Hundreds (if not thousands) of songs are released each year in Korea, but only a fraction receive full title track promotion. This leaves behind many buried treasures in need of a spotlight. Here are forty of 2017’s best:
40. TWICE – 24/7
A rollicking burst of percussive pop that deepened Twice’s bubblegum sound with its explosive chorus. (full review)
39. BTS – PIED PIPER
A flute-driven mid-tempo with enough breathing room to refocus attention on BTS’s underused vocal line. (full review)
38. SF9 – JUST ON MY WAY
A convincing stab at skeletal 80’s funk pop with a falsetto-led hook to die for. (full review)
37. RED VELVET – BODY TALK
A spacey, slow-burn synth ballad with gorgeous vocals and lushly produced atmosphere to spare. (full review)
36. TRCNG – I’M THE ONE
A refreshingly old-school boyband banger, drawing influence from the wonderfully bombastic side of millennial pop. (full review)
35. N.FLYING – R U READY?
An anthemic call-to-arms, where the rock quintet goes full rap-EDM with surprisingly addictive results. (full review)
34. NCT 127 – BABY DON’T LIKE IT
A moody piece of restrained hip-hop pop, featuring one of the group’s most strikingly beautiful choruses.
33. PRISTIN – TINA
A perky rush of brass-kissed pop, tethering the girls’ quirky sound to their most addictive melody yet. (full review)
32. B1A4 – YOU NEED ME
A prime example of B1A4’s propulsive power pop sound, augmented with just enough tropical tricks to give it 2017 appeal. (full review)
31. HALO – FLYING
A gargantuan slice of sky-high EDM from one of k-pop’s most consistently underrated boy groups, featuring a chorus so big the song can barely contain it. (full review)
30. GFRIEND – RAINBOW
A spunky dance-rock esteem-booster that lends renewed credence to the idea that GFriend should be soundtracking every anime series out there. (full review)
29. TEEN TOP – CALL ME
A deliciously 80’s call to the dancefloor, book-ended by one of the most effective riffs of synth nostalgia that Teen Top have ever delivered. (full review)
28. NCT DREAM – DUNK SHOT
An impossibly cheery update of a 90’s k-pop classic, produced to the hilt with layered, anthemic heft. (full review)
27. ASTRO – BECAUSE IT’S YOU
A convincing argument for “Astro the Balladeers,” blending a sweeping, sentimental melody with stunning harmonies.
26. SEVENTEEN – WITHOUT YOU
25. EXO-CBX – GIRL PROBLEMS
A sing-along dance/funk workout from EXO’s most charming sub-unit, featuring one of the year’s instantly endearing choruses.
24. EXO – TACTIX
A gigantic surge of synth-driven bombast with the kind of go-for-broke hook that used to be everywhere in 2nd generation k-pop.
23. RED VELVET – YOU BETTER KNOW
A vocal spotlight for the incredible Red Velvet, with an immense catharsis of a chorus that gseems to grow bigger and stronger with each repetition.
22. G-DRAGON – MIDDLE FINGERS UP
A moment of catchy, pop-oriented melody on the otherwise obtuse Kwon Ji Yong, Middle Fingers Up was the summer hit that remained a hidden treasure.
21. UP10TION – COME BACK TO ME
A glossy, ultra-melodic stab at old school pop that succeeds on the strength of its hook and charm of its ingratiating performance. (full review)