2012 In Review: Part 12 – Song of the Year

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[2012 In Review Series]

0. Prelude – Best Album Art
1. Introduction
2. Best R&B/Soul
3. Best Rock/Alternative
4. Best Rap/Hip-hop
5. Best Dance/Electronica
6. Best Pop/Ballad
7. Best Crossover/Miscellaneous
8. Best Original Soundtrack
9. Best Collaborative Work
10. Label of the Year
11. Rookie of the Year
12. Song of the Year
13. Artist of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Concluding Remarks

Welcome back to our 2012 In Review series! An important category today, as we look at the songs to represent 2012. The Song of the Year is not necessarily the year’s most technically advanced song, nor is it the most popular, the most emotionally riveting, the most groundbreaking – it could be one or more of these, but more often than not this isn’t the case. Instead, it’s the song that I feel like I would look back on in 10 years, and think: “Oh yeah, this song came out in 2012. I remember that one most vividly. And it’s still as good as ever.” So the greatest criterion is this: the song must have an enduring quality. It could achieve that by having any of the characteristics I mentioned above, or it could do it some other way.

As always, honorable mention picks are sorted by alphabetical order of names. There are only three for this, since I’m only listing entries that were seriously considered for one of the top two spots at some point.

Song of the Year 2012

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Park Ji-yoon – 나무가 되는 꿈 (Tree of Life) (read our related review)

The best thing about Tree of Life, I think, is how it can be enjoyed in different ways at different stages of familiarity. If you can understand the lyrics and also know Park Ji-yoon’s history – from her teenage debut to JYP Entertainment struggles to the rebirth of her career – then you can interpret the song’s theme as comfort that comes from an experience of despair and an understanding of the process afterwards. If you don’t know Park’s story, the lyrics still offer a beautifully presented place of respite from suffering and loss. If you don’t understand the lyrics, you can still appreciate the subdued emotion in Park’s performance. And no matter which you fall into, the breathtaking sound is always there for you. The cathartic explosion of distortion and strings near the song’s end, which had until then been clouded by checked sentimentality and patient piano pulse, remains my favorite moment in a song this year, and puts the cap on an already remarkably powerful track. Here is a piece that is able to communicate with us on an instinctive level, past any barriers – even as it tells a contained story on its own. Tree of Life is my Song of the Year.

Song of the Year Runner-up

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Psy – 강남스타일 (Gangnam Style)

I wrote a whole paragraph on Gangnam Style’s popularity specifically after saying that there wasn’t much more left to be said. And if you’re reading this, you know more than enough about the phenomenon already. So let’s talk about the music itself. Gangnam Style may not be the most groundbreaking piece of dance music from 2012, but it was very timely: Yoo Gun-hyung took the already-popularized shuffle rhythm and gave it the iconic hook. It’s addictive, but more importantly it laid the groundwork for Psy himself to do what he does best. There aren’t many who can pull off an anthemic “HEY LADY” and that hook while avoiding having the experience completely overridden by silliness. (This is what happens to Norazo and DOZ more often than not.) In Psy’s hands, Gangnam Style is good dance music before it is a funny video. It’s the same formula that he’s been adhering to for 11 years now; if anything, his rendition of Champion and the previous album’s Right Now were both better musically. following the same philosophy. But Gangnam Style is where all of Psy’s know-how culminated, all the pieces fell together, and became one historic breakthrough of a single.

Honorable Mentions

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3rd Line Butterfly – 헤어지는 날 바로 오늘 (The Day We Part, Today) (also Runner-up Rock/Alternative Song)

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Glen Check – French Virgin Party (also Best Rock/Alternative Song)

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Primary – 독 (Poison) (Featuring E-Sens) (also Best Rap/Hip-hop Song)

What do your picks look like for this category? Discuss with us in the comments, and join us tomorrow in Part 13 as we unveil the Artist of the Year!

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the reviewer and not of hellokpop as a whole.

Source: Photo – music video capture from Naver blog

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