1. H.O.T. - "Candy" (1996)
That loopy, light-headed intro melody; that bouncy, boomeranging chorus; reggae-informed, Smash Mouth-indebted, 8-bit-encrusted everything. Seo Taiji may have laid K-pop's foundation a few years earlier, but it was H.O.T., a boy band engineered in part by SM kingpin Lee Soo-Man, that ushered in the "idol" cult that's propelled Korean pop cultural product as far and wide as it's come in the past ten years. Without relying heavily on visuals (the theme park romance of its video is a gas, though) like every idol group it's spawned since, they delivered a Platonic ideal that made good on its title. D.B.