Feature

Top K-Pop Albums of 2021 (So Far)

Bias List Mid-Year Best OfFollowing on the heels of yesterday’s ‘top 2021 singles,’ it’s time to turn our attention to K-pop’s full and mini albums.

As with title tracks, 2021 has delivered a strong series of albums so far. My lists are a little longer than normal, but the criteria remains the same. To be considered an “album,” the work has to include at least four full songs. Thankfully, there were more than enough to choose from!

What are your thoughts, readers? Leave your own picks in the comments!


FULL LENGTH ALBUMS


Nu’est – Romanticize

Nu'est - Romanticize

Nu’est’s long-awaited second album nearly matched the potency of their first. Tied together by a stylish dancefloor groove, many of the songs opt for unique and exciting arrangements. The solo tracks are also a big highlight.

Best album tracks: Rocket Rocket, Black, Doom Doom


ONEUS – Devil

ONEUS - Devil

Though its title track left something to be desired, ONEUS’s first full album more than delivered in the b-side department. Nearly every song is a stunner, from the upbeat jams to the dramatic ballads.

Best album tracks: Incomplete, Youth, I.P.U, Lion Heart


ONF – My Name / City Of ONF

ONF - City Of ONF

K-pop albums aren’t always know for their cohesion, but ONF painted a specific sound and story with My Name and its repackage. This is a stunning piece of work, unveiling highlight after highlight. Yet somehow, the whole is even stronger than its parts.

Best album tracks: My Genesis (Übermensch), The Realist, Secret Triangle, Trip Advisor


SHINee – Don’t Call Me / Atlantis

SHINee - Atlantis

I couldn’t ask for a stronger comeback from SHINee. This album funnels all their charms into a tight set of songs. It’s incredibly nostalgic, but never dated. They could have picked half a dozen singles from this and still not exhausted all the album’s charms.

Best album tracks: I Really Want You, CØDE, Heart Attack


TXT – The Chaos Chapter: Freeze

TXT Freeze

As with most TXT albums, I wasn’t immediately smitten with Freeze. But, the album simply has too many great songs to ignore. It’s improved with each listen, fueled by the guys’ addictive charm and some playful musical arrangements. Fingers crossed for a repackage!

Best album tracks: No Rules, Dear Sputnik, Frost


MINI ALBUMS


Brave Girls – Summer Queen

Brave Girls - Summer Queen

I will always love a summer album, and Brave Girls delivered an absolute knockout. Song for song, it’s pretty much perfect. My only gripe is that it’s not long enough!

Best album tracks: Fever


Dreamcatcher – Dystopia: Road To Utopia

Dreamcatcher - Road To utopia

Dreamcatcher continue their run of excellent albums with Road To Utopia. It sees them embracing electronic influences more than ever, making some of the b-sides even more thrilling than the title track.

Best album tracks: Poison Love, Wind Blows, 4 Memory


GHOST9 – Now: Where We Are, Here

GHOST9 - Where We Are, Now

GHOST9 are another group with super-strong b-sides, and Where Are We, Here stretches their sound in a few awesome directions. They’re spoiled for choice when it comes to title track, with songs like Uno and Starvoy practically begging for promotion.

Best album tracks: Starvoy, Uno


Golden Child – Yes

Golden Child - Yes

Golden Child have never released a bad album, but Yes sees them going from strength to strength. Bookended by two massive singles, the center trilogy of songs are nearly as strong. This is mature, assured pop music with hooks as sharp as a knife.

Best album tracks: Round N Round, Cool Cool, Milky Way


Lucy – Gatcha!

Lucy - Gatcha!

At only four tracks, Gatcha is all killer, no filler. I like a few of its b-sides even more than the title, but taken together this is Lucy’s most concentrated burst of pop-rock bliss. I can’t believe how fantastic this album turned out.

Best album tracks: One By One, Buddy


Seventeen – Your Choice

Seventeen - Your Choice

For me, Your Choice feels like a return to form after a rocky 2020. Seventeen push themselves in new directions, yet never forget what makes their music so great in the first place. From full-group to unit tracks, there are no skips here.

Best album tracks: Anyone, Heaven’s Cloud, Wave


Twice – Taste Of Love

Twice - Taste of Love

Don’t let Taste Of Love‘s subdued title track fool you! The rest of the album is jam-packed with fun, upbeat dance tracks. Twice have grown into their musical maturity more convincingly than I would have expected, and we’re all reaping the rewards.

Best album tracks: Scandal, Baby Blue Love, SOS


U-Know – Noir

U-Know - Noir

K-pop royalty returns with another assured solo album. This is a remarkably consistent piece of work, skirting between genres but held together by U-Know’s unflagging charisma.

Best album tracks: Need You Right Now, Time Machine, Loco (House Party)

23 thoughts on “Top K-Pop Albums of 2021 (So Far)

  1. Ohhh so happy to see Noir on here! Came out early in the year but is still one of my tops at this point. Taste of Love, Gatcha!, My Name/ City of ONF, and Don’t Call Me/Atlantis would also be on my list if I made one lol. Also, The Renaissance by Super Junior is high up on my list but there’s a lot of bias for me there of course. I also really liked a lot from Chungha’s album, and I actually really enjoyed I Burn by (G)I-dle but I realize I am in the minority there! I’m also enjoying Onewe’s new album so far but I need to give it more time to see if it has longevity for me.

    Overall, I’m hoping the second half of 2021 brings more strong girl group comebacks…I actually generally like girl groups more (although, when I fall for a boy group I tend to fall harder) but very few have caught my attention this year! Especially disappointing after getting some of my favorite title tracks ever from Blackpink, Twice, and Everglow last year…but I digress!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I already mentioned this on the other post, but the only albums I really listened to so far are YUKIKA’s timeabout, GWSN’s The Other Side of the Moon and PIXY’s BRAVERY. LOONA’s & seems like it’s joining there. Also Rocket Punch’s Ring Ring album but that’s only three songs.

    There might be others I might have liked but these are the only ones I actually listened to more than once. Lucy’s Gatcha and TWICE’s Taste of Love are examples of albums I liked at first but never got around to actually spend time with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was just listening to Noir this morning! Love those songs. And now I see there are so many full albums I haven’t checked out thoroughly and heavens how will I find the time. So nice to see Lucy on there, too. They have such a unique sound and I agree that it’s pure pop-rock bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My favorites so far are IU’s album (Flu, Troll); LUCY’s Gatcha! (Buddy!!); SHINEE’s Don’t Call Me/Atlantis (I Really Want You, Body Rhythm); TXT’s FREEZE (Dear Sputnik, No Rules); ONEWE’s Planet Nine (AuRoRa, LOGO); and the more understated Dear OHMYGIRL–I don’t love all the tracks but I’ve listened to My Doll and Swan countless times

    By the way, I love this feature because of the b-side recommendations! I don’t have time/dedication to listen to every single album that comes out, so I appreciate everyone’s thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the only western pop albums I’ve seen you talk about are Chromatica and Future Nostalgia recently, but I feel like you would love Blackout by Britney Spears, Art Angels by Grimes, and Pop 2 by Charli XCX. They’re sort of like… pop bibles

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved that you didn’t forget Noir! My favorites so far are:
    Taemin – Advice
    Baekhyun – Baekhyun
    BDC – The Intersection – Discovery
    OnlyOneOf – Instinct Pt. 1
    Rain – Pieces
    SHINee – Don’t Call Me
    Mirae – Killa
    Ciipher – I like you
    WayV – Kick Back
    Brave Girls – Summer Girls
    Golden Child – Yes
    UP10tion – Connection
    U-Know – Noir

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Favorite Full albums:

    Shinee- Atlantis
    Oneus- Devil
    They are my two favorite groups for a reason 🙂

    Favorite Mini’s
    Mirae- Killa
    Brave Girls- Summer Queens

    Honorable mentons:
    WJSN- Unnatural
    Wayv- Kick Back

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahaha I’m glad you appreciate 4 Memory! It has its detractors in the comments here and I get why especially given it comes after the behemoth that is Poison Love but… it’s such a fun, chill song. And normally it’s not my thing but Leez and Ollounder know how to keep it interesting. The girls’ vocal performances really help (and I’m biased, because ult bias group, but still).

    Also tangentially related: I just learned Porter Robinson had a new album this year! Gotta listen to that.

    Gonna have to listen to all these other recommendations. (Except Shinee and Golcha, which I already know and love and have replayed the hell out of.)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Atlantis and Freeze for me, for sure. Great albums, although NU’EST also had a strong one and I ended up listening to those b-sides more than the actual title track lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also, this doesn’t count since it’s just 3 songs but I really enjoyed WOODZ’s Set EP. (it’s one of those EPs I ended up listening to a lot more than I initially thought I would lol)

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m comfortable saying that ONEUS Devil is my favorite album/EP of the year so far – it’s the only 2021 release I’ve purchased a physical copy of, and only the third kpop album I’m purchased ever. Rounding out a top five in no particular order would be MIRAE Killa; GHOST9 NOW: Where Are We, Here; VICTON Voice: The Future Is Now; and TXT The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE.

    Liked by 1 person

        • I was just listening to it and thinking “really?” until I realized that I only have the first four songs in my library so yeah, point made. I’ve listened to those first four songs so much I thought they were the entire EP.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. YESSSS glad to see oneus’s album on the list. That was the album that officially got me into them.
    Also, I WILL ALWAYS love love love ghost9’s besides. They always make sure to put effort into the whole album and not just the title track.

    Finally, I was expecting ONf 😍. I wasn’t able to get the repackaged version of the album, but that does not stop me from expressing my support in other way. ONF FIGHTING!

    (Suprise album I like- Planet 9 by OneWe. I just got into them YESTERDAY at 3 am 🤣🤣)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. My favourite albums this year are:
    Onewe-Planet Nine
    Victon-Voice
    Up10tion-Connection
    TXT-The Chaos Chapter:Freeze
    N.Flying-Man on the Moon
    Shinee-Atlantis

    And the EPs:
    U-Know-Noir
    Kingdom-Arthur
    Lucy-Gatcha!
    WJSN-The other side of the moon(though I don’t listen it as much as when it came out)

    And Woodz’s Set

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I Love each and every one of these albums! This list is pretty solid but I will only highlight my THREE Favorite albums so far.

    Golden Child’s YES
    This is one of my favorite projects from the group so far. It’s a great maturation of the guys sound, and is an incredible showcase for the guys outstanding vocals. Its excellent one-two punch title tracks are absolutely perfect and make use of their charms, And the trilogy of b-sides make use of some sleek dance pop hooks and killer melodies. It’s all-killer, no-filler, as expected by Golden Child.

    ONF’s City Of ONF
    I love ONF’s Sci-Fi Concept and Story, and City Of ONF played with that concept musically. The Album is heralded by the massive and beloved Beautiful Beautiful, but the other songs are no slouch either. Secret Triangle, Trip Advisor, The Realist and (especially) My Genesis are all knock-out B-sides. Hwang Hyun also deserves much of the credit, As he takes ONF’s Adventurous sound to new avenues. And it Also has an over-the-top weapon which I absolutely swoon over: ELECTRIC GUITAR!

    SHINee’s Atlantis
    This was Perfect, that’s the best way to describe this album. After staying away from the K-pop scene for Three Years, SHINee absolutely strike with this album. The Album utilizes each and every one of SHINee’s signature sounds and strengths, Showcasing exactly why SHINee will always be one of the best groups out their. From the synth-laden explosives of CODE and Heart Attack to the Brassy Attack of songs such as I Really Want You and Kiss, There are no skips in this album. And Once Atlantis came over to sweep us all over, The entirety of this album transcends to LEGENDARY.

    These are my thoughts on my favorite albums of 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Including b-sides, My genesis is my favourite track of the year. Jazz is good, rock and electric guitar are legendary, and ATEEZ-style last minute chorus switches are chef’s kiss. Perfect recipe for blowing up my playlist.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m not a huge album person, so it comes off as no surprise when I’ve only heard TXT’s, SHINee’s, and ONF’s albums off this list.

    But I trust Nick’s taste in music, so I guess I have some homework to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Like everyone else here, my favorite was far and away SHINee Atlantis. I also really liked Chungha’s album; ONF, TXT, WJSN, GWSN, Dreamcatcher, Brave Girls all got a decent amount of airtime for me. Honestly I’m usually more of an album person than I was this past 6 months so I’m not really sure why I didn’t vibe with that much. A lot of my favorite releases were singles/single albums with 3 songs or fewer which does make it difficult to listen to albums on repeat. It’s also possible that I’m just getting lazy and relying more on playlists now that I’ve passed my two year kpopversary and I can listen to some of my larger ones for hours without hearing the same songs/getting sick of my own taste.

    Liked by 1 person

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