[BIBIMBEATS] 2013 Round-Up: Looking back at the stories that defined the year in K-Pop

Wonder Girls Become Wonder Women

Wonder Girls' Sun posing with JYP labelmate JOO on her wedding day
Wonder Girls’ Sun posing with JYP labelmate JOO on her wedding day

This year, the Wonder Girls proved you don’t need to have a comeback to remain in headlines. These JYP darlings have enjoyed one busy year, both personally and professionally, beginning with leader Sunye’s storybook wedding. After meeting husband James Park in Haiti during a 2011 missionary trip, the two finally tied the knot in January. A long list of celebrities – including the rest of the Wonder Girls – attended, and 2AM’s Jo Kwon officiated the ceremony. In March, rapper Yubin made her series debut as genius hacker Lee Joo-young on medical thriller “The Virus”, while Yenny soon followed with a role in historical drama “Basketball”. Over two years after leaving the group, former member Sunmi finally made her solo debut over the summer. Her single “24 Hours” enjoyed #1 status on a majority of music sales charts. Later, on October 26, Sunye publicly announced the birth of her very own ‘wonder girl’ Hailey. While both the Wonder Girls and JYP Entertainment insist the group is still very much ‘on’, the only thing we know for sure is that newborn Hailey is about to be spoiled by some seriously cool Wonder Aunts.

The ‘Bar Bar Bar’ Heard Around The World

A popular YouTube video of policemen in Busan performing "Bar Bar Bar"
A popular YouTube video of policemen in Busan performing “Bar Bar Bar” and other Crayon Pop hits

By the end of 2013, if you haven’t heard about the criminally cute quintet Crayon Pop, you have successfully been hiding under a rock. With the unconventional outfits and addictively fun choreography of hit single “Bar Bar Bar”, the girls made waves as Korea’s latest viral sensation. To date, “Bar Bar Bar” has enjoyed over 9.3 million views and inspired 1.7 million covers on YouTube from fans all over the world, including Italy, Thailand, Australia, and the United States. Parodied by anyone from remote controlled robots to policemen in Gyeongbuk, the song even got “Thor 2” star Tom Hiddleston bouncing during his SNL Korea appearance. Social media popularity had “Bar Bar Bar” hitting #1 on major music charts several weeks after the song’s initial release, their win on Music Bank coming well over two months into promotions. What will be the big hit of 2014? It might be too soon to make predictions, but if Psy and Crayon Pop are any indication, it’s going to involve a whole lot of jumping.

Where’s The (Rap) Beef?

Supreme Team's Simon D (left) and E-Sens (right)
Supreme Team’s Simon D (left) and E-Sens (right)

In July, Korean hip-hop fans were shocked when it was announced that rap duo Supreme Team was disbanding shortly after the release of their EP ‘Thanx 4 The Wait’. According to official press, hip-hop label Amoeba Culture ended their contract with Supreme Team’s E-Sens due to creative differences. Well wishes were exchanged, both E-Sens and fellow rapper Simon D provided encouraging words for fans, and everything went back to normal – or so we thought. One month later, E-Sens self-released the song “You Can’t Control Me”, attacking Amoeba Culture founder Gaeko, one-half of Dynamic Duo. The song, a twist to New York rapper Kendrick Lamar’s controversial verse on Big Sean’s “Control”, accused Gaeko of industry corruption and extorting E-Sens, someone who had been a younger brother figure to him. A day later, Brand New Music’s Swings brought in “King Swings, Part 2”, a new diss track criticizing Simon D for loyalty to Dynamic Duo and Amoeba Culture over E-Sens. Soon Gaeko and Simon D both recorded their own responses, the former (“I Can Control You”) attacking E-Sens for his ungrateful behavior and drug history. The latter (“Control”) seemed apologetic in content, both rebuking Swings’ attack and expressing conflict over the duo’s disbandment. The series of disses sent the rap world buzzing, enticing more songs to be released from every corner of the genre. In fact, while the battle seemingly ‘ended’ not too soon after, it still remains in constant mention within the Korean hip-hop scene.

Solos, subgroups, and more solos!

 A scene from CL's solo debut "Baddest Female"
A scene from CL’s solo debut “Baddest Female”

2013 was definitely another year for amazing breakout solo and subgroup efforts from members of well-established K-Pop groups. The beginning of the year saw the return of SISTAR19 with the seductive “Gone Not Around Any Longer (있다 없으니까)” and the debut of INFINITE’s hip-hop subgroup, INFINITE-H. 2NE1 fans were treated to CL’s hard-hitting “Baddest Female”, and SM Entertainment made a big reveal when they reintroduced a member of SuperJunior-M as their newest solo artist Henry. As far as solo activities go, however, BIGBANG takes a pretty serious lead with all five members having promoted their own tracks by the end of 2013. Lastly, the year wrapped up with the long-awaited solo debut of SISTAR’s power vocalist Hyorin with the seductive “One Way Love” and lyrical ballad “Lonely”.

2012 and ‘Gangnam Style’ fever was a hard act to follow, but overall, 2013 carried its weight by far. As the year wraps up, more news about what to expect in the beginning of 2014 is emerging. Good news for some – a new boy group for JYP and a new girl group for YG – and bad news for others, as breaking news continues on Cube’s contract with KARA’s Nicole and JYJ’s eventual enlistment. Needless to say, there is a whole lot more music news to come, and BIBIMBEATS will be here to report it. See you next year!

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