Alrighty, I kept you waiting long enough - time to take a chisel to that immaculate top ten. 9.315 YEAR: 2012 NO SERIOUSLY, THEY PEAKED: (11) @Ana Raquel LOVE TO HEAR IT: (10 x 9) @Wills, @Slice of Life, @aux, @RUNAWAY, @camden_italian, @Hurricane Drunk, @Monkey0, @Joli Chat, @soratami (9.5) @junglefish, @junkos (9) @ysev, @evilsin, @codecat, @Crisp X, @Empty Shoebox HATE TO SEE IT: (7) @roblognick (8) @thommyh AS FOR ME: it’s a 10!!!!!!!!!! LUCKY UNNIES*: @thommyh (8), @junglefish (9.5), @junkos (9.5), @roblognick (7), @vague (8.5) *meaning this was their lowest remaining score We kick off our top 10 eliminations with an absolute titan of a track. Could this cut be a bit gaggy? Going into the rate, I would’ve expected this to make top 5 at the very least, perhaps even becoming a runner-up to the crown. Alas, it didn’t quite meet my lofty expectations, but a top 10 placement in a rate as competitive as this is still an absolute feat. In a way, I bet the mere existence of Step hurt this: it’s impossible not to view the two as something of a pair, and comparing anything to Step is just… woefully unfair. I wouldn’t be surprised if folks felt compelled to lop a half-point or so off just to reflect Pandora’s place in that hierarchy. And if it sounds like I’m speculating… well, I totally am, but also speaking from experience: I had this slotted in as a 9.5 up until the very last minute, but something wasn’t sitting right with my spirit. We’ve recently discussed elsewhere on the subforum that Kpop is so many things, with gargantuan, maximalist anthems comprising one of its many incredible forms. Well, this also happens to be one of my favourite Kpop modes, and I can’t think of a track that better embodies the genre firing on all cylinders. Pandora has more ideas packed into three minutes than some groups manage across an entire discography. The unifying idea seems to be power – every riff and hook feels optimized for maximum impact, despite taking drastically different paths to get there: the chorus alternates between horn blasts and rhythmic guitar, all with a stunning vocal melody overtop, while the post-chorus employs an abrasive, metal-inspired synth riff. These ideas have nothing to do with each other than being larger-than-life, yet they manage to fit together like some sort of cybernetic rock opera. But lemme stop there – this is a track so massive it defies description; far be it from me to try reducing it to mere rambling thoughts! At the end of the day, if someone new to the genre asked what Kpop is to me, this is one of the first tracks I’d share – and for managing to embody something so dear to me, it deserves nothing less than a ten. Pandora was serving the girls ~vibes~, though they couldn’t quite agree on what kind. First we have Crisp X, who gets downright analytical: “I love a main melody that feels like it tells a whole story by itself, that synth is honestly iconic. As for the entire song, it’s almost spy movie-y, especially in the chorus and for that, this gets a high score from moi.” Next up is M24, who’s feeling a bit Halloweeny: “One of my favorites, that instrumental is both spookish and euphoric! The chorus is a grower.” And finally, Joli Chat takes it in a completely different direction: “Definitely has some sailor moon-like vibe going on, love it!” And you know what? I agree with all of the above! We love a track that contains multitudes! We’ll quickly serve up a shit sandwich with our only piece of middling commentary, courtesy of BeingNormal: “Never understood the hype of this one tbh. Yeah it's good but their best song ? Nah.” Well, you should be happy with this result then, unnie! Monkey0 also had some thots about how this relates to their rest of their catalogue: “Oh y'all thought Step was one time hit? They really are the Queens of dramatic, grandiose anthems.” I wanna say they’d long cemented their reign by the time Step came around, but I’m loving the energy otherwise! Then, much like the song itself, RUNAWAY fits an entire novel’s worth of ideas into a bite-sized package: “I remember being really shocked at their iconic looks being changed up. Blonde Nicole and blue/green Jiyoung with her iconic long hair being chopped off? A SERVE. It fucking worked, and they delivered one of their most incredible songs yet. I didn’t like the mini album at all which sucked, but when you’ve got a single this good, it doesn’t really matter sometimes.” To close, lemme hand the mic over to eleven-giver Ana Raquel – though anyone who’s been around the forum for awhile will know what’s coming next: “THIS IS STILL THE BEST SONG EVER CREATED IN K-POP AND I'LL SAY THAT EVERY SINGLE TIME I'M ABLE TO!!!!!!!!!” And you know what? I truly can’t argue that! …or at least I won’t until my eleven drops. Kii! Below is the video, which – like the song itself – is just quintessential Kpop, through-and-through. Multiple setups, eye-searing use of colour, fancy(?) cars, futuristic(?) furniture, and five deities performing the hell out of every second. These girls were on fire, and it’s only out of mercy they didn’t burn all our other faves down with them.