Wrapping up the end of year countdowns, it’s time to delve deeper into the albums 2016 gave us. Among hundreds and hundreds of tracks released this year (and last December!), here are forty of the absolute best.
20. UP10TION – STUCK ON YOU
An uncharacteristically rock-tinged anthem written for the guys by members of idol band DAY6. It’s a match made in heaven. (full review)
19. PRODUCE 101 – IN THE SAME PLACE
A lush, Jinyoung-produced pop track that went from a variety show performance to one of the year’s most loved singles.
18. VIXX – SIX FEET UNDER
17. EXO-CBX – RHYTHM AFTER SUMMER
A retro blast of funk-pop that gave the EXO sub-unit the chance to explore a loose, brassy sound. (full review)
16. EXO – ARTIFICIAL LOVE
A club-ready diversion from EXO’s core sound, Artificial Love could have easily functioned as a full-fledged comeback single. (full review)
15. OH MY GIRL – I FOUND LOVE
A melodic burst of full-on sing-along pop, with one of the biggest choruses of Oh My Girl’s young career. (full review)
14. B.A.P – GO
A bright, unflappably cheerful track from the usually hard-edged group. My favorite song they released all year.
13. DAY6 – HOPE
A surging slab of anthemic pop/rock that marked one of many highlights on the idol band’s second mini album. (full review)
12. INFINITE – FOR YOU
A Japanese b-side that could have easily been a full-on single if the group chose to revisit their lighter sound. Its staccato chorus works wonders.
11. ASTRO – LONELY
A perfect blend of Astro’s ultra-catchy, glossy pop style and a more melancholic sentiment. It’s melodic heaven. (full review)
10. OH MY GIRL – ONE STEP, TWO STEPS
A densely packed, tempo-shifting, 80’s-kissed opus that marked a true turning point for the girls. Hopefully the first of many Jinyoung collaborations.
9. TAEMIN – SEXUALITY
An aural tribute to Prince’s slinky late-80’s funk, bolstered by Taemin’s masterful performance. As the title hints, his music has never sounded sexier.
8. NAM WOOHYUN – EVERYDAY
A welcome burst of stadium rock to close an album full of ballads. Everyday gave Woohyun a brilliant platform for his incredible vocal bombast. (full review)
7. NCT 127 – SWITCH (FT. SR15B)
An anthem of sorts for SM’s ambitious NCT project, the song’s tropical house groove was so good that they had to release a bonus music video just to show it off. (full review)
6. INFINITE – ZERO
A dramatic, sledgehammer-to-the-head force of dance pop that acted as the finale to Infinite’s latest album. Main vocal Woohyun’s power notes are the undeniable standout here. (full review)
5. SEVENTEEN – SIMPLE (WOOZI SOLO)
A sterling example of the power a perfect pop melody can hold. Stronger than many groups’ best singles, Simple positioned Woozi as a solo star in the making.
4. BOYS24 – TIME LEAP
A rousing anthem for BOYS24’s climactic moments, Time Leap is the best single thing to come from the program so far, and yet another testament to Sweetune’s ability to craft an indelible hook. (full review)
3. TAEMIN – GUESS WHO
2. ASTRO – FIREWORKS
A convincing argument that Astro’s music can be just as addictive when it pulls back on the dance beats and goes full on power pop. The melody absolutely soars, while the punchy rock stomp explodes with energy. (full review)
1. SEVENTEEN – HEALING
A flawless summer song, Healing is among the very best material Seventeen has given us. Its euphoric blasts of synth and persistent rhythm guitar give the track a pop fizz that feels like pure magic. (full review)