But even with that emphasis on the single, there is so much amazing music out there that the majority of us never hear. With that in mind, we think there’s no better way to begin an end of the year countdown than with a list of songs you probably never heard but should have. None of these songs had an official music video. Some of them were never even performed on a music show. These are the forgotten ones. The ones that got away.
1. Beast - “We Up”
We figured we had to start this playlist off on the right note, and “We Up” has all the right notes. This killer song could easily have been the single for the mini album Good Luck, but for one thing: “We Up” lacks lyric intensity in the chorus. Beast did perform this one a few times, and you could see the energy it brought to the stage.
2. NS Yoon-G - “If I Love You”
“If I Love You” is a criminally underrated song from the criminally underrated NS Yoon-G’s most recent album, The Way 2. You’re not likely to hear this song without purchasing the album. Heck, you’re not likely the hear the album without purchasing the album. But let’s put that sore spot behind us for a moment and listen. Because this song is worth it. “If I Love You” has what every song strives for: insistence.
3. Puer Kim - “Vice Versa”
If you don’t know Puer Kim yet, do yourself a favor, and pick up her recent album, Purifier. Knowing I wanted to include her on this list was easy. Choosing only one song from this album was hard, because they’re all that good. I chose “Vice Versa” because it has that light and jazzy quality Puer Kim is so great at, but it also somehow manages to make me see with my eyes. I see the jazz band playing in a smoky room. I see Puer Kim holding a microphone with gloves all the way up her arms. This song, I’m saying, does not just play. It creates.
4. HA:TFELT - “Truth”
Hear me out on this one. “Truth” belongs on vinyl. The clarity of Yenny’s voice combined with the resonant echoes of the instruments beg for a warmth of sound that digital music is just not able to provide. This song envelopes me in a way that is beyond simple words.
5. Taeyang - “Body”
There are so many songs we could have pulled from this album. There’s not a weak link in Rise, so really, take your pick. But it’s not often that a song like “Body” is passed over as the single for an album. And that’s the best introduction we can give this song: on any other album in 2014, this song would have been a hit single. It’s got tempo, it’s got feeling, and it’s got a hook you won’t soon forget.
6. B1A4 - "You Make Me a Fool"
B1A4 has always been lightyears ahead of everyone else when it comes to pouring emotion into music. This gorgeous ballad about a lost love features sweet pickings from a classical guitar that harmonize beautifully with B1A4’s pitch-perfect vocals. “You Make Me a Fool” is guaranteed to make you stop, listen, and feel.
7. Block B - “Extraordinary Woman”
How “Her” was chosen as Block B’s second single of 2014, I’ll never understand. “Extraordinary Woman” was the song that should have picked up where “Jackpot” left off. It’s got Block B’s signature medley of tempos and styles, but maybe it’s lacking the boyishness of “Her.” Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the maturity of “Extraordinary Woman” is what would have allowed Block B to move forward.
8. f(x) - “Paper Heart”
Who knows where f(x) might have taken Red Light had their promotions not been cut short. My gut tells me that “Paper Heart” would not have been next on the list of singles to release, but I don’t care. On my iTunes, this song has more listens than any other song on the album combined. It’s perfectly round, perfectly complex. “Paper Heart” is that rare breed of song that you can set to repeat and never grow tired.
9. Crush - “I Fancy You”
We gave Crush’s debut album rave reviews when it came out. But when I look back, I don’t immediately hear the single from that album, catchy though it was at the time. What I hear is Crush making a case for Korean RnB all by himself. Step aside, Frank Ocean, this is Kpop. “I Fancy You” announces one of the best new talents to emerge all year.
10. AOA - “Under the Street Lamps”
“Under the Street Lamps” was the forgotten ballad from the single album, Miniskirt. There’s no denying that AOA had a killer year, but most of that recognition was focused on their trio of high-profile singles. “Under the Street Lamps” may have been thought of as filler, but it acts as anything but. The slow-tempo combined with eerie falsettos will mesmerize. It’s the kind of song you never want to end, but end it must.
So what do you think? Did we miss any must-listen songs from 2014? Let us know in the comments!
Zander Stachniak is a southern-born, Chicago-based writer who first discovered Kpop through ShoutCast Radio. His biases are f(x) and Block B.