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The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 50-41

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Links to old reviews will be provided when applicable, though those ratings may be somewhat out of date.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 // 100-91 // 90-81 // 80-71 // 70-61 // 60-51

Full Archive Here


50. SHINee – Dream Girl (2013)

It’s hard to find a better distillation of pure pop hooks and production force than Dream Girl. Its kaleidoscopic wave of melodic twists and turns brilliantly sets up an explosive chorus anchored by SHINee’s mighty vocal blend. It’s funky, fresh and full of confidence.


49. Bigbang – Blue (2012)

With its seesaw synth and touches of acoustic guitar, Blue built upon the mellow restraint of some of Bigbang’s earlier work, tethering it to a melody so limber and deceptively simple that the weight of its mood and emotion washes over you before you know it.


48. Super Junior – Sorry Sorry (2009)

Sorry Sorry is Super Junior’s most iconic moment, and one of the most ubiquitous, enduring K-pop songs of the millennium. Its fuzzy synth loop and skeletal beat translate effectively to any culture, spawning thousands of cover dances. But, the original is still the best, in all its staccato glory.


47. Wonder Girls – I Feel You (2015)

Total reinventions are rare in K-pop, but I Feel You‘s retro band approach overhauled Wonder Girls’ image and utterly perfected the icy coolness of 80’s synth pop. It set the template for Sunmi’s future solo career, and stands as one of the most convincing nostalgia trips the industry has ever offered.


46. EXO – Love Me Right (2015)

One of the funkiest tracks EXO ever produced, Love Me Right is a streamlined dance-pop thrill-ride. The freewheeling chorus is as bright and alive as the group has ever sounded, propelled by slapping percussion and a warm, explosive vocal arrangement that nimbly rides the track’s insistent rhythm guitar. (full review)


45. Beast – Fiction (2011)

No song has better defined Beast’s sound and image than Fiction. Just when you think you’ve played it into the ground, the melodic builds and melancholic production pull you back and make every beat feel fresh again. It’s a song that reveals itself over time, with an unexpected weight and impact.


44. Boyfriend – I-Yah (2013)

A hard-hitting sucker punch of Sweetune-produced dance-pop majesty, I-Yah bounds on powerful rhythm guitar and synth accents to die for. That overpowering, layered hook is as aggressively awesome as K-pop can be, and at just over three minutes the track is all-killer, no-filler perfection.


43. Red Velvet – Red Flavor (2017)

A gleeful jolt of summertime bombast, the thrilling Red Flavor blends its off-kilter vocal rhythm with an impressive volley of rambunctious pop hooks that just keep on coming. It has quickly become an inescapable anthem of the season, though its limitless energy is a treat any time of the year. (full review)


42. Snuper – Back:Hug (2017)

Dabbling in 2017’s tropical trend, Back:Hug pushed its overused elements in surprising direction, resulting in a track that transcends genres. Its moody, complex verses are a total treat, but the propulsive pre-chorus and soaring hook make this one for the ages. It’s one of the best, under-known tracks of its era. (full review)


41. ZE:A – The Ghost Of Wind (2013)

The Ghost of Wind‘s operatic vocal sample is inspired, but the funky dance track would be outstanding even without it. Spotlight must also be given to the ridiculously gorgeous strings arrangement, which lends the track a sense of ornate drama that stands apart from anything else in ZE:A’s underrated discography.


NEXT: NUMBERS 40-31

33 thoughts on “The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 50-41

  1. Pingback: The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 60-51 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. My GOD! I’m so excited for your top 3 of 2019, especially MIROH. Also, I think I just sent an email/message to you. Hopefully, I get a reply? lol

    Like

  3. WOAH! THIS LIST WAS INTENSELY INTENSE! I actually got scared that Golden Child’s Peak would arrive ……. Oh thank god , that it didn’t!
    Snuper’s Back:Hug would rank somewhere in The Top 20’s for me , That hook is so amazing!
    Beast’s Fiction is no joke either!
    And I am hoping to finally See Super Junior’s Peak because we I think this isn’t it (My guess is Mr.Simple) and also……
    EXO! You arrived! now come and destroy nearly every group in this list!
    Peaks:
    Wonder Girls Peak: 47 (Peaked Song: I Feel You)
    Beast’s Peak: 45 (Peaked Song: Fiction)
    Red Velvet’s Peak: 43 (Peaked Song: Red Flavor)
    ZE:A’s Peak: 41 (Peaked Song: Ghost of the wind)
    Literally My listens to ZE:A is practically this
    70% Ghost of the wind
    30% Everything else
    I seriously can’t wait for more.

    Like

  4. i’m sad that fiction is so low down because it’s definitely a top 10 song for me but i’m even sadder that ghost of wind didn’t break top 20 😦 that song leaves me in awe every time i listen to it, every production choice was pitch perfect

    if this is only 50-41, i’m a bit terrified and excited to see where we go from here haha

    Like

  5. Phew, this reads like a list of titans.

    The Ghost of Wind in particular gets a shoutout from me – I haven’t known it long enough to say for sure, but there’s a chance it winds up being my favourite K-pop song of all. There are so many ear-catching production elements (like those incredible operatic backing vox) to entice first-time listeners, but even once the novelty wears off, everything about the track is absolutely bulletproof. As far as I’m concerned, ZE:A’s a group that justified their existence with a single song.

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    • I am also quite pleased to see some Z:ea love here. Its either Ghost of the Wind or Phoenix, but who knows maybe we will be double blessed and the latter will pop up on the list too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, seeing Super Junior’s Sorry Sorry reminds me of one of my early flirtations with K-Pop. While it was really my sister’s recommendation of Dreamcatcher in 2018 that pushed me down the rabbit hole, I have had several short dalliances with K-Pop before. When I was in college, one of my roommates was a diehard SONE, and Gee was a fixture of our playlists. Soon that branched out into a few other songs, the ones I remember most vividly being Sorry Sorry, SHINee’s Ring Ding Dong, and U-KISS’s Bingeul Bingeul (which was really big here in the Philippines for some reason). Amusingly, I’m friends with an ELF who lived in the dorm opposite ours and she once complained to me that she got burned out on Sorry Sorry because she heard it everywhere, lol. (No, it wasn’t our fault. The song was pretty popular where we were.)

    On another note, I have to thank you for reviewing and endorsing 1THE9’s Bad Guy. I would not have realized they had a comeback had I not seen it here. I am obsessed with that song. The chorus is massive. And given that both Apple and R.o.S.E Blue (two songs from two of my ult groups, which I truly do love and have been looping regularly) were released in the same week, that Bad Guy still gets a LOT of play from me these days is a testament to its quality. (The TOO song is also great. But it hasn’t stuck as much as Bad Guy has, yet. It will in time, I’m sure.)

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  7. Oh I love so many of these!
    SHINee’s Dream Girl would be a lot higher for me, somewhere in top 20. Cool guys, cool song.
    I-Yah, Love Me Right, and Red Flavor would be a bit higher for me. Tho my most-played Red Velvet song is Dumb Dumb, Red Flavor is definitely the better song of the two.
    Sorry Sorry and Fiction are around the same place for me. Cool guys, cool songs pt. 2!
    I Feel You and Back:Hug would be a lot lower, somewhere in 81-100.
    Blue is the honourable mention to my honourable mentions.

    So yeah, great stuff.

    Like

  8. .

    OK, I have only one complaint: we all know that kpop borrows liberally from outside South Korea pop, whether it is the samples, or look / feel, just the titles, or the video theme, or more.

    Wonder Girls “I Feel You” for me crosses the line into plagiarism of two Prince-composed classics Chaka Khan “I Feel for you” and Sheila E “Glamorous Life”, the verse + chorus from the former and the hook + instrumental from the latter. The melodies of the first line of the verses are =identical=

    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW0sxgYAmLM Chaka Khan
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suh-y7_KJZc Sheila E

    The rest of the list is not unexpected.

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  9. Oh I love so many of these!
    Dream Girl would be a lot higher for me, likely within the top 20. Cool song, cool guys.
    I-Yah, Love Me Right, and Red Flavour would be a bit higher. My most played RV song is Dumb Dumb, but there’s no denying that Red Flavour is the better song of the two.
    The Ghost of Wind and Fiction are around the same places for me.
    I Feel You and Back:Hug would be lower, within 81-100.
    Blue is the honourable mention to my honourable mentions.

    So yeah, great stuff.
    I’m ecstatic to see where my other fav kpop songs (Mama, Lucifer, Be Mine, History, Don’t Forget Me, Loving U, and Miroh, to name a few) would be placed in your list, or *shrugs* whether they would even make it (!!!).

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  10. Ah, sorry sorry always reminded me of the time when k-pop got viral for the first time. And the more internet-savvy boys would find “Gee” and fanboys over yoona.

    More k-pop nowadays need catchy riff that they could falls back into. It would helps a lot of songs.

    Like

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