In celebration of The Bias List’s fifth year anniversary, I’ve embarked on my most ambitious project yet. After years of hemming and hawing, I’ve finally ranked what I consider to be the best 100 songs in K-pop.
There will never be a definitive list of this nature, because it’s impossible to rank something that’s inherently subjective. Please feel welcome to agree, disagree, argue and justify, but at the end of the day know that this list is personal. If we happen to share a similar taste in music, it may match closely to your own list. If not, I hope you enjoy reading (and discussing) anyway!
Links to old reviews will be provided when applicable, though those ratings may be somewhat out of date.
Countdown Archive: Honorable Mentions
100. Sistar – I Swear (2014)
I Swear is a breezy, brassy whirlwind of pop magic. It feels completely effortless, from the breakneck pace of its propulsive chorus to its multiple musical breakdowns. It’s emblematic of the style of summertime K-pop I crave each year.
99. Kara – Lupin (2010)
Lupin takes a darker, more fashionable turn when compared to the youthful material Kara had released until this point. Its thundering verses set up a gorgeous, Abba-esque chorus that absolutely soars. (full review)
98. BTS – Danger (2014)
Laying electric guitar over a commanding hip-hop beat, Danger fuses BTS’s pop and rap sides in an unrelenting display of charisma that would soon see them rocketing to the top of the global charts. (full review)
97. SHINee – Everybody (2013)
A schizophrenic beast of a song, with its blistering dubstep breakdown and intense choreography. At times, its sheer cacophony threatens to derail it, but that singalong chorus always brings it slamming back.
96. TXT – Run Away (2019)
In an age where the classic pop chorus seemed to be a fading antiquity, Run Away ran the opposite way and leaned into its punchy, arena-ready hook. A sense of fantastical whimsy gives the track its own identity, while the members’ wide-eyed earnestness sells the sentiment. (full review)
95. H.O.T – Hope (1998)
Emotive hip-hop pop tracks are a dime a dozen when it comes to K-pop’s many boy groups, but Hope set the template with its surging melody and dramatic performance. There’s a reason why this classic is still covered today.
94. Lovelyz – Ah-Choo (2015)
Ah-Choo is the perfect distillation of Lovelyz’ K-pop identity, filled to the brim with sing-along hooks and anthemic synth riffs. It has quickly become an evergreen girl group standard.
93. TVXQ – Mirotic (2008)
One of the most iconic K-pop tracks of all time, Mirotic casts a wide influence. Its jerky, unbalanced verses give way to a grand chorus that swirls with mystical synths, soundtracking TVXQ at the height of their immense popularity.
92. VIXX – On And On (2013)
On And On is a taut encapsulation of VIXX’s edgy, high-concept style. Its jagged chorus has only improved with time, offering a pop punch that feels just as disarming as it did upon the song’s release.
91. Beast – Shadow (2013)
Shadow is still the most sophisticated Beast has ever sounded, with an elegant aura that draws upon the strength of each members’ talents. Its gorgeous melody, dynamic production and lilting hook are to die for.