K-pop Christmas singles unwrapped
Looking for new, delightful Christmas tunes to kick off the holiday season?
Well, don't bother looking for any in K-pop land.
This year's offerings are lumps of coal.
Hallyu, or "Korean wave", stars may have a knack for dishing out powerful bubblegum hooks, but they wallow in mediocrity when it comes to Yuletide melodies.
Often K-pop festive songs appear overly eager to extol the Christmas spirit.
As a result, you get lavish and colourful (read: superficial) music videos complete with decorative cliches like Christmas trees, fake snow and crystal balls.
What's sacrificed in the process are the usual hallmarks of a K-pop smash hit - a catchy verse and an addictive chorus.
I'm referring primarily to Dear Santa, the original Christmas song released by Girls' Generation's sub-unit TaeTiSeo earlier this month.
Comprising Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun, TaeTiSeo have had no other new material in more than a year. Naturally, expectations were high.
Dear Santa didn't just disappoint with its overall blandness. My main beef with the song was the decision by its producers to change it up midway - extremely abruptly - from slow and tender, to fast and lively.
Excuse me, this is not Bohemian Rhapsody!
How can a Christmas tune have such sudden rhythmic shifts and chord changes?
And seriously, a simple, straightforward ballad would have better allowed Girls' Generation's three strongest singers to flaunt their vocals.
Also unimpressive is Softly, the Christmas ensemble single released by artists under record label Starship Entertainment including pop groups Sistar and Boyfriend.
It has a forgettable melody line and its amateurish video looks like it was iPhone-shot - vertically. As with all videos shot in portrait, it is annoying to watch.
By far the best of the worst is Confession Song by boy band Got7.
I like the creativity of its video, in which the boys play matchmakers for a day.
In a high school gym, the septet wear Rudolph mascot heads and help shy male students confess their love to the girls they have a crush on. It's sweet and cute.
Ultimately, a solid Christmas hit is one that works well as a standalone song, like Wham!'s Last Christmas.
Released in 1985, it remains a timeless classic today because it wouldn't sound out of place on radio all year round. It could be played in summer and it's still a good song.
K-pop has had some Christmas gems in previous years - girl group T-ara's Hide & Seek (2013) and singer-songwriter Roy Kim's It's Christmas Day (2014) were my favourites.
This year, unfortunately, there will be no K-pop on my Spotify Christmas playlist.