Bet you thought I was never coming back! I kid.
Despite everything that’s been going on in my life, from securing myself a new job and starting school again, I’ve been keeping on track with a lot of K-pop in 2020. In a year that is probably the weirdest, 2020 delivered on the K-pop track with various songs ranging from haunting to straight up wonky. It seems like there was no way coronavirus was gonna bring K-pop down. I’ve narrowed it down to fifteen songs to keep it small, but here is my list of songs from December 2019 to December 2020… and here’s a warning: don’t be surprised if it’s majorly girl groups. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
시그니처 (cignature) | 아리송 (ARISONG)
Imagine if ‘Zimzalabim’ took hold of a more consistent melody, but it still kept its haphazard charm, and it was taken in by a rookie group that has the potential to be a fierce competitor for the ever-growing fifth (or is it fourth?) generation of Korean pop groups. This may be the beginning to a fruitful fan relationship with C9’s seven-member girl group, as “ARISONG” goes further into fabulous hot mess than their two prior singles went. ⬛
오마이걸 (OH MY GIRL) | 살짝 설렜어 (Nonstop)
2020 is perhaps OH MY GIRL’s year, considering they’ve gotten significantly more popular, and maybe it’s thanks to “Nonstop“. With a sound that infects the brain with its catchy hooks, to its tropical house vibes, and perhaps the best part of the song, a fiery rap from Mimi who finally gets credit where it’s due, OH MY GIRL brought out the surprise summer jam of the year, showing us they’re not just another candy-coated pop group. You gotta listen to this. Nonstop. ⬛
BLACKPINK | How You Like That
BLACKPINK is in your area indeed… perhaps boosting outside my window without notice. Conquering the world as the female counterparts to BTS, BLACKPINK started 2020 off right with “How You Like That“. It’s harder, tougher, and quite simply, the embodiment of girl crush. Not that there was any surprise they’d put out a, quite literally, banger, but man, did I ever like THIS. Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s BLACKPINK. ⬛
TWICE (트와이스) | MORE & MORE
Thanks Spotify, for I found out my most played song of 2020, and honestly, can’t say I’m surprised because I listened to “MORE & MORE” more and more while I worked in the summer… and maybe it’s one of TWICE’s best tracks? Tropical house called, and they are glad that it has expanded into the mainstream K-pop market. There’s also a dance break that’s enough to get you to bias Momo more and more. I think there’s more and more to enjoy about the song, but you might grow tired of the word ‘more’… more and more. ⬛
청하 | Stay Tonight
I don’t think anyone has had it better than Chungha post-I.O.I (albeit, with Somi just trailing close behind her), and frankly, 2020 showcases that growth, and let’s be real… this time she’s serving the gays with “Stay Tonight“. Probably one of the only vogue title tracks in K-pop, this is a track meant to strike a pose at every beat, all while begging for company in a time when having a man over is so taboo. If I was already in love with Chungha before, I’m staying tonight and for many nights thereafter. ⬛
전소미 | What You Waiting For
If 2019 was the year that Jeon Somi finally spread her wings from post-I.O.I obscurity with ‘Birthday’, then 2020 was the year she cemented that she was THE force to be reckoned with and THE true center, even if the Produce scandal had anything to say about it. And how exactly did she do this? With the only single she released this year: “What You Waiting For“. From the clicks of xylophone to the booming bass to the loud horns, this song has Gwen Stefani quivering in her boots. So, what are YOU waiting for? Ring the alarm. ⬛
선미 | 보라빛 밤 (pporappippam)
There’s always a sense of colorful wonder and class when it comes to anything released by Wonder Girls’ Sunmi, whether it be the satirical display of social media in the darkly blue ‘Noir’ or the fun, but sinister bad-girl-good-girl red vibe of ‘Siren’, but into this decade, Sunmi opts to go purple “pporappippam“, booming with vigor and 80s synth to help her listeners go into the night with her. Bam. ⬛
지코 (ZICO) | 아무노래
Anything can happen on TikTok, and frankly, I have to be thankful that TikTok exists. Otherwise, ZICO’s hit, one of the very first of 2020, would have flown completely under the radar. With a flow that belongs at house parties, ‘Amunorae‘ (or ‘Any song’) is not just any song. It is a jovial hip-hop track that has horns and pianos joining in smooth motion; it’s the New Year’s jam that we didn’t know we needed to keep us positive throughout this uncertain year. ⬛
Lady Gaga & BLACKPINK | Sour Candy
Now, you might say that this isn’t K-pop, but isn’t it? And isn’t it great K-pop, too? When the pop sensation Lady Gaga announced she’d be releasing a new album, we were never ready for the collaboration of mainstream pop and K-pop through the likes of a YG girl group and one of the world’s biggest stars, but alas… we were given the infectious likes of “Sour Candy“, a not-so-sugary but definitely sweet deep-house vogue-jam that had the gays screaming and every K-pop fan jamming. Take a bite, take a bite, sour candy. ⬛
유아 (오마이걸) | 숲의 아이 (Bon voyage)
There is wonder in the outdoors, and OH MY GIRL’s YooA brought it to us in her debut solo release, which in itself is a display of her talent and versatility for electronic and dance-pop tracks. However, it is in the title track, “Bon voyage“, where it fills you with the chills and the magic of nature. While it is not my favorite of the mini, it is a track that I believe gives us the beauty of a world we have been unable to truly explore in 2020, one that awaits us at the end of our long journey to 2021. ⬛
나띠 (NATTY) | NINETEEN
Holy, if I wasn’t excited for NATTY to debut… what a time to be a SIXTEEN fan. This song just screams stellar debut. I could stop there, but the K-pop fandoms must know. “NINETEEN” has all the right formula details, with a funky guitar, a house beat, violins, but it’s NATTY’s unique vocal that just feels so right and feels so deserved and feels so fresh. I remember when I was nineteen… those were the days. Take me back to NINETEEN, NATTY. ⬛
이달의 소녀 | Why Not?
Hard to believe there’s still a bevy of people not stanning LOONA, but alas, Orbits can only do so much. Still, it’s easy to believe that LOONA can get better with every comeback, and it shows immensely in “Why Not?“. Upon release, it had a polarizing effect, as I witnessed people calling it hot trash and others calling it a piece of art. I can’t quite build a case for either extreme but I’ve found myself drawn to its deep house sound incorporated by its funkiness, and maybe we do have to ask ourselves why the f*ck not? Let’s pump it up! ⬛
NATURE (네이처) | 어린애 (Girls)
Remember ‘OOPSIE (My Bad)’? If that incredible (good) mess was up your alley, wait till “Girls” hits your ears. If that isn’t enough alone, give your eyes some viewing pleasure to its (uncensored, and the far better one, frankly) MV. Merging horror and K-pop is always a biggie of mine, but NATURE really hits it out of the park. The track is haunting, booming, and maybe even beautiful, a far cry from anything they’ve released prior, and it’s hypnotic enough to get you hot like chilly chilly. ⬛
위키미키 (Weki Meki) | COOL
As someone on the YouTube comments put it nicely, ‘this sounds like it belongs to a fashion runway’, and isn’t that really all you need to know what kind of song you get? It’s in the song’s title itself, ‘COOL‘, taking today’s trends and merging it with everything that feels unique and, like a breath of fresh air, cool. Admittedly, I was never a big Weki Meki fan, but after hearing this witches’ brew of catchy, model-esque fierceness, with a Performance Ver. video that just hypnotizes, I might coolly join the Ki-lings. ⬛
IZ*ONE (아이즈원) | FIESTA
Do you ever know what it feels like to wait for so long for something and when you get it, you just know it is going to change your life? That’s “FIESTA“, the title track that came following the beginnings of a currently ongoing scandal involving the alleged manipulations of Produce 101 and all its later seasons, and while it’s all tl;dr, I have to say that a dance track that twinkles and is filled with so much gusto, fierceness, and joy is perhaps one of the greatest birthday gifts this fanboy can ever get. It was definitely my FIESTA in 2020. Thank you IZ*ONE, and boy, am I glad they’re back. ⬛
And there you have it!
2020 hasn’t stopped K-pop from taking over, with the likes of BTS and BLACKPINK continuing to make music in a year that was rough for everyone. If you don’t see your faves on the list, I apologize! I can only fit so much… but these were the songs that caught my attention in the year and remained to have a lasting effect up until December. Perhaps your faves just missed the mark, but I have to acknowledge that it was another great year for K-pop.
Perhaps I’ll make a list for J-pop this year, as well, but I don’t think there was much that caught my cravings for music; that being said, I will be back with more content by the end of the year and into the new!