The Top Three K-Pop Songs of May 2021

Monthly Round-UpAt the end of each month, I look back at my three favorite title tracks by K-pop artists. I take my own ratings into account, but there’s a bit of wiggle room as certain songs tend to grow or fade.

May 2021 Overall Thoughts

2021’s momentum stalled a bit this month. But, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. May was stuffed with comebacks by big-name artists. And, a lot of them were quite good. However, few resonated with me in the way songs from the previous few months have. And when it comes to full or mini albums, none stuck around my playlist for long.

My top two picks of the month secured their places easily. But, their dominance is kind of shocking. I’ve long been a critic of English-language songs by K-pop artists, and I think both of these acts have been pretty hit-or-miss lately. I would never have expected my top three to shake out the way it did. I guess the industry loves to surprise…

Choosing a number three song was much trickier. Most releases grew or faded as time went on. I scored fromis_9’s We Go very high upon release, yet haven’t returned to it as often as either of the comebacks unveiled on the same day. I disliked NCT Dream’s Hot Sauce at first. It went on to capture me for the next week or so before moving back to the “dislike” column as the month ended. TXT’s new single shows promise, but I could see it going either way when all is said and done.

I continue to enjoy aespa’s Next Level despite the chastising I received in the comments section from, like… all of you. In fact, it’s one of my most-played songs this month. But, third place ended up being a tight race between funk-pop singles from TO1 and ONEUS. Both have their flaws and wouldn’t have made it into my top three during a stronger month, but a standout performance helped vault one over the other.

Beyond comebacks, May was dominated by competition series Kingdom. Even compared to last year’s Road to Kingdom, I’m feeling pretty nonplussed about this show. It’s been fun to write about each week, but I wish it had resulted in stronger music. At least we have a bunch of post-Kingdom summer comebacks to look forward to, right?

As we enter June, K-pop will start unveiling this year’s roster of summer songs. I’m cautiously optimistic, especially with such a jam-packed slate on the horizon. I’m hoping to hear stronger melodies, upbeat arrangements and a host of buried treasures (May was very short on those…). And if I’m being greedy, the announcement of a Golden Child comeback wouldn’t be unappreciated (hint, hint, Woollim…).

**Oh yeah… and, GFriend basically disbanded this month. I’m still trying to process that one…

Month Cumulative Rating: 7.9

(compiled by averaging the scores of every K-pop review from this month)

J-Pop Highlights

Fantastics – Perfect Magic (review)

Hey! Say! JUMP – Negative Fighter (review)

King & Prince – Magic Touch (video)

The Rampage – Call Of Justice (review)


King & Prince – Beating Hearts (review)


Honorable Mentions

aespa – Next Level (review)

Blitzers – Breathe Again (review)

fromis_9 – We Go (review)

Highlight – Not The End (review)

Jay B – Switch It Up (ft. Sokodomo) (review)

Joy (Red Velvet) – Hello (review)

NCT Dream – Hot Sauce (depending on my mood…) (review)

Oh My Girl – Dun Dun Dance (review)

Rocket Punch – Ring Ring (review)

Taeho (IMFACT) – GGOMA (ft. Choi Yegeun) (review)

TO1 – Son Of Beast (review)

TXT – 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) (ft. Seori) (review)

WJSN The Black – Easy (review)


3. ONEUS – Black Mirror (review)

2. Yuqi – Bonnie & Clyde (review)

1. BTS – Butter (review)

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of April 2021

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of March 2021

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of February 2021

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of January 2021

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of December 2020

Top Three K-Pop Songs Of November 2020

2010-2020 Archive Here


40 thoughts on “The Top Three K-Pop Songs of May 2021

  1. Next level I enjoyed on release and love it even more now. Something about how memorable every single part of that song is. THATS MY NAEVIS ITS MY NAEVIS YOU LEAD WE FOLLOW

    Liked by 5 people

  2. May 2021. Eternalized as the month I discovered PIXY. Literally obsessed with this group, music, members, performances and all. They have taken me into their storm.

    I actually love their mini “Fairy forest: BRAVERY”. The remix of Wings, Insomnia, Greedy and The Moon are all great songs. Also Let Me Know is still good. They are still killing me with their performances. Killer choreo and stage presence. UGH. I’ve never had a group that single-handedly improves songs just through performing them. They’re three on three with this phenomena with Wings, Let Me Know and now The Moon. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz2TCyRg7U0

    Aside from that, justice for GWSN and their lack of a Buried Treasure. Also, libidO is amazing.

    Anyway, here’s my ranking for Top 3 – May 2021:

    1. PIXY – Let Me Know – Listen okay. It’s the only song in here I actually sing along to the verses and all… I know Nick rated this like a 7, but I’m incredibly biased towards PIXY as you can tell. I normally don’t like such a song, but I can’t help it apparently. I’m OBSESSED. I still listen to this to this day and sing it more often than not. Maybe it’s because they perform it so well, but I can listen to the song even without watching them perform so like I guess I actually love it.

    2. fromis_9 – WE GO – Summer song of the year, no doubt about it. It’s fun and incredibly addicting. One of the best choruses.

    3. YUQI – Bonnie and Clyde – Honestly incredible vibe and deserved the top 3 spot despite it almost going to Like It Hot. Really, Like It Hot grew much more than I thought it would.

    Honorable mentions:
    Easy, Ring Ring, Like It Hot, Hello, Black Mirror
    GGOMA, Bittersweet, Rub-A-Dum, Dun Dun Dance

    B-sides (I don’t listen to every mini):
    Every PIXY b-side [Insomnia, Greedy and The Moon, and the CD remix of Wings]
    Every GWSN b-side [I Can’t Breathe, e i e i o, Starry Night, I Sing (lalala), Burn]
    Taemin [Light]
    fromis_9 [Airplane Mode]
    Rocket Punch [Ride, I Want U Bad]
    Everglow [Don’t Ask Don’t Tell]
    TXT [No Rules, Dear Sputnik]

    Yeah, did not like the BTS nor aespa’s comebacks so they’re probably the most prominent ones lacking here. Also TXT’s I suppose.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My top 3 this month would be Easy, Dun Dun Dance, and Black Mirror probably in that order, pending how much I still like TXT a few weeks from now. (Today I like it a lot, I think more than you and most of the commenters, and would put it at 1 or 2 for the month) Honorable mentions to fromis_9, Rocket Punch (still digging the bside Ride) and aespa, whose song I hated on first listen but which has wormed its way into my heart anyways. I also liked Everglow First more than most here and liked Don’t Ask Don’t Tell a lot.

    I think I’m just kind of a sucker for summery synth/dance/funk music so even when there are things I don’t like (the breakdowns in Dun Dun Dance), it doesn’t matter. The infectious chorus with Mimi’s rap interjections made the song.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aespa’s Next Level was it for me. Winter’s part in the second breakdown– amazing.
    It also came out on my birthday so extra bias.
    Big SM month ending with Taemin’s enlistment!

    I also loved Easy, what a fun and well-fitting comeback.

    Liked by 1 person

    • just adding to the record that I thought Heize’s Happen was a really beautiful song and release. Really discovering it now but it def is quite lovely and makes me feel : )


  5. Darling daughter has had control of the ipod all month, so I haven’t listened to much of my own choosing.

    However, every time I have seen Taemin’s Advice on a music show on the sidebar of youtube, I have clicked it. So, Taemin for the win for me.

    (Answer to your next question – so what is she subjecting me to from the ipod at 6:30am in the morning. When I can get her to scroll past the A’ and B’s, she usually lands at Dreamcatcher, which this mom is perfectly fine with, even at 6:30 in the morning.)

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I’ve come to realize, you haven’t put a single girl group in the Top 3 Monthly this year so far. Every girl who has gotten there has just been a soloist or was a solo debut. Even WE GO, which for sure I thought was gonna get there was inched out by ONEUS at the last minute. Which… sigh.

    I can’t say I’m even surprised haha.


    • Honestly, I’d really like to, but I’m just not feeling most of the sounds girl groups have been offering this year.

      Working on the “looking back at 2009” series across the past few months has made me realize just how much more prevalent girl groups were in my top three back then. I’m only up to August now, but already the ggs outnumber bgs 11:7.

      So far in 2021, ggs just aren’t releasing the kind of songs I like. It’s a little depressing, actually.


      • I’ve loved some of the girl group comebacks. but I totally get it, since the sounds for girl groups can be a lot less definitive or decisive than boy groups and that’s not really your style. And some of them are just not good.

        For me, since I’m not a fan of most boy groups I don’t really try and warm up to their songs if I don’t really like them. I also don’t have any personal nostalgia or history with old girl groups so I don’t really have much to compare with. Plus the sounds I look for are much different than yours. Considering how many boy group comebacks I’ve just shamelessly derided or not liked, it’s clear we’ve got very different tastes.

        Liked by 1 person

          • You write really well despite how I disagree with the ratings and sentiments. I can see your perspective despite how I don’t share it.

            It also helps you’re not overtly mean to literally everything you don’t like as that one other specific blog seems to love being. You’re also much more nuanced, interesting and your posts are fun to read instead of exhausting.

            Plus it helps there are regulars here that I’ve come to recognize and interact with.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe? There’s one song I may write about, and two that I prefer to the title. Last week was kind of crazy (unrelated to the blog), but I may try to catch up with some things this week/weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wrote a lengthy comment and then I accidentally deleted it…so…I’ve lost motivation to write again. I am just gonna say the comebacks I am waiting for!

    Brave Girls
    Monsta X (maybe…)
    and Hopeful for Bighit to choose the right TXT follow up for goddamn once! I am now really convinced that they really avoid choosing the best songs in the mini album. No Rules or Dear Sputnik are just too good! (especially No Rules!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Top Three K-Pop Songs of May 2021 | Beatsway

  9. Do you have plans on doing a write-up for GFRIEND now that they basically disbanded? Like maybe an update to their top ten best songs or a list of best b-sides from their discography?

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Semi-related: I was looking at the track list for “Now that’s what I call music #78” on US itunes just now, which as the number indicates is a long running compilation of contemporary music. At the very bottom of the track list is, take a guess, cmon, go on.

    Nope, not BTS or any other Hy be be da loca group.

    It is our friends Tri be be da loca, with Doom Doom Ta from February this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so confused why are they part of it??? This is a list of US pop music and other related stuff and then just randomly TRI.BE is the last song hahaha. Apparently it’s a bonus track but it’s just so odd? I swear someone in that company is friends or paid for that.


      • Or someone paddling their one man submarine across the ocean is seriously stanning Tri-be. I am wondering if the bigger labels – the JYP, SM, Hybe, YG, are even approached. I mean the only place I have heard kpop in public in the US is over the air at the local Asian grocery store, and nowhere else.

        Out of curiosity, I scrolled through all of the tracklists back through Now #59 which was released August 2016, and the only other kpop was BlackPink ft Selena Gomez “Ice Cream”. ‘http://www.nowthatsmusic.com/music

        Kpop does show up from time to time on the Just Dance game on the Wii and such – I’ve heard on my sister’s copies 2NE1 “I am the Best” along with one BlackPink (DDDD? Kill This Love?).

        Well then, congrats to Tri be be da loca.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh sure.. ..demonstrate a smidgen of devotion-driven creativity in furtherance of the hope that a hazardous oceanic journey and several days of trash can skullduggery is worth dodging sepsis and Legionnaire’s if even a single banana peel that was once held by perfection personified is unearthed.. ..and you’re branded for life.

          Now, if we’re done here, that D.I.Y. rocket I’m assembling from an AMC Gremlin with a hatch loaded with 437 pounds of contraband 4th of July “Ooooh-Aaah”s.. ..so I can follow the trajectory of the meteoric rise clearly due for the heaven sent bewinged angels of Hot Issue.. ..isn’t going to build itself! Keep your eyes fixed on the northern skies for the inaugural launch of the U.S. Gratatamlin!


          • Xeno, you’re back! Odysseus declares his undying love for his fair Penelope!

            I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
            Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
            Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
            That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
            Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
            Vext the dim sea: I am become a name

            To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I tend to find myself somewhere between measured (Odysseus) and impassioned (Achilles), so I’ll play the flip card and go with:

              ~ Always in these friendships one serves the other,
              one is less than the other: the hierarchy is always
              apparent, though the legends cannot be trusted —
              their source is the survivor, the one who has been abandoned.

              What were the Greek ships on fire compared to this loss?
              In his tent, Achilles grieved with his whole being
              and the gods saw he was a man already dead, a victim
              of the part that loved, the part that was mortal. ~

              No.. ..I’m not waiting for Patroclus to fall, I’m just sulking in my tent for.. ..reasons.

              Liked by 1 person

      • TRI.BE’s company TR Entertainment is in a partnership with Universal Music Group, which I assume has a lot of pull in the Western music industry. Specifically, TRI.BE is signed with Republic Records under UMG for Western promotions, which is a huge label in the West. TRI.BE VIDA LOCA forever!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Bonnie and Clyde is incredible, and while I’m more than okay with Black Mirror, predictably, that Valkyrie rock version completely stole the show. Kind of a pity Oneus still haven’t managed to deliver the energy their debut promised. Am also annoyed to find that Next Level has grown on me stupidly fast. All the made up words have somehow made it even more fun to sit there and sing. I see the Nu Evo, that’s my naevis, it’s my naevis, I’m on the next level. That being said, my most played song from this month ended up being Miss Trot 2 winner Yang Ji Eun’s Taste of life, which has been absolute crack to my brain. I can’t pretend to not be a trot enthusiast anymore; something about that genre just mixes fun and nostalgia in such a bonkers way.

    Obligatory Dreamcatcher mention: Siyeon and Dami sang the OST Shadow for some show. Was very nice, I liked it. Dami really surprised me with the vocals here, didn’t know she was as solid a singer as she was here.


  12. I would definitely place EVERGLOW’s First on first. We have the opposite thoughts on it hahahahaha. But these Top 3 is in my Top 15 tho.


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