Okay, okay. When I say kpop, I mean mostly kpop, because there’s going to be some jpop and cpop in this list as well (some of it in very prominent positions), but “Top 50 K-Pop & J-Pop & C-Pop Songs of 2015” just doesn’t have the same ring to it! The only other criteria for my countdown is that the song has to be a single released between December 1st, 2014 and November 30th, 2015.
50. G.Soul – You
A soaring, under-loved ballad that served as the debut of JYP’s longest-running trainee.
49. Kris (Wu Yi Fan) – Bad Girl
Yes, it’s basically just a Chinese rewrite of G-Dragon’s Crooked, but Crooked is one of the best kpop songs of all time, so there’s that…
48. Sungkyu – Kontrol
An artistic detour from Infinite’s leader, which served as one of the most unique bursts of electronic pop all year.
47. B1A4 – Sweet Girl
A soulful take on throwback disco, the guys channeled the best of the era for this classic pop song.
46. EXO – Call Me Baby
Their big comeback track — a fierce update and re-imagining of glossy late 90’s/early 00’s teen pop.
45. Brown Eyed Girls – Brave New World
At first you’ll mistake it for some bizarro reinterpretation of Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, but then it just gets trippier.
44. Hongki – Insensible
The year’s biggest rock power ballad, which fully showcases Hongki’s powerful vocals over an aggressive, dramatic backing track.
43. Shinee – Married To The Music
A funky, Michael Jackson inspired summer track that feels indebted in one way or another to the best of every decade’s music trends.
42. Infinite F – Heartthrob
Infinite’s lightest and poppiest subunit debuted with this cotton-candy confection that’s almost too sweet, but it’s anchored by a wallop of a hook.
41. Bigbang – Sober
Bigbang released more singles this year than any other kpop artist, and this rock-influenced track stood out with its anthemic hook and crunchy guitars.
40. Lovelyz – Ah-Choo
The high energy “cute concept” was strong with girl groups this year, and Lovelyz was a chief example. This is their most addictive single yet.
39. Park Kyung & Park Boram – Ordinary Love
What could have been yet another midtempo collaboration was bolstered by Kyung’s charismatic delivery throughout and a hook that became one of the year’s most enduring earworms.
38. Romeo – Lovesick
The birth of my favorite type of k-pop boyband: one who works with production team extraordinaire Sweetune, and reaps the benefits of their best 2015 material.
37. 1PUNCH – Take Me Back
Unfortunately their only track before disbandment, this still managed to be a dynamically produced throwback to 90’s new jack swing.
36. Arashi – Under The Blue Sky, Next To You (Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari)
Japan’s biggest boy (man?) band hit us with a track that’s all about the soaring chorus. Those harmonies are pure bliss.
35. EXID – Ah Yeah
The girls followed up their breakthrough with this resounding success. There are so many little hooks within, but at the end of the day it all comes back to that gargantuan chorus.
34. AOA – Heart Attack
The first time I heard this, I couldn’t get over how noisy and frantic it sounded, but then everything came together and I realized what a brilliant propulsive pop workout it truly is.
33. GD & Taeyang (ft. Kwanghee) – Mapsosa
Quite the unlikely collaboration, recorded as part of Korea’s biggest reality show. It’s a prime example of Bigbang members having fun, without worrying about the need to project a “cool” image.
32. B1A4 – Happy Days
This anthemic, poppy, Japanese release ended up being the best single B1A4 put their names to this year. It feels like the natural successor to their classic What’s Happening from 2013.
31. BTS – Run
Released literally the day of my cut-off date of eligibility to this countdown, it’s hard to tell what staying power this will have, but based on their track record, I’m betting I’ll be playing this brilliant single a lot next year.
30. Romeo – Target
An even better Sweetune single from new group Romeo, this is the kind of synth-drenched, layered blast of pop that I live for.
29. iKON – Airplane
YG’s newest group blitzed us with five singles in three months, but this emotion, midtempo pop ballad was the best.
28. News – Chumu Chumu
Cheesy? Yes! But that’s okay when the best and most fun elements of Bollywood are so expertly translated to bombastic jpop.
27. Bigbang – Bang Bang Bang
The successor in many ways to the group’s 2012 epic Fantastic Baby, the only thing that prevented this from being higher is that letdown of a chorus.
26. BTS – Dope
Their ode to hard work and training, and this year’s best example of how to do an instrumental breakdown the right way.