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The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Five: 10-1)

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 // 40-31 // 30-21 // 20-11


10. Sistar – Shake It

Shake It may be Sistar’s last unabashedly summer single, but they sent the season off with a bang. That rollicking pop beat is one for the ages, supporting a series of bubblegum melodies that take full advantage of the girls’ airy vocals. This is a shot of pure serotonin.


9. AOA – Heart Attack

When I think of the best that a Brave Brothers production has to offer, my mind immediately goes to Heart Attack. This is K-pop at its most overstuffed, never once losing its propulsive energy. It unveils hook after sharply-honed hook, all wrapped in a bubbly performance that’s dripping with charisma. It’s only grown stronger with time.


8. Lovelyz – Ah-Choo

Lovelyz have always tempered their cutesier concepts with robust melodies and a killer line-up of vocalists. Ah-Choo strikes just the right balance. It’s a fizzy head rush of a track, gently climbing to a knockout chorus. And though the song hinges on a sense of catchy novelty, its production and performance feel absolutely genuine.


7. Lovelyz – For You

“Healing” songs are quite common in K-pop, but For You truly earns the distinction. It’s a big musical hug, bursting with melody and bounding with optimistic drive. This is the kind of robust, layered pop sound I tend to love. Just listen to that squealing guitar that rounds off the chorus!


6. BTS – Dope

It’s hard to believe that Dope isn’t even technically a title track. Its influence looms large, both as part of BTS’s career and the K-pop industry in general. There’s no escaped that frantic, brassy riff or breathless build. Dope is freewheeling and fun, yet deadly serious when it comes to delivering a killer hip-hop throwdown.


5. BTS – I Need U

I Need U stands as BTS’s big breakout moment, even if the guys would move on to even more momentous feats in the future. Its sorrowful, downbeat sound was a big shift for them at the time, and took awhile to get used to. But looking back six years later, this is as close to a modern K-pop standard as you get. It just surges with emotion.


4. Seventeen – Mansae

If Adore U was an epic opening salvo, Mansae proved that Seventeen had dozens of tricks up their sleeve. The song gallops with a walloping funk energy, driven by the guys’ powerful performance. They’re leaping all over the place in the video, and that sense of movement makes its way into every moment of the song itself. For those who don’t already know, “mansae” translates to “hooray” in English. I can’t think of a better exclamation for this track!


3. Wonder Girls – I Feel You

Wonder Girls delivered a convincing 80’s throwback with their Reboot album, and I Feel You set the tone. This retro synthpop banger is right up my alley — stylish and glossy and dripping with personality. The song is so comfortable within its own skin, unfolding effortlessly atop icy synth hooks and breathy refrains.


2. EXO – Love Me Right

Careening right out of the gate, Love Me Right‘s immense funk backbone represents a pinnacle of this excellent SM era. The song has an addictive momentum, pounding along its blend of bold percussion and nimble rhythm guitar. By the time we reach that megawatt chorus, Love Me Right has truly made its mark. What a bolt of energy!


1. SHINee – View

With View, SHINee ushered in a new musical trend while simultaneously perfecting it. The song’s deep house bounce was a new twist in their style, more subdued and streamlined than bombastic material like Sherlock and Dream Girl. But, this serpentine rhythm and slick, breezy melody proved to have long-term appeal. View ruled the summer of 2015 for me — and went on to rule the rest of the year, too! Sometimes, simplicity is the most powerful tool a pop song has. View is both trendy and timeless, just like SHINee themselves.


22 thoughts on “The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Five: 10-1)

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

  2. What a strong top 10. Every entry here is super deserving.

    I’m overjoyed to see two Lovelyz entries here. The Candy Jelli Love, Hi`, Achoo singles trilogy are just as dear to me as some folk’s attachment to Me Gusta Tu, Rough, and Navilleria.
    there’s a lot I can say, but Ah-choo just has that “je ne sais quoi” I can’t deny.
    For You is incredible but I am partial to the One Piece/Yoon Sang songs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed! Maybe it’s just me, but I usually find that many groups’ strongest musical outputs come in a series format, especially when it’s the first one. It seems like more thought and earlier planning goes into them and they buck trends a bit more than one-off releases.

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  3. Damn, this top 10 is stuffed with modern classics, i didn’t expect so much of my favorite songs to have come from the same year.

    Shame on my 2015 self that didn’t spend the time to dig deeper into kpop at the time (i had a first time contact with one EXO song in 2015 but i pretty much dropped it all and only got back to listening in 2019 with BTS’ Boy With Luv). I guess i would have loved the most popular releases of the time.

    Just gotta listen to both Lovelyz songs to close out the list now.

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    • Out of curiosity, as a newer fan that got into K-Pop through a more recent BTS release, do you find yourself liking the output of more recent years or earlier ones better? And the great debate if you are still listening to BTS, do you have preferred era of theirs as well? Sorry to grill you, I just don’t come across many newer K-Pop fans since I don’t use SNS.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m very new to the whole of K-Pop, I only came to even know of it around July 2020. Newer releases are great, but I prefer the older parts of their discographies, especially if we’re talking on the basis of groups. I prefer many groups’ older discographies (BTS, Ateez, EXO, Seventeen(tho their 2020-21 stuff was back in form), GOT7, etc.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • No prob, always nice to talk about

        I did a quick run through my kpop playlist on spotify to feel which years had more presence and there’s definitely much more 2018-20 than any other period but considering that my fav groups are ones that hit or are hitting their peak (Dreamcatcher, Ateez, TXT, Mamamoo, Twice and BTS) in recent times and i still have only 400~ songs in it, i guess it’s expected coz i don’t have deep knowledge yet of the earlier kpop output.
        Maybe once i get to listen more heavily to the second gen this will change but, apart from SJ, GG and SHINee, no 00s-early10s group really got my attention yet.

        And while i still enjoy current BTS work (apart from Permission to Dance), as i got to know their discography better i do think Wings – Love Yourself series is the most solid period of their career, with a personal highlight to Love Yourself: Her, mostly because of Pied Piper and Dimple which are my favorite songs from them.

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  4. Goodness, 2015 was just packed with goodies. On my own top 10 list in some order: Oh My Girl “Closer”; SuJu “Devil”; Red Velvet “Ice Cream Cake”; Seventeen “Mansae”; Got7 “Just Right”, Big Bang “Let’s Not Fall in love”; and SHINee VIEW! of course.

    Also on my top 10:
    Kyuhyun “The Day We Felt the Distance” – the first song I learned all the lyrics to in Korean, my all time favorite from him, and consistently in my top 5 all time played on my ipod (… because I had to practice the lyrics). It was released a month after “A Million Pieces”, which is also of course in my top 10. (Final Kyu-SuJu tally Myma 8 : Nick 2)

    Jonghyun “End of Day” – Some think his “Breathe” as recorded by Lee Hi is his masterpiece, but for me it is this one. For one, he sings it himself. For two, his vocal performance is so gorgeous, so heartfelt and emotional yet controlled and technically superb. The lyrical phrasing he extends through the lines is so well done. This is Art.

    The lyrics also make me cry. “At the end of a tiring day, even if the sun has already come up, I’m finally closing my eyes” “You did a good job today, you worked so hard”

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  5. it’s a tragedy that Lion Heart (SNSD) isn’t on this list at all. So many of these singles I was a fan of at the time, but that’s the one that I still listen to regularly. You Think was pretty weak, but Lion heart is a song for the ages

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    • Another example of how strong 2015 was, because Nick could easily do another whole top 50 of other songs from this year. Lion Heart has such a strong melody that I can sing the song to this day even though I have never sought it out for myself, just from enough clips on compilation videos I know the song.

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  6. I adore Heart Attack and Ah Choo but For you is the song that made my heart explode with hope. I couldn´t believe why people didn´t fall for it as much as I did. Love me right was such a great song, probably my last song following EXO closely. And View, I wasn´t a fan back then but after I discovered it, fell hard hard hard. Shinee will always remain phenomenal. I´ll give BTS´s songs a listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Personal preference, but I find BTS’s music was at their 2017 and earlier, especially for title tracks. If you want to give them a try, I would start there (based on your EXO and SHINee comments).

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  7. This was such a great year for K-Pop, especially when it came to upbeat songs and strong melodies and choruses. Out of curiosity, now that you have ranked the songs of so many years and have an overall list, how would you rank the years as a whole overall? Does anyone else have some favorite years for K-Pop releases? 2015 was a great one. 2010, 2012, and 2013 were strong for me too. For slightly more recent years, I think I would probably go with 2017, which I guess isn’t all that recent anymore! Looking back on it, 2020 delivered some strong songs as well with the resurgence of the 80s influence even if I still feel like the overall output and creativity has declined in recent years.

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  8. shinee and exo, my two favorite groups, delivering my top two favorite songs of the year as well, and in the order you listed too! 2015 was a year for the ages and one of my all time faves. I know love me right probably isn’t exo’s defining song and that they’ve had bigger musical moments, but for me it’s my favorite title track of theirs. it just checks all the boxes that could possibly be checked.

    as for view, it’s truly a perfect example of the concept shinee sought to try, and as usual, they set the standard. it’s practically unbeatable and we all know it, which is why I won’t be surprised to see it win your summer poll as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Quite a balanced list! I would be lying if I said I loved everything here, most of Loveleyz’s work is just not for me, Shake It was always a bit too overblown for me, while Dope has slowly grown irritating with time. That said, View and I Feel You deserve all the praise they ever get, and more.

    Also, this list made me realized how balanced K-Pop was back a few years ago. Not only are the boys and girls perfectly balanced in the top 10, but the whole list saw ballads, hip-hop, retro, rock, pop and much more, even though you claim to only prefer pop and retro pop over everything else. I don’t think the other genres themselves are bad, it is just that recently they have been placed in a box by producers, not allowed to move and take artistic risks.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2015 (Day Five: 10-1) | Beatsway

  11. 2015 was an epic year for k-pop. so many great songs were released that year. the list is mostly similar to mine (though mine only consists of 11 songs, but pretty surprised you put ah choo in the list. yeay!). view also comes first in mine and married to the music second. SHINee crushed the year for me as they arguably have the most distinctive sound out of all groups, followed by EXO 🙂

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