Feature

The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 30-21

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Links to old reviews will be provided when applicable, though those ratings may be somewhat out of date.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 // 50-41 // 40-31

Full Archive Here


30. Bigbang – Fantastic Baby (2012)

For many, Fantastic Baby is the answer to the question: “What is K-pop?” Beyond that, this iconic dance track perfected so many of the tricks that have been a staple of Korean pop music for the past eight years. It’s a colossal moment for Bigbang, and still the very best display of their raucous, party-starting energy.


29. TXT – Crown (2019)

Crown is the aural equivalent of sunshine in a bottle — relentlessly upbeat but never cloying. Its synth textures evoke a strong sense of nostalgia but exist of their own accord, instantly giving TXT a unique identity. The guys’ voices are pulled and twisted just enough to give the track an incredible, fantasy-like appeal that capitalizes on their youthful exuberance. (full review)


28. Infinite – Nothing’s Over (2011)

It’s almost impossible to listen to Nothing’s Over without a big smile on your face, and that anthemic hook will rattle through your brain long after the final chorus. Stripping away the gimmicks, this is a tour-de-force showcase of producer Sweetune’s gift for a warm, timeless pop melody. (full review)


27. B1A4 – Lonely (2014)

Lonely is one of my favorite pop ballads in any language, though its percussive groove gives it mid-tempo appeal as well. Jinyoung’s songwriting is at its absolute best, surging in all the right places for maximum emotional impact. Many modern K-pop track thrive on their sense of mood, but few have captured this kind of angst so brilliantly. (full review)


26. Stray Kids – Miroh (2019)

Miroh capitalizes on Stray Kids’ incredible rap line by utilizing their talents to power the most vital segment of any EDM track: the pre-chorus build. Their breakneck pace, coupled with the hypnotic loop running underneath, forge an explosive sense of rising tension that culminates in a beat drop/chorus pairing for the ages. (full review)


25. Seventeen – Very Nice (2016)

Very Nice’s brassy instrumental hook, undercut by vocal ad-libs, is brilliantly realized, adding a dynamic exclamation point to an already potent concoction. The track crackles with relentless excitement and a sense of unstoppable energy. Its explosive arrangement goes above and beyond, resulting in a streamlined, powerhouse performance piece without a single misstep. (full review)


24. Infinite – Last Romeo (2014)

At the time of its release, Last Romeo felt like a distillation of Infinite’s discography up to that point. But, time has been kind to the track, with its sharp melodic hooks and grand instrumental marking it as a highlight in their mighty discography. The live band sound is an inspired addition to the Sweetune brew, bringing an unexpected rock heft to its soaring pop sound. (full review)


23. ONF – Complete (2018)

Complete takes flight from its very first moment, and never lets up. Its brisk pace has a weightlessness to it, yet feels tightly wound and urgent. But right when it seems like it’s about to slide into comfortable cruising territory, the track yanks you up another level with a rugged guitar-and-brass beat drop delivered straight from the pop gods. (full review)


22. GFriend – Navillera (2016)

Unrestrained by K-pop’s trio of common girl group concepts (cute, sexy, and girl crush), Navillera succeeds on the strength of its tight construction and the boundless force of its energy. It’s one of those rare songs that’s just constant build, gaining steam until it explodes with Yuju’s climactic power note. I get excited every time that opening percussion thunders in. (full review)


21. NCT U – Without You (2016)

Without You may not be the trendiest or most heavily-promoted of NCT’s songs, but its melodic bombast forges a truly transformative piece of music. Jettisoning the group’s hip-hop influences, it surges on gorgeous harmonies and a soaring, anthemic chorus. The tight vocal blend of Doyoung, Taeil and Jaehyun is pure magic. (full review)


NEXT: NUMBERS 20-11

44 thoughts on “The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 30-21

  1. Pingback: The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 40-31 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. In connection to a comment on the previous post: I’m relieved to see Last Romeo here. It’s my favorite Infinite song, ever, and given how incredible Infinite’s discography is that’s saying something (one thing I’ve done during quarantine: binge-listen to Infinite’s entire discography. I now wish someone had told me about them during my undergrad dalliance with K-Pop, I would’ve stanned them for sure). I mean I guess I shouldn’t have had any doubts but still I was worried what if it had fallen out of favor lol

    Also Monster TOP 20 YESSSSSS (and Haru Haru, which is also great, but I prefer Monster)

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  3. Pingback: The 100 Best K-Pop Songs of All-Time: 30-21 | Rap Star Media

      • I agree that 2PM’s discography as a whole is stronger, but it only takes one song and… for me at least… 2PM don’t have a better title track than A. ADTOY was definitely on my shortlist, though!

        Liked by 1 person

      • GOT7’s discography post-2015 is not great (and even then there are good songs) but I agree with Nick that 2013-15 has a lot of stone-cold classics. If You Do is my personal favorite, I am mad obsessed with that song

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        • As a follow up I actually have Nick to thank for that. I was clueless as to what GOT7’s appeal was until I saw him feature it on a Random Shuffle. Then I was all excited like “why didn’t anyone tell me GOT7 had a song this good” and a bit disappointed that they don’t quite have anything else like it

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    • number 1 song prediction: $10 by Hitchhiker 😎.

      just kidding, but I am pretty curious about what the number 1 will be.

      But for me, I am pretty simple unfortunately.
      3. 14U – Compass (N.E.W.S)
      2. TVXQ! – Catch Me
      1. Mad Clown, Jooheon – Get Low
      (nobody asked ik)

      But, want a fookin’ heart attack so bad that you might just explode? Go listen to Lil Cherry & GOLDBUUDA – Mukkbang!

      Like

  4. .

    Woo hoo some ONF love! I played the shit out of “Complete” that summer. … … is it really top 30? idk, with so many others that will likely not be on the list at all. This is where Nick’s bias kicked in hard. But it is fine by me.

    NCT U “Without you” would be way way lower, even if I had it on my list, which I don’t. I would have NCT “Firetruck” on instead, plus “Superhuman”.

    The rest in some order: yes, yes, sure, fine, ok, hmm, great!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. AHHHHHHHHHHHH Peaks! And Peaks! and Peaks!
    We lost soo much!
    I am proud that some of the groups made it but now 2016 , 2017 , 2018 and 2019 songs are gone and now in The Top 20’s we are only left with 2nd Gen Acts (With a Few 2012 Groups but still!)
    Peaks:
    TXT’s Peak: 29 (Peaked Song: Crown)
    Stray Kids Peak: 26 (Peaked Song: Miroh)
    Seventeen’s Peak: 25 (Peaked Song: Very Nice)
    ONF’s Peak: 23 (Peaked Song: Complete)
    GFriend’s Peak: 22 (Peaked Song: Navillera)
    NCT U’s Peak: 21 (Peaked Song: Without You)
    I am pretty sure next countdown will break this Peak record!

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    • Dang It! I forgot about Star of The Stars but either way I think I know all the songs In the Top 20’s List!
      Infinite – The Chaser , Back , Be Mine , Paradise and Man In Love
      Kara – Step , Mister and Lupin
      B1A4 – What’s Happening
      Bigbang – Monster and Crooked ( G Dragon Solo)
      EXO – Mama , History
      SHINee – View , Sherlock , Lucifer
      TVXQ – Rising Sun and Catch Me
      Super Junior – Mr. Simple and A – Cha
      I hope I’m right

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      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he’s covered SNSD’s ‘into the new world’ yet? I’m pretty sure Nick ranked that as a Legendary Song as well, so I think it will be in the top 20!

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      • .
        Tomorrow feels like the last chance for more girl groups to get on the list.

        (Besides KARA Step, which is Nick’s perfect 10 girl song.) (It better be in the top 10 or I will start speaking my mind (more than usual))

        Such as
        T-ara (pick one) Lovey Dovey Roly Poly bo peep bo peep
        Orange Caramel “Catallena”
        SNSD “Into the New World
        Any f(x) love, like “Electric Shock”
        More Red Velvet eg “Ice Cream Cake”?
        BoA “Number 1”?
        HyunA “Bubble Pop”?

        Any Twice, eg “Cheer Up” . Judging by Nick’s cryptic response yesterday, no Twice is a possibility.

        Or how about Black Pink, if only because every GG the past year tries to sound like BP? .I am thinking probably would have already been on the list if Nick was going to have them on the list.

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  6. I wish there’s at least one girlgroup song in the top 10 ♥️

    Step and/or Into the New World would be perfect.

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  7. i was sad for a second bc i thought b1a4 peaked here but then i remembered what’s happening!! my favorite infinite song is last romeo and i’m glad that it’s in the top 30 but i thought it would’ve broke top 20 for sure lol

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Comparing this list to similar ones I’ve seen on other sites is really driving home how much this blog has contributed to shaping my personal taste. Every track here would easily slot in my top 100, and I suspect that will be true for the last couple entries. Loving this celebration of the finest K-pop has to offer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, as I said at the outset, it’s impossible to create an objective “best of” list because music is so subjective, but if we share similar taste, this should feel like a celebration. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So The Star of Stars made it into top 20? Yeay!!!

    I’m very pleased to see Miroh, Very Nice, and Without You ranked so high up on this list, even though that was veryyy predictable. They’re some of my absolute favourite post-IGAB (heh) songs, and would be in my top 50 for sure (Miroh top 20).

    Navillera and Fantastic Baby would be wayyy lower, somewhere in 81-100. Like IGAB, Fantastic Baby is a great song, but sooo overplayed where I live to the point of it sometimes being a chore to listen to.
    Last Romeo would be in the 20’s.
    Nothing’s Over would be a tad bit lower.
    Crown, Complete, and Lonely are in my shortlist for honourable mentions.

    Now, will these songs mentioned below manage to snatch a spot in top 20?
    • Kara – Step (eh no doubt)
    • Kara – Mr.
    • T-ara – Bo Peep Bo Peep
    • OC – Catallena
    • SNSD – Into the New World

    I hope so.

    Like

  10. I’m especially rooting for chumchuneun jageun Catallena!!! and bo peep bo peep bo peep bo peep bo peep bo peep bo peep!!!
    I’d be veryyy pleasantly surprised to see them up there.

    Like

  11. Wow! I can’t believe there are only 20 slots left! I could easily guess that there are 25 more songs given what you’ve shared in the past. I guess I’ll take a crack at guessing the last 20 though!

    Infinite: The Chaser, Be Mine, Paradise, Man In Love, Back
    SHINee: Lucifer, View, Sherlock
    TVXQ: Catch Me, Rising Sun
    EXO: Mama, History
    SNSD: Into The New World
    BIGBANG: Monster
    G-Dragon: Crooked
    KARA: STEP
    B1A4: What’s Happening?
    SISTAR: Loving U
    Boyfriend: Janus
    Super Junior: Devil
    ———————————–
    At the start of the list, I’d have sworn that the following songs would have made your list, but now I think you left them off of your top 125!

    Super Junior: Sexy, Free & Single, Mr. Simple
    KARA: Mr.
    T-ARA: Bo Peep, Bo Peep, Sugar Free
    Snuper: The Star Of Stars
    H.O.T: Candy

    Like

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