The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Two: 40-31)

Top 50 Singles of 2015This week, we’re journeying back half a decade to look at K-pop’s best releases of 2015!

2015 was a prime year for K-pop. It saw the return of industry royalty, as Bigbang blitzed the market with no less than seven singles. It acted as the launchpad for many of today’s top acts (Twice, Seventeen, GFriend, Monsta X, Oh My Girl, DAY6, etc) and fostered the growth and resurgence of others (BTS, Red Velvet, BTOB, GOT7). In fact, I think the case can be made for 2015 being the start of a whole new K-pop generation.

It was also a year without one definitive musical trend. This allowed for a diverse palette of sounds and ideas. At the same time, many of K-pop’s modern genre touchstones (house, tropical, EDM, trap) really began to flourish in 2015. The year was transformative in so many ways, and this list will only touch the tip of that iceberg.

Each day this week, I’ll be counting down ten of the year’s best, until number one is revealed on Friday.

**Note: This countdown covers January-December of 2015, which means there may be some overlap with my old 2016 countdown, which included 2015’s December releases as well.

Honorable Mentions // 50-41

40. Boys Republic – Hello

To me, Hello has always sounded like a sleepy summer afternoon. It has a superb sense of melody, tugging in all the right places to fully develop its wistful tone. Boy groups don’t often go this subdued for title tracks, but Boys Republic delivered an underrated classic by pulling back on the bombast.

39. EXID – Ah Yeah

Fresh from their unbelievable resurgence with 2014’s Up & Down, EXID’s Ah Yeah had a LOT to live up to. But, the ladies (and Shinsadong Tiger!) forged another big, brassy chorus and performed the hell out of it. The result turned out just as addictive as their breakthrough, setting them on a path to long-term success.

38. The Ark – The Light

There’s something so classic about The Light. The song could find an enthusiastic audience in any decade, thanks to some dynamite songwriting (that chorus!) and a timeless arrangement. The fact that it ended up being a one-off for its quickly-disbanded group only adds to its legend.

37. Park Gyuri + From The Airport – The Little Prince

Kara’s Park Gyuri teamed up with indie duo From The Airport for this oft-forgotten single. Rarely does K-pop embrace synthpop this whole-heartedly, and The Little Prince is all the better for its icy keys and nimble rhythm guitar.

36. G.Soul – You

Some ballads glide on sentiment, building quietly toward an emotional climax. Others simply lay it all on the line. Each chorus in You arrives like a hurricane. The clouds part, G.Soul takes a deep breath and the song rushes out full force. It’s clearly a student of the “I Will Always Love You” school of songwriting, and that’s no small compliment.

35. Romeo – Lovesick

Production team Sweetune didn’t release much material in 2015, but their work with new debut Romeo is definitely worth celebrating. Lovesick takes so many of their hallmarks (catchy synth riff, layered vocal arrangement) and ties it to a fluffy pop melody that hits all the right notes.

34. Red Velvet – Dumb Dumb

Though the girls scored a major breakthrough earlier in the year with Ice Cream Cake, Dumb Dumb sealed the deal for me. My love wasn’t instant, but that hypnotic, unyielding rhythm quickly sunk its teeth in. The song is completely off-the-wall in the best way, down to that ridiculous MJ-quoting bridge.

33. Brown Eyed Girls – Brave New World

Disco throwbacks may be popular in 2021, but Brown Eyed Girls already perfected the format six years earlier. Brave New World chugs along its strings-assisted groove with utter panache, culminating in a dramatic chorus that shoots the track to the stars. Every element here refuses to compromise. Brave New World goes in.

32. 1Punch – Take Me Back

Before Produce 101 was even a concept in producers’ imaginations, Kim Samuel made his debut as one half of Brother Brothers’ throwback duo 1Punch. Take Me Back is perfectly-calibrated new jack swing, made even more addictive when filtered through K-pop’s unique energy. What a total jam.

31. Kim Sungkyu – The Answer

Sungkyu and frequent collaborator Kim Jongwan find their sweet spot with The Answer. This ballad may be sentimental, but it’s never cloying. Combine lush production with Sungkyu’s expressive vocal and you’ve already got a winner. Throw a knockout pop melody over the top and you have an instant classic.



18 thoughts on “The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Two: 40-31)

  1. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day One: 50-41) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. As expected, we start to diverge, and that is OK! Actually I have no complaints about Nick’s list, except for 4 Walls and Ice Cream Cake and Crazy and perhaps one or two others.

    My list, in approximate ascending order 31 to 40:

    XIA – “Flower” ft Tablo – only Junsu cold pull off a solo song this theatrical. This is a full multicourse kpop masterpiece. Since he needs more appreciation in the international kpop community than he gets I put it here with full clickable youtube link below. (For those new to kpop, Xia is one of the ex-TVXQ members who still to this day is blacklisted from mainstream Korean TV because SM has pulled and pushed on every contact they know to do so. Fortunately he is talented as all hell, and has earned a tidy living doing musical theater, at which he is quite good.)

    Jonghyun – “Deja Boo” ft Zion.T. Casual, jazzy, uncomplicated pure pop. Live performance link below – six months later after this performance he is gone from our lives. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFsWkvVudg4

    Kyuhyun “Baram” / “Wind” – this is like a little etude for voice. Think Chopin. Gorgeous. B-side off the album with “A Million Pieces” which comes higher on my list. (Score for SuJu-Kyu refs: Myma 1 – Nick 0.) ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6kHw8mTz9M I love how for his solo performances, it is a real live backing band. Also, guy really knows how to use a hand-held microphone because =practice=.

    Regulars from my workout list: Zico “Eureka”; Bizzy Tiger Yoonmirae aka MFBTY “Bang Diggy Bang Bang”, NFlying “Awesome”.

    Others: Twice “Ohh Ahh”; Got7 “If you do”; Mamamoo “Ahh Oop”; and 4 WALLS f(x)!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yas I love Brave New World so much. I still maintain to this day that Brown Eyed Girls has the strongest discography in all of KPOP, which is especially apparent when listening to all of their full albums and just seeing the insane level of consistent quality and incredibly diverse musical styles that they went for over a 15 year(ish) period. Plus the singing trio of Jea Ga-In and Narsha is something only matched IMO by Solar Hwasa and WheeIn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s great seeing the two singles from Sungkyu’s solo mini album getting highlighted on your list! I haven’t listen to it in forever!

    My favorite song on that release was “Daydream,” though relistening to it now the vocal effects are a bit much . . .


    • Sungkyu is a gift!

      My favorite from this album is “Kontrol” which I will have much higher than Nick – iirc it was in his HM’s.

      I think “The Answer” hits Nick’s sweet spot more than “Kontrol” because it has more of a steady cadence like his favorite Savage Garden songs eg “Truly Madly Deeply”, also a mid-tempo ballad and heavy emphasized piano chord on a slow 1 – 2 that defines both songs. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQnAxOQxQIU

      On a related note, darling daughter likes Sungkyu’s “Hush” from March of this year a lot. She asks me in the car “if it is OK to play it again” to which I say “you go girl”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I honestly could not choose my second favorite track between “Kontrol” and “The Answer.” It’ll have to be a tie for me.

        It certainly ages me, but your Savage Garden reference made me chuckle! Also I haven’t heard “Hush,” so I’ll have to check it out.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This list has certainly shown me how balanced 2015 was. Musical quality was not just in pop, but ballads, R&B, pop, hip-hop, rock, and avant-garde all thrived. The Little Prince, Take Me Back, and perhaps Brave New World would make it higher for me, and many other later.

    That said, The Light is in my top 10 for the year. Such a classic, and the MV is one of the few K-Pop ones that can tear me up.


  6. Man, seeing this list makes me realize how much I miss 2015’s music. I was playing songs like The Light, Dumb Dumb, and Brave New World on repeat. Especially The Light. The Ark remains one of the biggest what-ifs in K-pop history. They had so much charisma and THAT CHORUS. It still burrows in my head in the most aurally satisfying way to this day.

    Ah Yeah, while not anywhere as iconic as Up & Down, still knocked it out of the park. I’ve been a fan of EXID since 2013 and when Ah Yeah started to do well I knew that they weren’t a fluke.


  7. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Two: 40-31) | Beatsway

  8. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Three: 30-21) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  9. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Four: 20-11) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  10. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Five: 10-1) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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