Well, as they usually say, it’s better late than never, but in this case, it is probably too late. Regardless, as one of the best years of K-pop, I couldn't resist but share with you all my top seventeen K-pop songs of 2017! As a rule, I only chose one song from one artist. Okay, let's proceed!
17. “Eclipse” – LOONA/Kim Lip (이달의 소녀/김립)
LOONA has been releasing hit after endless hit in 2017 without ever formally debuting. The upcoming twelve-member girl group is teasing with new girls each month, but when Kim Lip was introduced in May with “Eclipse,” she was everyone’s new bias, and who could blame them (and me)? “Eclipse” was a sensual modern pop sensation, bringing out all the best elements of Kim Lip’s womanly features and immense talent, both in singing and dancing. Everyone can expect exceptional things from LOONA!
16. “REALLY REALLY” – Winner
Cool and hipster are the two words to describe Winner and the group’s cult classic summer song, “REALLY REALLY.” Filmed in Los Angeles, the members and song embody the feeling of summer fun in California, while doing it in slick black suits. It’s all the fun and sophistication expected by Winner, one of the most underrated groups within YG Entertainment and K-pop. “REALLY REALLY” became the go-to song internationally and Korea, which makes sense considering the songs international appeal. It’s a wonderful revamp for Winner’s career and surely means bright things are ahead for this intricate group.
15. “JUST U” – Jeong Sewoon (정세운) with Sik-K (Prod. GroovyRoom)
Although Jeong Sewoon was eliminated from the highly competitive show, Produce 101 Season 2, his career didn’t end with it. Instead, he found his solo voice and brought his own flair with his wonderfully addictive hit, “JUST U.” With the help of experienced rapper Sik-K and producers GroovyRoom, Sewoon was able to share his musical style at the young age of twenty in a way that was both youthful and mature. His live performances were further enhanced by his bold choice of playing his guitar while rocking back at forth with the microphone. Amidst the endless intense choreography, Sewoon took a chance and enabled his voice and charisma to shine.
14. "Hobgoblin (도깨비)" – CLC (씨엘씨)
In a sea of never-ending cute girl groups, CLC, with the help of skilled CUBE Entertainment soloist, Hyuna, brought the 'badass' flair and it definitely paid off! The sexy queen herself, Hyuna, took the time to styled, choreographed, and co-wrote this epic EDM- track for this once sweet girl group. Leaving behind its colorful, girly exterior, CLC brought the sexiness, vivaciousness, and independence once only found in the now disbanded girl group, 4Minute (which Hyuna was a part of). The song is in your face, demanding your attention, and can even be suffocating at times with the blaring instrumentals and raspy voices of many of the members. However, it’s a forcefulness that also keeps it alluring and left me personally wanting more from this sensational group.
13. “Shangri-La (도원경) (桃源境)” – VIXX (빅스)
If one group truly represented the beauty, grace, and rich culture of South Korea, it was definitely VIXX’s exceptionally gorgeous song, “Shangri-La.” Bringing back the Korean in Korean Pop (aka, K-pop), VIXX was able to bring old and young Korean citizens together by touching on both the classic and modern characteristics of their culture. It was a celebration, basked in traditional clothing, sensual fans, intricate choreography, and whimsical visuals that made the song a standout against the constant EDM club music of 2017. VIXX is known for taking chances in its concepts, and Shangri-La is possibly its best concept yet.
12. “Rollin’” – B1A4
Sometimes a song can be on a list simply because it’s a good song. When “Rollin’” first came out, it was well-received by the masses with its catchy beat, simplistic lyrics, and ability to grab your attention while still bringing the chill vibe. B1A4 embodies both the club and the car ride feel effortlessly and it's a song created for multiple occasions. One of the most vital points of the song is, leader and vocalist, Jingyoung’s distinctive falsetto, nasally voice propelling the song to new levels and making it incredibly unique. If you’re looking to dance than look no further than “Rollin’”!
11. “WHITE NIGHT” – TAEYANG
How can a song that is only a minute and a half captivate not only me but thousands of K-pop fans? This feat can only be achieved by iving legend Taeyang. Known for his vibrant R&B hits, Taeyang brought it back with another epic album and particularly epic intro, “WHITE NIGHT.” With only a minute and a half, Taeyang is able to slow the song down and build it up to his own tempo, as if ignoring time itself. He draws you in with his smooth vocals that ooze sexiness until, at the main chorus, he crashes the song with a thunderous bass that embodies the idea of lightning, a common theme throughout his album and persona. It’s a great introduction that not only begins an incredible album but became the favorite song on the album.
10. “Pet” – 10cm
Nothing is better than a person with a story and another person with a guitar help tell the story. It’s this concept that enables 10cm to flourish as one of the most prolific alternative pop artists in the music scene. Telling the story of a young man smitten by his lover, “Pet” describes the innocence, freshness, and necessity of pure love. The duo group is able to tell this vibrant tale with nothing more than a pure voice and a pure guitar (and perhaps one or two other instruments). It’s with this simplicity that a wonderful tale is told and brings calmness and joy to thousands of listeners. 2017 was a year full of sadness, hatred, and anger, but 10cm brought back the joy of just sitting back and listening to a good song…a really good song.
9. “Chill (소름)” – EXO (엑소)
While many people are, rightfully, jamming to EXO’s latest songs, “Ko Ko Bop” and “Forever,” it was “Chill” which capitated me and made it to the top of my list. It was a new year for EXO, where the group left behind their cool image and took incredible risks to create one of the most solid albums of 2017, The War. “Chill” was the song that, to me, showcased this immense growth from EXO and showed the members were willing and wanting to take this risk, regardless of the consequences. It was this bravery and tenacity which is shown throughout this song. From D.O.’s hardcore rap, Chanyeol’s effortless cool vibes, and Chen’s impressive vibrato, it’s a song that reaches for you and shows you the future of K-pop music.
8. “Movie” – BTOB (비투비)
The boys BTOB returned early in 2017 with one of the silliest and most endearing songs of the year, “Movie.” Known for its larger-than-life personalities and meme-like status, BTOB is never afraid to be themselves and that’s what makes its music so easy to enjoy. It’s this big personality that blares through your speakers and begs for you to sing along, no matter the language barrier. While the song’s lyrics aren’t anything new, it’s the execution which makes this song unforgettable and repeatable. The addictive guitar riffs, blaring trumpets, and groovy bass enables the song to stand out and is only enhanced with each members’ unique part. In a way, “Movie” truly makes you feel like you’re in a fun movie.
7. “LIKEY” – TWICE (트와이스)
These girls personify cuteness and no better song showcases their immense talent at being cute than “LIKEY.” While “LIKEY” is cute, it’s a relatable and less evasive cute, an achievable cute instead of a...creepy cute. It’s a song that keeps the same feeling of TWICE, but also shows the girls in a womanlier way. On a bad day, nothing will cure your brokenness than this infectious song which describes the hardships women go through when liking someone (something that while not original, is definitely very true). One of the most iconic parts of the song is the rapping breakdown, with Dahyun bringing a modern rapping style which TWICE has never experimented with before. It’s this catchiness, yet authenticity that makes “LIKEY” come alive and make you just LIKEY this song.
6. “Tomorrow, Today (내일, 오늘)” – JJ Project
Making difficult decisions and wondering what tomorrow brings is always a worry for any millennial. It’s this never-ending fear which JJ Project brings to life in its emotional hit song, “Tomorrow, Today.” Originally from the popular boy group, GOT7, vocalist Jingyoung and leader JB bring about a refreshing, adolescent tune chopped full of relatable lyrics which describes the fear of making the wrong decisions and regretting the past, the present, and the future. To them, there is no easy day, and it shows with their drawling low vocals, showing their sadness and uncertainty throughout the song. Each high note is strained, as if they are screaming in anger and frustration at the immense pressure many millennials face of being forced to be perfect. It’s a hard world, and instead of being overly (and obnoxiously) happy, JJ Project instead shows the real emotions of real hardships.
5. “Red Flavor (빨간 맛)” – Red Velvet (레드벨벳)
This song screams summer. This song IS summer. This song is the summer song of 2017. These are simple facts which every person should accept as truth, because Red Velvet brought it with its summer hit “Red Flavor,” which deserves endless recognition. Known for their endlessly unique concepts, these girls brought the fruity, summery deliciousness of ultimate freedom, hot pool days, and neon outfits to the forefront. The lyrics, while cheesy at times, and the background vocals screaming “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” a bit much, it was the infectious jubilation of the members as they sang which made this song come to life. Joy, Seulgi, Irene, Wendy, and Yeri were truly the it girls during 2017 and deservedly so.
4. “I Wait (아 왜)” – DAY6
If pop isn’t your thing, then look no further than the talented men of the band DAY6. This alternative rock group forced themselves to be seen by releasing an EP and music video each month, two albums, and holding endless concerts throughout the year. "I Wait" was particularly a standout, showing off the talents of each member, in both their vocal and instrumental abilities. Through the craftsmanship of each member, "I Wait" became an instant hit, one which catapulted the group into stardom and was nicknamed the 'anime opening' song. Is it the vibrant guitar? The diverse vocals? The pronounced drums? It's a mixture of all of these things coming perfectly together like a thousand-piece puzzle and creating one magnificent masterpiece. "I Wait" is a testament to DAY6's patience in finally being recognized and simply showing off its talent which was ALWAYS there to begin with, yet slept on by the public.
3. "Palette" (팔레트) - IU (아이유) ft. G-DRAGON
IU is an icon in South Korea, and for all the right reasons. With her elegance, grace, soothing vocals, and immense talent she was able to shine as the queen in South Korean music with utter ease. It's easy when you're so great, and "Palette" is just another example of IU's greatness. Much like her last hit, "23," IU sings openly about her age and the insecurities which come with her youth and innocence. Despite facing criticism in the past, IU loves who she is and all the things she likes, like pastels, pajamas, and lipstick. It's these simple things that come together to create a magical song which is (or should be) an anthem for any young woman. To add to the excellence of this song, G-DRAGON, leader and rapper of BIG BANG, brings about his own wisdom and seamless rapping style. It's a strange mix which works well to create a cohesive and enjoyable song for the masses.
2. "The Gift" (선물) - Melomance (멜로망스)
Love is one of the greatest feelings and it's the idea of love which drives forth this beautiful song by Melomance, "The Gift." As the piano is played by Jeon Dong-hwan, vocalist Kim Min-seok sings about the gift of love and how each moment spent with your love is a gift. It's this idea of love which creates peace in a reckless world, and it's this emotion which catapults Melomance to second on my list. With such pure logic, it creates a magical feeling for whoever truly listens to this song! In a way, this song brings about hope for those waiting for love and those already in love and wondering what's next. As one of the more personal choices on my list, it's a song which brings about a great deal of emotion whenever I listen to it because it makes me happy at the realization of the wonder of love. So, kick back, close your eyes, and sway back and forth with whoever you love while listening to this magical gift from Melomance.
1. "A Supplementary Story: You Never Walk Alone" - BTS (방탄소년단)
Promising myself I would only choose one song by one artist was incredibly difficult, especially with my favorite group, BTS. With hit after hit after hit, BTS shined last year as the IT group and the group which showed dreams can come true. 2017 was also a year where racism, sexual assault and rape, suicide, bullying, hate crimes, and more terrible things were brought to the limelight. Amongst the sadness, BTS released a song of hope and sang about the truth: you never walk alone. It's these four words which can and does send hope and a ripple effect for a better tomorrow. Not only are the lyrics meaningful, but the song itself showcases the intense emotions of each member as they rap, sing, talk, and shout at the listener to never give up and hang on for another day. Despite our failures throughout the year, it's the idea of a brighter tomorrow and the realization that we never walk alone which gives us all the drive to crawl, walk, run, and finally fly.
Well, there you have it, my top seventeen K-pop songs of 2017! What did you think of my list? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time!
Stay Kurrent. Stay K-pop.