SPICA's a group that's been hanging around the K-pop scene for a couple of years now, but have never quite been able to take things to the next level. They've got almost all the ingredients to become successful --great vocals, catchy songs, good looks-- but they're still missing an original image to sell it all with.

They've recently tried to rectify this by hooking up with K-pop Queen, Lee Hyori, who's been trying to turn SPICA into stars since last year -- even going as far as to become the group's mentor for a reality show. Last year she turned the girls into Instagram-filtered hipsters for their single "Tonight," but now she's gone one step further by serving as both the writer and the producer of their new single, "You Don't Love Me."

As expected, Hyori's mark is all over this comeback. The song's retro pop-soul sound is something the "Miss Korea" songstress thoroughly explored on last year's Monochrome, and the camp and sexy '60s concept is exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to see Hyori doing.

It's by far the best video SPICA's ever done, and the song is a lot better than similar-sounding K-pop hits, like Girls' Generation's "Dancing Queen" and Lee Hi's "1,2,3,4," but at the end of the day it still looks and sounds too much like an obvious extension of Hyori.

SPICA definitely delivered with this comeback and it may even become a minor hit, but they're never really going to make it big unless they find their own identity and stop riding off of Hyori's coattails.

After more than a year away from the spotlight, miss A is finally set to make their K-pop comeback on November 6 with the release of their second studio studio album, Hush. On top of that, their new single will mark the first time that they haven't used J.Y. Park as their main producer. Instead, they've worked with E-Tribe, who is one of the most well-known K-pop hitmakers in the game.

We're a little nervous to see the girls work with something new since JYP produced their biggest hits, like "Good-bye Baby" and "Bad Girl Good Girl," but on the other hand, some of their best material that never received single status, like "Lips" and "Help Me," was the work of outside producers, so we're also excited.

To celebrate miss A's impending return, we've ranked the top five best E-Tribe hits. With any luck, we'll see miss A on an updated version of this list next year!

5. Lee Hyori - U-Go-Girl

Definitely not my personal favourite from either Hyori or E-Tribe, but the impact of "U-Go-Girl" can't be denied. This bonkers urban-pop banger bagged three triple crown wins and topped the charts, easily ranking as one of the biggest singles of Hyori's hit-heavy career.

 4. T-ara - Yayaya

"Yayaya" has a pretty bad reputation among K-pop fans. It's seen by most as one of T-ara's few flops and musical missteps, and was embroiled in a racism scandal upon its release for being culturally insensitive to Native Americans. However, I think it's massively misunderstood and consider it an underrated gem -- it's like the ugly bastard child of "Bo Peep Bo Peep" and Girls' Generation's "Gee"! Seeing T-ara bounce around like Indians spelling out words and chanting ridiculous lyrics that barely even make sense in Korean is so bad it's amazing, and the official remix version found on the group's John Travolta Wannabe album improves the track even further with some added dance beats.

3. Super Junior - It's You

After shutting down the K-pop charts with "Sorry Sorry" -- also known as the earworm to end all earworms-- Super Junior returned with this emotional dance-pop ballad. Dance ballads are big business in K-pop, but few have ever been as catchy as this addictive ditty.

2. Dal Shabet - Hit U

This hugely underrated song could've been massive if a bigger artist had released it. Dal Shabet, a girl group known for being saccharine and unsubtle to the point of so-bad-it's-good tackiness, turned their completely over-the-top style to the dark side with this revenge anthem about murdering an indecisive boyfriend. From the aggressive bouncing ball beat to the opening and closing refrain of "I'll hit u! I'll never never want you again!," everything in this song just screams EXCESS in the best way possible. Considering that Dal Shabet was actually created by E-Tribe, it's no wonder that the duo gave the girls one of the best tracks they've ever produced.

1. Girls' Generation - Gee

There's no way that any other song other than "Gee" could be No. 1 on this list. It's one of the most definitive K-pop songs of all time, breaking multiple records in Korea after its initial release and turning Girls' Generation into Asian megastars overnight. It was Youtube's most-viewed K-pop video of all time until "Gangnam Style" came along, and it's solely responsible for starting Girls' Generation's journey to become the single biggest girl group in the world today. If mankind dies out and aliens touch down on earth in a thousand years time, they'll be able to listen to "Gee" and understand exactly what a perfect pop song sounded like before humans became extinct.

The K-pop end-of-year awards season is about to start, beginning with the Melon Music Awards on November 14, and the Mnet Asian Music Awards (also known as the MAMAs) on November 22. The majority of the Korean awards shows are usually rigged (allegedly!) and tend to favour whoever bothers to show up on the night, but they're still fun to check out if you don't take them too seriously.

The MAMAs unveiled their official 2013 nominees this week, and we've already got our favourites from the key categories picked out. Please note that these picks aren't who Popdust thinks WILL win, but for who we think SHOULD win. We also want to hear your picks, too, so leave us comment with who you want to see take home a MAMA this year.

Best New Male Artist

Roy Kim


Bangtan Boys

Yoo Seung Woo

Jung Joon Young

We almost picked none of the above because all these reality TV show contestants are starting to look and sound the same to us, while Bangtan Boys is just another hip-hop boy band in the same vein as B.A.P and Block B. Bumkey seems to rely too heavily on guest features and he doesn't bring anything new to the Korean R&B genre he's in, but he's definitely the best out of this bunch of nominees.

Best New Female Artist

Lim Kim


Yoo Sung Eun

Lee Hi

Crayon Pop

Ladies' Code is the most successful new girl group of the year (and with good reason) and the excellent Lim Kim had a huge hit with "All Right," but Crayon Pop is the only act that truly brought something new and different to the K-pop industry this year. They went from total nobodies to utter superstars after creating the biggest K-pop craze of 2013 with "Bar Bar Bar."

Best Male Artist



Lee Seung Gi

Lee Seung Chul

Cho Yong Pil

PSY has done so much for K-pop, but 2012 was his year. Cho Yong Pil is 63-years-old and was still able to beat out young rookie acts on music programs with his hit singles, "Bounce" and "Hello," not to mention that his new album is one of the year's biggest sellers.

Best Female Artist

Baek Ji Young

Sun Mi



Lee Hyori

This category is full of strong contenders who all deserve to win, but none more so than Lee Hyori. After a scandal and a three year absence from the Korean music scene, Hyori topped the charts with TWO hit singles --"Miss Korea" and "Bad Girls"-- and snatched back her crown as K-pop's Queen Bee.

Best Male Group






Shinhwa showed that it's possible for idol groups to have a long career with the success of their single, "This Love,"  beating out their younger contemporaries on multiple music programs and performing to 25,000 fans at their Seoul concert.

Best Female Group


Girls’ Generation




It's a tie between SISTAR and Girls' Generation for this one. Girls' Generation pushed musical boundaries with "I Got a Boy" and kept their title as the single biggest act in K-pop, but SISTAR's cemented their position in K-pop's big leagues with four triple crown wins and two No. 1 hits, "Gone Not Around Any Longer" and "Give It To Me."

Best Dance Performance – Male Solo

G-DRAGON – “Crooked”

Jay Park – “JOAH”

Seungri – “Gotta Talk to U”


B2ST's Yoseob – “Caffeine”

PSY's "Gentleman" was a blast, but the choreography wasn't exactly original like "Gangnam Style." On the other hand, B2ST's Yoseob brought a unique and artistic style to the stage with his gorgeous "Caffeine" choreography.

Best Dance Performance – Female Solo

G.NA – “Oops!”

Seo In Young – “Please Love Me”

Sunmi / 24 Hours

CL / The Baddest Female

Lee Hyo Ri / Bad Girls

Could this go to anyone else but Sunmi? She went from a Wonder Girl to a Wonder Woman with the racy tango-inspired routine for the year's sexiest dance-pop single, "24 Hours."

Best Dance Performance – Male Group

B1A4 – “What’s Going On”

EXO – “Growl”

Beast – “Shadow”

SHINee – “Dream Girl”

INFINITE – “Man In Love”

Any group that can film a music video of non-stop choreography in one-take deserves our vote.

Best Dance Performance – Female Group

Girl’s Day – “Expectation”

Girls’ Generation – “I GOT A BOY”

SISTAR – “Give It to Me”

Crayon Pop – “Bar Bar Bar”

4Minute – “What’s Your Name?”

All worthy contenders, but Crayon Pop's "Bar Bar Bar" started a dance craze that's going to go down in history alongside Brown Eyed Girls' "Abracadabra," Wonder Girls' "Tell Me," and KARA's "Mister."

Check out the rest of the nominations over at Soompi!

Former Wonder Girls' star, Sunmi, can now proudly call herself a successful solo artist following the high debut of her first solo single, "24 Hours." The sexy electro-pop track enters the Gaon chart at No. 2 this week, which is the same position that the last Wonder Girls single, "Like This," peaked at.

"24 Hours" was narrowly blocked from the spot by Yoon Mi Rae's "Touch Love," which is taken from one of the most popular TV dramas in Korea right now, Master's Sun. Yoon Mi Rae is widely recognized as the best female rapper in Korea, so it's odd to see her having so much success with an OST ballad instead of one of her stellar hip-hop tracks.

Other OST ballads conquering the charts this week are Baek Ji Young's "Crying" from KBS2's Good Doctor at No. 3, and another Master's Sun track called "Crazy of You," which is performed by SISTAR's Hyorin and drops to No. 4 after peaking at No. 2 last week. Rounding out the top five is Lim Kim's latest digital single, "Rain."

EXO's "Growl" slips one spot to No. 6, marking the first time that it's left the top five since its release in early August. The song has already won twelve music program awards, including two triple crowns, making it one of the top K-pop hits of 2013.

New entries in this week's top ten start with TEEN TOP's "Rocking" at No. 7, which ties "Going Crazy" to become their highest-charting single to date. Lyn's "I Like This Song" arrives one spot lower at No. 8, followed by SPICA's "Tonight" at No. 10. "Tonight" is SPICA's highest-charting single by far (their previous peak was "Russian Roulette" at No. 36). The girl group's new-found success can be credited towards K-pop legend, Lee Hyori, who is currently starring alongside the group in a new reality show in which her mission is to turn them into top stars.

In much sadder chart news, Seungri's "Gotta Talk 2 U" plunges 3-16 in its second week,  proving that he has little star power outside of BIGBANG.

Check out this week's key K-pop hits, below!

No. 2. Sunmi - 24 Hours

No. 5. Lim Kim - Rain

No. 7. TEEN TOP - Rocking

No. 10. SPICA - Tonight

No. 99. NU'EST - Sleep Talking

Before Lee Hyori released her Monochrome album this past May, her career was in a bit of trouble. Promotions for her previous album, 2010's H-Logic, were derailed when it turned out that seven of the tracks had been plagiarized by one of the producers. Although Hyori herself wasn't at fault, the resulting scandal did some major damage to her reputation. She stayed out of the spotlight for most of 2011 and tried to rebuild her image through charity work, and in 2012, she returned to host a music show on SBS, but it was cancelled after ten months due to low ratings.

It looked like Hyori's star had finally faded after ten years at the top, but in true pop diva style, she proved the naysayers wrong with the release of Monochrome -- the true definition of a comeback album. Its two lead singles, "Miss Korea" and "Bad Girls," both entered the charts at No. 1 with digital all-kills, and in the week after Monochrome's release, 12 of the album's 16 tracks charted in the top 100. Additionally, the televised concert special that Hyori used to launch Monochrome was a ratings smash when it aired back in May, ranking first in its time slot. Making the victory even sweeter is that Hyori wrote or co-wrote almost every track on the album, including "Miss Korea," which she also produced, and is currently ranked as one of the top thirty biggest K-pop songs of 2013.

However, the biggest success about the Monochrome era is probably just that Hyori has finally gotten people to move past the plagiarism scandal once and for all. Instead, netizens have switched back to criticizing her vocals like they used to, although we're not entirely sure why since she seemed to sing live, in key, and rather well for the majority of her Monochrome performances.

Hyori officially wrapped up her Monochrome promotions at tonight's Mnet 20's Choice awards. While we're sad to see her go, we're happy that she could end things back at the top of the K-diva food chain, right where she belongs!

A roundup of the top-selling K-pop acts of 2013 (up until June) made its way online this weekend, and some of the results are pretty interesting. While some rankings remain the same as the last time we checked K-pop's physical sales' numbers for the year (SHINee and Girls' Generation are still No. 1 for male and female acts), there's still a few surprises to be found.

Korean pop legend, Cho Yong-pil, is this year's third highest-selling male artist, beating out top idol groups like INFINITE, CNBLUE, and 2PM. The 63-year-old released his first album in a decade, Hello, this past April, and has been dominating the charts ever since. He's even destroyed his younger competition on Korea's music programs, picking up a number of awards for his hit single, "Bounce."

On the lower end of the sales list, both BIGBANG and G-Dragon ranked fourteenth and fifteenth respectively, despite not having released new albums this year.

Over on the female side of things, T-ara N4 surprises by being the year's second highest-selling female act. Although the 26,080 copies they sold of their Countryside Life EP is no match for Girls' Generation's 2013 sales total of 297,051 albums, it's still higher than what Lee Hi, 4minute, Lee Hyori, SECRET, and SISTAR's subunit, SISTAR19, sold this year.

T-ara may no longer be selling like they used to (pre-scandal, their digital sales were almost unrivaled and they averaged about 70,000 copies per album), but the physical numbers for Countryside Life show that they still have a small but loyal fanbase willing to support them. It also shows that SISTAR needs to step it up as far as their physical sales go. While it's unrealistic to expect SISTAR to pull in the same numbers as girl groups from YG and SM Entertainment, they should be a lot closer to reaching the 70k average that T-ara and KARA routinely sell if they truly want to be considered a top-tier act.

Speaking of low sales, K-pop queen, Lee Hyori, only managed to rank sixth for female artists this year, with paltry sales of 12,573. While her new album, Monochrome, has only been out for just under a month, it's already down to No. 59 on the official GAON albums chart. It's a shockingly bad result for the legendary K-diva, who was outsold by the likes of Lee Hi, 4minute, and Davichi, despite having huge success on the singles chart (both of Monochrome's singles, "Miss Korea" and "Bad Girls," peaked at No. 1) and in the TV ratings (her comeback concert special topped the ratings in its time-slot).

Check out the full list of 2013's highest-selling artists from January to May below, via the K-pop Sales Blog.

Top 15 Male Artists (Domestic)

1. SHINee: 328,698

2. Kim Jaejoong: 206,740

3. Cho Yong Pil: 197,255

4. Infinite: 197,218

5. CN Blue: 126,124

6. 2PM: 110,218

7. B.A.P: 108,697

8. Teen Top: 105,419

9. B1A4: 98,740

10. Infinite H: 91,958

11. Shinhwa: 72,567

12. VIXX: 56,761

13. SUJU-M: 51,299

14. BIGBANG: 45,384

15. G-Dragon: 37,538

Top 15 Female Artists (Domestic)

1. SNSD: 297,051

2. T-ara N4: 26,080

3. Lee Hi: 17,309

4. 4Minute: 14,628

5. Davichi: 14,488

6. Lee Hyori: 12,573

7. Sistar19: 12,560

8. Girl’s Day: 11,598

9. HELLOVENUS: 9,431

10. Younha: 8,785

11. Baek Ji Young: 8,706

12. Secret: 8,388

13. Rainbow: 7,741

14. Nine Muses; 7,681

15. Na Yoon Sun: 6,987