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The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day Two: 40-31)

Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021The end of the year countdowns are finally here! As always, we’ll kick off with the big one: The Bias List’s top 50 songs of the year! Each day this week, I’ll be counting down ten of the year’s best, until number one is revealed on Friday. 

To be eligible for this top 50 list, songs must have had a Korean release as a title track, follow-up or promotional video between Dec. 1st, 2020 and Nov. 30th, 2021.

Curious about past countdowns? Check out the masterpost here!

Honorable Mentions
Songs 50-41


40. SHINee – Don’t Call Me

After a long hiatus, K-pop legends SHINee returned in fine form, tackling new-gen sounds with their trademark panache. Don’t Call Me might have fumbled in lesser hands, but SHINee make it stand out. (full review)


39. ATEEZ – Eternal Sunshine

ATEEZ have been a frequent visitor to my top ten. This year they settle for the low-30’s, but Eternal Sunshine‘s buoyant sound is still a triumph. It’s nice to hear the guys cut loose over a bright instrumental and euphoric chorus. (full review)


38. Just B – Damage

Just B left their mark with debut track Damage. Co-written by B.A.P’s Bang Yongguk, the song’s seismic synth offered an intense energy the group struggled to re-create later in the year. (full review)


37. GHOST9 – W.ALL

Released back in December 2020, W.ALL built upon GHOST9’s debut in exciting ways. The guys have become known for their killer choruses, and W.ALL‘s towering hook wallops listeners in the best way. (full review)


36. Seventeen – Ready To Love

Taking a rock-inspired approach, Ready To Love is disarmingly simple for a Seventeen title track. But, there’s a ruggedness underpinning its pop melody, fueled by hits of sharp percussion. (full review)


35. ONEUS – Black Mirror

ONEUS proved themselves masters of all genres in 2021. Black Mirror is a slinky disco departure, allowing the guys to embrace their sense of showmanship as the bassline grooves across their nimble performance. (full review)


34. Wonho – Lose

Wonho’s solo work is miles away from his old Monsta X sound, and the chugging dance beat of Lose proved a perfect match. The song snowballs as it goes, growing bigger and more intense with each passing segment. (full review)


33. Ciipher – Blind

After a regrettable debut, Ciipher became K-pop’s “little engine that could” with the addictive Blind. The guitar-led drop makes a perfect centerpiece, but the rest of the track is just as fresh and rollicking. (full review)


32. 2Z – Stupid

The underrated 2Z offered their own take on the industry’s retro trend, tying their band sound to a bright synthline and a melody that glides and coasts in all the right places. It’s the aural version of cracking the car window open on a hot summer day. (full review)


31. Park Jihoon – Gallery

Park Jihoon’s sound tends to jump all over the place, and it jumped right into my heart with Gallery. The addictive synth immediately captures attention, pulsing with lively rhythm that suits his skills as a dancer. (full review)


NEXT: NUMBERS 30-21

41 thoughts on “The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day Two: 40-31)

  1. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day One: 50-41) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. Ready to Love, Lose, and Don’t Call Me were my favorite from this lot.
    I would maybe place Don’t Call Me higher, but I understand its placement in relation to your biases.
    Lose is really really good. I listened to it a bit when it was released, but revisiting it now…it’s a pretty awesome song. I think the minimal disco trend this year was welcome, even though now I think we’ve hit a bit of a saturation point with it.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. As I mentioned yesterday, darling daughter played Wonho Lose in the car a ridiculous number of times, and most of the time I didn’t mind. So it easily made into my top ten based upon play count.

    As far as the rest of this part of the list, I remember the refrain for “Black Mirror” which involved chanting the words “Black Mirror” multiple times us to remind us the title of the song, but the one I really really remember is

    I’M A WAAALLLLL!!!!!!
    complete with the illustrative matching dance movement

    and I haven’t listened to or watched that song in ages.
    Therefore, yes, a spot on the list is fine by me.

    Like

  4. Really happy to see Ciipher’s Blind here!!! I feel like it was overshadowed by many (dark especially) rookie releases this year and it is very refreshing that we have something as fresh and fun as that.

    Looking forward to the rest of the countdown!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Blind and Lose are a lot higher for me.

    Also I forgot about Stupid. I’m stupid, I’m, I’m, I’m stupid now.

    40. TWICE – Scientist
    Electro-bass never fails. TWICE are not my favorite girl group, but this is easily the best they’ve delivered yet. It also helps how good of an album it led.

    39. SEVENTEEN – Rock With You
    SEVENTEEN 2021 might seem a little too polished for their own good, but it quite honestly doesn’t matter if you’ve got great songs backing that. While Ready To Love fel, Rock WIth You only rose in quality with time.

    38. E’LAST – Dark Dream
    Not much of E’LAST’s musical output has left an impact on me, but they change that with this. They have a little longer to go what they want to be, but this reigned my playlists for long after it was released.

    37. ENHYPEN – Drunk-Dazed
    Drunk-Dazed isn’t in my top ten anymore, but that should not pull away from its sheer energy. I was turned off by distortion sound effects at first, but that honestly saved it from dropping lower. How? I have no idea.

    36. NCT 127 – Favorite (Vampire)
    Another song I don’t think would be this high for many, but I like it. A lot. Once more, I can’t quite describe my reasons, but I can say that I do like the verses, which seems to be the turn-off for many.

    35. Brave Girls – Chi Mat Ba Ram
    This is obviously in the top ten for Nick. It doesn’t quite reach there for me, but it’s still an awesome summer song. I didn’t see myself playing this much after October, but I can easily say that I’ll be playing to death again next summer.

    34. YuQi – Bonnie & Clyde
    I’m not going to act like I follow (G)I-DLE, but this song was way better than I ever expected it to be. It’s propulsive pop-rock that thank god never derails from its addictive groove until the end.

    33. GHOST9 – Up All Night
    Seoul just missed out on the list at 67, and I never came around to Control or W.ALL. Instead, it’s Up All Night, completely derailing their musical identity, that makes the cut. Happy is always better, what can I say…

    32. Cravity – Gas Pedal
    This one isn’t making many lists either. Objectively, it’s just another piece of disposable fourth-gen bravado. Subjectively, it’s a song I just cannot stop myself from playing again and again and again and again. So far, Cravity’s musical identity has been “guilty pleasure”. Gas Pedal gas pedal gas pedal UH

    31. Park Jihoon – Gallery
    Interestingly, I was led to Jihoon through him acting on Love Revolution and that other really long title drama. Then I discovered Wing and then this dropped.
    Quite often, I wonder – what differentiates this from….say, Permission To Dance? Not much, except that less vocal effects, better production, a more sharp hook goes a long way in selling the song. Also no Ed Sheeran.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chapter 2

    The next day, JYPapi oppar and Oily London oppar are ready to announce the 40-31 rankings. JYPapi introduces Oily London oppar to the stage.

    “Onion haseyo everyone uwu,” says Oily Oppar as everyone cheers and screams for him.

    “Calm down everyone,” said JYPapi oppar as he makes a silence motion with his hands. “Now, to announce these rankings, Oily will drink this mysterious liquid and the rankings will spit out of him. Are you ready jagiya?”

    Everyone’s in confusion when JYPapi oppar called Oily oppar “jagiya,” with the word echoing in their minds.

    “Come on everyone, look over here,” JYPapi oppar gets their attention. He grabs the liquid and shoves it right down Oily oppar’s throat. Oily oppar ends up drinking it and starts jopping.

    “YEOBO, WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME UWU,” shouted Oily oppar.

    Turns out this liquid JYPapi oppar had was Jopping Liquid. As Oily oppar was jopping, he ends up spitting out the rankings from his mouth. The rankings fly to everyone’s desks, showing them where they placed in the 40-31 zone.

    “MWO???” said Eunjaja. “None of the girls here placed here???”

    “Gwaenchanha-yo, it’s okay uwu,” JYPapi oppar reassured Eunjaja. “You’ll place higher in the next ranking tomorrow.”

    The bell rings and everyone gets up to go to lunch.

    During lunch, Yuto oppar is sitting in the back of the cafeteria with his lunch, dead tired. He’d been contemplating whether all these rankings mean anything at all so much that he never got any sleep that night. Plus he’s been anticipating his group’s songs to rank high in the charts, which is one of those reasons he didn’t get any sleep. While eating his lunch and drinking his water, One Hoe oppar comes to him.

    “Annyeong bro,” One Hoe oppar says as he sits next to him with his lunch.

    “Hey oppar…” says Yuto oppar.

    “What’s wrong bro?” said One Hoe oppar.

    “Nothing,” said Yuto oppar.

    “You look tired though,” One Hoe oppar says back. “Relax, bro, these rankings are gonna be worth it at the end?”

    “You sure about that?” said Yuto oppar. “I think it’s getting me neomu stressed.”

    “Come on bro,” said One Hoe oppar. “Your song with ONF got #1 in 2018 and Nick-nim loves your group’s songs. You’ll surely get a top 10 spot.”

    “I guess so,” said Yuto oppar nervously. “Except I won’t be able to celebrate with my hyungs.”

    “Don’t worry about it bro, you’ll find a way,” said One Hoe oppar. “I fell from 30th place to 34th place, and your group is gonna get even higher…”

    “Mianhae…” said Yuto oppar.

    “Gwaenchanh-ayo,” One Hoe oppar assures. “My ranking was odd anyway, Must’ve been some personal bias Nick-nim had.”

    “That-that’s not true,” said Yuto oppar, turning his head to One Hoe oppar. “It’s neomu impressive, considering how recently you debuted as solo. My group only debuted in 2017.”

    Yuto oppar sighs. “Um, did we do something wrong?

    “No, it’s not a problem between right or wrong,” said One Hoe oppar. “The problem would be that we didn’t do anything to please Nick-nim.”

    The two get up and start to leave the cafeteria to go outside.

    “You gotta make something that he’ll love, and your group’s sound appeals more to him than mine,” said One Hoe oppar as the two get up. “You gotta hook his attention.”

    “Hook his attention,” said Yuto oppar. “Sounds like it’s working…”

    “Well anyway, I gayahae, annyeong,” One Hoe oppar says to Yuto oppar as he gives him a kiss in the cheek. The kiss made Yuto oppar neomu haengbokhae. He continues walking through the hallway, hearts on his eyes. Yes Yuto x One Hoe oppars are a thing ok? Kahmsamnida chingoos.

    To be continued…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Ah Ciipher Blind!!🤩 I was hoping to see it here! 🙂 So next 40 – 31 (nothing too shocking I think – a day of many happy, fun songs 🤗)

    40. Up10tion Spin Off
    The chorus is a winner!!✨✨ I loved the old vibe from this and the lives were incredible!

    39. Ghost9 Up All Night
    Overall this song is the most balanced Ghost9 song for me!! Happy fun vibes throughout and for me they actually pulled off this vibe very well!

    38. Wei Bye Bye Bye
    Another one of my summer faves! The chorus is so good and I felt they pulled the vibe nicely! A very fun song!

    37. Epex Do 4 Me
    Completing the happy sugar trio! I disliked Lockdown with a passion, but this song changed everything! It’s 💯 wholesome! I honestly felt their execution of this style was better (and funnily on the other hand we have Ciipher who fit the party vibe more than the sweet cute vibe 😂)

    36. Bugaboo Bugaboo
    Probably my fave gg debut song of the year! ❤️ A fun song with actual funny MV and coupled with their dazzling vocals – I’M SOLD!!!

    35. Kang Daniel Antidote
    34. Kang Daniel Paranoia

    These two are interchangeable as well 🤗 Paranoia did the creepy vibe so well while Antidote had a more haubti vibe. Both have incredible instrumental and his slick choreo just amped up the wow factor!!

    33. Kingdom Karma
    A great comeback! They executed the traditional vibe very well and the choreo and lives were exceptionally gorgeous!

    32. Mirae Killa
    Mirae is definitely the bg to watch out for. I feel the thing that is common about both them and JustB is how well they sell the song in their performances! Both had rather less impactful (perhaps even disappointing) comebacks and they still sold it on stage!! ✨ Killa’s rap and bridge are quite iconic!

    31. SKZ Thunderous
    Maybe a bit of bias? 🤭 But I really do like the song 😀 Changbin’s rap is iconic and the song is super fun no matter how many times I watch it! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hah, I smiled when I saw you also put WEi and GHOST9’s songs in the 30-40s. Paranoia and Killa are higher for me and I just haven’t clicked with EPEX, Kingdom, or Up10tion yet. Thunderous grew on me a lot but sandwiched between Domino and Cheese makes it feel a bit slight maybe. I loved bugAboo’s debut but it was the stages not the song that really pushed me over the edge. I like the song a lot though!

      Like

      • Kingdom is my male ROTY probably. Mirae and JustB are close seconds but I connected to Kingdom the most! I have a strong love for fantasy-esque themes!

        Among female debuts, Bugaboo definitely has the best debut song (as per bias list rules I excluded Dec because Ive is definitely the only other competition for a debut song for me 😀 ). As an overall group though, for me female ROTY is Pixy! 🙂 Wings wasn’t it for me but they impressed with each cb and their amazing stages!

        Ah my top 20 will shake some foundations here 😂 Apart from a handful of songs most are probably outliers!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Billlie tops bugAboo for my favorite gg debut song and EP, bugAboo wins for favorite debut stage and supporting promotions (I’m a sucker for 1theK dance performances), and Purple Kiss wins for favorite rookies due to my RBW bias and their having the advantage of a strong first comeback. Considering I spent most of the first half of the year feeling very lukewarm about girl groups, I’ve got a lot to look forward to in 2022!

          Like

  8. Wow, a lot of overlap in this chunk of the list! I’ve got a couple higher, a couple lower, and most of the rest I like but don’t love. I decided not to include bands on my list but have been aware of 2Z for a while, and absolutely love “ACT1” and “O@SIS”. “Stupid” isn’t quite my taste, but here’s hoping they don’t drop entirely off of the face of the planet. My 31-40 in alphabetical order are:

    BLITZERS “Breathe Again”: I think I’ve been enjoying this year’s debuts more than some, and BLITZERS were a real highlight. They lagged behind JUST B for the top spot until both groups had their first comebacks. I’m really hoping JUST B can turn their sound back around, but in the meantime, BLITZERS get the top spot for music that is just to my tastes and really creative choreo.

    Cherry Bullet “Love So Sweet”: There aren’t a ton of girl groups in my top 50, although I’ve gained some hope over the fall that next year might bring more releases that fit my tastes. Cherry Rush has one of my top title tracks and top b-sides and I’m hoping to see more of the girls now that Girls Planet 999 is over, but I’m not holding my breath.

    GHOST9 “Up All Night”: I haven’t listened to this on its own as often I have some of GHOST9’s other songs, but I regularly pull up their entire discography and listen to it straight through, and this one is just terrific. Of their four titles this year this is second-highest on my list.

    KEY “BAD LOVE”: I remember being kind of meh about this when it first came out, but a lot of gushing from around here and a couple of re-listens and it clicked. I get it. It’s amazing.

    KIM WOOJIN “Still Dream”: I had no idea what to expect from this looooooong delayed debut, but I loved “Still Dream” much more than I expected, and it’s had staying power. I have a soft spot for soloists who are also great dancers, and pulling BBTrippin in for his debut stages got high marks in my book.

    OH MY GIRL “Dun Dun Dance”: I don’t understand the reasoning behind girl group release schedules, and the big gaps means I’ve tended to forget about groups even when I like them a lot. Like Cherry Bullet, OMG released one of my favorite title tracks and one of my favorite b-sides of the year. I just wish it was easier to keep them on my radar.

    ONEUS “LUNA”: Oh ONEUS, what a great year this has been. During the first part of the year I settled on six groups to follow closely and although ATEEZ and SKZ have had more commercial success, I don’t think either of them gets close to ONEUS for quality of musical content this year. LUNA is a beautiful song with a beautiful MV and beautiful choreo and I was more thrilled than I expected when it got them their first win.

    ONEUS “Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!”: I think I and others have gushed about this one enough.

    WEi “BYE BYE BYE”: I think this came out right around the same time as “Up All Night” and didn’t have the staying power for a lot of people, but I still love it.

    WOODZ “Waiting”: I’m expecting to see this show up higher Nick’s list and wouldn’t be surprised if WOODZ shows up on the b-side, EP, and artist top ten lists as well. He kind of creeped up on me but I’ve stopped confusing him with GAHO finally and am excited to see where he goes next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well well well, I’m glad to see a lot of Oneus on your list. Especially since this has been a breakout year for them in terms of success. Luna really skyrocketed them in sales. I’m very proud of them. However, I think I’ll always be fond of shut up crazy hot more than Luna because of the piano chords that reels me in. Thus, it’s a lot higher on my list. Probably in the 20s (I know, I’m biased).

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s something really satisfying when an increase in artistic quality is accompanied by an increase in recognition. There’s one more ONEUS track on my top 50, and it’s definitely not the one I think is still lurking in Nick’s. It’s a little bit bananas that, with the exception of my personal favorite track of theirs this year, all of their other releases (four if I’m not forgetting one) have all ranked high in spite of being very different styles.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I admire their versatility in music. However, something still connects them all and I always go ahhh yeah that’s oneus. I can’t put my finger on it, but their music is very THEM. That’s what happens when you know nothing about the inner workings of music. None the less, I appreciate their music impact this year,

          Liked by 1 person

          • It feels kind of like a backwards compliment, but I think ONEUS are just extremely well rounded as a group, which is why they’re able to do so many different things so well. They’re not especially flashy in any particular area but they are extremely talented in every area you want an idol group to be.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. I am content that black mirror and w.all made in onto the list. I probably would rank ghost9’s song a little lower, however, that chorus is so addictive. The head bopping chorus is exactly why it would appear on my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also damage and blind are nice to see as well! I wished blind sent more waves with its release- but it is what it is. I’ll just be grooving along by myself instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember liking “Blind” when it came out but being underwhelmed by the stage, and I feel like there were a few other releases around that time that grabbed me more at first? But “Blind” ended up being one of those land mines in my playlists where every time it comes up I go “this is great, WTH is it?” In no way was I expecting to see it on so many year-end lists, including mine, but it totally deserves it.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m surprised that “Don’t Call Me” is lower than “Ready to Love”!
    I see “Ready to Love” as a solid song that isn’t groundbreaking, whereas “Don’t Call Me” is maybe less consistent but definitely more memorable.

    I’m glad to see “Blind” and “Black Mirror”!

    Like

  11. Damn! This list is getting even more intense! I like all of these songs to some extent but there are some which I would definitely place higher. I’ll get into them:

    SHINee’s Don’t Call Me: Liked this one on first listen and it has grown on me moderately since then. As far as my ranking goes, our placements are the same!

    ATEEZ’s Eternal Sunshine: The Best ATEEZ title in Fever by a long shot. It’s bright, fresh and has such a great chorus. Would place somewhere in the low 20’s for me.

    JUST B’s Damage: Without a doubt, It’s secured a place in my top fifteen. Besides the fact that I love Bang Yongguk, JUST B offer an intense performance which goes on par with the song’s energy. It’s produced immaculately and I really hope JUST B could get paired up Yongguk again.

    GHOST9’s W.all: It would be placed in my honorable mentions. That chorus is awesome, but the rest of the song kind of drags the entire package down. Too shouty, too lumbering or too empty. But even then, that’s a killer melody.

    Seventeen’s Ready To Love: It would place a bit higher. Even though it is quite simple, that guitar which underlines the melody is just…so addictive. And Seventeen’s performance here just sells the sentiment. Still would’ve preferred if Anyone was the title instead.

    ONEUS’s Black Mirror: If ONEUS didn’t go onto have a fantastic year, our placements would’ve been the same…but their 2021 was too amazing that it even made me go replay Black Mirror an unhealthy amount of times. This would most likely land on a low 20’s spot for me.

    Wonho’s Lose: It would easily slot within the Top 20 for me. Lose has this certain structure which it focuses at, It would make the song predictable and boring…but yet, I am compelled to follow through its journey. And when that immense climax hits, It’s just begging to be replayed infinitely by me.

    Ciipher’s Blind: It would most likely be in my honorable mentions spot, nothing about this song excites me too much. It’s generic but performed and executed very well!

    2Z’s Stupid: This was honestly such a fantastic song and definitely one of the more underrated ones this year. It would most likely place in the same spot but it doesn’t deflect from the fact on how goddamn addictive this song is. From that giddy melody and that fantastic combination of synth and guitar.

    Park Jihoon’s Gallery: This is funky, slick and performed well. It would most likely end up more filler to me if it weren’t for that dense instrumentation, It’s fantastic and vaults the track to a whole new level all together. Would be in the same placement for me!

    Can’t wait for tomorrow’s countdown! This is getting TENSE!

    Like

  12. Wow, this entire list was unexpected. Anyways, don’t call me would end up a lot higher on my list while I don’t think it would feature park jihoon’s gallery. That said, the list is about right.

    Like

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