The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day Five: 10-1)

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
Songs 40-31
Songs 30-21
Songs 20-11

10. Golden Child – Breathe

Golden Child paired their mini album YES with the perfect double shot of comeback promotions. Following on the heels of the emotional Burn It, Breathe bounds forward with an immediate sense of release. It’s stuffed with musical goodies and dynamic breakdowns, always circling back to its hearty, affable chorus. The guys may never return to the bright DamDaDis of the world, but Breathe proves they’ve still got that infectious touch. (full review)

9. Mirae – Killa

It’s so important for debut groups to emerge with their own concept and sound, and Mirae’s Killa paved the way for a career of futuristic electro-drama. It remains to be seen whether the guys will fulfill that promise long-term, but for now Killa stands as 2021’s most exciting debut. It’s a feast of highlights, from its jagged dance beat to the lay-it-on-the-line finale (electric guitar! sky-high power note!) to the bludgeoning chorus. (full review)

8. Brave Girls – Chi Mat Ba Ram

Every year deserves its version of the “K-pop summer anthem,” and Brave Girls were more than happy to deliver. After their unprecedented resurgence, the gauntlet was thrown for a comeback that would cement their status in the industry. Chi Mat Ba Ram took everything that made Rollin‘ great and amped it up. It’s a shot of constant adrenaline, coasting along gorgeous brassy synth and powerful vocals. With all eyes on them, the ladies were unrelentingly fantastic. (full review)

7. Key – Bad Love

It’s so fulfilling to watch an artist embrace their authentic musical color, and Key has certainly earned the right to do so. Fortunately, he and I share similar taste in genre, making Bad Love‘s majestic synth-pop a thrilling prospect. Key owns the style, commanding each moment with a robust vocal and innate ability to make the kitschy feel sublime. He wrestles with a melody that starts at “intense” and builds to “overwhelming,” never once forfeiting his place at the center of Bad Love‘s melodrama. (full review)

6. Brave Girls – After We Ride

What a genius move to counter the effusive Chi Mat Ba Ram with a melancholic, tears-on-the-dancefloor anthem. After We Ride hits all the right musical notes. It’s almost as if it was designed with my specific pop preferences in mind. Brave Girls pull back the idol façade and offer an unguarded performance. This vibe and emotion could’ve easily taken precedence over the song itself, but Ride is brilliantly melodic, climaxing in a whirlwind of wistful synth and guitar. (full review)

5. TXT – 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) (ft. Seori)

Oh, TXT. Angst suits you so well. Like a proud parent, many of us would happily shelter our cheerful Crown boys as long as possible. But, growing pains are bound to happen. When they do, we can only hope for a chorus as spectacular as LOVESONG. It’s an emotional frenzy of thundering percussion, abrasive vocals and moments of stark insecurity. Above all else, it’s a damn sing-along — and there are few things more cathartic than that. (full review)

4. SHINee – Atlantis

What makes a K-pop legend? For me, an important ingredient is focus: the ability and desire to do what you do really, really well. I think we can all agree that no one does SHINee better than SHINee. Many have tried, but there’s something about these specific voices that transforms simple fare like Atlantis into larger-than-life, 4D entertainment. It’s utter spectacle, streamlined for ultimate concentration. Perched over an undulating bass loop, the track offers no respite from SHINee’s intense energy. You’re immediately snatched by their riptide and funneled through their kaleidoscopic world. (full review)

3. Golden Child – Burn It

Some songs arrive just when you need them. At the end of January, we were approaching year two of our global pandemic, with vaccines still out of reach for most. The United States found itself embroiled in a transition of power fraught with frightening, violent disruptions of civil norms. As cheesy as it sounds, Burn It became an instant salve for me.

At its core, pop music is universal, and simple lyricism takes on weightier meaning. “We’re in the fire, you gonna be fine” isn’t exactly poetry, and in true K-pop form it’s grammatically dubious. But, it’s exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Too many idol group concepts revolve around how cool and badass their performers are. Precious little are genuinely consoling.

Of course, this would simply be another cliché pop lyric without Burn It‘s rousing energy. The song pitches its entire chorus as a series of unrelenting power notes. Raw emotion tempers into confidence, resolving in a forceful army of vocals. It’s not the least bit subtle, and that’s what makes it so satisfying. (full review)

2. OnlyOneOf – libidO

Tension — sexual or otherwise — is an underrated facet of pop music. A great song clenches you in its fist and refuses to let go, loosening and tightening its grip for maximum effect. There’s danger lurking around every corner of libidO’s claustrophobic instrumental. The song throbs on a gritty bassline, but it’s just as effective during its emptier spaces. The group’s vocals fray at the edges, pulled apart and slammed back together. There’s a carnal glee running through this K-pop curiosity.

Yet, libidO never forgets to be a wondrous pop song. Its hooks are as sharp and menacing as that forceful crotch grab that punctuates the bridge. OnlyOneOf commit to a concept rarely seen in an industry seeking to balance edge with comfortable monotony. Love it or hate it, libidO is the year’s most idiosyncratic title track — a truly iconic moment for a group with unlimited potential and the nerve to pull it off. (full review)

1. ONF – Beautiful Beautiful

Too often, modern K-pop tracks can feel like an assemblage of disparate pieces, connected (or not-so-well-connected) by the fluency of a group’s performance. Success is gained through the synergy of these pieces, but also through their individual potency. ONF’s Beautiful Beautiful is one potent firecracker after another. Yet, the sum still feels greater than the parts. In fact, I’m convinced you could smash this song into shards and re-form it any which way. There are simply no dead moments. No falters.

So, how do you find variety in a track that’s one extended exclamation mark? You hit the ground running with a “Brrram bbabam bbabam bbambbam” and hang weightless for a moment before slip-sliding through a playground of turbo-charged synth funk. A sudden swell lifts you back to the summit before the rushing chorus traces the contours of a spiraling funhouse slide. You hit another Brrram Bbabam Boost Station and swerve into a ‘now-they’re-just-showing-off’ a cappella breakdown heralded by generous shots of electric guitar.

You mix a few metaphors along the way, but you’re disoriented! Who can blame you?

When it comes down to it, no other 2021 K-pop track gave us as much bang for our buck as Beautiful Beautiful. There were more daring concepts and more emotionally resonant performances, but Beautiful uncovered all the most treasured pieces and fused them into a shining bauble of a pop song. In its colorful, crafty way, the track offers an earnest sense of inspiration – a bold fantasyland accessible through the simple press of a ‘play’ button. (full review)

128 thoughts on “The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day Five: 10-1)

  1. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day Four: 20-11) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  2. My top ten up to about number 8 is a straight listing by playcount in itunes. It is a reflection of what mommy buys and what the kids play in the car, especially darling daughter. The relative ranking is not even close. 9 and 10 are my own choice pulled out the mega twenty or thirty-way tie for those places.

    1 Dreamcatcher “Odd Eye”
    2 Dreamcatcher “Poison Love”
    3 Super Junior “House Party”
    4 Wonho “Lose”, both in Korean and in English
    5 Forestella “Inner Universe” in Russian, English, and Latin (as one does)
    6 Purple Kiss “Zombie”
    7 ONF “Beautiful Beautiful”
    8 Kim Sung Kyu “Hush” – good choice, that
    9 Do Han Se “Take Over”
    10 Ha Sung Woon “Sneakers”

    OK, I lie, I pulled out two and have a special top ten Honorable Mention just for the top 10:
    10HM Super Junior “Super”. Because it comes right before “House Party” on the playlist, it was played almost as often as same. Super Junior, showing to SM that they are the Super group by adding to the list of Super songs they have made (Super Girl, Super Man, Super Duper, Super Clap, and just plain Super).
    10HM ACE “Favorite Boys” Steve Aoki Remixes, all three of them. Its like the child played them on repeat a remarkable number of times while studying or something, when she steals an ipod but doesn’t think I know but I know.

    That said
    So I ask the child a few weeks ago, “Child, what is your kpop song of the year”, and her answer was House Party. Dear child, why? Instead of a mumbly teenager Idunnoijuslikit, she says “Because it reflects my life during quarantine”. Alrighty, good reason. I mean, she did spend the better part of 7th grade at the dining room table with her kid brother across the way, where my only excitement was when a delivery arrived, and their only excitement was how much ramen and mac’n’cheese I let them make for themselves (survival skillz), and collectively our mental sanity depended upon a marathon of every baking show we could find. The boy got real good at making snickerdoodles from the kit, thank you Betty Crocker. I got real good at making homemade masks (about 160 or so) back when you couldn’t get them anywhere. On the plus side, no one in my immediate or extended family or company got covid (yet). So, I will take House Party for the answer.

    Liked by 10 people

  3. Wow that was an unexpected top spot! 🙂 But overall a very interesting top 10! Especially glad to see Breathe made it here!

    Final day and top 10! I had this prepared in my notes three hours back so that I won’t waste type writing it all out in this tiny box and make horrendous spelling mistakes (which may still exist by the way….)

    10. SF9 Trauma
    I really don’t like to describe songs with this adjective but sometimes it is the best choice : “Sexy” 😂. Again one of those perfect songs where I can blindly pick any part and I’m immediately drowned in the feeling. The perfect balance of vocals and rap and every part fits exactly right and leads to the next. SF9’s execution is a gorgeous as ever!

    9. Verivery Trigger
    Their execution is definitely the highlight! The song picks up so fast! I was totally surprised when the chorus hit me and then it never let off! The harmonies in the bridge are brilliant and the chorus is so slick! I discovered them this year and this was my first cb with them and it really went beyond what I expected. Perhaps I have a small Hoyoung bias which makes me love this group so much but even otherwise Verivery, ONF and Golcha are my finds of the year 🙃

    8. ONF Popping
    My Summer Anthem! ✨ The best summer song for me really. The happiness rush is soooo good!! And it does not compromise on the vocals in any way. Hyojin was the star here with that bridge and the whole song is the right kind of feel-good!

    7. Key Bad Love
    The only soloist in my top 10. Honestly I was ready to make Kang Daniel my Soloist of the Year but Bad Love is the exact kinda song I can’t resist! 🤭 Strong retro-ey old gen vibes + crazy good vocals and a dynamic instrumental… I still get chills thinking about this song!❤️

    6. JustB Damage
    This song blew me away with the intensity! The music is what truly pulled me in – I love BASSSSS!! Then I found the rap, the vocals etc etc and it’s my second favorite bg debut song of the year! They are charismatic performers and I’m definitely looking forward to what they do next year!❤️

    5. Kingdom Excalibur
    My fave debut song of the year (and my bg ROTY). I love this kinda concept. A medieval + fantasy touch and they executed the European style so well! Yes, the organ was jarring at first. Yes, it felt odd at parts – but within a few hours I kinda knew that this was exactly what I wanted. The rap line was really good in this and the chorus! Even thinking about it gives me such a power surge!🔥🔥 A song I can still listen to and get goosebumps from. ❤️

    4. Golcha Breathe
    This beauty is my fave Golcha song so far! Perhaps it is my love for anime that made me appreciate this so much more but this song is a gem! It’s a very expressive song – and the chorus is out of the world! While Excalibur can charge me to get ready for a fight, Breathe charges me to take on the world! Most anime-like song of the year for me!✨

    TOP 3 and oh boy Number 3 will probably be catastrophic 😂😛

    3. Verivery Get Away
    Honestly if I’m going by which is the song I know even the lyrics and the exact beats to and can burst into singing it at any point – Get Away is the clear winner! 🤭 This was my first Verivery song I heard as it got released, so I can’t even say I was biased. I like dark concepts and this song encompassed the mood perfectly! Everything has a haunting mysterious vibe and once it starts I can’t tear myself away till the very end. It was super hard to rank between this and Breathe and honestly this is SOTY material for me… it’s just that 2 other groups delivered other songs which are exactly my type! 🙃

    2. Seventeen Rock With You
    I remember a lot of people commenting this wasn’t rock enough and I was like this is waaay more rock than I had ever expected to hear in kpop anyway. For a large group, it’s quite impressive how they got me to take note of each of their parts! From the first note to the last, it’s a celebration and the final chorus with Woozi’s harmonies sealed the deal! I never thought they could top Home Run (my fave Seventeen song) but with this they surpassed all my expectations. Just thinking of the song puts a smile on my face!

    And honestly speaking – this is SOTY material too, and it’s pretty hard to compare this to my number one because they are too different. Yet I made the choice… in the end an older traditional/magical/fantasy feel is always closer to my heart than a modern/earthly vibe.😂

    1. Oneus Luna
    I’m happy to say my trust in them paid off. SOTY for the second year in a row! 💎 Rock With You was my SOTY but when I heard Oneus was having a cb I told myself to wait because I knew that it ain’t over till my favourite boys sing! 😂 Luna’s chorus is definitely the highlight but for me the killing point was Xion’s verses. That part is so beautiful that I can’t put it into words. All six of them delivered the concept 💯!

    Even the dance break as odd as I found it, 2 days later I was literally humming that beat! So Oneus wins yet again, and that too by putting out a completely different song from before! The long awaited win just makes this sweeter ❤️ While TBONTB will forever be my fave Oneus song, with Luna I realised there is so much more that they can surprise me with and the very thought makes me happy and excited for their future!

    And that marks the end of my first fully invested year of kpop 🙂 I hear a lot of people saying 2021 kpop was bad…. but what can I say, I enjoyed every moment of it. From the good to the crazy good to the “WHAT ON EARTH IS THIS?!” (Hey Sticker 😀 But I do like you now)….. It was hella fun and honestly that’s what counts for me:)

    Liked by 5 people

    • Oneus had my SOTY 2 years in a row too! I’m not sure what yours was last year, but mine this year was No Diggity, which I know most people on the blog didn’t like very much, but no other song brought me as much joy and excitement every time it came on. It didn’t top A Song Written Easily though as my top Oneus song, and most likely nothing will. But that’s the beauty of Oneus’ title tracks, all so fantastic (at least in my opinion) and something to offer for everyone!


      • For me last year was To be or Not To Be 🙂 It’s honestly still what I would say as my all-time favorite kpop song. It led me to discover Oneus and actually was what really sent me down the rabbit hole, trying to look into so many smaller groups which I haven’t heard before!

        And I agree – all their songs are fantastic! And it keeps changing so much that you will find something that suits you sooner than later! 🙂

        Well, if there’s any group that can pull of a hat trick it’s Oneus and I’m excited for their future! 🙂


    • Anyways, I’m so curious to see your 2021 Top 10 Artists. I’m pretty sure TWICE will make it once again into the Top 10 since they delivered a solid EP, a solid album, and a cute english song. I just hope they’ll enter Top 5. TXT will atleast stay in the Top 10 if not going up. Brave Girls most likely will enter the list and SHINee most likely will re-enter. ONF might enter for the first time while Golden Child will stay and both The Boyz and Stray Kids might leave this year’s list.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As for albums I believe Don’t Call Me, The Chaos Chapter, and Formula of Love have locked their place. I feel like any of Sticker and Hot Sauce might enter the list and Taste of Love most likely will enter the mini album section.


  4. 2020 was a dangerous year for me as a very new K-pop fan (at the time).

    I won’t say it was a ‘dark period’, but I remember at the peak of Road to Kingdom (RTK) era that I was questioning on the artists I love (especially Pentagon, who were the gateway to getting into K-pop). Didn’t help with my naivety when I keep seeing the unnecessary fandom fights because of RTK online, especially Twitter.
    First half of 2020 had many title tracks (especially boy groups) that weren’t my cup of tea. That’s not to say there were bad tracks! There were still a few highlights (i.e. A.C.E’s ‘Favorite Boys (Goblin)’, Everglow’s ‘La Di Da’) of course, but comparing to 2021’s output, I was… not as enthusiastic.

    But regardless, I knew past K-pop songs can be bombastic on an emotional and energetic level. Second half of 2020 proved that sentiment I’ve been wanting for a while. And this is also true for the majority of 2021.

    2021 was a much more stressful time as a final year high school student.

    I’ve learned my lesson and just avoid as much drama when Kingdom came in, and I’ve never felt so more relieved.
    But despite how busy I’ve been between 2020-21, I’m really happy with 2021’s output where so many more wonderful tracks have been shown in the form of title tracks and bsides! I still won’t get over how tracks like BDC’s ‘Moon Rider’, ONF’s ‘Beautiful’ and Ha Sungwoon’s ‘Sneakers’ have brightened my year.

    On a much more related note: This was an awesome read! Can’t believe ONF has topped your list twice (2018 and now 2021)!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I still have no idea what my top ten of the year would be, but it would almost certainly include Atlantis, both Brave Girls songs, and Key, TXT, and ONF would all be very strong contenders. Some songs I loved that didn’t make it on this list:

    aespa – Savage
    This one is just sooooo weird but so fun to listen to. It grew on me a lot to be one of my faves of the year and I like it better than Next Level.

    WJSN – Unnatural and WJSN The Black – Easy
    Mostly thankful for these because they introduced me to the entire WJSN back catalog but I also played both a lot. Easy is a perfect smooth sexy song and personally I like the IZ*ONE style in Unnatural.

    SUNMI – Tail and You Can’t Sit With Us
    Honestly Sunmi was probably my favorite artist this year (1/6 was AMAZING) and I’m kinda mad neither of these was on this list at all. Neither song was her absolute best work but they’re both bangers.

    Hoshi – Spider
    I’m a bit Hoshi biased but this was great, one of the best solo debuts.

    Cherry Bullet – Love So Sweet
    This is also just a good song. Of the early phase of these synthy gg songs I liked this better than You Can’t Stop Me, maybe tied with MAGO. (La Di Da still blows them all out of the water).

    There’s probably more I should include but this is good for now. My listening was also a bit odd this year as I started out reallllly sick of boy group tropes and gave them less of a chance than I would have unless I was already a fan, and then listened to a lot of small girl groups (bugAboo, Weeekly, Everglow), the back catalogs of established girl groups (RV, WJSN, f(x), TWICE) and female soloists (Sunmi and Chungha mostly).

    Also, as I did last year, I put together a Spotify playlist for Nick’s countdown, for anyone who feels like even though they listened to kpop every day they missed a ton of these releases. Happy listening!

    Liked by 7 people

  6. The top 2 had already been set since the beginning of the year! Very well deserved! My favorite from the list here is TXT’s 0X1 which has incredible longevity and sounds good in any language. I also played libidO a lot and the dissonance and tension it creates makes you want to hear it more. I didn’t warm up to Killa that much maybe because it sounds a lot like TBZ’s Right Here and whenever I listen to it I feel like I should’ve listened to Right Here instead.


    • Yep, and maybe that’s one of the reasons these past few months have felt so underwhelming. When you break it down, six of my top ten picks came out in the space of twelve weeks during the winter/spring. Eight of the ten were released before the midpoint of the year. That’s a pretty concentrated burst!


      • The first half of the year was the most exciting indeed. Even the b-sides that sprung from that time are i think what will also top your b-side list


  7. Great list, Nick!

    My top seven:
    1) ONF’s Poppin’ (my song of the year. it’s catchy yet sad like a hot day that rains all of a sudden.)
    2) ONF’s Beautiful Beautiful
    3) Wendy’s Like Water (vocal performance of the year)
    4) Key’s Bad Love
    5) TXT’s 0x1 = Love Song
    6) Astro’s After Midnight
    7) NCT 127’s Sticker

    Liked by 3 people

    • I excluded vocal-only performances from my list, but “Like Water” is absolutely on my list of favorite vocal performances of the year. It’s just beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 10. ONF – Ugly Dance
    This should not be this good. Chant chorus, “cool” ONF, random trap breaks. But yet, somehow it works. It is hard to objectively grade a song like this other than it just…..works for you.

    9. MIRAE – KILLA
    After Side Effects, my favorite song of all time is NCT 127’s Superhuman. This glitchy, funky pop is not being done as much as it should be. But when we do get it once a year, it slaps. But more than just genre bias, it’s that Killa never feels predictable, while never losing its drive. Insane song.
    Also, I absolutely hate Splash, and that has only increased the longevity of Killa.
    8. NCT DREAM – Hello Future
    Most often, I don’t listen to emotional songs. Nor do I give much, if any attention to lyrics. As long as they’re not bad enough to distract me from the song itself, I don’t care about them. So, when songs make me cry, it’s not through lyrics, it’s through the mood the song gives off. Hello Future has made me cry on more than one occasion. Maybe I was feeling particularly bad on those days, but something about the final minute definitely pulls at my heartstrings. Maybe it’s just me being weird again.

    7. Do Hanse – Take Over
    This is my favorite hip-hop song of all time. Including all hip-hop music. I definitely did not expect this from a group whose music has never caught my attention, but Do Hanse is just an insane performer. His charisma just blows through every limitation this track has.

    6. ONF – Beautiful Beautiful
    No track has made me feel as happy as this. It’s basically an entire year’s worth of serotonin in just over 3 minutes. This is basically as perfect as you could get with a simple pop song. Objectively, this is by far the best song on this list.

    5. NCT 127 – Sticker
    This is going to take some explanation.

    Without me going into the impossible task of explaining to you why I like this, let us take a trip through my iTunes. Apparently, I’ve listened to Sticker 33 times, in a mere 3 months. In comparison, the song(s) I’ve listened to the most for the past 18 months, is Stray Kids’ Miroh and Infinite’s Back, both of which I’ve listened to 35 times. And that does not count in the amount of times I’ve watched the mv or the dance practice. In simpler terms, I have become obsessed with this song. Yet, due to its inherent weirdness, I still find it fresh each time I’ve listened to it. It may be dissonant as all hell and make no sense musically and be absolutely irritating to so many people (which is one reason I;ve not yet played it on speakers), but I have not guiltily liked a song so much. I can absolutely see why this may be gracing some Worst K-pop songs of the year lists, but that isn’t stopping me trying to sing along to this and imitate Haechan’s growls. Robotic fun.

    4. Key – Bad Love
    80’s synth is always a treat, but there’s a reason why this has graced my list when Ring Ring han’t. It’s all about how well the performer can deliver the whole thing.
    In present SHINee, his voice is often overshadowed by Taemin’s and Onew’s, but it sees an absolute peak here. There is a certain……….looseness to his delivery here that works incredibly.
    SHINee has had an incredible year.

    3. OnlyOneOf – libidO
    I will not act like I know them. The only songs I have playlisted from them are Angel and this.
    But I definitely do think they’ve found their peak here. Every part of this is just delivered in a way that it keeps continuously on the edge of your seat, just feeling a sense of tension develop throughout the song. And, let’s talk about that bassline, please.

    2. ONF – Goosebumps
    The amount of ONF here in this list is insane. I don’t think any artist has had so many singles so high up in the list since 2015-2016 BTS.
    Goosebumps starts with its bass line, and while it’s relatively simple, it’s twisted in so many ways from the opening, to its timbre in the chorus, and how it’s drawn out during the second verse, that the whole thing never feels stale. Sudden energy shifts should never work, yet somehow they do in the pre-chorus. The raps are on point, and it has two choruses, while most K-pop songs even have one proper chorus.
    By the time we are in for the pitch shifting right before the last chorus, and everybody just chants together, we know this is the weirdest song that ONF have released, yet it’s just weirdly coherent in its own weird way. It just works in ways unknown to my brain.
    Goosebumps feels like an amalgamation of all that they have done until now, in the best possible way.

    1. SHINee – Atlantis
    This is faultless. While I have to write essays to prove other songs, this is simply…perfect. There is nothing I would like to change about it. No other song has left me as open-mouthed through its sheer sense of drama as SHINee have managed to do through Atlantis.
    Move over Sherlock, we’ve got a new fifth place in my all-time list.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I love your commitment to “Sticker” – I’m still working up the courage to watch the React To The K episode they did on this because, even if my feelings about this song are negative, they are still strong feelings, and there aren’t all that many songs that spark strong feelings of any kind.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I dare to share mine as well (rules are a bit different, since I consider elegible each and every song by a korean artist, either it’s a title track or a b-side or whatever):

    1. KEY, Bad Love
    2. BTS, Butter
    3. MONSTA X, About Last Night
    4. NCT 127, Promise You
    5. TXT, I Know I Love You
    6. ATEEZ, Take Me Home
    7. ONEUS, Life Is Beautiful
    8. THE WILD IDOL, Born To Be Wild
    9. KANG DANIEL, Digital
    10. ENHYPEN, Drunk-Dazed
    11. SHINEE, Atlantis
    12. YUQI, Bonnie & Klyde
    13. WONHO, Blue
    14. WONHO, Lose
    15. SHINEE, Code
    16. TAEMIN, Advice
    17. APOKI, Get It Out
    18. CIX, Cinema
    19. AKMU feat. IU, Nakka
    20. NCT DREAM, My Youth

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Respectfully, I don’t think Beautiful Beautiful is even ONF’s best song this year. I much much prefer Ugly Dance and Goosebumps. But I know it ticks all your boxes and I’m not surprised it’s your #1.

    libidO is probably my SOTY. It constantly changes between that and Savage and I don’t know what I want to settle on yet, but at this moment right now, it is likely to be libidO.

    Top 5: OnlyOneOf – libidO, aespa – Savage, Onewe – Rain To Be, Lucy – I Got U and Do Hanse – Take Over.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the great list and year.

    Your writing is excellent – lively yet never overstated in any aspect – and addicting.

    “The replay button does not lie about what you really like” applies to my 5000 history results for this blog, making this my favourite website of 2021.

    Hooks: 10 | Production: 10 | Longevity: 10 | Bias: 10 |
    RATING: 10


    The latter is regrettable writing, but I hope you get my point :).

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Chapter Finale

    The long-ass wait is over. It’s finally time for the top 10 list. As everyone got into the classroom, anticipating the results, Dirtee burst in all of a sudden to claim their top prize.

    “Out of our way, bitches!” Oold, the leader said as he walked in like he was on the runway.

    The group takes their seats. After that, JYPapi oppar and Oily London oppar walk into the front of the class.

    “Saebog Mani badeuseyooouuuuööóûù!!!” sang JYPapi oppar. “Wae keurajiiiii mollaaaAAAAãāAää!!!”

    “Yeobo, your voice is so good and melodic uwu,” Oily oppar told JYPapi oppar.

    “Kahmsahamnida, anything to get these kids’ attention,” JYPapi oppar told them (finally i used the right pronouns for Oily). “Anyway, time for the top 10 list!!!”

    The class just sits there, silently.

    “Oily here will announce the rankings right now,” JYPapi oppar said, pointing to Oily oppar. JYPapi was such a good namjachingoo he finally let Oily oppar do the rankings. How sweet of him 😥

    “OMO KAHMSAHAMNIDA YEOBO UWU,” Oily oppar told JYPapi.

    JYPapi oppar walks out of the room.

    “Yo, you better let us win that competition or else,” Keyhole says to Oily oppar. “Or at least have my solo win.”

    Toemint oppar is too busy kissing his first prize trophy to say anything.

    “Hey hajima be rude Keyhole uwu,” Oily oppar tells Keyhole. “Baby don’t like it.”

    Oily oppar starts going through the rankings. Brave Girls end up claiming their 7th and 6th place prizes with glee and excitement, though Minold is disappointed that she didn’t get 1st prize. However, when he got to 4th place, which is Shinee’s Atlantis, that’s when the disappointment comes.

    “MWO!!??” shouts Oold. “After all these years, even with a 9.75 grade, we didn’t even get SOTY???”

    “Because you are a flop who deserves no life but to live in the SM dungeon uwu, oh and you’re a hag who isn’t O’new, but O’old,” retorts Oily oppar. The whole entire class goes “oooooooooooooooooooooh” as they hear this clever roast. Oold is visibly outraged. “Anyway, moving on uwu.”

    Oily oppar goes through rank 3 and 2. Yuto oppar, realizing one of his songs hasn’t been placed yet, realizes this could be his chance. Oily oppar pulls out the SOTY award and says the name; “Beautiful Beautiful by ONF.”

    The whole class stands up and cheers for Yuto oppar. He couldn’t believe it; he got SOTY. All that stress he went through during that week was worth it in the end. He walked up to the stage to claim his top prize but as soon as he grabbed it, Oold stood up from his seat and pointed at him, rage coming from his face.

    “YOU!!!” growls Oold. “I’M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU!!!”

    Oold grabs Toemint oppar’s hand and they both start charging up. They’re about to go super saiyan like Goku and destroy the entire school.

    “YEOREOBUN GET DOWN UWU,” Oily oppar shouts as he tells everyone to brace for impact.

    The strength and sarang of the duo was so strong, they create an entire explosion that destroys the entire school. A white light follows. As that white light fades, we end up seeing the remains of the school, all its debris on the ground. Everyone is dead, except for Oold and Toemint oppar.

    “Yeobo,” Oold tells Toemint oppar. “I’m ready to kiss you and give my toes to you. Saranghae so much.”

    “Sure!!!” Toemint oppar tells Oold. As they lean in for a kiss, however, Yujeong comes in with the aevatars. However, it’s not the aevatars you think it is. It’s the Eternity unnies. You know, the ones who sing the “I’m Real” song. Yuto oppar all of a sudden comes back to life.

    “I’m… still… alive…” Yuto oppars says as he climbs out of all that debris.

    “We’re here to reclaim that prize,” Eternity member #1 says.

    “What, no,” Yuto oppar tells her. “This is mine.”

    “Well it’s ours now,” she says. “The gods said we won SOTY.”

    “Aigoo, fine,” Yuto oppar says as he hands the prize over to that ghastly being.

    “This thing is so fucking weird,” Oold says. “I’m gonna find the source of these problems.”

    “You what?” Toemint oppar says. “Yeobo, what are you gonna do?”

    “You’ll see,” Oold tells Toemint oppar.

    Oold all of a sudden jumps to the fourth wall and goes through it, presumably to kill the author of this story. Yuto oppar, realizing he’s in immense danger, runs away to get help, but since the author is-

    “EIJI’S BEEN TAKEN OUT!!!!!!!!!” Yuto oppar shouts in the background as Eiji’s ugly face appears.

    The end.

    Liked by 6 people

  13. I listened to ONF’s “Beautiful Beautiful” in its fullest for the first time and it definitely sounds very unique. I’ve never thought I would hear a K-Pop song that would play when you achieved something. Be it scoring a victory in sports, winning a competition, or even winning an award. This is something we’ve never heard in a long time, and ONF has their own way. And that song itself was big foreshadowing for today. What makes it so bittersweet though was that almost all of the members are enlisting this month. So ONF went out with a bang music-wise this year. “Beautiful Beautiful” winning first place was well-deserved.

    I definitely need to get into ONF now. Do you guys have any great song suggestions for ONF? I’ve heard “Ugly Dance” and loved it at first listen too.

    TXT and Rock make a great match. They fit the genre so well and I loved a lot of their songs of their album this year. I hope TXT continues with rock in the future because it seems like they found their own unique style with it, as shown in their last two title tracks.

    Also three of the songs I loved this year: SHINee’s “Atlantis”, Monsta X’s “Gambler”, and OnlyOneOf’s “libidO” fall into the same category. I think it is dark synth-wave with some deep house elements? Turns out it’s also the same category that The Weeknd’s and Kendrick Lamar’s “Pray for Me”, released a few years ago and a bop, is in. I’m definitely interested in hearing more songs with this genre, so if there are any K-pop or Western suggestions for this genre, I’ll be proud to listen to them. 🙂


    • All their 2021 offerings are rock-solid. I believe Nick ranked Popping even higher than Ugly Dance, and I’m certain Goosebumps would be in the mix somewhere if it was eligible.

      Earlier highlights include Complete (a 10/10 song on this blog) and New World (their final RTK song). My personal favourite (and generally regarded as their most popular before their popularity exploded with RTK) is We Must Love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My favorite album from them is still their debut mini. It’s got some dynamite tracks like Difficult and Original. But, I think I have a lot of nostalgia tied to it as well.

        Their My Name/City of ONF full-length is also a great place to start. Really strong, cohesive album.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. This might be the year my personal list differed most from yours, but we share our #1 – and that’s what counts! Even better, I knew it’d come out on top the moment I first heard it. Sometimes, nothing’s more satisfying than a complete lack of surprise.

    Also! I believe congratulations are in order for the first group to hit #1 twice. Glad to see it’s my faves!


  15. I put this together yesterday, thinking I’d give it a final run through today, but I’ve decided to let it be. I’ve also decided not to write a schmoopy essay here about how much this community has meant to me this year, but that’s not to say I won’t do so later in the month. I will say, however, that I am deeply entertained that all of the songs on my top 10 list were either in Nick’s top ten or didn’t even make it to honorable mention.

    10. VICTON “What I Said”: I wasn’t expecting this to break the top ten, but it turns out that the bias is strong with this one. HANSE’s verses combined with the robot camera effect in the MV caught my attention, but the rest of the song hooked me pretty quick. It’s just a fun song with great rap, vocals I’ve become extremely fond of, and a dumb hook that I can sing along to in the car.

    9. ENHYPEN “Drunk-Dazed”: I had this on heavy repeat when it first came out and it never lost its appeal. It’s like anti-bias somehow, because I actually find ENHYPEN pretty uninteresting as a group but somehow their songs just suck me in and don’t let go. Plus I love a noisy drop, and this drop is the noisiest. And, weirdly, I appreciate that they didn’t try and shoehorn a rap section in, because the song doesn’t need it.

    8. Billlie “RING X RING”: I fully expected “Poison” to be my highest ranked girl group song of the year, and then this came out of nowhere and blew me away. I suspect some of the high rating comes from how much I love the EP as a whole, and some from how excited I felt when this came out as a string of really strong girl group comebacks and debuts. But for real, I love this song.

    7. TOMORROW X TOGETHER “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) [feat. Seori]”: I don’t think I can add to what has already been said about this song. The only thing I don’t love is how long and unmemorable the dang title is.

    6. SHINee “Atlantis”: Yup, this is a great song. It started at #9 and kept creeping up. I still haven’t connected with much of SHINee’s back catalogue, but their releases this year were brilliant.

    5. Killa “MIRAE”: This one was really hard to place, but I was pretty sure from early on that it was going to be on my and Nick’s top ten somewhere or other, and look, I was right! Like some of the other songs on this list, I think the best way to listen to this is right between b-sides “We Are Future” and “Higher”.

    4. ONEUS “No diggity”: I honestly didn’t expect this to be in the top 10 and I’m positive my overall positive feelings towards ONEUS (and a little bit of contrariness) have pushed it up a good bit, along with how great the album is, and how much I love the MV, styling, and choreo. But here we are. This is one of the two songs I love that made me a little reluctant to start commenting here (the other being A.C.E “Savage”) but enough lurking convinced me that idiosyncratic tastes were welcome here, and there we go.

    3. BOBBY “U MAD”: I’ll just quote Nick’s 4.5 rating review here “Its noisy production and performance feel like being part of a shouting match for three minutes, attempting to engage with someone who refuses to dial it down and have an actual conversation. … [I]t’s like a jackhammer to the head, beating and grinding through shrapnel with a clattering, thudding arrangement.” And to quote BOBBY, “WHY U MAD, SON?”

    2. ONF “Beautiful Beautiful”: I thought of ranking this below “U MAD” just to be a brat, but I would know better.

    1. VANNER “FORM”: I accept that VANNER is a small enough group that Nick won’t review them unless he has something nice to say, and I accept that the two releases that were covered here were meh-sauce, but I refuse to believe that he actually listened to this and didn’t have any strong feelings about it. Therefore, I can only conclude he missed the release (entirely possible as I believe it received almost no promotion due to finances and multiple members contracting COVID-19) or it would have gotten a sub-7 review for the shouted chorus and obnoxious hook. Either way, this was one of my first finds of the year and I love it and if VANNER never puts out another release, they left behind a perfect title, some fantastic b-sides, and a really fun MV.

    Liked by 4 people

    • OK fine! I will go check out Vanner “Form” … runs away … …. … comes back

      HOLY HELL how did we miss this one? Yeah, this would have been on my list somewhere if I had known about it. Its sounds like if old school Block B were to do one of those megahype songs at the cheerleading competitions.

      For the rest of us who missed it, here is a live live version singing it live live, and (best of all) they sell the shit out of the song.

      For those outside of US not familiar with the competitive cheerleading genre, here is one I just found at random by googling around.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh wow, I haven’t watched a competitive cheer routine in years – that was fun. I can’t believe I forgot to say anything at all about what “form” actually sounds like other than “shouted chorus and obnoxious hook”, but BlockB meets hype song is about right.

        It’s too bad we can’t tag people here, because I would totally track down the name of the commenter I was talking to about suit concepts a while ago and tag them. I haven’t watched that performance since it popped up out of nowhere three months after the MV was released and forgot how great they are live. If I remember correctly, the charisma machine with longer dark hair who does the chorus was originally hired as a dance instructor before being added to the group. Their company absolutely wasted them on a couple of boring tropical pop title tracks before taking most of 2020 off and then “Form” came out of nowhere. I’ve been expecting a disbandment announcement all year but just did a quick google and they had five US fanmeets last month so I guess they’re hanging in there.


      • ALSO, the MV features a drag queen named Nana who was also in Hanse’s “Take Over” and probably has a significantly larger fanbase than the group themselves.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Vanner Form!!! OMG! I never expected to see someone mention this here!!! 🤩 Oh god! I love this song so much!! I totar forgot it was in December!! I first saw a stage and woah!! I thought they were this really seasoned 5-8 year old group from the way they performed! 😂 And the MV is so wild too! The exact performance linked below in the comments is the one that caught my eye so that must mean something!! ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

    • Vanner Form sounds delicious btw. Wouldn’t have been eligible for my ranking cuz i just did 2021 releases but if it was def would’ve been 30-40 range minimum

      Liked by 2 people

    • Okay, you got me! I don’t think I ever heard Form before (unless it was performed on Music Bank).

      As you predicted, it’s not *really* my thing, but I can see the appeal. I like the energy.


  16. Seeing Libido at #2 made me smile.
    I didn’t listen to this song enough, but every time I did, it was pure pleasure.
    The top 8 here are really in line with my listening and preferences.

    Like Myma, my list is based on playcount. If we counted b-sides, it’d be different, but we are with title tracks. I’m personally a little thrown off by the results, and if I weighted my own true preference here and youtube views, I’d imagine it would shake out differently.

    1. WJSN – Unnatural – not my fav title track by WJSN or song of the year… I just stan hard and supported my streams, so it rose to the top. I do love it tho

    2. Cherry Bullet – love so sweet – a treat and delight. I overplayed it…give us more FNC!

    3. STAYC – stereotype -beautiful and emotional chorus, a little overstuffed, but it was BEP goodness. Isa stood out to me. I think she’s an ace among a group of aces

    4. Goldcha – burn it -what hasn’t been said yet…this song is amazing and can make you cry

    5. STAYC – asap – it’s addictive if you allow it to be. A different kind of fun, that if you need fast tempos, may be lost on you. ASAP is a true k-pop 2021 moment, and I think one of the tracks with the best longevity of the year. STAYC deserved the MAMA rookie award.

    6. ONF – ugly dance – love singing along to this at full volume when alone.

    7. Weeekly – after school – at first, I thought this was waayayy better than ASAP…and then I overplayed it, and then I got hooked on ASAP.

    8. Lightsum – Vanilla – how did this get here? Well, I have nothing to hide. So yes. I listened to the Lightsum debut song over and over. Come at me. I will not be defending myself or this irreverent listening choice.

    9. ONF – beautiful beautiful – this is the song of the year, undeniably. It was when it came out. I bet if we count youtube plays along with my apple music, it’d be higher on this list.

    10. Shinee – Don’t call me – I like Atlantis, but I’m still at the point where I don’t spend much time with repackages…so “Don’t call me” got more plays. I love it…it had many amazing Taemin and Key moments.

    I’m laughing a little at myself, but it’s hard to make a list when I’m not just pulling from a metric. I’m not a decisive person enough to list my subjective feelings. and I’m constantly shifting the lists around in my head…so lolol here we are 2021
    looking forward to the next.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really like your list cos I love Unnatural, Love So Sweet, ASAP, Afeer School and Ugly Dance. I feel that Love So Sweet and Unnatural have been overlooked by a lot of ppl this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I wasn’t going to rank mine but wanted to chime in. This includes bsides. These weren’t necessarily my favorite but those with the most longevity, which is what I value above all. Y’know, given I didn’t overplay it. Here’s to next year. Cheers, Nick.

    1. Mafia In The Morning- ITZY
    2. Love So Sweet- Cherry Bullet
    3. Bad Love- Key
    4. What Type of X- Jessi
    5. Spit It Out- MAJORS
    6. What if I had been that puma- TXT
    7. Still Here- ATEEZ
    8. The Feels- TWICE
    9. Pool Party- Brave Girls
    10. Dancing in the starlit night- MAJORS

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh, hey, it’s that Xeno dude. And look.. ..another wall of text! Dammit!

    === UPFRONT ===
    – If I list a group in this post, then they’ve had a release in 2021; with the exception of the “AWOL” section.
    – I’ve been in this genre for 10+ years. I have multiple playlists with hundreds of songs in each of them. 2021 has been a rough year for me. Not the worst, drama-wise, but there has been a LOT of releases that let me down. If not for some saving graces, I might have walked away from this genre altogether. Why?

    – Almost all of my 2nd gen faves are gone.
    – Most of the 3rd gen faves that filled the void are starting to let me down; or themselves, are gone.
    – There’s too much chaos with the 4th gens to weave a reliable safety net. Lots of groups popping up that have no signature sound, discernible direction, and/or reliable future expectations. Investing in a group takes time, effort, and caring. Add a deluge of Covid into the societal mix and sailing on the good ship K-pop is rocky at best.

    Grain of salt inclusion: Check!

    === THE LETDOWNS ===

    Purple Kiss, Pixy, Tri.be, Hot Issue, Lightsum, Secret Number

    All of the above listed groups really wow’ed me with their debut and each released a follow up that had me asking myself, “What the hell?!?”. I was anxiously awaiting each of the groups new content only to feel completely let down. There are a couple of exceptions if I plumb the b-sides *cough* Hot Issue’s “Hot Candy” *cough*, but still.

    TWICE, ITZY, (G)I-DLE, WJSN, HyunA, Pink Fantasy

    I never thought any of the above groups could’ve lost ground with me. Given the amount of really strong releases that put them on the top of my lists, I figured all of them could’ve coasted on a few mediocre drops and still maintained their placement. I was wrong. Whether shifts in overall style or poor choices in song selection, all have dropped from my top tier lists.

    Everglow, Cherry Bullet, Dreamcatcher, Weeekly, STAYC, Brave Girls *, AKMU, aespa, Weki Meki, , Laboum, Chungha, 3YE

    I’m still a fan of the above groups, but they are coasting right now by riding the coattails of offerings past. Not good, not bad, just.. ..there.

    * I’ve been a fan of Brave Girls for years, so this recent catapult to center stage is great, but it didn’t really change anything for me. That said, they’ve been releasing solid stuff recently, my favorite of which is “We Ride”.


    Sunmi, Red Velvet, LOONA, Oh My Girl, Lee Hi, T-ara’ish,

    I don’t care if every future release is fingernails on chalkboards, nothing will dampen my love for the above groups. TWICE and WJSN almost made this list. I would’ve listed GFRIEND, Lovelyz, and Berry Good as well, but.. *sob*.

    === LONG TIME NO SEE ===

    Nature, Ariaz, GWSN, Apink – Yes, I know, some had releases, but they were muted, under performed, and/or poorly promoted. Fingers crossed?

    OH, WELL:
    BlackPink / mamamoo – Released this year, but.. ..eh? Neither have ever really been on my radar. I like mamamoo, but I’ve never fully embraced radish orthodoxy.

    === IF NOT FOR THESE FEW… ===

    fromis_9: They’ve been around since January, 2018, and I’ve seen them pop up on comebacks, but passed on them for no reason. It may have been a busy time and other groups were taking up all of my attention, or I just wasn’t willing to make the initial investment. Regardless, I’ve gained a solid appreciation for them and their back catalog. I’m a Flover from another mother, I guess.

    Woo!ah!: Where the hell have you been all of my life, ladies??? I am totally smitten with this group. I remember when they debuted (May, 2020) with “woo!ah!” and it didn’t really land with me. As a result, I didn’t really give them a second chance. In total, they’ve only released 3 Single albums with 8 songs, and MVs for every song. Here’s my take on them and my pecking order for each song.

    Exclamation (May 15, 2020)
    1. woo!ah! – It was a “meh” with me on release; still consider it not bad/not good. (7th place)
    2. Payday – Really love this song. It’s slow, but loaded with charm. (4th place)

    Qurious (November 24, 2020)
    1. Round & Round – This was the song that officially got me into them. (2nd place)
    2. Bad Girl – It’s okay. Has equal like/dislike elements. (6th place)
    3. I Don’t Miss You – Cute and infectious (3rd place)

    Wish (May 17, 2021)
    1. Scaredy Cat – Hands down fave. (1st place)
    2. Purple – Ugh.. ..that chorus. (8th place)
    3. Pandora – Lots of energy (5th place)

    It should come to me as no surprise that the order of my favorites is the exact opposite of what everyone else seems to like. Which is fine, considering their fandom name is “WOW”. I can therefore still be a fan even if I’m backwards.

    === LISTEN UP! ===

    2021 releases I played the shit out of:
    Pixy “Wings”, Jiselle “Language”, STAYC “Love Fool”, Hot Issue “Gratata”/”Hot Candy”, Oh My Girl “Dun Dun Dance”/”My Doll”, Lightsum “Vanilla”, Red Velvet “Queendom”/”Hello, Sunset”, fromis_9 “We Go”/”Talk & Talk”, Purple Kiss “Can We Talk Again”, LOONA “Hula Hoop”, most things Woo!Ah!, All things Sunmi

    2021 releases that helped save the year.. ..a bit:
    Youha “Abittipsy”, Chungaha “X”, Weeekly “After School”/”Holiday Party”, 3YE “Stalker”, STAYC “ASAP”/”Stereotype”, Everglow “First”, LOONA “PTT”/”We’re Not Friends”, lilli lilli “BARCODE”, T-ara “Tiki Taka”, Weki Meki “Siesta”/”Who Am I”, cignature “Boyfriend”, Kiara “Pick Me Up”

    === ON THAT NOTE… ===

    For me, K-pop is about finding things you can’t get anywhere else. As the entire genre has been making a heavy push towards westernization, it’s getting harder to get that “Oh, this is fresh!” vibe. It may have been subtle, but early K-pop used a lot of chords and structure that was natively Asian with some songs borrowing melodies from classic trot and other homegrown stylings. It gave the genre a unique identity. It also helped that most producers were Korean. Now, every song seems to be made up of a multi-national board of producers all stirring the same pot. There’s a “too many cooks/spoiled soup” situation developing. So.. ..most of my continued interest in K-pop is leaning more on my being a fan of the performers rather than a pure appreciation of the songs alone. That’s sad. Still.. ..while most of the current releases are filled with “Hey, they took that from..” elements, a few do manage to be inventive; even if some of that creativity was only new takes on old material.

    I’m still a fan of K-pop even if it’s becoming a bit of a balancing act on a two-legged stool. 2022 has got to be better, right? RIGHT?!?

    Liked by 3 people

    • …and because I know Nick absolutely loves when I include multiple links in my posts, I decided to include this section in a reply so if he wants to drop the axe on it, then he won’t need to chop the tail off of my OP. You’re welcome, Nick!

      ====== CUT ALONG THIS LINE ======

      Here’s how Woo!ah! made 2021 more tolerable for me (in order of preference):
      1. Scaredy Cat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvS2LtFgX8s
      2. Round & Round: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3xlC5lBQLk
      3. I Don’t Miss You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne4okV5MqPs
      4. Payday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMSD9AqIF54
      5. Pandora: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppzevxliyN0
      6. Bad Girl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwDmGC2fTfU
      7. woo!ah!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBcuYNTmYdM
      8. Purple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE–H12gl2I

      ====== CUT ALONG THIS LINE ======

      Liked by 1 person

    • Woah, that Xeno dude! When the world needed him most…

      I get your disillusionment with K-Pop’s increasingly Western tendencies — while it’s not the reason I made the jump over (I mostly just wanted to listen to bubblegum pop without lyrical secondhand embarrassment), that’s exactly where the charm from some of K-Pop’s biggest classics comes from. Now, as I grow less willing to ignore my gripes with the industry and the musical landscape has become increasingly more similar to the sound I was trying to get away from, I find myself listening to pretty much just bands. Even then, I mostly loop their live radio performances so I can actually hear some music without a blaring studio recording in the background! I’ll give all these songs on your massive girl group recommendation list a second pass, though. I’ve been having better luck with them lately.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, most Western pop lyrics are so formulaic that I feel the writers are just throwing a bag of those one word poetry magnets at a fridge and calling it a day. I like/love/hate you. Take/Break my heart. You’re wonderful/a cheater/sexy/mean/yadda yadda. That’s why “not” understanding the lyrics is refreshing; though I’ve slowly become knowledgeable of Korean; and yes, those same fridge magnets are in play.

        I hope I didn’t come across like I’m trying to dampen other peoples enjoyment. I go through moods, but I bounce back just as quick. 2021 was a bit of a let down for me, and I may grump and groan, but this genre is in my DNA now. I skated through 2021 by going back and giving groups I had initially passed on a second chance which resulted in fromis_9 and Woo!ah! coming to my rescue.

        I don’t know what 2022 will bring, but I’ll be here for it. I was thinking of making 2022 the year I collect lightsticks. Maybe.. Hmm….

        Liked by 1 person

        • The global writing teams also mean more English haphazardly tossed into the songs. I was just complaining to a friend that TXT’s LO$ER=LO♡ER is perhaps my favorite offering of theirs, but the inclusion of such lyrical triumphs as “두 손엔 hunnit bands” make the song borderline unlistenable for me. As far as Korean, my proficiency is naturally increasing as well, but there’s still the novelty of “Oh! I can read those fridge magnets! How exciting,” so I don’t mind so much.

          I don’t think you sounded overly negative. It was at the very least a strange year for everyone — I got into some of my favorite artists, but at the cost of dropping off some I’d been hanging onto since the beginning. We’ll see how the landscape is when K-Pop breaks out of this little Western cocoon.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. Ah yes, the list is complete…Killa is top 10…life is good. I STILL haven’t finished my list but I do get a top 10 so here’s that.

    10. SHINee – Atlantis…Leave it to SHINee to make a song like sounds like a literally underwater adventure. Such a lively and grand stacked filled with hook after hook and some of the year’s best production.

    9. ONF – Goosebumps…I feel like this song took the weird, uncoventional sound of “Ugly Dance” and the joyous energy and sheer catchiness of “Beautiful Beautiful” and mixed them. The result was the best of both worlds.

    8. Brave Girls – After We Ride…I see this song as kpop’s “Run Away With Me” moment. Mainly because both songs fuse a prominent emotional heft with some driving, commanding 80s synth production. Or the “tears on the dancefloor” style as Nick calls it (so stealing that btw).

    7. PIXY – Bewitched…If you told me the girls who made “Wings” would end up in the top 10 of my year-end list, I probably wouldn’t have believed it…but BOY did they turn things around. The haunting atmosphere built by the song’s dark electronic production and the member’s hushed delivery leads to one of the year’s most unique tracks.

    6. Golden Child – Burn It…Given this song’s use of things I tend to not like such as the reggaeton-esque production or the chanting post-chorus, I shouldn’t love this song as much as I do…but everything just WORKS here. It helps that it packs one of the year’s most simple but impactful choruses.

    5. Monsta X – Gambler…Something about this song makes me think of high budget action movies. It has this uber masculine feel to it with it’s commanding bass, hints of electric guitar, and braggadocios rap verses. The finale is obviously the best part as things kick into 11 which is where the track solidified it’s spot this high up for me.

    4. Dreamnote – Ghost… I’ve sung this song’s praises before but it truly is a great song. Reminscent of groups like Dreamcatcher and Pink Fantasy, the song leans into a slight rock and horror concept. But I feel like it excels in place where (as much as I love them) the other groups don’t. Mainly in the hook department. Dreamcatcher has some phenomenal hooks but I just love Ghost’s chorus SO much. The howl portion of it great on it’s own but it segueing to the main “ghost” wail is perfection.

    3. Key – Bad Love…This song is just DRIPPING with attitude and charisma which is expected coming from someone like Mr.Kibum. Even with that, Bad Love never lost sight of the value of insanely strong melodies. Couple that with the song having some of the retro trends best production. Certified classic.

    2. OnlyOneOf – Libido…I love all the songs here but I do think there is a decent gap between everything else and my 1 and 2. I don’t think a kpop song has surprised me like this since Stray Kids “Side Effects”. While that song curated at claustrophobic atmosphere marked by rage and anger, this one creates an atmosphere marked with it’s tense and sexual nature.

    …and of course 1. Mirae – Killa…If my shameless promotion of it didn’t make it obvious enough, I love this song a lot. From the first moment I heard it, I knew it would be my favorite for the year and nothing has changed since then. While Killa’s production which features some very amazing electronic textures deserves some recognition, what I really love about the song is how dynamic it is. The song never really settles as it is constantly twisting and turning from invigorating raps to dramatic vocal moments or even instrumental breaks that make full use of the songs gorgeous electronic soundscape. With a song like this going full steam ahead from moment 1, it’s a difficult task to not only keep things interesting throughout but also make sure you don’t OVERDO it. Killa never does neither. It finds that lovely sweet spot and rides all the way to the finish line. In my opinion, it’s kpop’s greatest thrillride and I’m always overjoyed to buckle and experience time after time after time again. SOTY indeed

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Ah, it’s been a long time since I could comment (or engage) on this site (life has finally moved out of quarantine). For me, TxT won me over. I like some angst in my life (preferably only in my musical choices) and they delivered. Apart from them, I also liked Brave Girls a lot this year – their music was quite infectious.

    I didn’t like aespa’s music but it has somehow managed to make its way into my playlist more and more. I am quite surprised by this but oh well. I haven’t been a fan of SM’s music for the past few years (I blame NCT) so interested in how aespa charges forward next year.

    ITZY was a disappointment this year. I liked Loco well enough but it hasn’t stuck around for long in my playlist. They also don’t seem to be doing too well on K-charts! Hoping this changes next year because I really like them as personalities!

    My bias group- BTS had a v. slow year (in terms of music output). Butter was phenomenal but permission to dance was quite tedious. I don’t know how long they’ll be able to push Jin’s military service so hoping for a great album next year!


  21. In my excitement for the top ten songs of the year post I wrote my own top ten list over a week ago. So Murphy’s law of course dictated that my computer would simply decide to stop working yesterday. Therefore I have painstakingly recreated my list because my favorite songs of the year deserve their due. Here is my top ten:

    Honorable Mentions:
    Loved You-Bae173, Moonwalk-BDC, Stalker-3YE, 0X1=Lovesong-TXT

    10) Seoul by Ghost9: First off I find it incredibly fun that everyone seems to have a very different idea of what Ghost9’s best title track is but I think everyone agrees that their powerful choruses are where they excel. This song offered up one of my favorite choruses of the year and that alone is enough for it to make my top ten but of course I still think the song as a whole is a pretty sweet ride.

    9) Excalibur by Kingdom: This was one of those rare songs where my opinion on it flipped a full 180 degrees. When I first heard it I was full on in “What the hell is this?” territory, yet by the end of the year it had risen to become my third most played title track of the year. It’s not a perfect song but it is lofty in its ambitions and I adore the grandeur of it all. Plus it doesn’t hurt that my personal bias towards the group and their fantasy land only grew throughout the year; as I for one am more than happy to get swept up in the magic of it all again and again.

    8) Hello Future by NCT Dream: This was easily the best NCT related title track of the year. Hello Future is bolstered by an ebullient chorus and a vibrant sense of fun, something that is often lacking from NCT releases. NCT Dream powered through, displaying their impressive growth and proving that a bright and youthful concept is still their strong suit.

    7) Chi Mit Ba Ram by Brave Girls: Nobody can deny that the resurgence of Brave Girls in 2021 was one of the best Kpop stories of the year, but then they went and topped their rise with the release of this year’s best summer song. This song quite literally has no chill, once it takes off there is no stopping it as it surges forward with seemingly boundless energy, fully intent on getting everyone who hears to dance like there is no tomorrow.

    6) Life is Beautiful by Oneus: There is something so wonderfully simple about this song and yet upon its release it immediately felt like a breath of fresh air. From the unique woodwind breakdowns to the cool tones of the sung “oohh’s” this song is astoundingly crisp and refreshing. The joy it elicits is ever present but never feels forced or manufactured.

    5) Luna by Oneus: If there is anything that I have always thought Oneus excels at it is taking the best parts of their songs and expanding upon those moments for maximum effect. As with many songs the best part of Luna is the chorus and Oneus add to it each time it swirls back around, providing a new blast of momentum. Luna also has a great sense of balance as it expertly bridges the lines between sentimentality and hype. It’s a track that is as beautiful as it is powerful and that is a rare combination.

    4) Killa by Mirae: Not just the best debut song of the year but straight up one of the best songs of the year. Every moment screams go big or go home in a way that few debut songs seem to and that alone is impressive, of course the song itself works wonders. Killa is pure futuristic bombast that pulls no punches and the rock guitar fueled bridge is an absolute delight. Mirae are at their best when catering to their namesake and Killa is already an invigorating example of that.

    3) What Type of X by Jessi: Ever since I first discovered Jessi I appreciated her for her charismatic flare and wide array of talents but her musical offerings never matched my personal preferences, until now. What Type of X much like Jessi herself is a force to be reckoned with, the instrumental is absolutely fearless and fits Jessi to a tee. The whole song is practically begging you to headbang your way through it and the explosive climax at the end just might make your head fall off.

    2) Bad Love by Key: I have more praise for this song than I know what to do with, Bad Love is a masterpiece both in its production and its performance but I think what gets me the most is just how quintessentially Key the entire song is. Key himself said that the whole Bad love album was meant to be the album version of himself, and it shows. He practically bared his soul for this one and the result is nothing short of outstanding, because what more could you possibly ask for from an artist than to be completely and brilliantly themselves. The song shoots for the moon but Key himself is what propels it past the stars.

    1) Atlantis by Shinee: It goes without saying at this point that Shinee make everything and anything they touch better. So when you give them material that’s as Shinee as possible, you get Atlantis. From their unbeatable vocals to the propulsive guitar driven instrumental that powers the track Atlantis towers above the rest. Perhaps the song’s only flaw is that by the time the full awesomeness of it all has registered with your brain you’ll find you need to hit the replay button; but you will never find me complaining about that. Shinee are beloved, industry shaking legends and for good reason, so when you give them material this good the only possible result is utter greatness.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Not particularly relevant, but I wanted to share my Spotify Wrapped Top 5 artists/songs with you all, because I found the SM uniformity funny.

    Top Artists
    #1 SHINee
    #2 EXO
    #3 TVXQ!
    #4 Girls’ Generation
    #5 NCT

    Top Songs
    #1 Lucifer
    #2 Mirotic
    #3 Crooked
    #4 Baby Don’t Stop
    #5 Sherlock

    It’s literally been the exact same almost every year I’ve used Spotify (except Baby Don’t Stop displaced I Got A Boy).

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Great top 10!

    1. Everglow – Promise
    2. TXT – 0X1 LOVESONG
    3. Oneus – Luna
    4. Yuqi – Bonnie & Clyde
    5. Wonho – Lose
    6. Brave Girls – Pool Party
    7. Key – Bad Love
    8. Everglow – Pirate
    9. Golden Child – Burn It
    10. Twice – The Feels

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Great top 10 Nick! It fits perfectly with your tastes, and I’m glad Beautiful Beautiful topped the list – ever since it was released in February, I always thought it was the perfect example of basically everything you enjoy. It’s been a great first full year keeping up with K-pop with you, and I wanted to thank everyone in the comments for this fun community!

    I haven’t been able to sit down to make my list at all, so now I’m resolving to do it…and here it is! Still unordered though haha. I split the list up into my favourites based on just purely what I listened to the most (and factoring in a bit for songs later in the year vs earlier), and also another list for other songs that I really like, but I didn’t listen to as much (I still listened to them quite often! Just definitely not close to the others), and some more categories:

    **Songs I love and did actually listen to a lot (a top 10)**:
    aespa – Next Level
    Brave Girls – Chi Mat Ba Ram
    Brave Girls – After We Ride
    fromis_9 – We Go
    fromis_9 – Talk & Talk
    Oh My Girl – Dun Dun Dance
    STAYC – Stereotype
    Twice – Scientist
    TXT – 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)
    TXT – Loser=Lover

    HR for the above:
    Everglow – Promise
    Everglow – Pirate (I guess I could include it because I don’t have any rules but if I were to follow Nick’s eligibility period it doesn’t fit, and also because if I were to stick to basing it on playcount it technically doesn’t really reach there yet, but at the rate I’m listening to this, I would not be surprised to see it in the top of next year’s list)
    Seventeen – Rock with you
    Twice – Alcohol-Free
    Twice – The Feels

    **Songs I really appreciate and admire, but didn’t listen to as much as the previous ones**:
    Cherry Bullet – Love So Sweet
    Key – Bad Love
    ONF – Beautiful Beautiful
    ONF – Popping
    Shinee – Atlantis

    **Songs that I liked a lot earlier in the year but then faded out and I can’t tell how to factor this in with songs that I never lost interest in and with newer songs that haven’t lost their new shiny hype yet, so I’m putting it in its own category so I don’t have to decide**:
    BTS – Butter
    Dreamcatcher – Odd Eye
    Weeekly – After School
    WJSN – Unnatural
    Yuqi – Bonnie & Clyde

    Looking forward to your other countdowns!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suddenly realized with horror that I forgot to add Oneus – Luna, arghhh I love that song! Since I don’t know what song it would kick out of the “most listened to top 10” i will stick it in the HR list.


  25. Great list Nick!!

    I correctly predicted one winner, let us see how many more I’ll get. Also, small update for the mini-album list, for the above-5 track mini potential, Key’s Bad Love has a slightly better chance, while my b-side OTY prediction is for SHINee’s I Really Want You.


  26. I am not really good at ranking songs because it changes every mood but I’ll give it a try here.

    My top 10 2021 KPOP songs:

    1. Beautiful Beautiful – ONF
    2. 0X1 LOVESONG I Know I Love You – TXT
    3. Gambler – Monsta X
    4. libidO – OnlyOneOf
    5. Chi Mat Ba Ram – Brave Girls
    6. I Got U – Lucy
    7. Butter – BTS
    8. Blind – Ciipher
    9. Tail – Sunmi
    10. Damage – JUST B

    My honorable mentions (11-20):
    11. Life Is Beautiful – Oneus
    12. Crush – MCND
    13. Bad Love – Key
    14. Close your eyes – Bz-boys
    15. Strawberry Gum – Ha Sungwoon
    16. Gallery – Park Jihoon
    17. Zombie – Purple Kiss
    18. Burn It – Golden Child
    19. Scientist – Twice
    20. Ghost – Dreamnote

    This list is about the ranking of (title) songs that have the most impact to me this year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I don’t know what to say…except for the fact that I am legit imploding with happiness. There is something so incredible about this top ten. It’s given me plot twists, delivered my expectations and has delivered a wide variety of genres – Larger than life k-pop experiences, glitchy electro funk, singalong radio rock and anthemic tropical-pop.

    This might be my favorite top ten list from your countdowns. It’s just that PERFECT.
    So because of this beauty, I am going to dedicate my time with a statistic!

    In my attempt to see which was the best month this year, I’ve made a point system which will allow me to see which month had truly the most songs on this list…or placed higher in overall quality.

    60th place – 1 pt.
    59th place – 2 pt.

    2nd place – 59 pts.
    1st place – 60 pts.
    Hope this is easy to understand.

    December (of 2020): 37 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. GHOST9 – W.all (placed: 37th)
    2. JYP X Rain – Switch To Me (placed: 48th)
    3. N/A

    January: 121 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. Golden Child – Burn It (placed: 3rd)
    2. MCND – Crush (placed: 21st)
    3. Youha – Abittipsy (placed: 49th)

    February: 201 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. ONF – Beautiful Beautiful (placed: 1st)
    2. Golden Child – Breathe (placed: 10th)
    3. CIX – Cinema (placed: 19th)

    March: 212 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. Mirae – Killa (placed: 9th)
    2. BDC – Moon Rider (placed: 11th)
    3. Jessi – What Type Of X (placed: 16th)

    April: 206 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. OnlyOneOf – Libido (placed: 2nd)
    2. SHINee – Atlantis (placed: 4th)
    3. ONF – Ugly Dance (placed: 29th)

    May: 221 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. TXT – Lovesong ft. Seori (placed: 5th)
    2. Aespa – Next Level (placed: 14th)
    3. Yuqi – Bonnie & Clyde (placed: 18th)

    June: 293 pts. (DAMN!)
    Top Three:
    1. Brave Girls – Chi Mat Ra Bam (placed: 8th)
    2. Monsta X – Gambler (placed: 12th)
    3. UP10TION – Spin Off (placed: 13th)

    July: 19 pts. (damn…)
    Top Three:
    1. Brave Girls – Pool Party (placed: 42nd)
    2. N/A
    3. N/A

    A fricking December has more points than the big month for k-pop summer…

    August: 214 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. Brave Girls – After We Ride (placed: 6th)
    2. ONF – Popping (placed: 15th)
    3. Golden Child – Ra Pam Pam (placed: 26th)

    September: 187 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. Key – Bad Love (placed: 7th)
    2. ONEUS – Life Is Beautiful (placed: 17th)
    3. Ciipher – Blind (placed: 33rd)

    October: 56 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. TXT – Frost (placed: 30th)
    2. ATEEZ – Eternal Sunshine (placed: 39th)
    3. PIXY – Bewitched (placed: 59th)

    November: 71 pts.
    Top Three:
    1. Twice – Scientist (placed: 24th)
    2. ONEUS – Luna (placed: 27th)
    3. N/A

    I may be wrong, but this is the best I could come up with!
    1. June
    2. May
    3. August
    4. March
    5. April
    6. February
    7. September
    8. January
    9. November
    10. October
    11. December of 2020
    12. July

    P.S. All of the songs in your top ten are gonna place HIGH on my countdown, so I decided that I won’t unveil if they’ll be slightly higher or lower…instead, I’ll bring in my own official list at the end of the year! Where I can count Goosebumps and Pirate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bringing the stats! I love it!

      I wonder if this is my most unbalanced top ten yet when it comes to release month. Eight out of ten songs came out before July. Six out of ten came out in the same twelve-week period. Pretty crazy!


  28. Oh, how I love essay season around here! Ranking things is possibly my least favorite activity in the entire world, so I don’t have much to add on that front, but I just wanted to mention that I’m very much enjoying everyone’s spirited defenses of their favorite offerings this year. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  29. 2021 has had a shortage of songs that completely blew me away. January blew me away, then the fallout from the explosion was never quite as high quality. However, there were still plenty of songs that I wouldn’t skip in a playlist (and a few that I love but would need to be in the right mood for—including my personal #1.)

    NOTE: 2021 isn’t over yet, so maybe a “Psycho” will drop in late December and obliterate my list. That’d be awesome.

    1. Abittipsy (Youha) – Youha remains an incredibly underrated singer, songwriter, etc. It makes one wonder what would have happened if she stayed in YG and joined Blackpink (she sings too much like Rosé and looks a lot like Jennie.) Fun fact—she also wrote the lyrics for “WOW,” which is probably in my top 20 songs for the year! Anyway, this isn’t my song of songs. But I think it strikes the perfect balance between a lot of things. Vocally—Youha is alternately moody and bright. The concept is retro and chill but the rhythms unrelenting. And the melodies are just so, so, pretty and joyous. This was the song that really sold me on the 80s synthwave trend, and its self-aware lament of lovelorn celebration really defines 2021 for me.

    2. Love So Sweet (Cherry Bullet) – For me, vocal “sound” is an important component of songs. This song’s main flaw for me is an overabundance of a certain “screechy” style of singing. Everything else, however, is almost perfect for me. There’s so much detail in those synths. The chords are deceptively simple, but the structure & sounds are unpredictable in a way that makes an otherwise cheery bop more melancholy and complex. Most impressively, it sounded instantly memorable upon first listen, in a year with plenty of similar-sounding songs.

    3. Beautiful Beautiful (ONF) – Have you seen the “making of” video for Beautiful Beautiful from MonoTree? The song has so many layers to it, all of them catchy. https://youtu.be/McPQ7o_jQDc Catchiness + layers are further reflected in the inspired a cappella section.

    4. Taste of Life (Yang Ji Eun) – I like songs that build. For me, this is one of the only songs of the year where it’s not just the structure & instruments that get more intense, but also the performance. It also happens to have some of the best-written melodies of the year (thanks, T-ara producer!)

    5. Killing Me (Chungha) – Great from the first notes (I’m a big fan of the subdued instrumental-only intro that’s only in the MV.) I’m glad the heaviness that kicks isn’t a drop. I like the airy vocals over it. I’m not sure what stuck with me considering there are many kpop songs out there that contrast heaviness and lightness—I think it’s partly the tripping 6/8 rhythm, partly the vocal layering, and mostly just solid melodic choices.

    6. Do Or Not (Pentagon) – I was NOT expecting to like this as much as I did—I haven’t really paid attention to Pentagon since “Shine” and the barbershop introduction screamed cheesiness. But the song’s commitment to its own silliness is also one of its greatest strengths. I love the echo-y, “recorded in a school gym” ambience. The song just sounds instantly “classic,” especially the chorus.

    7. Perfume (Yubin) – Maybe one of my favorite textures in a song this entire year. Sure the raps are a bit ridiculous and so are some of the transitions from section to section, but I never get tired of listening to a song that sounds this sharp. Yubin is the first kpop artist I ever listened to, and her expressive, husky, unrestrained tone defines the genre for me.

    8. Poison (Pink Fantasy) – People are only holding back on Pink Fantasy because Dreamcatcher came first, and if they had a higher budget, people would see that their vocals/visuals/dancing/concept/etc. are plenty to hold their own among A-list groups. Pink Fantasy has an incredibly consistent discography overall (please give Iriwa/Fantasy/12oclock/Shadow Play more love), but the incredible commitment to the monumental chorus bolstered by bold instruments makes this one.
    (Bonus: I like how their company lets idols join/stay in the group regardless of age.)

    9. Orgel (E.SO) – I feel like most people’s “top kpop songs” lists have at least one entry that’s weirder/more experimental than the others. This one is it for me. To be experimental and work, a song needs to claim a distinct identity. With the tick-tick sewing machine percussion, the puffs of flute, and the melty distorted vocals, this song dug its way into my brain. It’s a great palate-cleanser for when the hyper-compressed, energetic sounds more common in kpop are starting to tire me out. (She’s also a good singer, but that matters surprisingly little in terms of the song being convincing.)
    PS: I have kind of a pet peeve with “music box intro” songs, so for this to make it on my top 10 means the rest of the song really wowed me.
    PPS: Where the heck did all her MV views go?

    10. Butterfly Effect (BOL4) – I listened to this one just a few days ago. I’m not a dedicated listener of BOL4, but I liked “Lipstick” and “Travel.” The song has an unabashedly moody opening, with circling backings and vocals that sound like they’re building to something. Then: fireworks! The volume rises, the guitar kicks in. A good ballad takes you on a journey. This one has enough melody-writing and hard-hitting moments to leave me satisfied, with plenty of space to not feel overstuffed.

    Artists who made it onto my top 50 songs list the most times:
    Dreamcatcher – 3 (Wind Blows – 14, BEcause – 21, Odd Eye – 36. “Whistle” was also great.)
    Sunmi – 3 (Tail – 23, YCSWU – 26, Go or Stop? – 45)
    AKMU – 2 (Hey Kid Close Your Eyes – 16, Nakka – 32)
    Brave Girls – 2 (After We Ride – 13, Chi Mat Ba Ram – 48)
    ONF – 2 (Beautiful Beautiful – 3, Popping – 30)
    Pink Fantasy – 2 (Poison – 8, Shadow Play – 42)
    Twice – 2 (The Feels – 24, Scandal – 40. “Scientist” was also great.)
    Youha – 2 (Abittipsy – 1, zzz – 44)
    Favorite concept of the year: “Zombie” – PK

    Least favorite song of the year: “I’m Real” – Eternity
    Ok but what about besides that one?: “My Turn” – Cravity (I’m glad it exists though.)

    Favorite songs discovered this year that weren’t released in 2021: “Russian Roulette” (Spica), “Apple Pie” (Fiestar), “Damaged Lady” (Kara), “Oh!” (SNSD), “I Go Crazy Because of You” (T-ara), “12 O Clock” (Pink Fantasy SHY)

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I read the list of older songs you discovered (and enjoyed), I pee’d a little; not really; sort of; no, I didn’t pee; a lot. My instant inclination is to start spewing out titles from each of those artists, but discovering for yourself can be more fun if you’re wired that way. I will pipe up with a few deets.

      SPICA: Absolutely loved them. They were a managed by Lee Hyori (1st gen queen with hits like “U Go Girl”, “10 Minutes”, et al.). Kmi Boa was a vocal coach before leading the group. Both Kims (Boa and Bohyung) still release songs under KEEMBO. Jiwon became part of UNI.T. The remaining girls (Juhyun and Narae) have been putting around, but, sadly, nothing noteworthy to date. I had a major crush on Park Narae. My favorite song was the first their debut “Painkiller”, but they have many I still listen to.

      FIESTAR: I could fill five paragraphs just on them, but I won’t. Cao Lu was my bias. Despite being a darlings of Loen, they never were fully embraced in S.K.. If anything, they seemed to be targeted by K-netz looking for a way to knock them down. Grrr….

      KARA: Swoooooooon. ’nuff said.

      SNSD: They were my gateway drug; specifically with “Run, Devil, Dun”. I will always remember them as my personal ambassadors to this genre. Doesn’t hurt that they have a killer discography.

      T-ara: Double Swooon!

      Pink Fantasy: I love them, but man, they know how to mix my emotions. Their debut, “Iriwa”, instantly roped me in. When they released “12 O’Clock” as PinkFantasy SHY, I instantly took Yubeen as my bias (she had the short red hair). The timbre of her voice floored me. Then, she left the group shortly afterwards *sob*. Now I alternate between SeeA and Yechan. Many tried to bash them for being Dreamcatcher Part 2, but they have their own unique sound, if you pay attention.

      Damn.. ..I was going to keep this a short reply. Oh well, just be thankful you didn’t list more artists. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aww, this was sweet. Thanks!

        I do tend to enjoy more “organic” discovery of songs when possible, though with COVID and most of my kpop discovery being online as opposed to in music stores/at shows/out in public, this becomes less possible. But oddly enough, despite the idols rarely being the ones in charge of writing the songs, I still get more consistent results following groups than following producers.

        The songs I know from Spica are Russian Roulette (great), You Don’t Love Me (cool but not my thing), and Give Your Love (no opinion). I know about Keembo! Haven’t loved most of their songs besides Scandalous and Inside, but I find them pleasant enough (plus I love Boa.) Never knew what UNI.T was until now. The idea of making a group with already-debuted idols is interesting, and you’d think it’d lead to a group with lots of media hype beforehand (like the IZ*ONE members in IVE and various people in the undebuted Kep1er.) That being said, going with all “b-list” idols probably led to less excitement than either of those cases.

        Fiestar was fabulous but all over the place. The members are soooo dreamy. The songs I know are pretty much just Mirror (lovely), Apple Pie (my favorite), and Sea of Moonlight (a bit saccharine but really good.) I’m kind of afraid to listen to more in the case I don’t like them as much as those three. I bias Yezi I think but I don’t know the members too well.

        Kara has a lot of songs that I think are really cool but that others don’t seem to prefer—Damaged Lady and Pandora in particular (though when I first heard “Step” I thought it was rightfully appreciated—it might be contender for my #1 kpop song ever.) I really miss their sound. Sweetune went hard with them. Considering getting into their b-sides. Don’t know the members.

        I find SNSD to be kinda hit or miss but the hits being REALLY good. Also one of the only group with great Japanese releases. Currently bias Hyoyeon.

        T-ara is like… ridiculously catchy in a way that makes it hard for some to see past the “ridiculous” I think. They’re ridiculously consistent but I haven’t had the “swoon” factor with too many songs (except the one above.) Bias Eunjung/Boram for now.

        I didn’t realize how much I liked “Iriwa” until I revisited it, haha. I’m soooo sad with how little “12’O Clock” seems to be known. Harin’s voice kind of blows my mind lmao—she just sounds like a baby in every song, even the tough ones like “Shadow.” I don’t think she’s faking it because of the consistency across songs. I miss Yubeen/Aini/the other former members I know less well, but I’m glad the group is still going strong/adding new folks so the other members don’t get dropped. Pink Fantasy is probably one of the few groups I’m emotionally AND musically invested in right now, and I’m hoping they blow up or at least keep doing cool stuff for a few more years.

        I kinda miss the days of classy/elegant concepts—I enjoy watching them and I think I favor the music that comes from groups with that image as well. No worries with the long reply; I do the same all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Given that I went all “wall of text” again (it’s a curse), I replied to your original post (below) so you could view it on your phone without having to switch to landscape view. Activate: Super Secret Scroll Down Mode!


    • This is a reply to your reply of my reply… *getting dizzy*

      Based on your reply, and trying to keep in mind you like to tamp down the grass and make your own path, I’d like to offer the following suggestions:

      SPICA: “Give Your Love” was actually an odd sub-unit (SPICA.S), since it had 4 of the 5 members (Boa was unable to participate). If I recommend anything, it’d probably be their attempt to make a splash in the U.S. with the English speaking “I Did It”; not their best, not their worst. And second, I’ll recommend “Tonight” (one of my faves). At the very start of the video and during the bridge, you get to see Lee Hyori (the boss makes a cameo).

      “I DID IT”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6Mns7IbRFE
      “Tonight”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VSpBPqBJF8

      FIESTAR: Well, I’m going to have to recommend “One More” because that release, while a great song, was universally panned because the subject matter was about sex with multiple partners (e.g., ménage à trois, etc.). All of the music shows refused to air it and K-Netz brought out their torches (sad panda face). “Pitiful” may not be your cup of tea, but it’s one of my favorites from them. And since you mentioned Yezi (she’s a charmer, isn’t she?), she’s released a few solo works, but I’ll pony up with “Anck Su Namun”.

      “One More”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9sEjiBew18
      “You’re Pitiful”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShGVCembq70
      “Anck Su Namun”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oemL0Q_PP10

      KARA: You already sound fairly well acquainted with them so I’ll go with two b-sides. First, “Smoothie” from the same album as “Damaged Lady” (Full Bloom). It’s definitely “smooth”, but I love their voices in it. Second, “Same Heart” (oodles of charm) from the album “Revolution”, which featured “Mister” (inarguably one of their best), and “Wanna”, another crowd favorite.

      “Smoothie”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgSbeY3ZHoI
      “Same Heart”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM8RM_4fn4Q

      SNSD: Man.. ..I have over 200 songs from them, so.. ..*brains fried*. Umm, I’ll go with b-sides “Talk Talk”, off of their “I Got A Boy” album, and “Wait A Minute” off of their “Mr.Mr.” EP. Both are fun bops for me. As fas as Hyoyeon, while not everyone’s favorite solo release from her, I really like “Wannabe”. I think my main draw to it is because the chorus sounds like it could’ve been lifted straight out of a 1960’s b-flick about a gang of motorcyle girls. I know.. ..I need therapy. 😛

      “Talk Talk”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH16GDt4ELg
      “Wait A Minute”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9MTyurNy-U
      “Wannabe”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKSzjvvxwJg

      T-ara: Like KARA and SNSD, trying to pull only one or two songs is an excercise in frustration, so I’ll mix things up and list two b-sides from my bias, Jiyeon. “Marionette” (from her EP “Never Ever”) sits in my biggest playlist (“K-All”) and it’s still a joy when it queues up. And “Yeouido Cherry Blossom Road” from the same release. Buckets of charm.

      “Marionette”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUuJfMqA0aY
      “YCBR”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYhg25G1Zso

      Pink Fantasy: You already sound well acquainted with them so offering up songs seems unneccesary. However, Mydoll are champions of releasing PF sub-units and one that hit particularly close to home with me was “MDD”, mainly because it featured Yechan and Yubeen (after she left PF). “Not Beautiful” a ballad, but Yubeen can pierce straight through me and Yechan is one of my favorite vocals in the whole genre. Note: Irony is naming a song “Not Beautiful” and then having two gorgeous and talented women perform it.

      “Not Beautiful”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBr9NhJcb5E

      …Now, I better get out of here before Nick sets my pants on fire and breaks my mouse fingers with a Super Junior lightstick.


  30. Are you going to do the same list with Jpop? I remember discovering M!LK thanks to you ranking Winding Road very high last year, and I couldn’t stop listening to their discography this whole 2021. I’m excited to see if I discover a new group this year too.


  31. Pingback: Best of 2021 Masterpost | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  32. I’m gonna list my Top songs based on how many time I played these song, and after a while, when I listened to them again, will it still a pleasant for my ears

    Not in particular order, depend on my mood.

    1. Atlantis – Shinee.
    Yes, I’m bias. But Atlantis is such a great song. Shinee showed us that you can do a bright song at any age, you don’t have to be cute/kiyomi/young to do it also. The song’s base is “deep like the ocean” and their vocals, especially Onew reached the perfect spot. The song, and the album, the whole comeback proved that it’s13 years, and Shinee are stronger than ever.

    2. Feel like – Woodz
    Thanks to Nick and everyone here that I caught up with Woodz, and what a talented boy he is. I went to his discography and there’re nothing that I didn’t like. Feel like is so sleek, and mature, and made him stand out compare to other soloist.

    3. Hate that… – Key ft. Taeyeon
    I always love chill out music, so this song is it for me. I liked Bad Love also, but I found myself come back to Hate that… Key’s album is great, btw. And the song’s order is excellent. I always play it from beginning to the end without skipping anything.

    4. Tiki Taka – T-ara
    Ok, I, liked everyone else, when first listened to this song, felt weird about the cliff-hanger. But the the melody stuck in my head, and I have been listened to it, like, always. It’s such a great song to set a mood. Like Shinee, T-ara showed maturity here.

    5. We do – Super-M
    Such a fun and excited song to hear. That’s all I wanna say. I feel the energy from the song, the dance, the MV, everything!

    6. Eleven – I’ve
    Wow, great debut. Of course it’s helped that 2 members of this group were already debuted as Iz*one’s members before, still, the song is addicted. (The song has just been released half month, so properly I haven’t tired of listening to it yet 🙂 )

    7. Tail – Sunmi
    I actually don’t like some part of Sunmi’s voice here, but this is Sunmi’s, and only Sunmi can make this kind of song work. And the dance! we’re not ready for this kind of performance yet.

    8. Bicycle – Chungha
    Chungha’s voice sounded so rich here.

    9. Deja Vu – Ateez
    I think Answer is the top peek of Ateez. I’m not sure if they can top that. But Deja Vu is still a nice treat, both song and performance.

    10. Bonnie & Clyde – Yuqi
    Push her! please, Cube!

    My top B-side song also
    1. Code – Shinee (Classic Shinee)
    2. Strings – Taemin (he imagined himself as an instrument and ask us to play with him!!)
    3. All kill – T-ara (it’s like the sequel of Day by day)

    My disappointed artist this year (because I had such high hope for them)
    1. Red Velvet (Queendom is meh for me)
    2. Everglow (not really into their comeback this year)
    3. Straykids (a bad copy of God’s menu)


  33. In no particular order, some of my favorites of the year are

    Moonlight – BDC (I was struck from the moment it opened. The whole thing managed to captivate me the entire time.)

    Atlantis – SHINee (This is lightning in a bottle. No one does it like SHINee)

    Don’t Call Me – SHINee (Has a lot of memorable hooks. It’s a treat to see the group nail a different style. The piano at the bridge is fantastic.)

    CODE – SHINee (This chorus is an absolute knockout of call and response. Moonshine, Kenzie, and Adrian McKinnon are an incredible combo.)

    Spider – HOSHI (This is such a well crafted song and the concept is reflected in all aspects of the music, choreography, lyrics, costuming, sets, cinematography, etc. Perfect.)

    Hello Future – NCT DREAM (Again, Moonshine, Kenzie, and Adrian McKinnon are an incredible combo! The victory lap at the end gives me serotonin each time.)

    Spin Off – UP10TION (I hadn’t really paid attention to this group before but this was awesome.)

    Breakfast – NCT 127 (Gosh I love this song. The instrumental is so textured and interesting, there’s a perfect balance of the group’s voices. The song has me floating one moment and stomping the next.)


  34. Pingback: The Top 50 K-Pop Songs of 2021 (Day Five: 10-1) | Beatsway

  35. Okay. This was my first full year as a fan, and my list is for Kpop, Jpop, Cpop, xr&b, hip-hop whatever. Bsides count. I would write lots but I’m coming off Covid so I’ll post my 175ish playlist. I counted from 11/21/20 to 12/10/21 (the day I got Covid). Also, Supertuna rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • An excellent list, and I’m not JUST saying that because you’re one of the other five people to appreciate the brilliance that is “Form”. Glad you’re feeling better – hope you don’t end up with any long-haul symptoms.


  36. Pingback: The Top 50 J-Pop Songs of 2021: 10-1 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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