragon we’d been seeing up to this point was more reserved than ever before, and while that’s certainly understandable, fans missed seeing the fun, goofy personality, and the off-the-wall ideas he uses in his videos. “Crayon” also seemed like a celebration of not only his career, but his life, as he invited a number of his friends to make cameos in the party scenes. G-Dragon may have taken time to reflect and grow as a person before making a comeback, but he’s still G-Dragon, and that’s good to know.
6. Ga In “Bloom”
Label: LOEN Entertainment
Release Date: October 4, 2012
While it was certainly unexpected to hear Ga In take on a song that sounds like it could have been sung by IU, it was no surprise to see her framing K-Pop’s view of female sexuality in an entirely new way- something that the Brown Eyed Girls are no strangers to doing. While it’s not that unusual to hear boy band members croon about how their girlfriends are attractive even when they’re not trying to be, it’s not often that we see this played out on screen- yet here we have Ga In, in frumpy sweaters and baggy jeans, and her boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her. She juxtaposes many different ways in which female sexuality is portrayed, from the merely suggestive (lying in a bed with all-white linens next to a freshly bitten apple, swinging around a pole), to the straight up demonstrative (touching herself in the kitchen, the sex scene). What makes this video unusual is that the sweet and innocent scenes are directly inter cut with the more scandalous ones, presented not as two contradictions that need to be reconciled or as a progression from one thing to another, but as a few of the many facets of one woman and her relationship with her body. Even better, Ga In’s not being wrist-grabbed and dragged off against her will or just going with the motions because it’s what her partner wants- she and her partner are equals in the relationship, and she’s clearly a willing and happy participant in everything they’re doing. Aside from all the girl-power awesomeness that’s happening, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the special effects fit the video perfectly.
5. K. Will “Please Don’t…”
Label: Starship Entertainment
Release Date: October 10th, 2012
K.Will‘s music video is quite possibly one of the most-talked about music video of the year. In an interview, K.Will revealed that the twist was put in because he thought otherwise the music video would be too generic. And he was right – without the twist at the end, the music video would be a boring story of a man pining after a woman taken by his friend that has been told millions of times. However, the revelation at the end gave the music video one of the most fresh stories of the year and shot rookie model Ahn Jae Hyun to fame. It is also one of the two big pop-culture products in 2012 that incorporated homosexuality (the other was Reply 1997, which, coincidentally, Seo In Guk also featured in), signaling that the overly conservative Korea was perhaps ready to start accepting the topic. Not only so, but it brought an incredible number of people to the music video who left as fans of K.Will after they realized just how great the singer’s voice was.
4. Big Bang “Fantastic Baby”
Label: YG Entertainment
Release Date: March 6, 2012
How do you find a VIP in a crowd? Say the word “wow“, and wait for someone to answer! Okay, so that joke isn’t very funny, but it’s kind of true, and there’s something to be said for a song that is so pervasive that it actually hijacks a word from your vocabulary and changes the way that you think about it. Not only did “Fantastic Baby” co-opt the word “wow”, it successfully brought back “Boomshakalaka“ to a generation who were unaware of the word’s long and storied history. The video was every bit as big and dramatic and exciting as VIPs were hoping it would be. It featured the kind of disjointed imagery that begs to be interpreted on a symbolic level, while maintaining a level of self-awareness and humor that makes the video entertaining even when taken at face value. “Fantastic Baby” was not just an epic return to grace, but it was a way for VIPs to celebrate how far Big Bang has come, while ushering the next era of their careers.
3. Sunny Hill “The Grasshopper Song”
Label: LOEN Entertainment
Release Date: January 12, 2012
“The Grasshopper Song” was a fantastic song on its own, both lyrically and musically, but leave it to Sunny Hill to go above and beyond with an equally fantastic video. Every element of this video- the sets, the costumes, props, choreography- adds to the story already laid out in the song. While the original fable ends with the grasshopper starving in the winter, “The Grasshopper Song” follows the grasshopper out of the ant hill and back to her home community- a glittery, colorful contrast to the ants’ spartan lifestyles. While the ants are clearly efficient, effective workers, those who venture into the grasshoppers’ realm can’t help but wonder if they should sacrifice some of that productivity so that they can get more out of life now rather than saving everything for the future. The filming style, with sets that split, move, and tumble away to reveal the next “act” of the performance, really help make the fantastical world of this story come to life, and the incorporation of story and choreography in the same scenes challenges conventional thinking on how stories are told through music videos. Sunny Hill really delivered with “The Grasshopper Song”, and set a high bar for the rest of 2012.
T-ara‘s latest two-part mini-movie music video is one of the most unique K-Pop has seen. It introduced us to Dani, T-ara’s soon-to-be-initiated new member, as the center of a story about sisterly love and sacrifice. The video is dark and washed out, punctuated with pops of color such as Hyomin‘s pink hair, Dani’s sometimes-blue eyes, and jewel-toned medical supplies, giving it a gritty, graphic-novel-like feel. Unlike conventional dramatic music videos- including a few in T-ara’s back catalogue- “Day by Day” and “Sexy Love” eschew guns in favor of swords. Hyomin, Jiyeon, and Eunjung are surprisingly convincing swordfighters, and their acting experience shines through as they work through a story told almost entirely without dialogue. While the set of videos couldn’t have come at a worse time for the group (the infamous bullying scandal came to light not long after “Day by Day” was released), which prevented these videos from getting the kind of attention they deserved- however, they still stand up as two of the most epic and beautiful videos to be released in 2012.
1. Psy “Gangnam Style”
Label: YG Entertainment
Release Date: July 15, 2012
We may not have named “Gangnam Style” the best song of 2012, but there was really no other contender for best video. In all honesty, the song would not be anywhere near as big as it is if not for the delightfully weird and self-deprecating video. Of course, at first it looks like a load of randomness and fun, but the song and music video actually have a deeper meaning by poking fun and satirizing the Korean upper class facade. It is over the 1.2 billion views mark as of this writing, over 375 million more views than it’s closest competitor, Justin Bieber‘s “Baby“. It’s certainly worth noting that “Gangnam Style” achieved this number in just six months, while “Baby” has taken three years to reach its count. We’ve never seen success like “Gangnam Style”, and we likely never will again. This video is not only the biggest thing to happen in K-Pop this year, but is the biggest thing that has ever happened in K-Pop. Plus, it’s got a fun dance!
allkpop’s ‘Top 50 K-Pop Music Videos of 2012′ was compiled by rex_music, jennywill, and contagion. This list is staff-determined and is not in any way connected with the fan-voted 2012 allkpop awards.