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The Top 10 K-Pop Music Videos of 2020

Each year, it feels like K-pop places more and more emphasis on its music videos. And while I’ll always be a fan of the songs first and foremost, there’s no denying the power of a potent visual. Here are my ten favorites of 2020.

2020 YEAR-END MASTERPOST


Honorable Mentions:

AKMU – Happening
CRAXY – Aria
Kai – Mmmh
Boyhood – Retro Love
Stray Kids – God’s Menu


10. LEE SUHYUN – ALIEN

Ripped right from a comic book, Alien‘s combination of bright colors, amusing captions and animated effects give it a character all its own. The editing in this is particularly good, merging the various styles in inventive ways.


9. NCT 127 – KICK IT

Few big-budget pop videos utilize the color yellow so strongly, and its omnipresent saturation gives Kick It a unique calling card. The video does a great job showcasing the choreography, while using light and shadow to give the visuals some warmth.


8. AGUST D – DAECHWITA

With a set familiar to any fan of historical Korean dramas, Daechwita blends the old and new seamlessly. The video utilizes relatively long cuts to give your eyes plenty of time to feast on the surroundings, but the camera never strays from Suga and his firecracker charisma.


7. SUNMI – PPORAPPIPPAM

Sunmi is no stranger to this list, and she moves into the top ten yet again with Pporappippam. Besides being an incredibly compelling performer to watch, the video delivers a stylish retro atmosphere, full of memorable costuming and lighting that really bring the song to life.


6. A.C.E – STAND BY YOU

I’m a sucker for sappy, nostalgic videos like this. The intro is a bit overwrought and disconnected from the lightness of what follows, but if this were turned into a full K-drama, I’d certainly watch. There’s something so engaging about its slow pace and simplicity.


5. EVERGLOW – LA DI DA

There were plenty of 80’s-themed music videos this year, but few captured the excess as well as Everglow. Moving through a Blade Runner-meets-Sin City set, the use of black and white, punctuated by dramatic punches of color, makes the visuals instantly memorable. This is a sci-fi aesthetic I’ve always loved.


4. GOLDEN CHILD – ONE (LUCID DREAM)

Everybody and their mother filmed a music video at this same rock quarry in 2020 (it’s becoming the new “rooftop helipad,” if you know what I mean…), but Golden Child gave it a dystopian twist. In between the expected choreography shots, we get some brilliantly dynamic imagery, perfectly realizing the dreamlike quality of the track. That shot from 2:50-2:56 is a real stunner, and one of my favorite K-pop images of the year.


3. GFRIEND – MAGO

Back to the retro theme, and another wonderful interpretation of it in the form of MAGO. Down to the 4:3 aspect ratio of the video and the hazy filter, GFriend look as if they stepped right out of the disco era. I love the colors used in this. They’re both vibrant and muted, giving the video plenty of atmosphere that’s further accentuated by some interesting camera angles.


2. LOONA – SO WHAT

So What is a music video in constant motion. After a mysterious opening, the camera pushes us around, weaving in and out of scenes with a fluid motion. This gives the visuals a sense of energy that compliments the brashness of the song. The choice of sets is also inspired, bringing a ton of color and texture that’s enhanced further by the costuming. It all ends with the world seeming to burn down. And really, what’s more 2020 than that?


1. J.Y. PARK x SUNMI – WHEN WE DISCO

This is how to tell a story in a music video! No complicated lore or naval-gazing symbolism. When We Disco keeps its narrative simple and focused. It’s comprehensible, funny and actually fits the song it’s meant to promote. It’s also a brilliant choreography showcase, using its classic movie musical motif to bring out the song’s retro appeal. Park Jinyoung and Sunmi make for a delightful pair, bringing an awkward chemistry that matches the silliness of the story. This is far and away my favorite music video of the year.

16 thoughts on “The Top 10 K-Pop Music Videos of 2020

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

    • lore ruins everything, I remember the first time looking at BTS’s most beautfiul moments of life MVs and they were amazing. The lore was awesome too me for some reason and still is…

      but I can’t think of any other MV which captures such a mood

      Like

      • I personally like lore in some mvs. Like LOONA, WJSN, GFriend? Yes! But I understand your point of view. Not everyone is up to that “aesthetically” headaching mvs. My example : TXT – Eternally. That one literally gave me a headache.

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        • Lore has its place in music videos, and can be really fun if done well. But, I’m of the mind that it should be — at the very least – somewhat intelligible. When directors shroud videos in all sorts of symbolism and ambiguous scenes, it reads to me like they don’t have confidence in their storytelling or the story they’re telling.

          But as with anything, this is all subjective. And, my experience as a writer within the publishing industry probably dictates a lot of my feelings about the approach.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wow, thank you for the reply Nick. I’m overwhelmed lol but seriously, I get your point. For example, just like what I said, I like lores from my ult group GFriend. But after watching Mago, I found it to be the best mv of GFriend to showcase their talents and visuals. They are not restrained by symbolisms. It’s more fun to watch.

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  2. Solid list.
    I’m glad Alien made it to the top 10.
    I would personally add Winner Hold.
    One of the funniest mv from this year for me.

    Like

  3. Surprised/not surprised with the top spot. When We Disco is pure cheese and fun, and no one does that better than the duo. Hey, give us a duo of JYP and Sunmi as a group!!!

    Funny to see So What so high, it is far from my favorite LOONA MV, but it does compliment the song well.

    A little sad Ateez’s Answer ain’t here. That is how you do a lore MV. Also loved ACE’s Goblin!

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  4. Sunmi will always win this kind of countdown for me. Her MVs seem so artsy and sort of surreal, especially the way they use color and lighting. Not to mention Sunmi is just awesome to watch on her own. Honorable mentions to Criminal, Kick It, and the Gfriend songs+obligatory Dreamcatcher mention, because their MVs are always too fantastic not to mention and I am very very biased.

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  5. To be honest, I usually only watch the video once or thrice. And then its audio only for the repeat listens, or a lyric video. Music videos to me these days tend to be how many costume changes can they pile in 3 or 4 minutes time. Or how much money can we spend on the scenery and extras, because they have money to spend. I second Nick on his comment on lore. Lore drives me nuts, and actually drives me away from a song.

    Stray Kids – God’s Menu – for the purposeful pans, and unique settings.

    AgustD – Daewichita – they spent a boatload but it was well spent.

    Ay ay ay-ay- yay-ay-ay- an alien – the clever little animated sections snuck in there, candy colored. Also a fine example of how to choreograph a song for a non-dancer who (usually) sings live.

    But my absolute favorite video of the year was
    Sexy Zone RUN – for the absolutely fantastic camera work, simple set, simply done. Whoever scouted the set too was spot on – some kind of theater or church building in progress, complete with an organ console and some of the rest of the organ still all boxed up. https://thebiaslist.com/2020/08/04/song-review-sexy-zone-run/

    Like

      • wah, clicked too soon –
        Stray Kids – “purposeful pans” meaning the camera work literally, and the cooking theme metaphorically. The camera has a deliberate movement (“pans” or “panning” from side to side or to a tilt with the choreo, or up or down with a hand movement), not just movement for movement’s sake.

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