I don’t know about the rest of you, but damn. This year. L o n g doesn’t begin to cover it. Just when we think, “Hey, this is the worst of it, right? Right?” the universe bursts into laughter as it unleashes the next worst thing. It’s been a year for many of us—most of us are full of anxiety, but most of all, some of us are Tired and Exhausted, and not in the literal meaning.
In honor of MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards) even though most K-pop fans would know them as trash but where’s the lie on December 6, I decided now would be a good time to pop out of my cave and write a post about the Top Ten K-Pop Songs that released this year. Because despite everything currently going on, the world beats on, although in much different ways. This year has been chockfull of inspirational and catchy bops from well-known favorites and legends to smaller artists who deserve more recognition.
But surely I won’t have as much difficulty as choosing the best K-pop artists of the 2010s?
“Helicopter” – CLC
I go up, helicopter.
I gotta make hella noise for the take-off.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but songs that have inspiring and empowering lyrics are truly the most powerful, and “Helicopter” from CLC is one of those songs. I just can’t stop listening to this (especially when they released the English version, which is just as good as the Korean version) and it’s probably in way too many of my Playlists now.
Okay, I think a lot of Taemin’s songs are amazing (he’s also my bias* in SHINee, though, so I guess that’s playing a part in my opinion here), but I especially love his two recent albums (Never Gonna Dance Again Act 1 and Act 2). “2 Kids” mainly focuses on young love if we go into the overall interpretation of the lyrics, but it’s also how kids are young and make mistakes (including with love).
*Bias(es) – One’s favorite member(s)
Co-ed groups overall are severely underrated in the K-Pop industry, with most of them not being heard of until after they disband (which is the saddest part). They’re also not too common in the industry as most groups are either girl groups or boy groups. KARD, formed in 2017 by DSP Media, is one of the few around, and I love the distinct sound each of their songs have.
Another Co-ed Group to Watch out for: CHECKMATE, which debuted this year with their single, “DRUM.”
Who am I without including ATEEZ, one of my favorite groups? “Inception” is about going after and chasing your dreams even if they’re hard to reach. It’s very different from their past songs—while the others have a lot more hip-hop, this one is more melodic.
TWICE’s music has never been my type (actually, I’m not really as much of a girl groups person as I used to be). “I Can’t Stop Me” well… it’s definitely different from their other songs, and I personally enjoyed the vast majority of their album Eyes Wide Open. The song is about good and evil and the struggle that comes with choosing which side, and really have any of us never had to make difficult choices?
I’ve yet to listen to their new album BE but I love the meaning behind “On,” which was released in February 2020 (also the bridge with Jungkook and Jimin? *chef’s kiss*). “On” is about the pain and suffering they’ve gone through on their journey to get to where they are today, which a lot of us can relate to in some way, shape or form.
AleXa made her debut in October 2019 with Bomb, which has quickly become one of my favorites of that year. The tracks released debut after along with the sci-fi, futuristic-like concept in the music videos have quickly made her one of my favorite K-Pop artists. “Revolution” is one of the tracks in her first album Decoherence, and showcases not only her dance but her vocals.
(She’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.)
It’s only about 75% of the way through this post that I’m realizing there’s a pattern with all my song choices this year (except for maybe “Gunshot”). “G.B.T.B.” (short for “ Beyond The Barrier”) is no exception, a song about overcoming obstacles in your journey.
So I pulled up the English translations to God’s Menu and it’s about… cooking? I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning, but the closest thing I can get into is how the music industry is like cooking? Or creating a song is a process much like putting together a menu?
It took me the longest time to like How You Like That, but I’m starting to appreciate the song a lot more after certain reasons thanks to Twitter. “You Never Know” is one of my favorite tracks from their first and probably only album, and the most obvious meaning is how you don’t know anyone’s experiences unless you’ve been through it as well. | Hannah Sophia Lin