Feature

Top Three K-Pop Songs of June 2020

Monthly Round-UpAt the end of each month, I look back at my three favorite title tracks by K-pop artists. I take my own ratings into account, but there’s a bit of wiggle room as certain songs tend to grow or fade.


June 2020 Overall Thoughts

This may not seem like much within the context of 2020’s continual suck-a-thon, but June was by far the strongest month we’ve seen in some time. I say this with a sigh of relief, though we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. My half-year countdown (which will be revealed soon) is still looking pretty slim compared to years past, but June’s top three picks helped flesh it out.

You’ll see a lot of honorable mentions in this month’s round-up. As has been the case with K-pop for years now, June delivered many solid tracks but few standouts. Luckily, the three songs that did stand out are among the very best that 2020 has given us. I haven’t been this satisfied with a top three since some time in 2019.

One factor that made June particularly strong were the albums. This month was flush with releases, and many of them were accompanied by full or mini albums. And even though certain groups didn’t pick the right song for promotion (looking at you, Stray Kids!), there were a ton of great buried treasures to be found. Lots to listen to this month, and that’s a refreshing change (but dangerous to my wallet!).

On the negative side, June continued a worrying 2020 trend. It seemed like the bigger a group’s popularity, the more disappointing their comeback was. New title tracks from Twice, IZ*ONE, Seventeen and BLACKPINK all misfired to some extent, though these acts’ popularity continues to grow. Big Hit also continued to make odd promotional choices by unleashing TXT’s Puma on us when Drama was sitting right there, ready to act as a great summer single.

This brings me to a point that’s becoming more and more crystallized in my mind: the more a K-pop act tries to cater to western tastes, the less enjoyable I find their music. My top three choices this month all have one thing in common: they’re composed by Korean producers. As time goes on, I’m becoming less and less interested in Western producers’ “take” on K-pop. Sure, foreign influence has resulted in amazing work in the past, but as K-pop becomes more global, I feel like many of its architects are Western creators who don’t have the sense of K-pop history that a Korean composer would have. So, we end up with American-sounding music that just happens to be sung by a K-pop act.

Anyway… that’s probably a topic for another long-winded rant.

Looking forward to July, I don’t want to put a whammy on things by being too optimistic. After all, my reverse psychology during May’s round-up seemed to pay off. However, I’m encouraged by some of the sounds I’m hearing break through in K-pop. Unfortunately, I think we have a lot more trap-rap to wade through first, but eventually we’ll move on to greener pastures. Every trend has its end, right?

Month Cumulative Rating: 7.8

(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)


J-Pop (and C-Pop!) Worth Your Time

King & Prince – Mazy Night (review)

WayV – Turn Back Time (review)

Honorable Mentions

3YE – YESSIR (review)

A.C.E – Stand By You (review)

AB6IX – The Answer (review)

AWEEK – 1.4.3 (review)

Bang Yedam (Treasure) – Wayo (review)

Chungha – Be Yourself (review)

Cosmic Girls (WJSN) – Butterfly (review)

Cravity – Cloud 9 (review)

E’Last- Swear (review)

Ha Sungwoon – Get Ready (review)

IU – Into The I-Land (review)

N.Flying – Oh Really (review)

Pentagon – Basquiat (review)

Seventeen – My My (review)

Stray Kids – Blueprint / God’s Menu (reviewreview)

TXT – Eternally (review)

Weeekly – Tag Me (review)

WOODZ – Love Me Harder (review)


TOP THREE SONGS

3. Sunmi – Pporappippam (review)

2. ONF – New World (review)

1. Golden Child – One (Lucid Dream) (review)


Top Three K-Pop Songs Of May 2020

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of April 2020

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of March 2020

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of February 2020

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of January 2020

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of December 2019

2016-2019 Archive Here

36 thoughts on “Top Three K-Pop Songs of June 2020

  1. Hehe, nice! All your top 3 picks are in my top 4, if in a bit of a different order:

    3) Pporappippam
    2) New World
    1) Oh Really (I’m biased as hell because N.Flying are one of my ult groups but I truly had this song stuck in my head all month so I feel justified choosing this)

    One (Lucid Dream) was a very close 4th, though OMG was my actual favorite track on that album.

    Man this month was rough though. Imagine Twice, BTS, Seventeen, and BP all releasing singles and not one of them being great…

    Liked by 2 people

      • My main gripe about those songs is their choruses. Or lack thereof. You can build everything else to be great but an awful or nonexistent chorus will render all of that effort moot. On the flipside, you can have the greatest chorus and you don’t need to build all that much around it (just don’t actively undermine it, lol).

        %% has infinitely better verses than I’m So Sick; the chorus is also vastly inferior. Guess which of the two songs has stuck in my playlists. Similarly, La La Love might have the worst verses among WJSN titles but because the chorus is so incredibly good it’s probably my favorite title of theirs. I’m not endorsing bad verses, mind, but a great chorus cures most ills, and a bad one tends to be the source of them.

        SVT has hints of a great song but the chorus is so frustrating and annoying that it undoes any goodwill I would otherwise have had towards the song. Twice’s is a little less obnoxious but Twice choruses are usually the best things about their titles and it kills me for them to jettison that for something that is practically La Vie En Rose two years too late.

        BP is both disappointing and unsurprising. My expectations for Teddy were low but holy fuck

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  2. My top 3 title tracks this month would be:
    1. Sunmi – Pporappippam
    2. Golden Child – One
    3. Stray Kids – God’s Menu (I’m 100% being biased here)

    If Cpop releases were eligible, WayV’s “Turn Back Time” would be 2nd.

    Top 3 album tracks:
    1. Stray Kids – Haven
    2. Stray Kids – TOP
    3. TXT – Drama

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is indeed the strongest month of 2020. I wanted more from such a strong casting, I can’t be fully satisfied when I was disappointed by TWICE, SEVENTEEN, Hwasa, AB6IX, WJSN, Stray Kids, Blackpink and probably some good acts that I forgot. Some of them were really weak (Blackpink, TWICE, SEVENTEEN), the others just good/alright when I expected something great. But as you said, we can finally have a satisfying top 3, mine is 3. E’LAST 2. Sunmi 1. ONF, I didn’t really like Golden Child’s comeback at first but it grew on me and it is a strong 4th place for them for the moment.

    I see that you didn’t include VICTON Mayday in your list, it seems like it didn’t age well for you. Tbh I didn’t listen much to this one but I enjoyed it despite its repetitiveness.

    Like

  4. My Picks:
    1. One
    2. Porappippam
    3. Love Me Harder
    4. New World
    5. Turn Back Time

    My Fav Album Tracks:
    1.Surreal
    2. Haven
    3. Neverland (The full album)
    4.OMG
    5. Electric Hearts/ Ta
    (TXT will not be eligible for my fav album tracks because their album came out last month)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For me, it would be something like this:

    1. Pporappippam – Sunmi
    2. One (Lucid Dream) – Golden Child
    3. New World – ONF

    Standout album tracks: Hola/Pantomime by WJSN and Shadow/Oxygen by TWICE.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Man, that Twice album is really strong despite the title being a letdown. My personal pick is Sweet Summer Day (just like Nick, for pretty much the same reasons) but Shadow especially is a really close second. Everything LDN Noise does is great

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I genuinely don’t think K pop is bending over backwards to meet western tastes. The music you’ve disliked this year hasn’t been part of a western push, and the success of groups like BLACKPINK, Twice, Seventeen and IZ*ONE has generally come domestically, not internationally. Those million records Seventeen sold went to Korea, not America. IZ*ONE’s fandom is still like 70% Korean men. BLACKPINK’s big sales breakthrough looks like it’ll come from China right now, not the west. I think you just have to reckon with the fact that this is what Korean pop taste looks like right now. They aren’t blindly imitating western taste. This music IS their taste.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, especially with your last statement. I think that argument should be focused more on how South Korea’s music taste is basically whatever is trending in the United States or did a year ago: “tropical” or trap beats and basic melodies with easy dance moves are can transformed into TikTok challenges. I was weirdly amazed with the amount of idols and korean celebrities who are using TikTok so regularly and posting dance challenges. Honestly, it’s not a trend I’m really liking because it’s reflecting so much in the music, like “Left & Right” and “Candy”. I do agree with Nick’s argument about Western song writers and producers not understanding what kpop is and reflecting it on their music. First example that comes to mind is “More & More” which I can never get through.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Yeah, I get that Tik Tok is representative of a shift many folks are not enjoying. However, I think it’s important to recognize that K pop is NOT A GENRE. Korean pop music does not have distinct instrumentation or composition, and what similarities you’ll find between songs tend to be fleeting, as tastes and styles change every several years. Trot music and ballads, as far as I can tell, are the only distinctly Korean genres that get incorporated into their songs, and trot music has been on the outs in K pop for like 5 plus years now. Sometimes you’ll hear a Korean instrument like the piri, but even that is pretty rare.

        K pop artists have always taken the lead from western music. JYP clearly loves acts like Michael Jackson, Madonna and James Brown; you hear elements of them in almost every song he writes. YG is heavily influenced by hip hop artists, from the music they make to the clothes their artists wear. And even SM Entertainment, founded by Lee Soo-man, who has stated that MTV was a large influence on what he thought a Korean pop music industry could look like, has employed western composers (Thomas Troelsen) or western educated composers (Kenzie) for decades. I simply think blaming western trends for the quality of K pop music is like calling water wet. They have always gone hand in hand.

        What does tend to be different is how K pop implements various western trends. And that’s the rub. Most of the time, a worn out or annoying trend in the west gets imagined in a more upbeat or fun way by K pop acts. It’s invigorating and interesting not because it’s totally unique, but because it’s a different take on something we’re already familiar with. Recently, K pop hasn’t had very interesting takes on contemporary pop trends. That’s not western pop music’s fault — that’s K pop’s problem. The relationship has always been that the west does stuff and then K pop riffs on it. So you can’t blame the west for a dip in the quality of K pop music. If they’ve lost the magic touch, the west didn’t do it to them. Korean listeners, composers, performers and producers did to to themselves.

        2020 has been a pretty great year for western pop music. You can’t rate an entire music industry by what’s on the top 40. The music has been diverse and fun from a lot of different performers (Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Fiona Apple, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa and MANY OTHERS). I simply wish that Nick would stop blaming western producers or western trends for what’s happening in K pop. It has no historical basis and feels like a simplistic and juvenile attempt to understand why he isn’t as in love with the Korean music scene as he used to be. I’ve read Nick’s posts for years. This site was one of the only good resources I had when I first got into K pop. I Enjoy reading what he writes, and I think his criticism has been fair this year. However, his larger take aways on the state of the industry and its relationship to the west have been very off.

        Liked by 5 people

        • You’re both putting forth much more nuanced arguments than I am. Though, in my defense, that one paragraph wasn’t the thrust of this feature, so I didn’t allow myself a chance to elaborate.

          I agree with almost everything stated in the above comments. K-pop has always been influenced by western pop music, especially from the 90’s on (and YES to “K-pop is not a genre.” I swear I want to get that tattooed on my face or something).

          I think my larger issue, and one of the reasons why I keep blaming “the West,” is that the past few years of Top 40 Western pop music have been really rough – at least in my opinion. Yes, 2020 is starting to re-embrace melody and a more fleshed-out production style, but as you said K-pop tends to be slow to evolve when it comes to which trends it’s taking influence from, and in general I don’t think its inspiration goes far beyond Top 40 fare.

          Much of 2020 K-pop still seems stuck on the Western sounds from 2018-19. Because of this, it’s easy to lay blame on the source material that the industry is drawing from, but I’m fully aware that Western influence can also be great (Uptown Funk -> Very Nice, Bad Romance -> so many 2011-13 K-pop classics).

          The major factor that’s changed during this era is just how popular K-pop has become globally, and that’s where I start to take issue with the industry outsourcing so much of its creativity. Yes, K-pop has always turned to international producers to some extent, but I feel like that’s become even more common now that so many global eyes are on the industry.

          Even six or seven years ago, most of the big idol group hits were crafted by popular Korean teams (Shinsadong Tiger, Duble Sidekick, Sweetune, Brave Brothers, etc). Those producers had such iconic musical perspectives, even if their respective discographies tended to be pretty samey. Even Thomas Troelsen, a foreigner, had a distinct sound. I just don’t hear that from many K-pop producers today, and the ones that do have a musical calling card (LEEZ/Ollounder, 1Take & Tak, Monotree, etc) tend to be Korean.

          Anyway, this is long-winded. Sorry. I realize my criticisms can get repetitive, especially for long-time readers who have suffered through years of rants – some more coherent than others!

          Liked by 6 people

          • Thanks for taking the time to reply. My post was way too long for how this comment section is formatted, but I’m glad some people saw it. You put out a massive amount of posts on K pop, so you have to fire off whatever you’re feeling. And most of the time that’s a joy. It’s pretty crazy to me that this site is now sustaining long threads on articles. It used to be total silence or the same 5-10 voices would hop on for a quick word. The idea that Army or Blink would take the time to troll one of these comment sections like last week is crazy to me! Clearly you’re not off in your own little corner of the internet anymore!

            Like

            • Yep, I’m as surprised as you are. I keep bracing myself for an inevitable peak and decline in readership, but if anything the growth rate has accelerated in the past year. It brings in all types… that’s for sure!

              Like

  7. My top 5:

    1. New World – ONF
    2. Turn Back Time – WayV
    3. porappippam – Sunmi
    4. One(Lucid Dream) – Golden Child
    5. Love Me Harder – WOODZ

    Despite a few let-downs, this month was quite satisfying!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Top Three K-Pop Songs of June 2020 | Rap Star Media

  9. this month was full of letdowns, head-scratchers, and releases that made me question whether I still actually liked the group or not, but honestly that’s ok, because Kpop always rebounds at some point (at least up till now). there were some highlights, though, and some releases that grew on me a lot. I would say my top six that stood above the rest would be:

    6. Sunmi “Pporappippam”
    5. Hwasa “Maria”
    4. Nature “Girls”
    3. ONF “New World”
    2. Golden Child “ONE (Lucid Dream)”
    1. Bang Ye Dam “Wayo”

    and as for album tracks, the ones that really stood out to me were “Make Me Go” and “Don’t Call Me Again” by Twice; virtually all of Hwasa’s mini; “Blueprint,” “TOP,” “Phobia,” and “Go Live,” by Stray Kids; “Hola” and “Pantomime” by WJSN; “Merry-Go-Round” by IZ*ONE; and “I Wish” by Seventeen.

    Like

  10. .

    In some order
    Aweek 1.4.3
    Wayv “Turn Back Time”
    E’last “Swear”
    WJSN (Cosmic Girls) “Pantomine”
    Ha Sung Woon “Get Ready”

    possibly Woodz too

    and for ballads
    SuJu KRY “When we were us”
    Kim Sung Kyu “Beautiful”

    Forestella performance obsession of the month ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42IZop_OV-A

    If there was a disappointment for me this month, it was itunes. More than a few times, the song would only appear on itunes a few days after the video was released. What a pain.

    Like

  11. This is definitely one of, if not the strongest month of 2020 so far (though for me, February is up there). My top 3 looks like this:

    1. Stray Kids – God’s Menu (pretty biased tho)
    2. ONF – New World
    3. Golden Child – ONE (didn’t really like the chorus, but loved just about every other part lol)

    I was actually expecting to like Sunmi’s comeback since I really liked Yubin’s Lady and they come from the same genre. However, I just didn’t find the melody memorable enough for me I guess.

    Like

  12. Mine would be

    1. CRAVITY – Cloud 9
    2. WJSN – Butterfly
    3. Stray Kids – God’s Menu (may be a little biased)

    I really adored Cloud 9’s bright energy and lively performance. June was pretty strong compared to the rest of 2020, so hopefully July keeps it up.

    Like

  13. 1. Sunmi
    2. WJSN
    3. Weeekly

    I know the trap grated you but it was much more restrained than all its counterparts at only 11 seconds . It’s also interesting to see that Momoland striking gold with Bhoom Bhoom has influenced so many other songs and artists.

    Like

  14. Golden child’s “One” might my favourite song from them now. I’m a bit more in the middle-ground when it comes to their discography but, this one absolutely hits it’s target. The chorus are really smooth and catchy.

    Like

  15. MAZY NIGHT.

    This one song made June a lot more enjoyable.
    Like seriously, I’ve listened to it at least 300 times by now and I’m not bored by it yet. At all. We need more songs like that in kpop.

    That being said I’ve had Golden Child’s mini on repeat quite often too, God’s Menu grew a lot on me, N.Flying, Sunmi and ONF released songs that I’ll be coming back to.
    Yes, it was a good month.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This month was awesome! If Sunmi hadn’t made a comeback I would’ve felt different! Let’s toast that July will be much , much better! ATEEZ and VeriVery are coming back! and TOO is doing a brighter concept with Golden Child possibility of releasing OMG this month of July! The possibilities are endless……..
    Anyway here is the Top 3:
    3. Sunmi / Cravity – Ppoporriram / Cloud 9
    2. ONF – New World
    1. Golden Child – One ( You released a song like The Eye , now release a song like The Chaser or Back , I am excited to see where Golden Child will go next)

    Like

    • Could you reply with a link of where you found out ATEEZ was coming back? Because so far I’ve found nothing on it.

      Like

        • I mean, two of their members are injured so I think they’ll come back in August instead of July. But I agree with your overall point that they’ll be coming back soon and I’m soooo hyped!

          Like

          • If it was another group , then maybe I’d have that thought but it’s ATEEZ , they’ll break there bones and still perform …………. I feel so sorry for them , tho

            Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Top K-Pop Songs of 2020 (So Far) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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