Feature

K-Pop’s Top Songs of Summer (2019-2020)


Two years ago, I took a look at my favorite “Songs of Summer” between 2012 and 2018. Now that we’re getting closer to the season, I think it’s time for an update!

This time, I’m cheating a bit. I kept this feature’s original title for continuity’s sake, but my top song of summer for 2020 wasn’t K-pop at all! However, I did review it on The Bias List so I’m going to count it.

To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a ranking of the “best” songs to come out during summer. A “song of summer” is different. It has to strongly evoke the season, while still being a great track unto itself. I’m hopeful that 2021 will knock it out of the park when it comes to these kind of songs, but for now let’s look back at 2019 and 2020.

Make sure to leave your own picks in the comments!


2019

Honorable Mentions: GFriend – Fever, DAY6 – Time Of Our Life, Weki Meki – Tiki-Taka (99%), JBJ95 – Spark, The Boyz – D.D.D, Oh My Girl – Bungee (Fall In Love)


3. WJSN – Boogie Up (full review)

A brisk shot of summertime bliss, Boogie Up reinvented WJSN’s spacey sound with plenty of breezy momentum and an addictive drop.


2. ITZY – ICY (full review)

ICY soundtracked the second half of summer for me, and remains one of ITZY’s most enduring songs. Its carnival-eque atmosphere and massive pre-chorus feel like peak summer.


1. ATEEZ – Wave (full review)

ATEEZ got their mileage out of the flagging tropical trend, tying the genre’s strongest features  to a gorgeous melody and hard-hitting hook. What an incredible summertime bop.


2020

Honorable Mentions: OnlyOneOf – Angel, CRAVITY – Cloud 9, Yukika – Yesterday, SSAK3 – Beach Again, April – Now Or Never, Cherry Bullet – Aloha Oe, SF9 – Summer Breeze, Boyhood – Retro Love


3. Jeong Sewoon – Say Yes (full review)

Alternating between hazy verses and a swaggering, synth-driven chorus, Say Yes captured so many summer vibes in one track.


2. TOO – Count 1, 2 (full review)

In many ways, Count 1, 2 is the quintessential summer K-pop track. It follows all the tropes, from shimmering instrumental to breezy melody. Luckily, it masters each and every one of them.


1. Wu Jia Cheng – Wild Island (full review)

Yeah, yeah, this is not K-pop. But, it was certainly my undisputed song of summer in 2020. The surging electro beat, the sweltering music video and Jia Cheng’s sweet vocal add up to craft a summertime behemoth. That excellent chorus hits like a beachfront breeze.


28 thoughts on “K-Pop’s Top Songs of Summer (2019-2020)

  1. Oh Yeah! I finally get to see ATEEZ’s Wave top the summer of K-pop!
    It was the song which acted as a gateway to K-pop, if it wasn’t for this song I would have been listening to BTS all the time and refused to listen to anything else. I would have been a toxic ARMY I guess.

    Wave is just incredible! It takes the basic trop-pop trope and transforms the entire package into an invigorating course which takes you on an adventure. It’s refreshing and powerful at the same time and uses some cathartic vocal work. Everything here works so well, and just hits in all the right spots. I can’t throw enough praise to the song, it’s too perfect! TOO PERFECT! And might as well as be one of the best k-pop songs of all time!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. All of these songs are great but Summer Breeze is undoubtedly my favourite summer song of 2020! I can’t help but dance to the electro beat in the verses and the refreshing pulse of the chorus.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wild Island is my 2020 summer song as well! I wasn’t in a good state when it came out and it really helped lift my mood. I let it play in loops and didn’t grow tired of it.
    Also, I hope the kpop fans who read here can give Wu Jiacheng’s music a chance.
    (Nick, have you considered writing more about cpop? Our tastes parallel quite often so I’d love to read reviews from you)

    Like

    • Yay! Another Jiacheng fan! I adore both of his mini albums, and I’m currently watching him in the Airbenders drama so his music has been on my mind.

      To be honest, my c-pop intake is quite low. I find it hard to discover music that’s not a ballad or trap/hip-hop. Any suggestions?

      Like

      • This reply is late so sorry! I hope you see this Nick, I suggest you check out the twitter account cpop_charts. Besides the various charts you can keep up with new releases through it.
        Since you mainly cover idol music here I recommend you check out Rocket Girls 101 and R1SE (both came from produce shows and are now disbanded but the members are releasing solos). You’re probably familiar with WJC’s song “Freshness” which he did with Rocket Girls 101’s rapper, Yamy (who just released a song btw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbB-23y3bV0).
        As for active groups, there’s Oner (which you’ve featured before. The 3 members recently released solo EPs), S.I.N.G (girl group blending traditional style), INTO1 (who just debited), THE9, Bon Bon Girls 303, SiS (here I must recommend you watch the music show from which the members came from: “The Coming One 3” – fully subbed on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeWXrZTXPov9TnOJ-6RdvZN5058-vs8mH / the 4th season of the show was a band season – also worth watching. These shows are really a great way to discover new songs).
        Lastly I recommend you check out Lexie Liu (who was featured on K/DA’s More).
        Phew, this was long haha I wish I had more specific song recs for you but anyway hopefully this will help you start getting more into cpop 🙂

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  4. Wayv’s electric hearts is my choice for summer 2020, even if it is technically cpop. It has returned to my favorites playlist every month since it was released.
    Even though it’s from 2018 my summer album of choice would be Shinee’s The Story of Light, it instantly reminds me of summer without fail.
    I have also fallen pretty hard for WJSN recently and a good deal of their music suits the summer season. Their summer album is an absolute gem.
    Kpop summers are always my favorite time of year.

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  5. Fun idea! Now that we’re in summer I’m also playing those “summertime hits” more often (Sistar are the undisputed queens of this concept!). These days I’m vurrently playing jpop cuts like AKB48’s Ponytail to Shushu and Everyday Katyusha, and Nogizaka46’s Girls’ Rule and Offshore Girl, I’d suggest them to you/would love to see a Jpop equivalent of this list.

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  6. For 2019, I’d have to put NCT 127’s Highway to Heaven in my top 3. It isn’t strictly just a summer song, but damn is it perfect for it! It’s just that perfect song for driving with the windows down on a blue skied day and feeling that warm summer breeze caressing you.

    For the life of me, I will never understand why Starship didn’t capitalize on WJSN’s Boogie Up. With their experience marketing Sistar as K-Pop’s “summer queens” and the success of Boogie Up, with a quality EP to boot, WJSN could have been a shoo-in to nab that title. As You Wish could have even been a perfect follow up if it was actually released…. in the summer! Instead, it was dropped at what is probably the worst time of year in Korea (mid-November) for that kind of upbeat release from a girl group. I would have loved it if Starship kept the cycle going by having the girls release a yearly “Special Summer” EP or single album and kept developing their core sound for non-summer comebacks. It definitely goes down as a missed opportunity in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The 2020 top really shows me how uninterested I was in kpop at the time – I am familiar with none of those songs. It was not a good year for me and my specific tastes.

    Boogie Up and Icy are summer classics for me, too. I still play them to get that summer feeling.

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  8. Pingback: K-Pop’s Top Songs of Summer (2019-2020) | Beatsway

  9. I need to thank this post for introducing me to JBJ95’s Spark, Boyhood’s Retro Love, and Jeong Sewoon’s Say Yes. I technically know who all these people are – I was an avid Produce watcher – but I’ve never really listened to their music before, and these were three great songs that captured me and really do feel a whole lot like summer. Retro Love in particular is a masterpiece, I saw it mentioned on this blog a while ago I think but never bothered to check it out. Where have I been and why did I not listen to it ages ago?!

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      • I seriously can’t believe I let that slip me by when I’m generally a huge fan of retro concepts in general? This just feels so fresh and exciting, I love it and this is such a good time. I’m already diving into other releases by Nam Donghyun, so thank you for this.

        Like

  10. Here’s some 2019-2020 songs (includes bsides) that give me a summer vibe:

    Summer 127 – NCT
    Elevator – NCT
    Fireflies – NCT
    Fever – Dongkiz
    We go nanana – WayV
    Flower Shower – HyunA
    Snap Shoot – Seventeen (!!!)
    Tonight (With Melody) – Huta
    Wake Up – TST

    Pretty much everything off the ReVe Festival: Day 2 (Umpah Umpah title)

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  11. I say to all of the above Yes, yes, also yes, mmm ok, YES, and good!

    And I will add
    ONF – Swimming, I’m like a stupid, swimming swimming swimming
    SF9 Summer Breeze
    1the9 Bad Guy
    Seven O’Clock Hey There
    Dongkiz – Blockbuster ft a sample from Ghostbusters
    Purple Beck – Crystal Ball
    WJSN Sugar Pop

    And of course
    Fromis9 Fun
    Rocket Punch Juicy

    The Wayv cpop album from last summer was all good.

    Like

    • Of course, Summer Breeze! I was going to add Blockbuster, but it doesn’t really make me think of summer. For some reason I associate it with Halloween.

      And of course, Fun. I didn’t know that was 2019, it feels longer ago.

      I had never listened to the swimming song for some reason, but hey, it’s really good and VERY summer.

      Like

  12. I’m going to cry. Fever was just two years ago, when I was already a fan, and I was really disappointed at the time. I mean, it’s still not my favorite GFriend song, but I just miss them so damn much T_T

    Like

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