It’s almost impossible to do a roundup of the year’s best music videos without including “Gangnam Style.” It’s one one of the biggest hits of the decade, and the accompanying clip is the most viewed and most liked video in YouTube’s history, which makes PSY’s horsey hit an undeniable pop classic. But to avoid being completely predictable, we’ve omitted PSY from our list of 2012′s greatest K-pop videos, because, let’s face it: if PSY was on this list, he’d probably occupy every single spot. And as any good K-pop fan will tell you—especially the ones that voted PSY out in the first round of our Greatest K-pop Song of All Time tournament— there’s more to South Korea’s music scene than one portly 34-year-old. So, with PSY’s supreme awesomeness acknowledged, here are the best K-pop clips that 2012 had to offer (that aren’t “Gangnam Style”).
20. TVXQ – Catch Me
TVXQ lose a few points here for sticking to the typical S.M. Entertainment set-based MV in “Catch Me,” but they make up for it with their explosive choreography. The duo’s epic hulk dance is the best routine of 2012.
19. SECRET – Poison
Girl group SECRET continued their obsession with all things Beyonce by ripping off King B’s “Dance for You” music video, but we never in a million years expected them to beat Bey at her own game like they did in this sassy clip. “Poison” features all the coochie-popping, weave-whipping, and booty-shaking of any good Beyonce video, but with four times the girls and an amazing murder-by-roofie climax.
18. SISTAR – Loving U
K-pop MVs don’t head outside too often, but SISTAR broke out of the genre’s flashy set-based mold and flew all the way to Hawaii to film this summer holiday extravaganza.
17. Dal Shabet – Hit U
What do you do when your boyfriend screws around? Binge eat? Write in your burn book? Dal Shabet have a different approach to handling the breakup blues: mercilessly gun down your fella and all of his friends until they’re dead. Not many people could get away with a concept this hilariously grisly, but Dal Shabet made it work thanks to one little trick: they replaced all the blood with pink paint.
16. T-ara – Day by Day (Drama Version)
In part one of T-ara’s post-apocalyptic “Day by Day”/”Sexy Love” mini-drama, we were introduced to the group’s newest member, Dani. The 13-year-old played a blind girl with supernatural powers that gets kidnapped by the evil Jiyeon, who wants to use her special abilities to take over the world. It’s completely over the top, but then again, we wouldn’t expect anything less from T-ara.
15. Girl’s Day – Oh My God
“Oh My God” isn’t Girl’s Day’s finest musical moment, but the bubbly fivesome (now foursome since Jihae split) were able to compensate for not releasing another “Twinkle Twinkle” with this ridiculously fun video.
14. BIGBANG – Bad Boy
BIGBANG toned down the crazy visuals for once and went for a street style in the stunning video for their hip-hop hit, “Bad Boy.” We love their daring style (even Taeyang’s Micky Mouse hair), but this video proves that sometimes less really is more.
13. Orange Caramel – Lipstick
It’s a wacky ping-pong battle to the death for Orange Caramel in the fabulously tacky video for their unexpected smash hit, “Lipstick.” With videos this good, it’s not hard to see why the After School sub-unit are now more popular than their mother group.
12. HyunA – Ice Cream
Starring PSY as an ice cream-slurping burglar and HyunA as a clown killing trucker, this colorful video turned up the camp factor and sex appeal to full blast with amazing results.
11. EXID – Every Night
EXID are the only rookie act to make this list, but there was no way we could pass them up after the video for their breakthrough hit, “Every Night,” in which the girls get revenge on a bad boy player with the help of a few sneeze-inducing chili bombs. They also perform super sexy choreography while wearing gas masks, which is strangely hot … if you’re into that kind of thing.
Next page: The top 10 K-pop videos of 2012 (duh!)