The end of the year countdowns are here! We’re kicking things off with the big one… the top 50 songs of the year! Each day this week, I’ll be counting down ten of the year’s best, until number one is revealed on Friday.
To be eligible for this top 50 list, songs must have had a Korean release as a title or promotional track between Dec. 1st, 2016 and Nov. 30th, 2017.
Make sure to check out the rest of the countdown first!
Day One: 50-41
Day Two: 40-31
Day Three: 30-21
Day Four: 20-11
10. Gfriend – Fingertip
Though they would eventually revert back to more standard girl group fare, for a brief moment in March GFriend cast themselves as world-conquering synth-pop warriors, propelled by the bombastic 80’s dance funk throwback of Fingertip. The move proved a bit too ballsy for some, but resulted in the most propulsive, powerful female idol track of the year. (full review)
9. Seventeen – Clap
For their second full-group comeback of 2017, Seventeen returned to a sound that they’d already mastered. But rather than rely solely on past triumphs, Clap infused a dynamic rock guitar stomp to bolster their formidable energy. Paired with one of the year’s most perfectly calibrated choreographies, Clap was the kind of song that just became better and better as more of its quirks revealed themselves. (full review)
8. UP10TION – Going Crazy
Going Crazy’s intense instrumental shares more than a bit of The Chaser’s musical DNA, and that alone guarantees it a place on the countdown. Moving on from the tired tropical trend of previous single Runner, Crazy reignited UP10TION’s standing as a powerful performance group, utilizing a constant sense of build to generate dance pop euphoria. (full review)
7. Wanna One – Energetic
Already the year’s biggest sensation in Korea, Wanna One could have released any trend-bating track and found success, but Energetic’s polished hooks and inventive arrangement helped ensure utter ubiquity. It’s a song chock full of moments, from the charismatic playfulness of the rap verses to the chugging electro thomp of the chorus. But it’s the group’s indelible personality that truly makes Energetic soar. (full review)
6. Produce 101 Season 2 – Pick Me
It’s a song that launched a phenomenon, and I’d argue that it’s the single greatest reality/survival theme of all time. Pick Me concentrated all of its performers’ toil and desperation and laid it bare over three minutes of immense EDM catharsis. Not only was it catchy as all get out, but its go-for-broke spirit and unending energy demanded attention, climaxing in the year’s biggest, most euphoric chorus. (full review)
5. Red Velvet – Red Flavor
Red Velvet defined the summer of 2017, merging their quirky pop style with the most robust chorus of their career. Red Flavor is a kaleidoscope of inventive percussion and megawatt hooks, delivered with polish and panache to spare. Wendy’s explosive bridge stands as one of the year’s defining pop moments, elevating an already gargantuan sound to goosebump-inducing levels. (full review)
4. Seventeen – Don’t Wanna Cry
Adopting a Chainsmokers-esque brand of overused EDM should have been a disaster, but Seventeen has a way of imbuing every moment of Don’t Wanna Cry with so much pathos that the track defied the odds and became a high water mark for the entire genre. From its plaintive, melancholic verses to that gorgeous, drum-filled build, Cry is a deftly arranged set-up for its sucker-punch of a hook. The chorus may not be as complex as most Seventeen singles, but the guys squeeze more emotion from the titular refrain than most groups managed all year long. (full review)
3. Snuper – Back:Hug
When I first heard that Sweetune would be challenging tropical pop with Snuper’s Back:Hug, I let out an audible groan. Not my eternally 80’s faves hopping aboard the trend train! But Back:Hug is a different beast altogether, fusing today’s production with a stylish sheen and ultra-melodic hook. Its ever-shifting textures gave Snuper their most complex single yet, but wrapped it in a classically catchy, immaculately produced package. The moment the lush pre-chorus sweeps in, the song transforms into the kind of timeless pop 2017 so often lacked. (full review)
2. NCT Dream – My First and Last
For much of the year, lovers of k-pop’s more classic, upbeat sound struggled to find music that sated that appetite. NCT Dream are easily dismissed by many due to their age and novelty factor, but they delivered 2017’s most buoyant pop chorus with the jubilant My First and Last. Hearkening back to the debut days of youthful groups like SHINee, Dream supplied more than enough innocent energy, but the real MVP here is composer/producer Ryan S. Jhun, who breathed life into the song’s effervescent, strings-assisted hook and funk-driven bass. (full review)
1. Snuper – The Star of Stars
I’m not going to pretend that The Star of Stars is some musically diverse, boundary pushing piece of k-pop. In fact, even Snuper’s own Back:Hug plays with more ideas and textures. It’s not overly complicated, or trying to be too many things at once. But it is an absolute firecracker of high octane pop music, efficiently delivering the biggest head rush of 2017. And in a year of increasingly large idol groups fighting for musical scraps of patchwork songs, that streamlined approach seems both refreshing and novel. Producers Sweetune may not be steering the careers of a-list acts anymore, but Star proves that they haven’t lost their touch for a sweeping melody and robust, layered arrangement. From its explosive opening synth riff to the dramatic climb towards the sing-along climax, I can’t think of another song that felt so welcome each and every time it found its way onto my playlist. Snuper is the first group from a small agency to ever top my countdown, proving that sometimes you have to venture beyond the k-pop headliners to find the year’s most transcendent moments. (full review)
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Is it safe to say that if Infinite disbanded today, Snuper would become your active bias group?
It’s hard to say, because I think a lot of it depends on whether they continue to work with Sweetune. I’ve yet to see what they’re capable of without that kind of production and songwriting style (beyond the super j-poppy stuff they’ve done in Japan).
nct dream my first and last is so good (no.1 this year for me..) wow two seventeen songs on the top 10! and snuper!! it’s time to check out all their songs.. thank you for you hardwork for review a lot of song this year 🙂
Thank you for checking out the countdown!!
Snuper is the most underrated group in the whole history of KPop: it’s UNEXPLAINABLE the reason why they *never* reached 1mln views on YouTube with such a great attitude and such a stunning discography. They would deserve so much more attention and hype than just a few aficionados here and there!
In regards to the music video views, I think it would really help if they were distributed by a channel with a lot of subscribers, like 1theK. As it stands now, it can be kind of hard to even find their videos unless you actively seek them out.
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Looks like Hui has actively waltzed his way directly onto your bias list
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He’s not there quite yet. Pentagon’s latest release has actually been the opposite of a grower for me, and I’m a bit concerned about his versatility as a composer. But Energetic and Like This were definitely two of my favorites this year and I think he has a ton of potential.
I can’t even express how happy I am to see up10tion on this list…Thanks for putting up this list.
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Congratulations you have sold me on Snuper. Seeing the members on the unit and seeing your praise of them has made me check out their music. I should preface that I generally find most rookie boy groups to be indistinguishable as they mostly seem to follow trends and want to be BTS remakes (at leastover the last few years) but wow, Snuper isn’t like that at all. They definitely have their own sound which is all I want from a rookie group, too many these days just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. I dig electronic pop the most and generally love sweetune’s previous work with Kara and Infinite, I wish I knew they were working with Snuper earlier!
Well, I think my work is done here! 😉
Glad you’ve seen the light!
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