2020 in K-POP so far: Risers & Fallers

Risers & FallersLooking back at this feature from 2019, it seems like I identified quite a few risers and few fallers last year. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for 2020. Most title tracks — even the ones I loved — just haven’t enjoyed the same staying power. I’m not quite sure why this is. Maybe it has something to do with the market being over-saturated. Comebacks are so frequent now that new songs tend to quickly push out old songs. Or, maybe it’s just a reflection of which genre influences K-pop is drawing from at this moment.

Either way, I’ve got less risers this year, each with more modest gains. And, none has bloomed into the kind of highlight that might find its way into the top tier of my eventual end-of-year list. My “fallers” list is about the same as last year, with a couple of real unfortunate drops from groups I like quite a bit.

Below, you’ll find eleven tracks, each with a newly-evolved rating to go along with its climb or descent. Make sure to leave your own “risers” and “fallers” in the comments section!


Bang Yedam – WAYO (review)

Old Rating: 8  –> New Rating: 8.5

YG ballads have a long history of being slow growers for me, and WAYO has been no different. Though I don’t often seek it out, each time it plays I realize how much I like it.

CRAXY – Aria (review)

Old Rating: 8.75  –> New Rating: 9

A 0.25 increase in rating may seem like small stuff, but the difference between an “8” and a “9” is everything for me. This is still one of my favorite debuts of the year.

MCND – Ice Age (review)

Old Rating: 7.5  –> New Rating: 8.5

Ice Age is probably my biggest riser from the first half of 2020, and much of that has to do with the energy of its performance. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to it much during the past two months, but there was a time when it was on heavy rotation.

Moon Jongup – Headache (review)

Old Rating: 7.25  –> New Rating: 8.25

I must have been in a bad mood when I reviewed this (it happens…) because Headache’s bright, funk-inspired sound is practically tailored to me. I don’t know what I was thinking rating it so low. I’m gonna blame it on Yunhway’s irritating rap, which I still don’t like.

ONEWE – End Of Spring (review)

Old Rating: 8.25  –> New Rating: 8.75

I think I found End of Spring too simplistic at first, but the power of Yonghoon’s vocal ended up giving the track greater staying power than I’d expected. Plus, it’s just nice to hear something this upbeat from a boy group. 

Stray Kids – God’s Menu (review)

Old Rating: 8  –> New Rating: 8.5

I will continue to complain that there were much better singles to be mined from Stray Kids’ album, but God’s Menu’s weird novelty has grown on me since its release — even if just a little bit.



(G)I-DLE – Oh My God (review)

Old Rating: 7  –> New Rating: 5.5

I didn’t like Oh My God much when it was released, but it’s gone on to be one of my least favorite tracks of the year. I find its chorus obnoxious and unlistenable. Honestly, I fast forward through it whenever it’s performed on a music show.

The Boyz – Reveal (review)

Old Rating: 7.25  –> New Rating: 6.75

I regret scoring Pentagon’s Dr. BeBe lower than this when both songs were released, because Reveal is infinitely more generic. I find almost everything about it irritating, making it by far the worst single The Boyz have released.

Dongkiz – All I Need Is You (review)

Old Rating: 8.75  –> New Rating: 8.25

I still like this song quite a bit, but I don’t know that I’d include it in the top three songs of January. However, January wasn’t a very strong month so it’s not like there was much else to choose from!

Super Junior – 2YA2YAO! (review)

Old Rating: 8.25  –> New Rating: 7.5

Yeah… this didn’t end up working as well for me as I initially thought it did. I have a great fondness for Super Junior, but they need to stay far away from trap-influenced hip-hop.

TXT – Can’t You See Me? (review)

Old Rating: 7.75  –> New Rating: 7

TXT have easily been my biggest disappointment of 2020, with Can’t You See Me leading the pack. I gave it the benefit of the doubt at first, but I find this song clunky, cloying and not something I want to listen to — especially from a group I love so much.

What about you? Any 2020 tracks surprise you after you got to know them a bit more closely?


24 thoughts on “2020 in K-POP so far: Risers & Fallers

  1. Oh My God has got to be one of the biggest stinkers of the year so far. It seemed fine enough on release but boy has it grated hard for me since then. My initial rating was also a 7 and it had dropped to around a 5.75 by the end of the month.

    On the other hand, Wayo was one of those songs that grew on me immensely! When it came out I just shrugged it off as just another YG ballad but it’s really grown into one of the years standouts for me! Would probably give it a 9 now.

    As for Reveal, I’ve pretty much forgotten what the original sounds like thanks to the incredible RTK remix. THAT is what he actual Reveal should have sounded like.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Also Cant You See Me has surprisingly grown on me since its release. Still doesn’t even come anywhere near Crown or ESPECIALLY Run Away (still one of my favourite kpop songs of all time).

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I really thought that ATEEZ and Dreamcatcher would be there , also Golden Child , but That’s out of the way , ATEEZ is coming back with Fever Pt.1 and it seems refreshing!
    ATEEZ’s Answer: 9.5 -> 10

    Golden Child’s One : 9.25 -> 9.75

    Dreamcatcher Scream: 5.5 -> 9.5

    Cravity’s Cloud 9: 9 -> 9.25

    Literally any song in 2020 except for New World , Ppopipiram , Wannabe and Aria

    Liked by 2 people

    • Golcha’s release is still too new for me to accurately judge it. And yeah, ATEEZ’s would probably bump up by .25 or .5, but the difference seemed too negligible to mention in this post.

      Wow at your Dreamcatcher bump! What happened?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know why , I hated the song at first , It sounded like a bad horror movie but then once I got around it even more , I started loving it , and loving it and then it came in my Top 5 most listened songs in the year , then I discovered this site and then ………… WOW! Your Scream Post and the Top 10’s list of Dreamcatcher’s songs made me realize , This is one awesome song!


    • I’ve had to teach myself to spell Pporappippam because I am 100% sure that thing will end up on my year-end lists. It’s just so good and so tailor-made to my tastes, for real.


  3. Risers:

    Taeyeon’s Happy
    NCT Kick it
    BTS Black Swan and Bulletproof Eternal
    Day6 Zombie
    Suho Let’s love
    Super Junior 2Ya2yao
    Alexa Do or die


    Itzy Wannabe
    Seventeen mymy
    Chungha Stay tonight
    Dreamcatcher Endless night
    Kang Daniel 2U

    Completely Disappeared

    G-Idle Oh my God
    Apink Dumhdruhm (don’t remember the spelling)
    Oh my girl Non-stop
    Astro Knock
    Got7 Not by the moon

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For me, I kinda realized how many of my first impressions on different songs this year stayed for good. It’s kinda hard to say which ones are fallers and risers, because most of them have just completely fallen off my playlist (Most angsty dark releases) or I can’t recall the sound or name of the sound, which is not a good sign.

    That being said, I’ll try to pick three each:

    GWSN – Bazooka!
    Rocket Punch – Bouncy
    Gfriend – Crossroads

    Busters – Paeonia
    Pentagon – Dr Bebe
    Elris – Jackpot


  5. I had the exact same reaction to Ice Age. I hated it at release because it seemed obnoxious but there is something so charming about the performance of it.
    My biggest grower.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Always happy to read your thoughts on these! I’ll have to listen to much of the list, as these were mostly releases I didn’t really pay attention to. (On another note, the rock mix of End of Spring is vastly superior, imho. Onewe are a rock band but sometimes I get the impression that RBW are trying to sap the rock out of their sound. They can stomp with the best as evidenced by their Latata and Hip covers.)

    Anyway, my own thoughts below. I run a Twitter thread where I rate stuff. I normally use a /5 scale instead of a /10 and allow only half-point increments but I’ll scale it up here (approximate values). Lots of the posts there though were my ratings as of June/July 2020 so this is a more accurate snapshot of my actual perception of songs.


    BTS – On (7 -> 7.75)
    As a fan of last year’s Persona, I was left severely underwhelmed at first. But, most of my complaints are production-based. Honestly if you ease up on the Autotune and tighten up a few parts there’s a great song in there. I love the high notes in the bridge, I love the marching band percussion too, the chorus drives nicely, I think this song is more ambitious than it gets credit for even if its production hinders it. The song is quite a bit short of great, still, but there’s enough for me to love.

    IZ*ONE – Fiesta (7.5 -> 8.25)
    A lot of this is to be blamed on my prejudice against IZ*ONE title tracks, which have generally left me cold. Fiesta is still not *great* but it’s much, much more enjoyable than their Mospick-produced material.

    NCT 127 – Punch (7.75 -> 9.5)
    I went from being incapable of absorbing the song to singing “hey, we ballin’.” This is kind of like their version of Side Effects: it works more on the strength of its production and structure instead of its melody, and it requires multiple listens to really reveal itself, but just like with Side Effects, it’s my favorite NCT-adjacent release to date. (And yes, this is as someone who adored both singles from We Are Superhuman.)

    Rocket Punch – Bouncy (8 -> 8.75)
    I still have no idea what Rocket Punch are supposed to be as a group, but no matter. Fun is fun, and this is the most melodically robust of the upbeat, chirpy girl group songs this year.


    ANS – Say My Name (8 -> 7.25)
    I’m not gonna lie, I’d initially overrated it a bit because I perceived it as a huge improvement over Boom Boom. Which it is, but that’s not saying all that much, and the melody is too all over the place to really stick for me (a complaint I’ve had about a ton of girl group tracks this year, tbh).

    BVNDIT – Jungle (8.25 -> 6.75)
    I have no idea why MNH keep asking Mospick to produce BVNDIT’s stuff when Vincenzo has done an infinitely better job with them, hell, literally every other producer has done a better job with them. I was initially taken by the novelty of the weird melodies (and my bias for Jungwoo) only to conclude that they’re just the natural conclusion of Mospick not being able to write an actual melody to save his life.

    Chungha – Stay Tonight (8.75 -> 8.25)
    I still think this is firmly on the better side of Chungha’s solo material, but once you take out the high notes there’s really not a lot of melody. It still has a great, groovy instrumental, but actual hooks would’ve made this a truly top-shelf song.

    (G)I-DLE – Oh My God (7.5 -> 5.5)
    …yeah. It went from tolerable if disappointing to downright grating to the point I pretty much never want to hear it again. Which I think you also said. Hell, I *almost* prefer “look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane” to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I must disagree wholeheartedly on (G)I-DLE and TXT. Note – I did not think this was either of their musical peaks – even if I don’t mind CYSM – BUT Oh My God is MILES ahead of uh-oh & Senorita to me and TXT committed to a narrative theme which I also appreciate.

    I do think musicality is important in releases and these have that, they just aren’t for everyone. That doesn’t really make them bad and I’d rather groups experiment and falter slightly vs. never trying anything new. Both groups are young too so maybe this is just growing pains.


  8. My own risers:

    How You Like That 5 -> 7 – yep, that Blackpink song, I hate the chorus when it was out but I’m starting to love it now, and no it’s definitely not me forcing to like it because I don’t really cared about it in the first place. Weird, according to what’s in the song I should’ve hated it, but no, and now I’m starting to like all the dududududus at the end. This ages better than KTL (which I got tired of in a week).

    Fiesta – 8 -> 9 – At first I didn’t like the grandiose production level that much compared to the more softer stuff in Violeta and Suki to Iwasetai, but it’s starting to grow on me, didn’t took a long time at all since there’s a VERY GOOD vocal chorus right there. And I really love the horn sounds.

    Bouncy – 7.5 -> 9.5 – I love the song already on first listen but didn’t quite like the messy arrangement, but now I’m starting to love it as I listen more, such a great workout song, and the energy fits RP very well compared to their debut, I hope they continue with songs like this in the future.

    Answer – 9 -> 10 – No explanation needed, a great song, great vocals, great choruses, waiting for their comeback!!

    More & More – 7 -> 9 – I didn’t like the chorus (or the lack of it) at first but now I’m starting to enjoy the song, same case with Nonstop but I’m too lazy to write another one.

    Fallers: a lot of songs, but I’ll choose some:

    Oh My God – 7 -> 6 – Same reason with you, I dislike the weak chorus, wish the bass was harder.

    Reveal – 8 -> 7 – The chorus is fun, but otherwise the song didn’t really do anything much and I’m starting to become bored of it. Wish the original had the same arrangement as their remix on RTK, that was fire as hell.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My risers (I’m not used to give songs a numeric rating, it’s just a matter of feeling and preference):

    – VICTON, Mayday
    – NATURE, Girls
    – 3YE, Queen
    – ONEWE, End Of Spring
    – VERIVERY, Lay Back

    My fallers (actually they would be many more than these):

    – BLACKPINK, How You Like That (falling from “oh my God, NO” to “officially unlistenable” – I think it’s definitely the worst KPop song of the new millennium)
    – ONEUS, A Song Written Easily
    – UNVS, Give It Up
    – RAVI feat. Paloalto, Rockstar
    – IU feat. Suga, Eight


  10. Risers:

    Nct 127 “Kick it” got it’s way into my brain. My rating went from 7.0 > 8.0.

    Monsta x “Follow” too. It’s turkish instrumental (don’t know which one) helps mixes up monsta x usual energy blast with something more melodic. It’s 7.5 > 8.5 now.


    Nct dream “Ridin” however? It grew bad for me. It lacks……flavor to it now. 7.0 > 6.0

    Wjsn – Butterfly. It was fine at first but, there’s something a bit weird about the vocal placement. It’s like……not on beat? Lagging behind? It’s starting to get to me. 7.5 > 6.0


  11. Happy that you mention JongUp song in your risers. It is a nice one that does not deserve the hate or snobbism it is getting around here (people ignoring it as if it is nonexistent).


  12. .
    Max Changmin “Chocolate”: total cornball song, in a good way
    Solar “Spit it out”: what chutzpah sounds like
    Cherry Bullet “Hand’s Up”. The chorus is a damn catchy ear worm, even though it is a two idea song.
    Apink “Duhdurum” and April “Lalalilala”: I didn’t buy these songs until a couple weeks ago, but hearing them both every week on the kville charts convinced me otherwise.

    High, still High
    Rocket Punch “Bouncy”
    Gaho “A Song for You”, “Beautiful”
    Ateez “Answer”
    NCT Dream “Riding”
    Roy Kim “Linger On”
    Forestella “Nella Fantasia”

    As an ELF, I don’t mind at all that SuJu 2Yao2Yao is a sinker. Friends don’t let friends let Eunhyuk pick the song from Zico leftovers.
    NCT “Kick It”: turned out to be too noisy, even for the workout list
    Itzy “Wannabe”: I have barely played it

    Low, Still Low
    MCND “Ice Age” although I appreciate how fantastically dumb and clever and memorable it is, and I don’t mind if others flove it, I think its a stinker.


    • Just found this feature and I hypocritically gasp at your Ice Age stinker judgment, forgetting that I, too, once hated it with a passion.

      Interestingly your risers and fallers are pretty much opposite of mine.


  13. Mad that I found this feature only now, after weeks of wondering ‘What if Nick did a feature where he writes about the way songs have aged and how his opinion has changed?’.

    We all know by now that Ice Age was the biggest 180 I have probably ever done on a song. NCT Kick it and Monsta X Follow also grew on me enough to keep it in my playlist.


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