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The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2020 (20-1)

I’m the type who likes to listen to every major K-pop album at least once. Maybe that’s a bit obsessive, but it guarantees that no buried treasures slip through my fingers. And although much emphasis is put on title tracks, more and more the best K-pop songs are relegated to b-sides.

This countdown encompasses any track that didn’t receive a full music video. This includes album tracks, as well as songs that may have been performed but never actively promoted. Just like the Top 50 Singles list, all songs here were released between December 1st, 2019 and November 30th, 2020.

PART ONE: Songs 40-21

2020 YEAR-END MASTERPOST


20. COSMIC GIRLS (WJSN) – PANTOMIME

A percolating dance track that takes WJSN’s spacey sound to otherworldly places as it pulses over an ornate instrumental that kicks into stuttering gear for the standout chorus. (full review)


19. VERIVERY – PHOTO

An example of how well the “dark” iteration of VERIVERY can work if given a dynamic instrumental and taut, menacing chorus. (full review)


18. WEKI MEKI – MOYA MOYA

A sprightly, feel-good pop track. We all missed a major opportunity by not making Moya Moya 2020’s definitive, Sistar-esque summer hit. (full review)


17. TXT – WISHLIST

A bounding exclamation point of a track, Wishlist has unbridled energy to spare — making it a perfect match for TXT.


16. GHOST9 – IT’S GONNA BE HOT

A rollicking pop/rock track, It’s Gonna Be Hot proved that GHOST9 weren’t all just sci-fi bluster. They could also throw caution to the wind and have a good time. (full review)


15. GOLDEN CHILD – I LOVE U CRAZY!

As pure and cheesy a love declaration as you’re likely to hear, Golden Child make it all flourish thanks to a powerful set of vocals and utter conviction to the material. (full review)


14. TXT – DRAMA

A b-side so great that it was made a Japanese single, I prefer the original Korean version and will always consider it the K-pop summer smash that never was. (full review)


13. YUKIKA – YESTERDAY

A pre-release that was in consideration for my main countdown, Yesterday deserves praise either way. Its bold pre-chorus is one of 2020’s undisputed highlights. (full review)


12. OH MY GIRL – DOLPHIN

An album track that had a trajectory closer to chart-conquering single, Dolphin‘s addictive hook is instantly memorable and should have been promoted with just as much spirit.


11. GHOST9 – REBORN

A gritty EDM track that best encapsulated GHOST9’s exciting, cinematic sound. Despite drawing from some familiar elements, it feels like nothing else in K-pop this year. (full review)


10. YOOA – DIVER

An old-school synth funk workout, YooA draws upon her skill as a dancer for this rhythmic showcase. It captures a certain mid-80’s sound perfectly with flair and attitude to spare. (full review)


9. TOO – STEP BY STEP

A vibrant, brass-kissed summer track with one of the year’s most infectious choruses. Step By Step is what funk pop dreams are made of. (full review)


8. GOLDEN CHILD – LEAN ON ME

A propulsive dance track that harnesses some of The Chaser‘s unflagging energy and fuses it to a sleek blend of exciting synths. (full review)


7. STRAY KIDS – HAVEN

An anthemic surge of pulsing synths and call-to-arms refrains. Stray Kids stretched their usual hip-hop sound into something far more immense and cinematic, and the result is absolutely thrilling. (full review)


6. DRIPPIN – OVERDRIVE

A rollicking dance anthem from the year’s most promising rookies. Overdrive is everything you could want in an upbeat boy group track, full of refreshing energy and powered by a megawatt chorus. (full review)


5. TXT – GHOSTING

A culmination of TXT’s dreampop leanings, Ghosting wafts by on a gorgeous melody and wistful atmosphere. It may just be the definitive example of this specific Big Hit-produced sound. (full review)


4. ONF – NEW WORLD

A bombastic dance track that hits with near-operatic fury, New World brought ONF’s music to new, experimental heights. It’s proof of how great an idol group can sound if willing to tear expectations wide open and surrender to their own adventurous spirit. (full review)


3. GOLDEN CHILD – OMG

A number one selection in its own right, given that it’s my most played b-side of the year. But bias aside, OMG tackles the year’s retro sound better than almost any other track. It’s the perfect mood-lifter, bounding with great energy and addictive synth grooves. (full review)


2. GFRIEND – LABYRINTH

An example of how brilliant GFriend can sound when given a sharp synth backdrop. The girls were always meant to be dance pop warriors, and Labyrinth drapes them in full battle gear with utter panache. (full review)


1. LUCY – FLARE

An ambitious, multi-part epic, Flare is an experience not to be missed. It draws upon all of Lucy’s strengths, building toward a rollicking centerpiece before culminating in a series of stirring peaks. It’s an incredibly affirming work, performed with a warmth and spirit that brings real heart to the ambitious song structure. Lucy may not have celebrated their first debut anniversary yet, but they’ve already delivered their first masterpiece.

25 thoughts on “The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2020 (20-1)

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

  2. Oh I was gonna say something ’bout poor GFriend always getting second-best spot in the lists this year, but Flare is really great! I hadn’t heard it before and I love it.

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  3. I…..am shocked…. I was like “it’s totally Gonna be labyrinth” So predictable…. you have just pulled an uno reverse card on me…. I was having such a shitty day but this 1st place amused me for some reason… I can’t explain why!

    Also, I think I guessed 17/20 of all these tracks so yay for me!

    This made my day better, thanks nick😀

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  4. Remember the time where you told me that “Well, if you take the best golden child songs and cobble up a mini album you have the best mini album of the year so it was pretty deceptive” and i said “You can make a case for some groups then”… I was wrong! Pump It Up, One, Love U Crazy , OMG , Lean On Me and That Guy all form a cohesive work and awesome in their own right!

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  5. Yessssss! I knew you would put New World on the list, but I am excited all the same to see it. It is one of my most replayed songs of the year. An absolutely gem.

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  6. Oh my GOD, the adrenaline rush I got from this list! I have to admit that I didn’t even read the blurbs for the rest of the tracks on the first go because I was so busy looking for a certain song. Hello, Flare! I love you!

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  7. Whoa. Flare completely passed me by… what a discovery! It has the same kind of… organic thrill as Sexy Zone’s Run. I don’t know what I mean by that, by I stand by it! Great #1 choice.

    Rest of this post reads like the quality you’d expect from a Top Title Tracks list – the songwriting teams really snapped on the deep cuts this year. Overdrive probably takes the crown for me (or maybe Horizon), but just about anything here would make for a bulletproof top 5 inclusion.

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  8. For me, Ghosting takes the cake this year. The melody is absolutely gorgeous and it’s been on repeat since I discovered it. Also, TxT performed a live(ish) version of it on a radio show which was fun!

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  9. LUCY!!! I was not expecting them on this list but it’s a welcome surprise. I’m excited to see what they’ll do next year because this has been an exceptional debut year for them. I think they took the strange addition of a violinist and ran with it and were like “guess we’re just going to do whatever the hell we want now” and it’s beautiful to behold. They are contenders for one of my favorite bands because they just have such a bright infectious energy.

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  10. These B-sides are really something special! While some would have really done well as title tracks there is something special about having all-powerful cards in your hand.

    B-sides make kpop special. While a truly thrilling title track can sweep the world by storm, B-sides are where imagination becomes reality. So many of these songs sound like something out of a fantasy or sci-fi world…almost too good to be true.

    Songs like Labyrinth and New World do that for me. I think it’s so important that this is a genre where you can listen further…it definitely doesn’t stop at the singles. For most pop markets where else is that the case? I’m so grateful for the mini albums and full-lengths this year. There’s so much to explore. and this introduced me to flare (I loved Lucy’s most recent title track like the rest of this site) and I so look forward to immersing myself in that song.

    =) this music really makes me happy.

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  11. Which are stronger? The Top 20 Singles or the Top 20 B-sides? Probably the latter. 2020 is the year of B-sides.

    Hoping for GFriend to take a spot again in the Best MV because Crossroads and Apple are incredible. Even Mago that embraced the retro aesthetic.

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  12. My top 5 would be
    1. Kidult – Seventeen
    2. Wishlist – TXT
    3. Haven – Stray Kids
    4. Afraid – Day 6
    5. Sorry I’m Not Sorry – Monsta X

    Goodbye – The Boyz is also one of my most played b-sides. I know I prefer ballads a lot more than you do, but these end of the year lists have really made me aware that our tastes tend to be vastly different lol. Labyrinth is actually the only song in your top 5 that, while not in mine, I agree with it being there. I also can’t believe Photo is on this list, every time I hear it I don’t like it. That being said, I’ve really enjoyed discovering the times our opinions do match on these lists!

    There are parts of Flare that I like, but I hate when a song turns into a completely different one part of the way through. I can’t agree with it being the best b-side of 2020 because of that, but I find Lucy’s soundscape really compelling so I’ll be listening to more of their music.

    I respect your bias for Woollim groups, even if I don’t share it. I think Overdrive is much better than both Nostalgia & OMG. Pump It Up is by far my favorite of the Drippin/Golden Child tracks on these lists. I felt kind of meh about OMG and Lean on Me.

    Still not a fan of New World. It also falls into the two different songs in one category. I like the different parts of it fine, just not together.

    Ghosting is good, but I love Wishlist & think it’s the better of the two. The energy is less subdued, & honestly it just gives me a mental picture of running through a field with a heart full of freedom.

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  13. Pingback: The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2020 (40-21) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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