Feature

Top K-Pop Songs of 2020 (So Far)

Midyear

Slim pickings this year, my friends. In fact, if not for June I’m not sure I could have compiled a mid-year list at all. As it stands, I only have five picks compared to last year’s eight, and the honorable mentions list has been cut in half as well.

What does this all mean? It means we can only go up from here!

Yes, I am an eternal optimist.

To be fair, it’s hard to judge 2020 by typical standards. It’s been a year fraught with global challenges that have filtered down to every aspect of life, including K-pop. Musically, it’s often been characterized by trap, girl crush, moody boys and cheerleader chants. Almost all the big-name acts have disappointed to some extent, while breaking sales records left and right. Most rookie groups have emerged from under-the-radar agencies, with few of them bringing anything new to the table.

And then, every once and awhile, 2020 delivered a highlight that reminds me why I first fell in love with K-pop. More than individual groups, there are certain producers I feel I can count on to craft something more inventive than the 2020 norm. All five of my top picks come from composers I personally love, and that’s no surprise.

Interestingly, only one act in my top five is a repeat from last year, showing just how volatile the K-pop industry can be. My fingers are crossed that the second half of 2020 delivers a more consistent quality, especially from some of my personal favorite groups who may have underwhelmed during these first six months.

Stay tuned for my annual mid-year albums list and the always popular “biggest risers and fallers” feature — both coming soon! And be sure to sound off in the comments. What were your favorite singles during the first half of 2020?


TOP SINGLES

(in alphabetical order)

Honorable Mentions:

CRAXY – Aria (review)
ITZY – Wannabe (review)
VERIVERY – Lay Back (review)
With Woollim – Relay (review)


ATEEZ – Answer

The thrilling conclusion to their fantastic Treasure series, Answer continued to grow ATEEZ’s bombastic sound with a larger-than-life chorus and emotional climax. (full review)


Dreamcatcher – Scream

Another LEEZ & Ollounder-produced track, Dreamcatcher’s Scream stands as a unique entry in 2020’s girl group oeuvre. It’s delightfully theatrical, building toward a propulsive blast of percussion. (full review)


Golden Child – One (Lucid Dream)

A full-on feast of hooks, Golden Child’s One has so many individual highlights, opening with an abrasive electro beat and building to a transcendent, Daft Punk-esque vocoder breakdown. (full review)


ONF – New World

New World goes big in a way few K-pop songs have this year. Its verses treat us to the fastest, most energetic arrangement of ONF’s career, while its anthemic chorus hearkens back to their 2019 work in the best way. (full review)


Sunmi – Pporappipam

A refreshingly straightforward dance track, Pporappipam harnesses Sunmi’s love for retro sounds, but modernizes the style just enough to feel novel. It’s all anchored by a chorus that reminds us how powerful a killer pop melody can be. (full review)

38 thoughts on “Top K-Pop Songs of 2020 (So Far)

  1. I’m surprised at ITZY being an honourable mention – I find it easily their strongest track so far! My mid-year list looks something like:

    1. KEEMBO – Scandalous
    2. ITZY – Wannabe
    3. DREAMCATCHER – Scream
    4. IMFACT – Lie
    5. ATEEZ – Answer
    6. SUNMI – Pporappippam
    7. NCT 127 – Kick It
    8. APink – Dumhdurum
    9. Solar – Spit it Out
    10. ONF – New World

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mine would probably look something like this

    1. Pporappippam
    2. Scream
    3. Dumhdurum
    4. Answer
    5. Lalalila
    (And I have to mention Winter Flower despite it not being a title track, I loved that song)

    I have for the most part been much more impressed by the releases of female artists this year so far, and also sadly been rather disappointed with the music some of my personal favourite acts have put out, but I haven’t given up hope for the second half of the year yet

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with the chosen five songs!
    I’d add these other ones:

    – Duhmdurum by APINK
    – Stay Tonight by Chungha
    – Tiger Eyes by Ryu Sujeong
    – LALALILALA by APRIL
    – Scandalous by KEEMBO

    Like

  4. Honestly I haven’t really had that many favorites either, If i made a list of favorite singles it wouldnt even be as long as yours. Only really great titles for me so far have been answer and wannabe (as well as lalilala by april) meanwhile all my other favorites have been bsides, especially by not that popular girl groups for some reason (like rocket punch and elris)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My Top 5 is same as yours! With Cloud 9 by Cravity just edging out! 1-3 are all 10/10 ‘s for me now!
    How’d I place the songs:
    1. ATEEZ – Answer
    2. Golden Child – One
    3. ONF – New World
    4. Sunmi – Pporappipam
    5. Dream Catcher – Scream
    I just realized on How much I love ATEEZ as how much I love Golden Child and ONF! They might even be tied for bias group!
    Can you rank your Top 5 for me.

    Like

  6. I have the same top 5 as yours with ITZY instead of Golden Child. Chungha, With Woolim, APRIL and Apink are behind them. As you said let’s be optimistic for the rest of the year !

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  7. My chart so far (putting together title tracks and b-sides in one and only ranking):

    1. STRAY KIDS, Top
    2. ATEEZ, Answer
    3. LEE DAE HWI, Rose Scent Kiss
    4. SUNMI, Pporappippam
    5. BTS, On
    6. NATURE, Girls
    7. 3YE, Queen
    8. VICTON, Mayday
    9. NCT 127, Punch
    10. APINK, Dumhdurum

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great list! When I was trying to come up with mine, it was surprisingly difficult to limit it to ten songs, which made me realize this year hasn’t been as bad as I thought for Kpop. I think mine would look something like:

    1. “So What” by LOONA
    2. “Answer” by ATEEZ
    3. “Stay Tonight” by Chung Ha
    4. “Scream” by Dreamcatcher
    5. “Black Swan” by BTS
    6. “Wannabe” by IZTY
    7. “LALALILALA” by April
    8. “WAYO” by Bang Ye Dam
    9. “Dumhdurum” by Apink
    10. “Kick It” by NCT 127

    honorable mentions to “Hands Up” by Cherry Bullet, “Lucid Dream” by Golden Child, “New World” by ONF, “Girls” by Nature,“Aria” by Craxy, and “When Love Comes By” by Kassy

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Nice! Looking back, this year wasn’t as bad as I actually thought it was. Mine TOP 10 would probably like like this:

    1. Chungha – Stay Tonight
    2. Scream – Dreamcatcher
    3. Stray Kids – God’s Menu
    4. April – Lalalilala
    5. ONF – New World
    6. ITZY – Wannabe
    7. IZ*ONE – Fiesta
    8. Golden Child – ONE
    9. LOONA – So What
    10. NCT 127 – Kick It

    Though this order is certainly going to fluctuate a lot.

    If I had to rank the months this year as well it would probably be June>February>April>March>January>May

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Based from top quality rangking, here are the songs from me

    1. ONF – New World
    2. Dreamcatcher – Scream
    3. April – Lalalilala
    4. Verivery – Lay Back
    5. Itzy – Wannabe

    I will add honorable mention because maybe these songs aren’t the best but i can’t stop listen to it because it’s really nice

    1. IU – Eight
    2. Stray kids – On Track
    3. SF9 – Good Guy
    4. Izone – Fiesta

    Liked by 1 person

  11. 1. Kick It – NCT 127
    2. ONE (lucid dream) – Golden Child
    3. Lalalalilala – April
    4. Pporoppipam – Sunmi
    5. Wannabe – ITZY

    Honorable Mentions:
    God’s Menu – Stray Kids
    So What – LOONA
    Lay Back – VeriVery
    A Song Written Easily – ONEUS
    Fiesta – Iz*one
    Oh My God – (G)I-DLE
    Candy – Baekhyun


    but most of my favorite tracks were b-sides or album tracks like Nonstop (NCT 127) or Drama (TXT), or C/J-pop.

    Like

  12. Hey! Was the 2018 (as opposed to 2019) “biggest risers and fallers” post deliberately linked? You might have missed that one out!
    Among your five choices here, I like both girl-fronted songs. I got a little question: Would Labyrinth, if it became the promo track, enter in this list, or would it only end up in honorable mentions?

    Like

    • Thank you! That’s what I get for using an old template. It’s fixed, now.

      Labyrinth would probably be on my list if it had been promoted as a title track. It’ll certainly by on my b-sides list come the end of the year!

      Like

  13. My feelings always fluctuate on songs and I’m never sure how to rank them so I’m not even including the past 2 weeks of releases because I have yet to be completely sure about them. I do have 15 songs in my “best of the year” playlist though.

    1. April – Lalalilala
    2. WJSN – Hola
    3. KEEMBO – Scandalous
    4. Newton – Dance By Myself (the kr version feat. Taru)
    5. ATEEZ – Answer
    6. Apink – Dumhdurum
    7. Ha Sungwoon – Lazy Lovers
    8. ITZY – Wannabe
    9. BTS – UGH
    10. GWSN – Bazooka
    11. BTS – Black Swan
    12. EVERGLOW – Dun Dun
    13. ELRIS – Like I Do
    14. Xydo – SnapShot (feat. VIINI)
    15. Yook Sungjae – Come With The Wind

    Even as of now I’m not sure about the ranking. I bet if I do a new list tomorrow it’ll be slightly different lol I’d say the top 10 are the ones that I see being less likely to change.

    Either way, there’s no song that particularly stuck with me this year yet.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Top Ten (so far)

    1) Ridin- NCT Dream
    2) Scream- Dreamcatcher
    3) Flowering- Lucy (This was the debut of a new band and I Loved it, check it out if you haven’t heard of them.)
    4) Turn Back Time- Wayv (I don’t care if its Chinese, they are a part of NCT so it counts.)
    5) A song Written Easily- Oneus
    6) One- Golden Child
    7) Lay Back- Verivery
    8) Cassette- Demian (This was the debut of a completely under the radar soloist with a killer voice, again check it out if you don’t know him.)
    9) Kick it- NCT 127
    10) Wing- Park Ji Hoon (I swear this refuses to leave my brain.)

    That’s it for now, I’ll just be over here continuously praying for Shinee to come back soon and save me.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My Top Ten 2020 Tracks So Far: ( I can’t rank them yet so I just put a bunch of threes)

    1! Answer (Ateez)
    2. One (Golcha!)
    3. Pporappippam (Sunmi)
    3. Lay Back (VeriVery)
    3. Love Me Harder (WOODZ)
    3. Wannabe (ITZY)
    3. Kick It (NCT 127)
    3. Scream (Dreamcatcher)
    3. New World (ONF)
    3. CYSM (TXT)

    (Honourable Mentions):
    On, Angel, Yours, Punch, Wing, Turn Back Time, Rose Scent Kiss, Get Ready, God’s Menu

    Congrats everyone and quick note: This list will change drastically by the end of the year as I will listen to each track back to back which I did not do this time.

    Like

  16. this is an excellent, excellent list with which i have no disagreement.

    my personal picks would include lupin and oh really (the latter being a bias pick but hey) but i wouldn’t feel good about excluding any of the five above as is so whatever hahaha. all great songs worthy of their placement

    Like

  17. Solid picks despite the incredible unexciting year we’ve had. Ateez’s answer is my fave song this year, and onf’s new world reminds me of my old tvxq days and I absolutely love. My personal list would be:
    1. Ateez Answer
    2. Apink dumhdurum
    3. Younha’s Winter flower (it’s a b-sides but I absolutely love)
    4. ONF’s new world
    5. IU’s Eight/ Sunmi’s pporappippam

    Like

  18. My top 5 would be:
    1. ITZY – WANNABE
    2. ATEEZ – Answer
    3. Sunmi – pporappippam
    4. WJSN – Butterfly
    5. THE BOYZ – REVEAL

    Honorable mentions are Stay Tonight by Chungha and Can’t You See Me? by TXT.

    Like

  19. Solid list. Mine would be:
    1. CRAXY – Aria
    2. ITZY – Aria
    3. Sunmi – Pporappippam
    4. Stray Kids – TOP Japanese Ver. (I prefer the Japanese ver. a lot and yes I’m cheating with this one)
    5. NCT 127 – Kick It (biggest grower of the year by a mile)
    6. WayV – Turn Back Time (hehe)
    7. Golden Child – One
    8. APRIL – LALALILALA
    9. Keembo – Scandalous (operation save sweetune!!!)
    10. NCT Dream – Ridin

    Honourable mention goes to:
    • ONF – New World
    • Stray Kids – God’s Menu
    • Apink – Dumhdurum
    • NCT 127 – Punch
    • VeriVery – Lay Back

    I’m gonna be honest here. don’t think I can TRULY enjoy a Dreamcatcher/ATEEZ song anytime soon. My encounters with some of their fans have unfortunately not been good at all. They’re the type who consistently shove their favourites down your throat and that really pisses me off. I know their songs are well-produced and all but annoying fandoms are MAJOR turn-offs for me. Yes I cannot separate the artists from the fans. The same can be said about some other big fandoms: Arm*, Bl*nk, #StanL*ONA, to name a few.

    Like

    • I know right , especially Insomnias , STOP PRETENDING LIKE DREAM CATCHER IS UNDERRATED! Because they have moved out of that

      Like

        • I really love ATEEZ but Atinys ………….. *oof* They are annoying , don’t tell me they actually thought ATEEZ was gonna win ROTY , They are so unpopular in Korea.

          Liked by 1 person

    • honestly, if my faves produced good music so consistently, i would be smug too. and i haven’t had any bad encounters with both fandoms (they’re small and so much less loud than say, nctzens or armys), so i’m sorry for your loss.

      Like

  20. May I list my own: (not in order)
    ATEEZ – Answer
    IZ*ONE – Fiesta
    ITZY – Wannabe
    ONF – New World
    Golcha – Lucid Dream

    I haven’t checked out Kpop that much this year compared to 2018 or 2019 where I checked out every release that pops up in Youtube. At this time in 2018 we would have What is Love, Bboomx2, D4, Bad Boy, Roller Coaster, Heroine, Latata, Time For The Moon Night and more..

    2020 is a little disappointing but I can’t say I’m not excited for the next half!!

    Like

  21. 1. Dreamcatcher – Scream
    2. ONF – New World
    3. Golden Child – One
    4. Apink – Dumhdurum
    5. Bewhy X Simba Zawadi – Hymn

    Honestly? Our choices are a bit too similar for me to make a good opinion to add here. I’m just making this list to shill bewhy. Guys, listen to hymn. I swear it’s the coolest christian rap you’ll ever hear.

    Like

  22. Don’t really have an order yet but my top 10 would probably be like:

    Apink – Dumhdurum
    APRIL – Lalalilala
    ATEEZ – Answer
    BTS – We are Bulletproof: the Eternal
    Dreamcatcher – Scream
    Gfriend – Labyrinth
    Golden Child – One (Lucid Dream)
    ITZY – Wannabe
    ONF – New World
    Sunmi – Pporappipam

    Like

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