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The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2020 (Day Four: 20-11)

The end of the year countdowns are finally here! As always, we’ll kick off with the big one: The Bias List’s top 50 songs of the year! Each day this week, I’ll be counting down ten of the year’s best, until number one is revealed on Friday. 

To be eligible for this top 50 list, songs must have had a Korean release as a title track or promotional video between Dec. 1st, 2019 and Nov. 30th, 2020.

Curious about last year’s countdown? Check out the masterpost here!

Previously: Honorable Mentions // 50-41 // 40-31 // 30-21


20. YooA – Bon Voyage

Oh My Girl’s first solo release came in unexpected fashion, as YooA brought her crystal-clear voice to the earthy tones of Bon Voyage. The song breathes with moments of empty space followed by footfalls of dynamic percussion. (full review)


19. Lucy – Snooze

Tucked behind Lucy’s “idol band with a violin” configuration are some really ambitious tracks. Snooze pushes right up to the five-minute mark but never loses steam, culminating in a sweeping (and utterly transcendent) violin solo. (full review)


18. Boyhood – Retro Love

2020’s scruffiest, gawkiest little K-pop track, Retro Love brought heaps of personality to its simple frame. It may riff off of familiar 80’s synths hooks, but the performance is too charming to result in a mere pastiche. (full review)


17. TXT – Blue Hour

After a stellar 2019, TXT explored new avenues in 2020. The cotton candy disco of Blue Hour fit them perfectly, bringing a hazy, dreamlike tone to an otherwise thumping dance track. The music video’s “dance break edit” is the song’s definitive version, and I won’t accept any substitution! (full review)


16. TOO – Count 1, 2

TOO debuted with a familiar “edgy” boy group sound before turning that image on its head with the buoyant Count 1, 2. It was the rare summer track that harnessed a classic, harmony-rich sound rather than trendier EDM elements. (full review)


15. 1THE9 – Bad Guy

If a K-pop group must disband, they might as well go out with a bang, right? 1THE9 flipped expectations and delivered their masterwork with Bad Guy. The chorus is among this year’s very best, pulsing with powerful vocals and a commanding melody. (full review)


14. Yi Saebom – Tonight

Though few know her name, Yi Saebom released one of 2020’s best retro dance tracks. Her raspy tone adds great texture to Tonight’s driving synths, sparking energy as the song crests in its powerful, take-no-prisoners chorus. (full review)


13. The Boyz – The Stealer

After their Road to Kingdom victory, The Boyz needed to throw down the gauntlet. And with The Stealer, they delivered their strongest comeback of the year. Playing with tempo and tone, the song’s funk-meets-EDM structure hearkens back to sounds of K-pop’s past, with one eye on the group’s ambitious future. (full review)


12. J.Y. Park & Sunmi – When We Disco

Rightfully or not, the word “disco” has a certain level of cheese baked in. JYP and Sunmi harnessed that sense of humor with full aplomb on the addictive When We Disco. They’re a match made in musical heaven, bringing a welcome theatricality to K-pop’s burgeoning retro trend. (full review)


11. Dreamcatcher – Scream

By giving their heavy rock style a dancefloor drive, Dreamcatcher offered their most daring track yet. Scream pounds forward with an over-the-top glee in its own artifice, complete with Halloween-ready howls during that mega-drop chorus. (full review)


NEXT: NUMBERS 10-1

27 thoughts on “The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2020 (Day Four: 20-11)

  1. Pingback: K-POP Best of 2020 Masterpost | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2020 (Day Three: 30-21) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  3. NOW! The Top 10 K-pop Songs of 2020 has been revealed:

    ATEEZ’s Answer
    Golden Child’s One
    Sunmi’s Pporappippam
    Taemin’s Criminal
    Everglow’s La Di Da
    A.C.E’s Favorite Boys
    Golden Child’s Pump It Up
    Twice’s I Can’t Stop Me
    DRIPPIN’s Nostalgia
    GFriend’s Mago

    The fact that only Answer is the song which came from the dissapointing 2020 side to come to The Top 10 makes me weirdly happy!

    Also, I heard Jaehyun got coronavirus right now?! Get Well soon

    Like

  4. On a less funny side note, I agree with most of your list here, just the order of the rankings surprise me. Personally, I enjoyed Bon Voyage way more than Blue Hour, but I guess that is me.

    Oh, and Stealer has yet to grow on me in any way, I still find the chorus irritating…

    I love Bad Guy though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Personally, with that Boyhood song, I couldn’t get past the Take On Me of it all…. in a year filled with a lot of takes (or rip-offs depending on how you look at it) on that iconic opening synth, this was the most blatant to me. I can’t listen to it without thinking, “why don’t I just listen to Take On Me,” lol. just my opinion!

    Dreamcatcher’s Scream really grew on me, though. I wasn’t initially too enthused about it because of my general distaste for EDM but the chorus has gotten stuck in my head really often this year. Those are some powerful hooks.

    Like

    • I could never get past the “Take on Me” either. a-ha being my first boy band crush, Take on Me being the first 45rpm record I ever bought, and their Radio City Music Hall concert being the first concert I ever went to. My dad bought two tickets for myself and my older sister, and they cost $18.50 each. I still have the ticket stubs and the souvenir t-shirt, which fits my daughter now but she can’t have it. Morten Harket is still hot stuff at over 60 years old, and can still hit those notes. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SHnAj0yMFE

      Further off topic
      My favorite a-ha performance ever
      ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDbRmAx76rM

      Like

      • Ahhh that sounds so magical to me… Sometimes I get jealous of people who are a little older and got to live through the ’80s (and I liked the ’70s too)… I think I would have been very, very into The Cure. Maybe they would have have been my BTS. lol

        Anyway it must have been a tough year for you, having to hear that Weeknd song everywhere…

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    • Wish we had an edit function for the umpteenth time but anyway, HOLY SHIT just wanted to say thank you Nick for the rec of Snooze by Lucy! Definitely not a snooze….

      I’m thinking now that we need more violins/string arrangements in kpop… they really add something. Like that MAMA rearrangement of Oh My Girl’s Nonstop that really elevated the track… and also the orchestral version of BTS’s Black Swan, which is certainly less radio-friendly but a more ear-catching listen.

      Snooze is the coolest though, because like you said, the violin solo…. as performed by the idol himself…? Transcendent. Fucking cool.

      Like

      • I’m so happy to hear this! Pay close attention to the b-sides/album tracks list later this month because I think there will be another song you’ll end up loving 😉

        Like

      • This always sounded to me like the Kronos quartet performing Phillip Glass or some weird Finnish composer. I went through a weird Finnish composers phase about 25 years ago or so, when there was a really nice Tower records with a really nice classical section just a few blocks from my apartment at the time. One just had to buy a CD based upon the cover picture, and give it a whirl. And so I did.

        These days, there is youtube, so if you want to hear more of this sort of orchestration, look up Phillip Glass. It seems the Kronos Quartet actually did record a full album of Phillip Glass (of course they did), and that is on youtube.

        Koyaanisqaasti (sp?) is a modern classic with Phillip Glass music. Over one hour, the whole thing very slowly speeds up into chaos. Yes it is weird, but also really interesting in its own way. If you are of age, pour yourself a nice drink to slowly sip. It seems it is on youtube, but in parts, And then you will intone a very deep “Koyaanisqaasti” when you see certain kind of images in other videos.

        Finnish composers like Rautavaara and Saariaho have interesting music, a well as Aarvo Part (who is Estonian not Finnish, but still cold and up there.) After the weird fling, I reverted back to basic Sibelius. Really, can anyone beat “Finlandia” for awesomeness? “Finlandia” is nothing like Black Swan btw, it’s just awesome music.

        For the choreography, you may also like Wayne McGregor. He has done some stunning work with the Royal Ballet. He uses the contemporary lyrical language within the formal structure of ballet, There are clips also on youtube these days, because of course.

        Like

  6. The prechorus of Blue Hour has been stuck in my head for WEEKS. I couldn’t even tell you what the rest of the song sounds like. It’s maybe the second time I feel like the vocal processing isn’t a major detriment to TXT’s song, though, so that combined with your ranking here means I should probably give it a go!

    Like

  7. This is where we start to diverge and I throw in my oddballs and guilty pleasures. My methodology is to sort by playcount, with some mental adjustment for recent releases, then successive passes and cuts through bucket ranking in excel (like a yes-no-maybeso). So primary factor is how much did I really truly listen to it. If I only listened to it 8 or 10 times, and I have others at 20+ or more from the same month, I ask myself do I really truly like the 8 > the 30 playcount song?

    My 11-20, in alphabetical order
    Apink “Duhmdurum”
    Ateez “Answer”
    Dreamcatcher “Scream”
    Lee Dae Hwi (of Ab6six + Wanna one) “Rose, Scent, Kiss”
    Lee Suhyun (of Akmu) “Alien”
    Rocket Punch “Juicy”
    Solar “Spit it out”
    Steady “One Fine Day”
    3YE “Queen”
    Wayv “Turn Back Time”

    Steady? Who? Apparently, I listened to something called “One Fine Day” by someone called Steady a lot, and never skipped it much either. Nor did I binge listen on one fine day on repeat for hours. I just apparently liked it – it is a nice calming song, easy to sing along with. It’s a very Roy Kim style song too, whom I love. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoE1bOJQhbM

    I caught myself on my regular weekend walks singing along out loud to Juice Juice Juice Juice Juice. My lips all puckered up in the Joooo sound. So, there. Therefore, Rocket Punch “Juicy” is an official member of my own guilty pleasure list. (and apparently no one else’s, which is fine). If you ever see a crazy ahjumma going jooooce joooce jooce in the park, it could be me.

    I try hard not to stan teenagers, but I make an exception for Lee Dae Hwi. There are many reasons why I should not like “Rose, Scent, Kiss”, the excessive vocal processing for one, that I really could be his mom for two. But hot damn this is a really slinky song. He is like proto-Taemin to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL here you are again with Juicy. Juicing it into the new year. Can I call you Juice? Wow, Juicy is already starting to look like it’s not a real word….

      How old is your daughter btw? I’m just curious, I’m imagining a child saying “PLEASE MOMMY I DONT WANNA HEAR THE JUICY SONG ANYMORE” lololol

      Like

  8. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2020 (Day Five: 10-1) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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