The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2021 (20-1)

Top 40 B-Sides & Album Tracks of 2021Each year, it feels like my B-Sides and Album Tracks list grows stronger and stronger. Too often, K-pop agencies miss the boat on releasing these incredible songs as title tracks. 2021 was no different, revealing a host of gems that would have topped my Singles list had they been promoted. Instead, I’ve got two days of standouts to unveil.

This countdown encompasses any track that didn’t receive a full music video. This includes album tracks, as well as songs that may have been performed but never actively promoted. It also includes Japanese b-sides from Korean acts. Just like the Top 50 Singles list, all songs here were released between December 1st, 2020 and November 30th, 2021.

Songs 40-21



Pairing with veteran production team e.one, GHOST9 abandoned the aggressive bombast of past tracks for a sleek dance beat and stylish chorus. (full review)


90’s dance grooves are a dime a dozen these days, but ENHYPEN tied their Robin S-esque production to a series of indelible hooks. It’s a massive-sounding club thumper. (full review)


There are few things more satisfying than the trumpeting synth that punctuates Fever‘s chorus. The song is full-on texture, dripping with charisma as its restrained melodies paint an effortlessly cool atmosphere.


I’m usually not a fan of tempo-switching instrumental drops, but Secret Triangle comes together so thrillingly during its climax that any prior diversions are forgiven. Add a killer melody over the top and you’ve got a long-lasting standout from a group bursting with them.


This haunting trance sound characterizes many of my favorite Dreamcatcher tracks, and Poison Love is up there with the best of them. If the girls ever wanted to twist the signature sound of their title tracks, this would make a dynamite single. (full review)


TXT were too angst-filled this year to fully embrace their brighter side, but the funky No Rules proves they still have a surplus of fuel left in that tank. A bounding beat supports effusive pop melodies, culminating in an addictive, brass-kissed chant. (full review)


Sometimes I just want my pop songs big and stupid. Bottom Of The Ocean‘s English lyrics are… interesting, but that only adds to the track’s goofy stadium rock charm. If I believed in the concept of “guilty pleasure,” this would be top of the list. (full review)


Lucy shocked me with this one. I never dreamed they’d venture toward such electronic territory, but One By One‘s surging synth and otherworldly vocal effects gave new dimension to their sound. It’s like a modern update of a John Hughes movie soundtrack, K-pop style. (full review)


When Golden Child’s suite of strong vocalists forge together, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Spell is overwhelming in its sheer bigness, alternating between fitful verses and commanding choruses. Compelling rhythms abound, drawn together by the group’s go-for-broke performance. (full review)


After the hard turn of title track Don’t Call Me, SHINee counterpunched with a slick dance track that echoes their most iconic work. Heart Attack is straightforward and potent, given life by the group’s effortlessly cool vocals. It’s instantly timeless. (full review)


ONF go full-on Blade Runner with the driving, atmospheric synth fantasia of The Realist. I love how the song melts into musical slush in its final moments, just after a burst of searing guitar rips it open. (full review)


SHINee own this brand of stomping electro-pop, and they’re in full regalia for CØDE‘s commanding attack. After a left-field opener, the beat kicks in and never looks back. It’s sleek and dangerous and thrilling. (full review)


At their best, Lucy radiate warmth. Buddy is a delightfully earnest ode to friendship, building toward startling crescendos and intense emotional payoffs. It’s all framed by a stomping pre-chorus that brings their band sound to the stadium. (full review)


Only producer Hwang Hyun would choose to counter electrifying dance guitar with soft, jazzy verses. The contrast is striking, to say the least. It’s a wonder My Genesis doesn’t collapse under its own weight, but the streamlined hooks power this classic to a blistering finale without ever feeling overdone. (full review)


As much as he loves to flit between genres, Woodz is at his most potent when he opts for straight-ahead rock. Chaser is a chugging anthem fueled by anxious energy and a bravura performance that drives emotion home at every turn. Buttressed by gorgeous harmonies, the track is at once lush and prickly. (full review)


In a generally underwhelming year for The Boyz’ music, they quietly released utter magic with the dynamic Prism. Blistering guitar pairs with a percolating club beat that never lets up. The guys offer an understated performance dripping with stylish flair. In an alternate world, this would have been their greatest single ever. (full review)


This is the slick dance-pop style I need Golden Child to embrace for future title tracks! Fanfare is an entire K-pop feast, delivering powerful vocals, killer beats and a breezy, euphoric hook. The guys have a ball with the material, squeezing every ounce of drama from the melodies. Trumpeting synth brass and disco strings are more than happy to join the party. (full review)


I’ve spent the better part of the year airing my grievances over KQ’s choice not to promote Take Me Home as a title track. Not only is the song utter perfection, but it’s on trend and begging for compelling choreo. Take Me Home echoes the best of ATEEZ’s work, climbing to peaks that overwhelm with the breadth and force of their melody. Cap it off with a knockout sax solo and you’ve landed in pop nirvana. (full review)


Reach Out Your Hands encompasses almost everything I love about K-pop in one tight, three-and-a-half minute package. It’s got an inexhaustible groove full of natural twists and turns. It builds to an extended, euphoric chorus that places melody front and center. And, it’s delivered by a group who sound like they’re having genuine fun, chewing on each phrase with the glee of a natural performer. It’s the perfect spring single that never was. (full review)


Sometimes all it takes is a ten second preview. Even before the release of SHINee’s 2021 album, I was 100% sold on I Really Want You. The first hint of its hook felt instantly engaging, and the full song didn’t disappoint. As much as I go on about melody, I’m a total sucker for this style of so-stuffed-it’s-bursting rhythm. Every moment of this syncopated groove hits fiercely, echoing legends like Michael, Janet and Prince but remaining distinctly SHINee all the way through. It’s a feel-good tonic — a promise kept from K-pop’s kings of funk. (full review)

20 thoughts on “The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2021 (20-1)

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  2. Pingback: The Top 40 K-Pop Album Tracks & B-Sides of 2021 (40-21) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  3. Look at Golcha, ONF, Lucy, and Shinee dominating the top 20. Rightfully so I will say. I didn’t end up making a EOY B-Side list given how daunting making my top 100 TT list ended up being but most of the songs from the this would’ve likely been on mine.


  4. I saw a lot of ONF on your list and it makes me a proud fuse. Id say secret triangle, the realist, and On-You interlude were my favorite b sides from the City of ONF album. That album really was a masterpiece and I’m so happy I decided to get it 😍


  5. What a spectacular year for b-sides! SHINee really did take the cake, with Golden Child breathing right down their necks.

    Total aside – did you catch the Woosung album from this month? It almost passed me by, but I’m glad it didn’t, because No Strings Attached is quite phenomenal!


  6. i just want to say that I Really Want You deserves that #1 spot! It’s pop at its most celebratory and kinda reminds me of great gospel songs I know. The rest of this list is just as powerful.


  7. My favourite b-sides of this year-
    10. No rules-TXT
    9. Prism-The Boyz
    8. The Realist-ONF
    7. Take me home-Ateez
    6. My Genesis-ONF
    5. Pose-Red Velvet
    4. Dear Sputnik-TXT
    3. To you-Seventeen
    2. When this rain stops-Wendy

    1. Cøde-Shinee
    Which also happens to be my top song of the year! The bombastic electropop and that thumping chorus are insane.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey! I guessed most of the list! 19 of them to be exact.

    Moving on, I love the Top 5. No scratch that, The Top 8! In a perfect world, these eight hidden gems could’ve been showcased as singles! Evolving the bands sounds to new experimental heights and whatnot.

    I am currently compiling my list, and I am gonna finish it soon! 2021 was an incredible year for b-sides!

    Liked by 1 person

    • One thing to note! I love how you changed your writing style for the b-sides. Normally, the description of these album tracks used to be an exhibition of sorts.
      Ex: A synthy pop song which hits hard
      An electro-pop banger of sorts

      Love the new one!


      • The B-sides list seems to be too perfect! and while the singles list has incredible songs too…I feel the need to ham-fist some songs inside that one. So I am presenting: Top 50 K-pop Singles of Alternate 2021, where the b-sides which should’ve been singles get chosen and displayed through the entirety of these 12 months!


  9. I’m obsessed with this list, so I turned it into a Spotify playlist in case anybody wanted to binge-listen to these wonderful songs

    Reach Out Your Hands is #1 for me, and it’s also my most-played song of the year so I guess that makes it my top K-Pop song of 2021 overall for me

    Liked by 2 people

  10. reach out your hands and take me home would have easily been the best kpop title tracks of this year for me if they were promoted… also i’m surprised that victon’s unpredictable isn’t in the top 40 at all, im absolutely addicted to its antidrop chorus


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  13. This is actually the countdown I was most looking forward to, because I’m already pretty familiar with this year’s title tracks whether I loved them or not, but there are several on this list (and in comments) I’m planning on revisiting over the next couple of weeks.

    I ended up with a top 40 b-sides but didn’t rank it internally. Hands down number one in terms of plays is VICTON’s “Carry On”. I just love that song to bits. SKZ got the most nods, with “Domino”, “Cheese”, “Star Lost” and “Secret Secret” all in my top 40, with “Red Lights” a near miss. MCND and MIRAE got three each: “H.B.C.”, “Ko, ok!” and “Player” for the former, and the first two b-sides from their debut plus “Bang-Up” for the latter.

    Of the others on my list that don’t overlap with Nick’s, I’d highlight KIM WOOJIN’s “In my space” for my fellow ballad lovers, BDC’s “Mystery Circle” for my fellow banger lovers, and CIX’s “BAD DREAM” for my fellow sexy-concept lovers.


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