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Links to old reviews will be provided when applicable, though those ratings may be somewhat out of date.
90. SHINee – Why So Serious? (2013)
Why So Serious sees SHINee tackle stadium rock in their own bright, impossibly charismatic style. It’s fueled by just enough goofiness to keep it from collapsing under its own weight, highlighted by a soaring chorus that takes full advantage of the guys’ powerful vocals.
89. Kara – Mamma Mia (2014)
Mamma Mia‘s shimmering, disco-tastic arrangement and relentless chorus hit right from the get-go, unveiling a furiously fun instrumental riff for the ages. It remains one of production team Duble Sidekick’s best ever dance tracks.
88. SHINee – Replay (2008)
Replay‘s breezy, laid-back summer beat remains utterly infectious to this day, and stands as one of the most unassumingly iconic debuts in K-pop history. Sometimes, simple and groovy is best.
87. GOT7 – A (2014)
A‘s bright, retro beat underlines GOT7’s most successful melody — evoking summer and youth in an effortless distillation of what makes pop music so irresistible.
86. JYP – Honey (1998)
Honey propels forward on the explosive funk of its brass riff. Park Jinyoung’s music has been sleeker and sexier, but he’s never commanded a song as strongly as he does here. This is an immortal jam, as fresh and exciting now as it was in the 90’s.
85. NCT 127 – Highway To Heaven (2019)
Like so many of my favorite tracks, Highway To Heaven harnesses an “anything is possible” propulsion in aural form. It’s a pop tonic, culminating in a glorious power note that begs you to keep driving down that endless road. (full review)
84. G-Dragon – One Of A Kind (2012)
Over a spare, elastic beat, G-Dragon shows us exactly why he’s one of Korea’s most interesting rappers. One Of A Kind holds surprises at every turn, anchored by the sheer force of his impish personality. (full review)
83. Snuper – It’s Raining (2016)
It’s Raining surges with sonic drama, from its emotive verses to the titular, disco-tinged refrain that opens the track. Stuffed to the brim with drum-fills, blasts of brass and touches of guitar, this is K-pop at its streamlined best. (full review)
82. Lovelyz – For You (2015)
For You sidesteps the quirkier sides of Lovelyz’ music, embracing a full-throated, classic pop sound. It’s built on a densely packed instrumental that surges forward as the track’s hopeful, ebullient chorus reaches sky high. (full review)
81. Infinite – Destiny (2013)
Infinite’s first title track apart from producers Sweetune, Destiny pulses with an injection of new energy. It’s a taut, edgy dance track that never lets up, propelled by the group’s breathless performance. (full review)