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K-Pop’s Greatest Singles Runs

Different groups are loved for different reasons, but one of my favorite concepts within pop music is the “imperial phase” — a (usually) brief era when every promoted song an act releases is absolutely superb and iconic.

This got me to thinking: what are K-pop’s greatest imperial phases? I combed through my exhaustive playlists and looked for those stretches where an artist’s singles were rated nine or higher by yours truly. I disregarded Japanese releases, sub-units/solos, and non-promoted releases like CFs, prologues or epilogues (unless the song was directly deemed a “title track” on its accompanying album or repackage).

I ended up with twelve artists who each had highly-rated singles runs consisting of five songs or more. The results surprised me, as some of my favorite acts suffered due to a more inconsistent run of title tracks – even if their peaks were higher than a few of the artists that made it onto the countdown.

What do you think, Bias List readers? What are your favorite, uninterrupted K-pop singles runs?


FIVE-SONG RUN


2NE1

From 2011-2012

Lonely > I Am The Best > Hate You > Ugly > I Love You

The Peak:


Astro

From 2016-2017

Hide & Seek, Breathless, Confession, Baby, Crazy Sexy Cool

The Peak:


B1A4

From 2012-2014

Baby Good Night > Tried To Walk > What’s Happening? > Lonely > Solo Day

The Peak:


Bigbang

From 2011-2012

Love Song > Blue > Bad Boy > Fantastic Baby > Monster

The Peak:


GFriend

From 2015-2017

Glass Bead > Me Gustas Tu > Rough > Navillera > Fingertip

The Peak:


Golden Child

From 2017-2018

DamDaDi > It’s U > Lady > Let Me > Genie

The Peak:


Kara

From 2009-2012

Mister > Lupin > Jumping > Step > Pandora

The Peak:


SIX-SONG RUN


SHINee

From 2012-2015

Sherlock > Dream Girl > Why So Serious? > Everybody > View > Married To The Music

The Peak:


EIGHT-SONG RUN


EXO

From 2012-2015

What Is Love > History > Mama > Wolf > Growl > Overdose > Call Me Baby > Love Me Right

The Peak:


Seventeen

From 2015-2018

Adore U > Mansae > Pretty U > Very Nice > Boom Boom > Don’t Wanna Cry > Clap > Thanks

The Peak:


TEN-SONG RUN


BTS

From 2014-2017

Danger > War Of Hormone > I Need U > Dope > Run > Fire > Save Me > Blood Sweat & Tears > Spring Day > Not Today

The Peak:


THIRTEEN-SONG RUN


Infinite

From 2010-2016

Come Back Again > She’s Back > Before The Dawn > Nothing’s Over > Be Mine > Paradise > The Chaser > Man In Love > Destiny > Last Romeo > Back > Bad > The Eye

The Peak:

39 thoughts on “K-Pop’s Greatest Singles Runs

    • You know what? You’re completely right, and the post has been edited to reflect that.

      For whatever reason, I don’t have a singles playlist for Astro in my iTunes and they slipped from my memory (I know… how dare I?)

      Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, sweet! Was not expecting my complaint to yield any results, but I certainly won’t complain. Astro has really had one of the strongest runs of any K-Pop group to me, which is supper gratifying given that they’re the first group I ever really followed. I’ll forgive you for the sacrilege since you righted your wrongs 😉

          Also, unpopular opinion: I LOVED Blue Flame. It’s tropey, sure, but the guys absolutely sell it and I think it’s one of the stronger offerings of that subgenre, especially the chorus. All Night is actually the song that falls flat for me. Go figure.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Pinocchio – Electric Shock – Hot Summer – Rum Pum Pum Pum – Red Light – 4 Walls (!)

    That, KARA’s and EXO’s would be my personal top 3.

    Like

    • I’m one of those weird people who finds f(x)’s singles run to be somewhat uneven. I admire a track like Red Light and think it’s super solid, but it’s not something I choose to listen to often.

      In fact, I’d argue that f(x) are the rare K-pop artist whose album tracks are largely of higher quality than their singles.

      Like

      • Yeah, I totally understand Red Light (the song) or Pinocchio being quite divisive. And though I LOVE that 6-singles run, I agree that probably a “best albums run” kind of list suits them more!

        Like

  2. This is a really interesting idea! My list would look something like this

    12 Songs
    EXO – History, Mama, Wolf, Growl, Miracles in December, Overdose, Call Me Baby, Love Me Right, Lightsaber, Sing for You, Lucky One, Monster

    6 Songs
    Girls’ Generation – Gee, Genie, Oh!, Run Devil Run, Hoot, The Boys
    f(x) – Pinocchio, Hot Summer, Electric Shock, Rum Pum Pum Pum, Red Light, 4 Walls
    LOONA – Singing in the Rain, Love Cherry Motion, Girl Front, Sweet Crazy Love, new, Heart Attack

    5 Songs
    BTS – Danger, War of Hormone, I Need U, Dope, Run
    Mamamoo – Decalcomanie, Yes I Am, Paint Me, Starry Night, Egotistic
    Twice – Yes or Yes, Fancy, Breakthrough, Feel Special, Fake & True
    Stray Kids – District 9, My Pace, I am YOU, Miroh, Side Effects

    Like

    • Man, that’s a strong SNSD run.

      See… this is where my eligibility criteria gets me into trouble. I included Way To Go in this singles run since they promoted it on music shows and it had a (bts) mv. And for me, Run Devil Run and Hoot aren’t *quite* “9’s”. I know… sacrilege!

      Still, a super solid run that deserves mentioning.

      Like

    • LOONA’s 2017 run of music was like crack to me, I was so hooked back then. I still love them but nothing they’ve done post-debut has been as interesting and engaging as everything they had going on back then musically, visually, lore-wise…

      Like

  3. it was really fascinating to figure out which songs had broken the streak for you– I Love You (2NE1), Sweet Girl (B1A4)– Damaged Lady (Kara)????? i would beg to disagree but i also don’t have as distinct a ranking/rating system as you, so i have nothing to back myself up with.

    anyways, loved the idea behind this post!! finding out that even Seventeen’s Thanks had rated high with you back then was somewhat of a surprise, a pleasant one! 🙂

    Like

  4. “Tri-Angle”
    “Hi Ya Ya Ya”
    “Rising Sun”
    “Tonight”
    “Dongbangui Tuhon”
    “‘O’-Jung.Ban.Hap.”
    “Balloons”
    “Mirotic”
    “Wrong Number”
    “Keep Your Head Down”
    “Before U Go”
    “Catch Me”
    “Humanoids”
    “Something”
    “Spellbound”

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, this is the kind of run that shows the limits of my approach to this post. Looking at that long list is just staggering — like, some of the best K-pop ever released.

      It just so happened that some of these songs that I’d rate in the high 8’s (Wrong Number, Something, Tonight, etc) fall in spots that prevent TVXQ from racking up five or more 9’s in a row. It sucks, because this run is pretty damn legendary when looked at as a whole.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking at this list gives me shivers. I mean a good title track being released one after the other each building up and establishing a group’s image? There’s honestly nothing better.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. It’s really interesting to see how you shift between Navillera and Rough as Gfriends peak! Gfriend and Infinite’s imperial phases are the only ones where almost every song would get a 10 from me, with Glass bead being the exception for Gfriend and The eye, Destiny and Bad being the exceptions for INFINITE.

    In my opinion, 9muses 2011-2013 would also stand up there with the best.

    Figaro – NEWS – Ticket – Dolls – Wild – Gun

    With NEWS being the Peak for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What about VIXX?
    On & On – Hyde – GR8U – Only U – Voodoo Doll – Eternity – Error.
    I didn’t go back and look at your rankings but imo these are all classics. I may be extremely biased though since they’re my ult group. Also for EXO how come Miracles in December is missing?

    Liked by 2 people

    • AGREE!!!! was hoping so much VIXX would be on this list. being a VIXX fan circa 2013/2014 was SUCH a good time, every release went beyond expectations

      Like

  8. Definitely Bigbang and SHINee there. I’d say it’s only nostalgia, but I think these, specially SHINee’s, are some of the most powerful songs in K-pop.

    I still don’t get Sherlock though, sorry (whenever it begins I think they’re gonna sing Spoiler, which suits me a lot more.), so it’s a 5-song run for me.

    Now that I know about it, I think B1A4 easily make my third place, too.

    Like

  9. I have so many groups but I will do my favorites(They are not in order):

    5 SONG RUN
    ———————
    Kara:
    Pandora
    Damaged Lady
    Mamma Mia
    Lupin

    The Peak : Step

    Nine Muses :
    Hurt Locker
    Ticket
    Wild
    News

    The Peak : Figaro

    6 SONG RUN
    ——————-

    Beast:
    Beautiful Night
    Fiction
    Good Luck
    Breathe
    Ribbon

    The Peak: Shadow

    B.A.P:
    One Shot
    Stop It
    Feel So Good
    Power
    Angel

    The Peak: Warrior

    2NE1:
    Lonely
    Ugly
    I am The Best
    Missing You
    Come Back Home

    The Peak : I Love You

    Block B:
    H.E.R
    Jackpot
    NaliNa
    Nillili Mambo
    Be The Light

    The Peak: Very Good

    7 SONG RUN
    ———————
    100%:
    Missing You
    U Beauty
    Want U Back
    Bad Boy Beat
    Sketch U

    The Peak: Better Day

    BigBang:
    Love Song
    Fantastic Baby
    Bad Boy
    Blue
    Let’s Not Fall In Love
    Haru Haru

    The Peak: Monster

    Seventeen:
    BoomBoom
    Adore U
    Don’t Wanna Cry
    Very Nice
    Clap
    Pretty U

    The Peak: Mansae

    Astro:
    Baby
    Crazy,Sexy,Cool
    Cat Eyes
    Confession
    Breathless
    Always You

    The Peak: Hide and Seek

    Boys Republic:
    Hello
    The Real One
    Get Down
    Orange Sky
    Dress Up
    Party Rock

    The Peak: You Are Special

    9 SONG RUN
    ———————-

    BTS:
    Run
    Dope
    War of Hormone
    Danger
    Fire
    Save Me
    Blood , Sweat and Tears
    Boy In Luv

    The Peak : I Need U

    EXO:
    What Is Love
    Love Me Right
    Growl
    History
    Wolf
    Overdose
    Call Me Baby
    Lucky One

    The Peak : Mama

    VIXX:
    On and On
    Eternity
    Dynamite
    G.R.8.U
    Rock Ur Body
    Hyde
    Love Equation

    The Peak : Error

    10 SONG RUN
    ————————
    NCT ( ALL UNITS):
    My First and Last
    We Young
    Limitless
    Chewing Gum
    Super Human
    Highway To Heaven
    Baby Don’t Stop
    Boom
    Switch

    The Peak: Without You

    Shinee:
    Good Evening
    View
    Married to the Music
    Dream Girl
    Why So Serious
    Replay
    Everybody
    Lucifer
    Tell Me What to do

    The Peak: Sherlock

    11 SONG RUN
    ———————
    Infinite:
    Be Mine
    Paradise
    Man In Love
    Destiny
    Last Romeo
    Nothing’s Over
    Before The Dawn
    Come Back Again
    Bad
    The Eye

    The Peak: The Chaser

    12 SONG RUN
    ———————————-
    B1A4 ( My Favorite Group of All time!!):
    Baby Good Night
    Sweet Girl
    A Lie
    Solo Day
    Beautiful Target
    O.K.
    Rollin
    Baby I’m Sorry
    Tried To Walk
    Only Learned Bad Things
    Lonely

    The Peak: What’s Happening

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Maybe it’s my bias speaking, but ATEEZ seems to be gearing up for a VERY strong singles run. All their title tracks have gotten 9+ for me so far. Looking forward to ITZY and TXT too. Stray Kids are one of my ults too, and I’m excited to see what they’ll do in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Even though they’ve only been around for a close to two years now I would say Ateez. Especially due to the fact that they’ve released do title tracks twice. So Treasure > Pirate King > Say My Name > Illusion > Wave > Wonderland > Answer. At such a young age Ateez I believe started out their career with an imperial phase. Hoping this will continue with their next comeback 🤞

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I know your rating system and the other criteria is probably what prevented a lot of groups from being on this list. That said, it just feels wrong that groups like SNSD and T-ara. I think it’s rather ironic that Sistar had a streak of nine number one songs, and they still didn’t make the list.

    Like

  13. Fuck Savage, man. A.C.E’s discography would otherwise be my runaway favorite in the entire industry. But alas, that only numbers 4 songs before Savage took it for a nosedive.

    SISTAR, though!

    So Cool > Alone > Loving U > Give It to Me > Touch My Body > I Swear > Shake It > I Like That

    Monstrous.

    Like

  14. Agreeing with some comments above, i would have added VIXX, 100%, T ara, and f(x) for at least the 5 singles lists. i love being reminded of the 2ne1/infinite singles runs, i remember being so excited for each release and making a big deal out of watching the mvs as soon as they came out and being genuinely blown away by some of them (hello, destiny? last romeo?). good times

    Like

  15. The fact that I haven’t listened to half of these means that I have some serious catching up to do. Also it really excites thinking of the artists that might join this list in the future

    Like

  16. I’m a huge 2PM fan so I’m 100% biased but you have to admit their entire Korean singles run (except for Promise (I’ll Be)) are stone cold classics.

    10 out of 10 -> Again and Again -> Heartbeat -> Without U -> I’ll Be Back (even Don’t Stop Can’t Stop, promoted at the same time is an underrated gem) -> Hands Up -> ADTOY/Comeback When You Hear This Song -> Go Crazy -> My House

    It’s actually insane to me how so many of these songs are songs that almost all kpop fans would know

    Like

  17. BoA’s Korean discography alone this past decade: look at the material!

    Hurricane Venus
    Copy & Paste
    Only One
    The Shadow
    Disturbance
    Where Are You
    Kiss My Lips
    Camo
    Nega Dola
    One Shot Two Shot
    Woman
    Feedback (I keep coming back to this one lately- it’s a grower)
    Starry Night

    I suppose Only One would be her peak here but she has consistently released bops since. Can honestly say I love all these songs (with Disturbance being my weakest link). Highly anticipating her 20th anniversary album this year !

    Like

  18. Apink’s 5 song run of My My, Hush, No No No, Mr Chu and Luv is stiff to miss out. That’s some essential kpop there that brought the lighthearted concept back into vogue. Throw in I Don’t know and Remember and you could even sneak it into the 7 run bracket.

    Like

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