This decade set the stage for Okay-pop to make its mark on the bigger world. Over the previous 10 years, the South Korean music business has embedded itself deeper into the American consciousness. This takeover was two-pronged: Psy helped usher within the streaming period along with his inescapable hit, “Gangnam Model.” Then BTS broke limitless data to turn out to be the largest boy band on the planet. Now, the floodgates have opened, and Okay-pop retains getting larger.
That’s a win for music across the globe. Whereas the Korean business will get pegged for its transformative method to Western kinds, it additionally occurs to be a website of super innovation. The place else might you get such boundary-breaking experiments in tune construction, remixing, or genre-mixing?
Okay-pop’s amorphousness has traversed an limitless stream of traits over the previous decade. We’ve heard songs impressed by the whole lot from dubstep to retro ideas to future bass to Latin pop to tropical home. Some flavors of the month hit their expiration dates too quickly, whereas others stick round far longer than anticipated. One factor stays: Okay-pop’s cross-genre method is as advanced as ever.
To commemorate the last decade in Okay-pop, Billboard chosen the best songs of the period, from cult favorites of the indie world to the inescapable hits that crossed all borders. Right here’s our record of the 100 finest Okay-pop songs of the 2010s, with a Spotify playlist of all 100 on the finish.
100. Chungha, “Gotta Go” (XII, 2019)
Whereas Chungha had at all times been a promising performer, “Gotta Go” was a marked transition in her discography, which solely acquired extra assured and experimental all year long. Doing a whole 180 from her earlier “woman crush” ideas, the tune’s sultry darkness hit the correct mark for a picture overhaul, setting her up as one of the vital promising skills of the following technology. — L. SINGH
99. Produce 101 Season 2’s Nation’s Sons, “By no means” (35 Boys 5 Ideas, 2017)
Korea’s actuality competitors collection Produce 101 has supplied moments of musical brilliance together with dramatic digicam pan-ins since 2016. Season 2’s nonpareil was “By no means,” a propulsive tropical-house monitor carried by the varied voices of the then-hopefuls, from Woojin’s husky rasp to Jaehwan’s compelling belt. Its tackle probably the most ubiquitous development of the late ‘10s even stunned those that hadn’t watched a millisecond of Produce — now that’s influence. — MONIQUE MELENDEZ
98. GFriend, “Navillera” (LOL, 2016)
It’s not simple to comply with up your greatest hit along with your finest tune. However GFriend pulled that off by giving their cute-concept-next-door a retro twist. Apart from their healthful picture and spectacular choreography, this six-piece shot to the highest with a attribute sound: orchestral pop melded with electrical guitar. “Navillera” elevates their discography to a different degree with squelching synths plucked out of a classic anime opening. If their idea is “flying to the sky like a butterfly,” Yuju’s belted excessive notes take them there. — CAITLIN KELLEY
97. WJSN, “Secret” (The Secret, 2016)
The 13-member-strong WJSN discovered their candy spot early of their careers with their sophomore launch “Secret.” The chic synth-pop sound nonetheless acts as an anchor for the woman group to soundtrack their intricate dance formations and otherworldly music movies, all kicked off by this dreamy single. — JEFF BENJAMIN
96. NU’EST “Overcome” (Q is., 2016)
There’s an magnificence with which “Overcome” traverses its many musical passages. It begins as a sultry ballad à la Ciara’s “Promise,” abruptly shifts gears right into a pre-chorus drawn from Ghost City DJ’s “My Boo” after which fires off a dramatic refrain full with post-dubstep wobbles. By means of this continually shifting musical panorama, NU’EST sound like they’re on an arduous journey to reassure their lover. Because the tune quietly ends, we lastly get the total scope of the place their coronary heart’s at: “You’re all I would like.” — JOSHUA MINSOO KIM
95. GOT7, “If You Do” (Mad, 2015)
Since getting into the scene in 2014, GOT7 have confirmed certainly one of their strongest factors as a bunch is their skill to deal with every kind of genres and moods. However the late-2015 single “If You Do” marked a flip in the direction of sentimental R&B for the band that continues to be a cornerstone of their sound at present. — J.B.
94. Pristin, “Wee Woo” (Hello! Pristin, 2017)
With a promising begin and an sudden disbandment after simply two years, Pristin’s all-too-quick time collectively will possible go down as one of many decade’s greatest Okay-pop mysteries — particularly when one considers how strongly they started with this disco-tinged bubblegum thumper. “Wee Woo” stands not solely as certainly one of Okay-pop’s finest debut singles, however a long-lasting reminder of what might have been. — J.B.
93. TWICE, “Fancy” (Fancy You, 2019)
The Nation’s Lady Group sped into their last 12 months of the last decade on the rollercoaster experience of a single “Fancy.” The Black Eyed Pilseung-produced hit marries TWICE hallmarks — a serotonin-spiking refrain, twee vocals, and an earnest embrace of affection — with sharp retro synths and tempo adjustments that preserve you in your toes. Equal components coy, cheeky, and stylish, “Fancy” is a sonic evolution that refuses to compromise the woman group’s essence — who wouldn’t fancy that? — M.M.
92. Lee Hello, “Breathe” (Seoulite, 2016)
Jazzy songstress Lee Hello presents consolation to these having a tough time with this motivational monitor. “Breathe” assures listeners that they’re doing effectively, even when sighs come incessantly. The lyrics have been written by Jonghyun of SHINee, and the poignant tune has turn out to be a memorial of types after the artist’s passing in 2017. A go-to throughout laborious instances, it’s a masterpiece. — TAMAR HERMAN
91. Hyukoh, “Comes and Goes” (22, 2015)
Hyukoh might have occurred upon fame, however the band’s sleeper hit, “Comes and Goes,” cemented their place as one of many seminal indie acts of the last decade. By means of its shoegaze guitar loops and home-movie aesthetics, the tune depicted the very actual emotion of being left to flounder with the reminiscences when somebody leaves. Deceptively cheerful and unpolished, it augmented Hyukoh’s world enchantment and helped different indie rock outfits discover their voice within the oft saturated mainstream. — L.S.
90. SHINee, “View” (Odd, 2015)
As UK storage regained reputation in its residence nation with artists like Disclosure, Okay-pop acts began adopting the sound too. “View” kicked all of it off, opening the floodgates for different takes on retro dance music after EDM and dubstep’s decline. The tune was lush and breezy, taking you to the “lovely place” SHINee sang about. It marked a major change in SHINee’s sound, in addition to the start of producer duo LDN Noise’s indelible affect on Okay-pop. — J.M.Okay.
89. Beast, “Good Luck” (Good Luck, 2014)
Fast: Title a greater monitor opener than Yoseob’s attention-demanding vocals on “Good Luck.” The group’s 2014 single upgrades the melancholic digital pop sound Beast showcased in “Shadow” and “Fiction,” melding classical violins and piano melodies with glossy manufacturing and vocal performances that make the heartbreak palpable. On “Good Luck,” Beast spotlight precisely what made them one of many prime boy bands of the period. — M.M.
88. PSY, “Gangnam Model” (Psy Six Guidelines, Half 1, 2012)
Whereas “Gangnam Model” will go down in historical past for its viral dance craze and record-breaking YouTube video, it also needs to be remembered for lyrics that cleverly poked enjoyable at high-class society. PSY’s bigger message was wrapped in a slick digital manufacturing, his signature gusto rapping and, in fact, that horsey dance that put made Seoul’s wealthy neighborhood, and Okay-pop, on the world map. — J.B.
87. Epik Excessive, “Run” (Epilogue, 2010)
There are few songs as invigorating because the propulsive “Run,” an Epik Excessive depth introduction to the brand new decade that flits between melodic, sing-song raps and dramatic, desperation-infused choruses. With an orchestral instrumental layered all through and lilting keys driving a lot of the tune, “Run” is without delay evocative and energizing, and it’ll run a marathon round your head for days. — T.H.
86. MBLAQ, “Smoky Lady” (SEXY BEAT, 2013)
Previous to “Smoky Lady,” producer Main and vocalist Zion.T collaborated on three songs that appeared on the previous’s debut album. Each had a hand on this tune — that’s Zion.T’s “oh oh oh’s” you hear within the refrain — nevertheless it’s MBLAQ who promote the glossy, sultry tone that it wants. The refined shifts within the throbbing beat channel the sensual power of nightclub pursuits, the place getting misplaced within the music goes hand in hand with getting misplaced in another person. — J.M.Okay.
85. Taemin, “Transfer” (Transfer, 2017)
By far the sexiest Okay-pop tune of 2017, “Transfer” by SHINee member and soloist Taemin eschews the style’s mountainous peaks for a restrained sound that invokes Depeche Mode and The Weeknd alike. With its forbidding analog synths and Taemin’s breathy vocals, “Transfer” possesses an unnerving seductiveness that leaves you with a chill. Taemin’s atypical single moved listeners, and with its sensual, distinctive choreography, it grew to become Okay-pop’s most bewitching phenomenon. — M.M.
84. Ladies’ Era, “Mr.Mr.” (Mr.Mr., 2014)
After they brightened up the world with “I Received a Boy” in 2013, Ladies’ Era’s following Korean single confirmed the group’s maturing fashion with the R&B-electro-pop fusion of “Mr.Mr.” Surrounded by dance breakdowns and synth-laden harmonizing, the Ladies served up robust, domineering verses, whereas the chanty refrain blended sounds related to the ‘70s to create an addicting earworm — T.H.
83. NCT U, “The seventh Sense” (NCT 2018 Empathy, 2016)
The kickoff single of SM Leisure’s NCT boy model, “The seventh Sense” is a seductive alt-R&B monitor fueled by lure percussion, dramatic raps, and slinking verses. It was a promising “long-ass experience” that launched a number of members of NCT and hinted at what was to come back, with the mesmerizing tune heralding the upcoming boy bands NCT 127, NCT Dream, and WayV. — T.H.
82. Se So Neon, “A Lengthy Dream” (Summer season Plumage, 2017)
“A Lengthy Dream” was a debut highly effective sufficient to peg Se So Neon as a singularly encompassing act. Held collectively on a fragile, prickly string by vocalist So!YoON!’s distinctive adenoidal voice, “A Lengthy Dream” tugged on the nuanced threads of human nature wrapped up in a confluence of psychedelia, jazz, and synth-pop. No shock that inside a 12 months of their debut, they’d turn out to be one of the vital recent, distinctive voices to emerge from the Korean indie scene. — L.S.
81. DAY6, “I Wait” (Dawn, 2017)
DAY6 kicked off their Each Day6 undertaking with “I Wait,” and oh, what a blessing it was. Gone was the softness of their earlier releases. “I Wait” was tighter and cleaner, held collectively by addictive electronica and synths, reaching an thrilling crescendo within the refrain earlier than crashing completely into waves of cymbals. Suppose if the Purple Jumpsuit Equipment had a baby with The Tutorial. DAY6 have been on a musical zenith all through 2017, and “I Wait” was the proper introduction to hurl us into this new period. — L.S.
80. BTS, “I Want U” (The Most Stunning Second in Life, Half 1, 2015)
Earlier than Ellen and Fallon and the U.N. got here knocking, BTS was nonetheless striving for a breakthrough in South Korea, when you can consider it. On 2015’s “I Want U,” the group turned away from the old-school hip-hop of their earliest EPs in the direction of an emotive digital sound and a labyrinthine “BTS Universe” narrative. The remainder is music historical past. “I Want U” shot BTS to new heights in South Korea and rewrote the fortunes of at present’s greatest boy band. — M.M.
79. DALSooobin, “Circle’s Dream” (Circle’s Dream, 2017)
The artist previously referred to as Subin turned — err, rolled — over a brand new leaf on “Circle’s Dream.” She accents the shapely subject material with intelligent methods, rolling her Rs on the Korean onomatopoeia for “rolling.” Her fourth single may very well be described because the angular cousin to Halsey’s notorious “Colours” — and never simply due to the lyrical similarities. The Okay-pop soloist’s monitor is emblematic of the inflow of indie-pop aesthetics within the idolsphere (*cough* Rosé’s Indie-Pop Voice *cough*). — C.Okay.
78. Hoody, “Hangang” (no album, 2017)
Hoody’s turn out to be one of many main figures in Korea’s underground R&B scene for her subtly addicting songs. Right here, she sings of the Han river as one thing that signifies her lover and their present relationship. Because the tune progresses, it does so with the benefit and luxury of quietly transferring water; she’s content material, appreciative of this time spent collectively. “Hangang” turns into the soundtrack to her infatuation, and the tune’s diaphanous environment makes it simple to maintain listening. If she might, Hoody would keep on this second perpetually. — J.M.Okay.
77. WINNER, “Empty” (2014 S/S, 2014)
After they left us empty-handed for practically 10 months after WIN: Who Is Subsequent — the truth present that shaped WINNER — ”Empty” was the proper debut for a promising act. A delightfully succinct hip-hop and R&B medley with solely acoustic guitars to fill the silence, “Empty” gave the members ample likelihood to shine by way of. — L.S.
76. Tremendous Junior, “This Is Love” (This Is Love (Mamacita), 2014)
Although they might be identified extra for dance tracks and their pivot to Latin-pop lately, Tremendous Junior is at their finest with extra vocal-focused songs, and 2014’s “This Is Love” is a standout. Filled with groove and clean crooning, it has a rhythmic bounce that makes it laborious to not dance alongside because the act sings sweetly a few love for the ages. — T.H.
75. OFFONOFF, “Dance” (boy., 2017)
“Dance” is a moody, nocturnal R&B monitor suffused with eager for an unrequited love. Vocalist Colde switches effortlessly between singing and rapping, relaying his dedication to creating a would-be accomplice swoon within the course of. Much more convincing: 0channel’s intimate manufacturing, unhurried however assured. “Late at evening I consider you,” goes the refrain. You possibly can think about him swaying aspect to aspect with the beat, wishing he might maintain this individual in his arms. — J.M.Okay.
74. SunWoo Jung-A, “Springirls” (no album, 2015)
IU as soon as stated that when she listens to this tune, she appears like a “cool individual.” It’s not laborious to know why. SunWoo Jung-A constructed an understated jam constructed round a cool bassline — and it’s worthy of any “C A T”-walk. The revered indie singer was impressed by “girls strolling in a horny and cute fashion,” and it exhibits. “Springirls” celebrates girls proudly owning their very own fashion — it’s a sense that interprets if you hit play. — C.Okay.
73. Sistar, “Alone” (Alone, 2012)
All lush synths and retro-inspired perfection, “Alone” is symbolic of their transition into extra assured, mature girls who claimed company over their our bodies and sexuality all through their profession. It’s the place we see the primary hints of the varied, powerhouse act that Sistar advanced into, commanding consideration in a room simply by being in it. — L.S.
72. Search engine optimisation Taiji, “Christmalo.win” (Quiet Night time, 2014)
Again in 2014, South Korea’s “President of Tradition” gifted the world with this synth-rock takedown of societal norms. The predecessor of Okay-pop as we all know it, Search engine optimisation continued his legacy of utilizing music as a approach to criticize the depth of capitalism by way of this unnerving monitor. It electrifies with its theatricality, and the accompanying Tim Burton-like music video options the witchy characters of Halloween-town going through off in opposition to the company of us of Christmas-world. — T.H.
71. Taeyang, “Eyes, Nostril, Lips” (Rise, 2014)
As Korea’s “Prince of R&B,” Taeyang attracts from reference factors acquainted to Western listeners on this piano-driven ballad. “Eyes, Nostril, Lips” outlines the traces of an ex-lover, as he displays on his regrets. This torch tune is so all-consuming, it actually goes up in flames by the top of the D’Angelo-indebted visible. No marvel the accompanying album, Rise, made him Korea’s highest-charting male singer on the Billboard 200 on the time. In different phrases: dope tearjerker… congratz!!! — C.Okay.
70. Marvel Ladies, “I Really feel You” (Reboot, 2015)
Every little thing about “I Really feel You” feels proper, and this ‘80s-vibing tune fronted Marvel Ladies’ revamp as a band-focused staff with another member lineup. The graceful, synth-fueled pop-rock leaned into the Okay-pop act’s earlier legacy of serving up addicting, throwback-feeling hits, whereas updating their group identification. — T.H.
69. Oh My Lady, “Nearer” (Nearer, 2015)
Nobody anticipated Oh My Lady to dive into the majestic dream-pop of “Nearer” to comply with up their punchy-cute debut, however the outfit wholly embraced this trance-y whirlwind of a monitor. A stability of delicate melancholy and hopeful power expressed the start of a brand new love. This dreamy fashion finally grew to become OMG’s signature sound, solidifying their place in Okay-pop. — J.B.
68. B1A4, “What’s Occurring?” (What’s Occurring?, 2013)
This pop-rock rollercoaster throws the foundations apart in favor of making a tune that’s somewhat bit humorous, somewhat however funky, and an entire lot of enjoyable — even whether it is about discovering out you’re being cheated on. With perky guitar riffs, overexaggerated raps, and a clap-happy refrain, it’s probably not clear “What’s Occurring?” all through a lot of this iconic B1A4 monitor. However that’s a part of why it’s so memorable. — T.H.
67. 2NE1, “I Love You” (no album, 2012)
Essentially the most spoken-of tracks from 2NE1’s CV fall squarely beneath the classes of booming and brash (“Can’t No person,” “Hearth,” “I Am the Finest”), however one of many quartet’s most interesting works is the reggae-prog home longing of this monitor. “I Love You” got here two singles after “Hate You,” however the irony of the titular contradiction was trumped by the brilliance of its complexity. It peels away the quartet’s well-dressed outer layers to disclose a extra tender, susceptible 2NE1. — M.M.
66. IU, “Twenty-Three” (Chat-Shire, 2015)
In an business fixated on the picture of perfection, identification can turn out to be a little bit of a fun-house mirror. However that’s simply another excuse to have enjoyable with it. To commemorate turning “Twenty-Three,” IU reworked her life into multiple-choice riddles that don’t essentially have solutions. As she navigated the topsy-turvy world of her newfound womanhood, she shed her “Nation’s Little Sister” title to weave intricate tales about self-perception. — C.Okay.
65. BIGBANG, “Implausible Child” (Alive, 2012)
There is no such thing as a tune fairly as definitively tied to BIGBANG’s legacy as certainly one of Okay-pop’s prime acts as “Implausible Child.” This electrifying hip-pop monitor is an anthem constructed on a strong basis of catch phrases; “increase shakalaka” has gone on to turn out to be synonymous with the act. This legendary tune helped propel the group’s reputation into the west, and it nonetheless has us all “dance dancing” like “lililalala.” — T.H.
64. Sunny Hill, “Midnight Circus” (Midnight Circus, 2011)
There’s something magically misleading about Sunny Hill’s “Midnight Circus.” The tinny beats, off-kilter brass, and squelching strings offset a wide selection of music parts, together with a outstanding accordion riff. The theatricality of this acid jazz-infused tune was transposed into a visible enjoyment of its music video, which turned the members into the celebs of the titular occasion. “Midnight Circus” was a raffle for Sunny Hill, who beforehand centered on comfortable pop and ballads — and it paid off as certainly one of their most iconic songs. — T.H.
63. AKMU, “200%” (Play, 2014)
With a feel-good debut single that mixed folky pop and bouncy hip-hop, AKMU struck Okay-pop gold on the primary attempt, making good on their promise after profitable the favored Korean competitors present, Okay-pop Star 2. Siblings Chanhyuk and Soohyun, respectively 19 and 16 years previous on the time, proved themselves to be one of many scene’s most charming and reliable duos with this launch. — J.B.
62. IZ*ONE, “La Vie en Rose” (Coloration*Iz, 2018)
“La Vie en Rose” is the perfect instance of an important tune being, at the start, a very powerful side to a profitable Okay-pop debut. After IZ*ONE shaped on the favored Produce 48 singing competitors, the chances nonetheless felt stacked in opposition to the Korean-Japanese woman group. They confronted lower-than-expected rankings plus tensions between Korea and Japan, however the ambient, mid-tempo monitor reduce by way of the noise to solidify simple curiosity within the outfit from the get-go. — J.B.
61. Jay Park feat. Hoody & Loco, “All I Wanna Do” (Every little thing You Wished, 2016)
Essentially the most unassailable Jay Park tune of the last decade can be the perfect Korean RnBass tune of the last decade. It drifts alongside easily, each handclap and synth flutter including somewhat aptitude to a tune that’s as self-effacing as it’s charming. The tune succeeds as a result of neither the music nor the lyrics ask for an excessive amount of: “All I wanna do is kick it with you,” sings Park and Hoody. Cha Cha Malone’s manufacturing imparts the relaxed consolation that comes with merely hanging out with a liked one. — J.M.Okay.
60. G-Dragon, “Crooked” (Coup d’Etat, 2013)
G-Dragon was thought of a king lengthy earlier than Coup d’Etat got here out, however “Crooked” stays his crowning jewel, or no less than certainly one of them. This self-destructive quasi-fantasia is a tune for the times you’re stifled, suffocated, and indignant at nothing specifically. “Crooked” is the place G-Dragon confirmed his extra susceptible and trustworthy aspect, but got here again stronger than ever. Infused with haunting siren-synths set in opposition to a cacophonous backing monitor, it mainly set the tone for angsty rock tracks at YG Leisure. — L.S.
59. Dean, “Bonnie & Clyde” (130 temper: TRBL, 2016)
With Dean’s R&B finesse being the bedrock as he forays into heavy lure (considerably of a development du jour in 2016), “Bonnie & Clyde” stays a standout monitor on his debut album. The loosely structured tune is a warning in opposition to the hazards of turning into associates with advantages. Dean veers between his attribute falsetto and staccato raps all through the tune’ free construction, giving us a monitor that upped his standing to “one to look at.” — L.S.
58. Taeyeon feat. Verbal Jint, “I” (I, 2015)
Kim Taeyeon is the chief of the era-defining Ladies’ Era, so her solo debut was anticipated to have a Beyoncé-level execution. However as an alternative of bombastic, Taeyeon went refined with this tender-yet-soaring anthem that channels one’s internal voice to have faith on the planet and embrace the fantastic thing about life. — J.B.
57. Luna, “Free Someone” (Free Someone, 2016)
This future house-inflected jam builds off of f(x)’s electro-pop sound, and it’s nearly a direct spinoff from “Four Partitions.” However Luna makes use of that familiarity to differentiate herself as a dance-pop heavyweight. She could be certainly one of Okay-pop’s best powerhouse vocalists, however she acquired her begin as a dancer. This tune, co-written by JoJo, simply occurs to play to each of these strengths in equal measure. Her solo debut deserved to be a smash hit, nevertheless it lives on as a testomony to her star energy. — C.Okay.
56. KARA, “Pandora” (Pandora, 2012)
Think about if, as an alternative of teeming with the world’s evils, Pandora’s field contained metallic riffs, cinematic strings, and a 140 BPM instrumental befitting of an action-packed anime collection. You’d have KARA’s “Pandora,” a high-octane pop journey that epitomizes the synth-laden Sweetune sound that outlined the woman group for a lot of their profession. Although KARA could also be most identified for the single-that-wasn’t-originally-a-single “Mister” and The Butt Dance, “Pandora” is the group at its musical peak. — M.M.
55. VIXX, “Shangri La” (Shangri La, 2017)
VIXX are famend for his or her experimental ideas, however “Shangri La” noticed the band at their most cohesive as they returned residence to attract on acquainted parts. The sensual, haunting alt-R&B monitor was peppered with conventional Korean devices, references, and motifs. Their full give up to their ideas is what makes them distinctive stars. — L.S.
54. Zico, “I Am You, You Are Me” (Break Up 2 Make Up, 2016)
It might be laborious to think about the rebranding of idol rappers as “artists, child” with out Zico. Block B’s chief is likely one of the most prolific songwriters, and he introduced a little bit of auteurship to the business along with his greatest solo hit. On “I Am You, You Are Me,” he takes matching couple outfits to their solipsistic endpoint, merging his identification along with his lover. There’s an magnificence to his play on mirrored photographs, and this lush R&B monitor displays his dexterity as a performer. — C.Okay.
53. Lady’s Day, “Expectation” (Expectation, 2013)
Lady’s Day underwent a number of transformations all through their eight-year profession, from night-and-day idea adjustments to member departures and additions. As a four-member unit that may turn out to be the group’s most prolific lineup, Lady’s Day hit their stride with 2013’s “Expectation,” a dance-pop romp with a dizzying bridge that is likely one of the business’s finest thus far. Starring a love curiosity with eyes for another person, Lady’s Day ramps up the charms to place him (and us) beneath their spell. — M.M.
52. 4Minute, “Loopy” (Loopy, 2015)
This empowering tune spends its size rushing alongside wild snare beat twists and clapping turns, driving the world “Loopy” with its sonic, trap-infused depth. Horns on loop take heart stage, second solely to the impactful supply of the domineering raps and dynamic verses, because the quintet sing about how they’re having fun with life. — T.H.
51. Heize, “Do not Know You” (/// (You, Clouds, Rain), 2017)
The ambient, jazzy really feel of “Don’t Know You” introduced Heize to new heights in South Korea, the place the artist is each a preferred singer and rapper. “Don’t Know You” stood out as concurrently reflective and groovy. The tune’s disco-meets-R&B instrumentals bounce alongside over layered harmonizing, emotive rap, and a piano melody, fascinating and nuanced in its composition. — T.H.
50. EXO, “Growl” (XOXO (Repackage), 2013)
Six years in the past, EXO fever formally started, marking one of many quickest takeoffs for a Okay-pop group to hit sensation degree.”Growl” was, little doubt, the cornerstone of the phenomenon. The ingenious mix of the sparse, Southern hip-hop beats and dynamic bubblegum-pop melodies confirmed EXO had the potential to win over an entire new technology of followers around the globe. — J.B.
49. FTISLAND, “I Want” (5 Treasure Field, 2012)
A shining instance of the genre-less freedom Okay-pop artists can have of their singles, FTISLAND switched up their typical punk and heavy-rock sound by infusing it with Spanish guitar and a twist of tango. After all, the group’s signature power and full of life vocal supply from singer Hongki have been all on show — significantly on the rockin’ refrain — to hook in longtime followers even with this swerve of their sound. — J.B.
48. EXID, “Up & Down” (Up & Down, 2014)
EXID had just a few ups and downs after a promising debut, however the sleeper success of this trip-hop, trumpet-infused extravaganza was the proper prelude to the brand new model of the quintet. That, mixed with a deliciously pop-artsy music video paying homage to Orange Caramel’s “Catallena” brewed up successful formulation that EXID revisited a number of instances of their profession, significantly in “Ah Yeah” and “Scorching Pink.” — L.S.
47. SHINee, “Lucifer” (Lucifer, 2010)
“Her whisper is the Lucifer” guarantee SHINee on this Bebe Rexha-penned hit, a game-changing tune that raced towards its end line propelled by frenzied electro-pop and futuristic synth results. With its “loveoholic robotronic” power, the tune confirmed the world a brand new aspect to the quintet as one thing a bit rougher and edgier than their earlier hits. It was accompanied by isolation-heavy choreography that showcased the act’s compelling synergy. If hell seems like this, signal us up for an eternity with “Lucifer.” — T.H.
46. After College, “Shampoo” (Virgin, 2010)
From drumline divas to tap-dancing vamps, a shape-shifting woman group like After College can’t be tied down to at least one to at least one sound, however the outfit undeniably shines once they embrace a sentimental idea. Composed in a shocking waterfall of swirling synthesizers, this single boasts certainly one of Okay-pop’s most original takes on romance, utilizing “Shampoo” as a poetic metaphor for a love that may sweetly envelope somebody like a lingering scent but additionally sting your eyes if handled with out care. — J.B.
45. TVXQ!, “Hold Your Head Down” (Hold Your Head Down, 2011)
After a seismic cut up led to an unclear future for TVXQ! in 2009, the newfound duo grew to become a variant of the Gods of the East that heated up 2011 with this domineering monitor. Returning with “Hold Your Head Down,” they served up the verses and raps with a theatrical aptitude surrounded by dramatic horns and gritty, industrial electro-pop melodies. The monitor hit its mark to announce “the return of the kings,” revitalizing the profession of certainly one of Okay-pop’s most outstanding acts. — T.H.
44. HyunA, “Bubble Pop!” (Bubble Pop!, 2011)
Quirky, cutesy, attractive Okay-pop at its finest, “Bubble Pop!” was an early viral hit that confirmed the scene’s potential in fascinating bigger, worldwide audiences on YouTube. The bubbling manufacturing of “Bubble Pop!” recalled a few of Britney Spears’ most experimental B-sides, however the primary fixture was HyunA’s skill to maneuver from kitty-cat coos on the hook to confident declarations (“There is no higher than me”) in addition to some fascinating moments of introspection (“What if I giggle typically after I’m depressed?”). Ms. HyunA actually embodied this monitor, and it rightfully grew to become a defining second in making her certainly one of Okay-pop’s prime, boundary-pushing divas. — J.B.
43. LOONA/ODD EYE CIRCLE, “Lady Entrance” (Combine & Match, 2017)
With “Lady Entrance,” songwriters Hayley Aitken and Ollipop channel parts from the Odd Eye Circle members’ particular person singles and remodel them right into a monitor that embodies the giddiness of getting a crush. This can be a tune about mustering up the braveness to inform somebody you’re keen on them, and each little bit of instrumentation showcases the various concomitant feelings. Most sensible is the refrain’s wavering vocal melody and its evolving tone: at first chipper, after which teeming with infatuation. All of it results in a last, fearless determination: “I’ll say I really like you!” — J.M.Okay.
42. ZE:A, “Ghost of the Wind” (Phantasm, 2013)
Although ZE:A’s model might have been eclipsed by the person members’ selection present and appearing careers, the group’s discography comprises plenty of missed gems, notably their apex “Ghost of the Wind.” Produced by Okay-pop virtuosos Duble Sidekick, that is ZE:A’s most refined work, with its swirling strings, hole operatic chants, and constant thrum of power. Raps are interspersed all through the tune, matching the polished instrumental’s momentum beat for beat, whereas mature vocal performances convey the haunting story of an all-consuming love. — M.M.
41. Dalshabet, “Somebody Like U” (Naturalness, 2016)
This underrated woman group delivered a retro idea within the type of synth-pop standout, “Somebody Like U,” which rollicks together with funky instrumentals and the act’s sassy vocals. Layered choruses soar, culminating within the swaying call-and-response of breathy harmonies and taunting chants. The act served up one of the vital enjoyable and vengeful breakup tracks ever, as they pray for the thing of their affection to fulfill somebody simply as horrible as they’re. — T.H.
40. BIGBANG, “Bae Bae” (MADE, 2015)
After BIGBANG starved us for 3 years, the cosmic kitsch-art heavens opened as much as give us the brazen, promiscuous satisfaction of “Bae Bae.” One of many early appearances of lure in Okay-pop, this monitor discovered the candy spot between heady stuttering beats and experimental guitar riffs, set to the crooning of vocalists Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri, and offset by G-Dragon and T.O.P’s frenetic rapping. The tune was additionally famously impressed by the artworks of Francis Bacon, which is straightforward to identify given how the music video deliciously peeled again the members’ outer layers and uncovered all of our internal hedonists. — L.S.
39. AOA, “Miniskirt” (Miniskirt, 2014)
AOA (hey!) upgraded their sultry “Confused” sound on “Miniskirt,” ditching the previous’s jazz-bar piano and sharper horns for a smoother mid-tempo instrumental dotted with “oohs” and coos and 1,000,000 little “heys.” Vocalists Yuna and ChoA showcase the elasticity of their voices, shifting from whispery, come-hither traces to limber belts and ad-libs, whereas Prime Madam Jimin provides a chewy rap that provides the tune an impish twist. It’s sultriness served up with a wink, a smile, and somewhat little bit of chunk. — M.M.
38. Block B, “H.E.R” (H.E.R, 2014)
“H.E.R.” is the brightest spot in Block B’s genre-hopping discography based on rowdy hip-hop that blurred the traces between idoldom and the underground. This Zico-penned single is a patchwork of sounds that weaves electro-pop, funk rock, and rap breaks collectively. The tune title — a play on the English “her” and Korean “heol” — figures into the semi-instrumental refrain, a precursor of Okay-pop traits to come back. This monitor switched up the taxonomy of “dangerous boy” ideas. All of a sudden, Block B’s brash presentation acquired much more colourful — and the spectrum of conceptual prospects widened somewhat. — C.Okay.
37. BTS, “Spring Day” (You By no means Stroll Alone, 2017)
“Spring Day”’s existence might be probably the most correct illustration of BTS’s artistry. They might have continued driving on the worldwide frenzy of “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” however they selected to launch a poignant, visceral research within the very human problem of coming to phrases with an important loss. Every little thing about “Spring Day” plucks cruelly at a taut nerve: the lyrics that vivisect loss, the motifs of remembrance, and the looming spectre of one thing sinister within the video. All of this results in the bittersweet second of the boys reuniting, once they lastly transfer on collectively. On this journey of rising up, you by no means stroll alone. — L.S.
36. 2PM, “A.D.T.O.Y.” (Grown, 2013)
In case you didn’t catch the acronym, 2PM reworked into hopeless loverboys destined to “All Day Consider Solely You.” This ode to romantic obsession conjures a suspenseful buzz, because the looping strings resemble horror orchestration retrofitted to a love story. The breathiness of their vocal supply — shoutout JYP’s methodology of “half-air, half-sound!” — underscores the all-consuming nature of their emotional depth. The beast-dols flipped the script on the gendered connotations hooked up to attractive ideas, delivering an iconic chair dance full with delicate hip swaying. You may say “A.D.T.O.Y.” expanded the canon of boy group ideas. — C.Okay.
35. Pentagon, “Shine” (Constructive, 2018)
Boy bands within the late ‘10s ditched college uniforms and pastels for BDSM gear and edgier (learn: EDM) sounds, leaving a pronounced void of lighthearted boy band enjoyable. Our saviors Pentagon lean in laborious with the blushing boyishness on “Shine,” which options babytalk and throat clearing as musical units, a frustratingly catchy piano loop, and probably the most open embrace of loserdom in standard music since Beck made it his calling card. The Pentagon members capitalized upon their skills — songwriting, producing, performing — to offer us pure enjoyable after we wanted it probably the most. — M.M.
34. IU feat. G-Dragon, “Palette” (Palette, 2017)
After wrestling together with her identification as “Nation’s Little Sister” on “Twenty-Three,” IU discovered serenity with who she was on “Palette.” She does so by way of easy self-reflection — she prefers quick hair over lengthy hair now, however nonetheless thinks she regarded fairly throughout her “Good Day” period; her favourite colour is purple as an alternative of scorching pink; she nonetheless loves Corinne Bailey Rae, whose music has appreciable affect on this tune. Typically, it’s in acknowledging the little methods during which you’ve modified and stayed the identical you can do not forget that life is certainly one of fixed progress. For IU, it was sufficient to assist her really feel “actually advantageous” and, in the end, “actually discovered.” — J.M.Okay.
33. f(x), “Rum Pum Pum Pum” (Pink Tape, 2013)
“Rum Pum Pum Pum” is centered across the sort of prolonged metaphor you possibly can sink your tooth into. f(x)’s eighth single builds a densely crowded sound out of off-kilter harmonies, a bite-sized samba motif, and the melody from “The Little Drummer Boy.” The Korean title, “cheot sarangni (? ???),” refers to knowledge tooth — and it’s a pun on “cheot sarang (? ??),” which interprets to “past love.” Advised from the attitude of the knowledge tooth, their past love story grows so crooked that the cavity have to be extracted — leaving a long-lasting hole when the connection ends. Queen “Rum Pum Pum Pum” deserves the kind of crown a dental hygienist might love. — C.Okay.
32. Mamamoo, “You’re the Finest” (Melting, 2016)
Mamamoo are at their finest once they stability their flashy vocal chops and jazz-inflected instrumentation with a wholesome dose of playfulness. On “You’re the Finest,” they discover a good center floor that permits their present tunes-y impacts to convey the fun of being in love. However in the course of the pre-choruses, they let their guard right down to ship heartfelt confessions that reveal how a lot their lover means to them — at one level, a lot in order that it makes them anxious. You possibly can sense the butterflies of their stomachs. — J.M.Okay.
31. Apink, “%% (Eung Eung)” (%, 2019)
Apink took everybody without warning once they launched “%%” predecessor “I’m So Sick” — the angelic, girl-next-door members had reworked into fierce, sharp-tongued, confident goddesses. It might have been a one-off experiment, and the ensuing success would have been chalked as much as luck. However this monitor was the proud declaration that this new Apink was right here to remain. Seeped in a retro funk-fantasy circa the ‘80s, “%%” is the place Apink fairly actually took management not simply of their daring new personas but additionally — because the music video suggests — their love lives. They could be seasoned gamers within the business at this level, however their newest single proves that have doesn’t equate to comfort-zoning your self into complacency. — L.S.
30. miss A, “Dangerous Lady, Good Lady” (Dangerous However Good, 2010)
When Okay-pop stans debate the all-time finest debut, you could be positive “Dangerous Lady, Good Lady” would be the first level of debate. miss A’s introduction stood aside as they took a detour from cute ideas to place their very own spin on “woman crush.” These monster rookies embodied the kind of “dangerous ladies” who inform their gossipmongering classmates to “shut up, boy!” There aren’t any frills to this tightly produced dance monitor — simply leotards. — C.Okay.
29. iKON, “Love Situation” (Return, 2018)
With a rollicking piano chorus, brassy melody, and folksy percussion driving a lot of it, “Love Situation” is all a few break-up that may be regarded again on positively, and it was precisely what 2018 audiences in South Korea have been searching for. This tune, which is allegedly impressed by the ultimate scene of La La Land, is each exuberant and restrained, with this subdued hip-pop providing up iKON’s greatest hit thus far. Minimalistic and melodic, it’s a Gen-Z replace to the concept of simple listening. — T.H.
28. Sunmi, “Heroine” (Warning, 2018)
With out “Heroine,” the ferocity of Sunmi’s “Gashina” and “Siren” don’t absolutely make sense; it’s the centerpiece of a trilogy of singles full of drama and redemption. Impressed by the ’80s movie 9 1/2 Weeks, “Heroine” lays naked the mores of a s–tty, egocentric boyfriend that Sunmi feels compelled to stick with. “Do no matter you need, even when you’re imply […] even when it hurts me,” she aches. There’s a looming sense of unhappiness that underpins her triumphant vocal supply, and it renders the title each poignant and grim: she’s solely thought of a heroine for staying obedient, for persisting by way of a hurtful relationship. — J.M.Okay.
27. Purple Velvet, “Dangerous Boy” (The Excellent Purple Velvet, 2018)
Whereas Purple Velvet had performed with the concept of one thing darker within the occultish extravaganza of “Peek-a-Boo,” their full give up to the darkness in “Dangerous Boy” had us reaching for Holy Water. Counted as their most daring launch, the sultry, sensual, and tantalizing “Dangerous Boy” is the proper illustration of their mature “velvet” persona. Most outstanding, nonetheless, is how tactile the sonic and visible layering of the tune is — relating the softness of every member earlier than swelling right into a sweeping refrain of harmonies. It speaks to the underlying emotion of donning your armor for a boy who’s clearly dangerous information. The Excellent Purple Velvet, certainly. — L.S.
26. BLACKPINK, “Whistle” (SQUARE ONE, 2016)
Producer Teddy Park’s most spectacular feat this decade was the incorporation of nation pre-choruses in in any other case non-country songs. You possibly can hear it in BIGBANG’s “Bae Bae” and BLACKPINK’s “As If It’s Your Final,” nevertheless it’s most completely utilized in “Whistle,” certainly one of two singles that launched BLACKPINK to the world. As a debut, it succeeded in showcasing the 4 members as ineffably cool, one thing that may be attributed to Jennie and Lisa’s sneering rap verses and the instrumentation’s efficient use of destructive house. The tune ends with a sudden melding of its disparate musical components — a quiet however resounding bang that overflows with confidence and made BLACKPINK’s “woman crush” idea really feel impossibly recent. — J.M.Okay.
25. T-ara, “Roly Poly” (John Travolta Wannabe, 2011)
Okay-pop and disco make lovely bedfellows, and nowhere is that higher demonstrated than on T-ara’s “Roly Poly.” When you hear Qri’s playful la-la-la-la-love confession, you understand you’re in for a deal with. This tune resuscitates the period of Fiorucci with a unusual melody and a refrain that rolls round in your mind lengthy after one pay attention. With every sound T-ara glommed onto, from disco to Spearsian pop, the members dedicated 200% and adroitly pulled off each one. And that’s how we should always bear in mind T-ara: not for the scandal that surfaced in the course of the Summer season of “Roly Poly” and cruelly torpedoed the group’s profession at its peak, however for the varied hits Okay-pop’s prime chameleons gave us. — M.M.
24. Sistar, “Contact My Physique” (TOUCH N MOVE, 2014)
Okay-pop songs hardly ever sound this flirty. From Hyolyn’s introductory declaration of “I do know you need it” to Bora’s staccato-sung “right here, right here, or right here?,” “Contact My Physique” brims with brazen playfulness. It’s all heightened by Black Eyed Pilseung’s manufacturing, with effervescent synths and cartoonish horn preparations contributing to the tune’s liveliness. The refrain’s regular beat retains issues grounded to make sure the titular request reads earnestly, and the tune finally ends up mirroring the woozy pleasure of summer time flings. For years, it felt like summers can be incomplete and not using a smash hit from Sistar, and “Contact My Physique” was the perfect of all of them. A selected line captures its essence succinctly: “This appears like paradise.” — J.M.Okay.
23. Wanna One, “Energetic” (1X1=1 (To Be One), 2017)
Mnet irrevocably shook up the Okay-pop business with Produce 101 — and Wanna One grew to become the central showpiece of your complete collection. In 2017, the present whittled contestants right down to eleven finalists, formally introducing them to the world as an entire unit with “Energetic.” This adrenaline rush of a tune instantly shot them to the highest of the charts, forming a snapshot of the 11-piece’s dynamism. The choreography requires a human piano, because the tune begins out as a ballad then lifts off right into a high-octane dance reduce. Whereas the destiny of Produce’s legacy stays up within the air, it’s simple that this non permanent group left their mark on the Okay-pop panorama. — C.Okay.
22. Brown Eyed Ladies, “Sixth Sense” (Sixth Sense, 2012)
Brown Eyed Ladies have spent their decade-plus time collectively pushing musical boundaries, however they really outdid themselves right here. The monitor opens with the ladies readying for battle with cinematic strings backing liberated declarations to the call-and-response refrain. In what’s Okay-pop’s most formidable bridge of the last decade, the marvel girls mix their superpowers with a fierce part from rapper Miryo, adopted by a power-packed vocal belt from JeA that leads right into a whistle be aware belted from Acquire, that is picked up and completed by Narsha. Actually, any artist wants a “Sixth Sense” simply to have the ability to grasp and carry out such a sophisticated monitor. — J.B.
21. Zion.T, “Yanghwa BRDG” (no album, 2014)
By means of his quiet revolution, Zion.T has confirmed himself to be a nuanced artist with the singular skill to be in tune with human feelings. Nowhere is that higher expressed than on “Yanghwa BRDG,” titled after the eponymous bridge on the Han River in Seoul. Nearly childlike in its lyricism, the tune reads like a love letter to his father, who spent his days driving a taxi up and down the Yanghwa Bridge, attempting to offer for his household. Accompanied by comfortable, rhythmic bongos and complicated orchestration, it’s a poetic depiction of rising up working class, the place you inherit wants and duties as an alternative of desires — a job that the kid in “Yanghwa BRDG” won’t absolutely perceive however takes satisfaction in nonetheless. — L.S.
20. Orange Caramel, “Catallena” (The Third Single Catallena, 2014)
Orange Caramel have been magical ladies with a wink, in all of their hyper-pigmented glory — and so they have been on the peak of their powers on “Catallena.” This tune presents a Okay-pop tackle disco whereas sampling a Punjabi folks tune known as “Jutti Meri Jandiye.” There’s the notorious howl in the beginning of their dwell phases, the place the camp agenda was on the menu as they dressed as completely different meals gadgets. In spite of everything, this three-for-one deal play items of sushi within the surreal MV. Make no mistake, they have been in on the absurdity of their ideas, which solely intensified their shine. Though this After College spinoff was too short-lived, they dwell on in our “Sweet Tradition”-coated reminiscences because the quirkiest subunit of all time. — C.Okay.
19. Girls’ Code, “Galaxy” (MYST3RY, 2016)
For a lot of its runtime, “Galaxy” sounds weightless — lush waves of synths and glowing chimes make you’re feeling such as you’re floating among the many stars. However when the refrain kicks in, effervescent jazz instrumentation snaps you again to actuality, or no less than a simulacrum of 1. With its expansive and celestial environment, “Galaxy” locations listeners in a liminal house between life and the afterlife — a purgatorial stasis that leaves one anxious, hopeful, and aware of 1’s personal presence. After the tragic deaths of Girls’ Code members EunB and RiSe, this single felt like Ashley, Sojung, and Zuny have been reflecting on the day they’d meet their previous associates. “Hello, I’ve waited for you,” they patiently sing. For 3-and-a-half minutes, it seems like they’re on the precipice of a loving reunion. — J.M.Okay.
18. TWICE, “TT” (Twicecoaster: Lane 1, 2016)
How do you comply with up a career-making viral hit like TWICE’s “Cheer Up”? Do it once more, however even higher. The last decade-defining woman group solidified their legacy with this gooey synth-pop monitor that created a brand new go-to phrase for Okay-pop followers worldwide. (“TT” jokingly refers to dramatically crying over one thing, the highest of the Ts are one’s eyes, the vertical traces signify streaming tears.) From Nayeon’s opening “Ba-ba-ba-baby” to Sana’s “na na na” line, plus the “I am like TT/ Identical to TT” refrain, this tune boasts an earworm for anybody and everybody’s style. — J.B.
17. KARA, “Step” (Step, 2011)
There are few tracks on the market as euphorically festive as KARA’s “Step,” which begins robust and retains the momentum constructing all through. With addicting “lalalas” and verses rising and dropping in tonal depth — resulting in the surging refrain stuffed with shiny synths and pulsating beat — the tune is inconceivable to not dance alongside to. In an business outlined by genre-blending and experimentalism, “Step” holds nothing again whereas surging ahead in confidence that it is likely one of the purest pop confections out of Okay-pop this decade. — T.H.
16. Rainbow, “A” (So Ladies, 2011)
Hindsight is 20/20 — it’s how and why we all know Rainbow deserved a lot extra for the top-notch singles they graced the business with. On “A,” one more gem from the Sweetune assortment and the cream of Rainbow’s crop, there’s no time wasted on easing you in. Snappy synths and surf guitar rush to fulfill you proper on the outset. With its vibrant instrumental, electrifying refrain, and Woori’s nimble rap (critically, that’s a whole lot of syllables to pack into just a few bars), “A” will go down within the books for extra than simply its “scandalous” shirt-lifting choreography. Flirty, fizzy, and downright enjoyable, “A” nonetheless will get an A+++ near a decade later. — M.M.
15. Seventeen, “Very Good” (Love & Letter (Repackage), 2016)
Self-producing idols Seventeen have labored with the whole lot from warehouse party-ready tech home to syrupy Brat Pack balladry since their 2015 debut, nevertheless it was the funky-fresh pop sound of “Adore U” that established the beginning of their profession. The sound distinguished them in a bloated Okay-pop business, and the group went on to good it three singles in on “Very Good,” a boisterous ode to heart-bursting younger love. Opening with a vocal kick-in-the-face from fundamental vocalist Dokyeom, this monitor retains the power at a 15 out of 10 with its shouted chorus and busy horns, due to Bumzu and member Woozi’s adept manufacturing. “Very Good” brims with a playful, rambunctious power that forces you to smile, even if you’re a stone-faced actor at Korea’s equal of the Oscars. — M.M.
14. Lim Kim, “Awoo” (Easy Thoughts, 2015)
Earlier than Lim Kim grew to become a bona fide art-pop star, she graced the Okay-pop business with “Awoo,” an unforgettable slice of post-Chvrches synth-pop. Within the tune, she wields her sultry drawl as a weapon, letting each phrase spill out of her mouth with a figuring out sense of energy. Her objective is to lure a lover, and he or she lays out particular steps in probably the most procedural of manners as producer Main follows her lead. Vocal edits dot the verses in mesmerizing trend earlier than they mutate into an amorphous, cavernous haze: a sign that Kim’s all however ensnared her goal. The refrain acts as a sudden launch of rigidity as she lets out the titular howl, pleased with her success; she is aware of she’ll win each cat-and-mouse recreation. — J.M.Okay.
13. Marvel Ladies, “Be My Child” (Marvel World, 2011)
After briefly abandoning their publish as Okay-pop’s prime woman group to comply with their Billboard chart promise in America, Marvel Ladies returned to Korea to remind everybody simply what what made the business fall in love with them. Honoring their longtime standing because the queens of retro ideas, the outfit smashed again onto the scene with a tune that boasted a feel-good Motown vibe with punches of hard-hitting, modern-day synthesizers. Expectations have been excessive for this true Okay-pop comeback, however WG proved the ability in staying true to at least one’s artistry with solely the slightest updates to create most satisfaction. — J.B.
12. EXO, “Name Me Child” (Exodus, 2015)
The 12 months earlier than “Name Me Child” got here out was a fragmented one for EXO. With two members leaving and the way forward for their Chinese language subunit, EXO-M, hanging within the stability, they wanted revamping. Breaking away from the bass-thumping, power-packed dubstep bravado of “Overdose,” this monitor drew closely from early ‘90s pop, tailor-made to perfection for every member’s strengths. Not solely did it set the stage for a musical house that EXO would declare completely for their very own, however the music video is symbolic of the members coming into their very own as people. Forgoing the schoolboy outfits of “Growl” or the contrasting co-ords of “Overdose,” this one was sartorially adventurous in letting every member’s persona shine by way of — a literal commencement ceremony for what went on to be one of the vital influential Okay-pop acts of the last decade. — L.S.
11. Acquire, “Bloom” (Discuss About S, 2012)
“Bloom” is a fantasia devoted to, effectively, deflowering. The MV begins off chaste sufficient as previous movie captures healthful moments at residence. Then lush orchestration offers approach to a cool guitar riff, and Acquire enters a “entire new world.” The visible’s portrayal of sexuality was surprising on the planet of Okay-pop, the place intercourse is commonly relegated to subtext. What number of Okay-pop divas might get away with a self-pleasure scene? Acquire pulled off a fragile stability: she pushed the boundaries of style whereas retaining a way of marvel. You may say she planted the seed that it’s value it to check the bounds of decorum. — C.Okay.
10. Main feat. ChoA & IRON, “Don’t Be Shy” (2, 2016)
It doesn’t get a lot chiller than “Don’t Be Shy,” one of many best reggae-fueled Korean songs of all time. The monitor contains a creeping rhythm, paired with the eerie crooning of former AOA member ChoA, and a quick rap bridge. “Don’t Be Shy” is as haunting as it’s fascinating, and it’s paired with a seance of a music video to match. The distinctive fashion of “Don’t Be Shy” made it an prompt underrated basic, with its spooky groove serving up a timeless sonic expertise. — T.H.
9. f(x), “Four Partitions” (Four Partitions, 2015)
There’s a present of hysteria beneath the floor of “Four Partitions.” It’s there within the enigmatic lyrics, the undulating sub-bass, the fidgeting storage home beat. When “Four Partitions” got here out, it marked the primary single that f(x) launched with out Sulli. Her absence had solid a shadow over the tune, making its uneasy tone readily obvious. For a tune with a refrain that bellows out that “Love is 4 partitions” — that love was a way to emotional safety — why did Amber exhibit cautiousness in her mid-song rap verse? Why did she confess, “I had the solutions however now they imply nothing”?
Since Sulli’s passing, the tune’s looming dread has solely magnified, however so has the poignance of its bridge. The sudden key change brings with it a way of chic bliss; it’s solely pure that Luna pleads “deliver me with you” on this temporary second of serenity. Life could be complicated and unpredictable in its unwieldy journey. There are moments of worry and disappointment and unhappiness amidst these of deep, real love. But it surely’s that love — extra sturdy, extra everlasting than metal frames and concrete — that’ll get us by way of each trial. — J.M.Okay.
8. BIGBANG, “Dangerous Boy” (Alive, 2012)
BIGBANG’s model of emotional hip-hop did not a lot stand out for its reinvented sound, however for the way it captures a sentiment that might solely be expressed by the famous person boy band. Co-written and produced by chief G-Dragon, “Dangerous Boy” is a main instance of the star’s skill to faucet right into a dynamic but transferring fashion with the mellow, near-melancholic supply tempered with hum-along-to melodies and relatable lyrics. That fascinating juxtaposition of concepts has been current all through BIGBANG’s decade-plus collectively, however “Dangerous Boy” stands because the anthem that finest encapsulates the quintet: rooted in the perfect components of rap, combined with sudden and evocative pop moments, and all shared through lyrics that learn like a personal journal or a drunk voicemail. — J.B.
7. BTS, “Blood, Sweat & Tears” (Wings, 2016)
Essentially the most seminal acts in pop have a second once they’re not standing on the precipice of greatness — somewhat nudge sends them hurtling by way of the annals of fame. For BTS, “Blood, Sweat & Tears” may simply have been that second. This addictive union between tropical home and moombahton pegged BTS as a formidable act, one who might simply as simply navigate the minimalism of “Save Me” as they may the grandeur of “Blood, Sweat & Tears.” The midas contact to this was, in fact, the gloriously luxuriant music video, drawing upon biblical and literary motifs to indicate us how temptation lures us to fall from grace — which was paralleled by the decidedly mature, borderline sensual appears to be like the members sported. Lush, emphatic, and fascinating, “Blood, Sweat & Tears” might need been the final calm earlier than BTS took the world by storm. — L.S.
6. SHINee, “Sherlock (Clue + Word)” (Sherlock, 2012)
Okay-pop’s method to genre-bending usually will get known as “Frankensteinian” — however SHINee takes that description actually. Their ninth single is a remix splicing two B-sides that leap-frog throughout the tune construction. It’s not laborious to sleuth out which album reduce every section originated from. The majority of the instrumentation is taken from “Clue,” with a beat made out of a digitized kettle, little spurts of brass, and the recurring sound of shattered glass. However the incendiary refrain is all “Word,” and the hovering strings from “Spoiler” sound correct at Holmes at first. On the similar time, the lyrical overhaul jumbled the B-sides right into a ransom “Word” of a storyline. The newly interlaced traces reconstructed “Sherlock” right into a whodunnit a few love crime. Okay-pop is nothing if not transformative, and the perfect songs check the boundaries of pop. “Sherlock” locations a magnifying glass over the methods the Korean business’s innovation is pushing music ahead. — C.Okay.
5. Ladies’ Era, “I Received a Boy” (I Received a Boy, 2013)
“I Received a Boy” is a heroine’s journey into the brand new world of Okay-pop’s style mish-mashing. That is the defining tune if you discuss what units the business’s tune constructions aside. Written in 15 minutes, the labyrinthine composition shapeshifts each few seconds into a totally new style. Every part has its personal sound, and the abrupt transitions break the boundaries between hip-hop, rock, and electro-pop. The pop behemoth’s playful relationship to BPM is echoed by Jessica’s immortal phrases: “let’s deliver it again to 140.” Hyper-segmentation is nearly constructed into the Okay-pop framework as teams have so many voices to highlight. Ladies’ Era simply occurred to make that the defining attribute of “I Received a Boy.” The elasticity of this career-defining anthem goes to indicate that Okay-pop could be something, typically abruptly. — C.Okay.
4. 2NE1, “I Am the Finest” (2NE1, 2011)
Earlier than “Gangnam Model” galloped onto the worldwide stage, 2NE1’s “I Am the Finest” outlined Okay-pop for Web denizens who, beneath the woman group’s tutelage, got here to know the Korean business as glossy and styled to the nines. Produced by YG stalwart Teddy Park, the maximalist self-confidence anthem packs a chorus of “bom-ra-ta-ta-tas” that transcends linguistic obstacles, Center Japanese strings backing CL’s stand-out center eight, zooting synths, a frenetic digital soundscape, and a flashy music video that includes Illuminati conspiracist bait to finish the formulation.
However even with its grandiose parts, a single with lyrics like, “In case you deliberate to guess my value, then I’m a billion greenback child” would have fizzled within the fingers of a much less confident act — it’s “I Am the Finest,” not “I’m Respectable, I Guess.” However 2NE1 equipped confidence by the truckload — notably through the rapper and chief who goes by the identify of CL — and stuffed within the monitor’s blanks with aplomb. Undeniably iconic, “I Am the Finest” will at all times be the monitor that bulldozed into our lives and pulled so many people into the wondrous world of Korean pop. — M.M.
3. INFINITE, “The Chaser” (INFINITZE, 2012)
There are few better examples of symphonic synth-pop than INFINITE’s 2012 magnum opus, “The Chaser.” As close to to perfection as any human creation could be, this Okay-pop basic spends its time reflecting the emotional turmoil of somebody unable to maneuver on, infusing a way of staid fury into its groovy strings and pounding, synthesizer-fueled melody. The tune surges and pulls again from the eventual climax as every refrain builds in depth, bolstered by ‘80s-inspired rock instrumentals that glimmer with hints of funk. Every member’s verse — whether or not it’s an agile rap or a rhythmic affirmation of affection — is full of a way of dire fervor, constructing in magnitude because the tune progresses. With willpower slightly than desperation fueling the lyrics, the landmark single by no means falters in its dramatic pacing.
A tune that amps its sonic parts up with each second, “The Chaser” flies in the direction of its finish with a final minute tonal shift, protecting the melody the identical however throwing in a key change that turns the whole lot on its head. Because it arrives on the pulsating descent, the tune culminates in Woohyun delivering the soul-stirring anguish of his verse for a grand finale — main right into a sonorous last declaration, earlier than the sudden cool-down. With pristine, layered manufacturing, “The Chaser” scatters nuanced sonic parts round each beat, with one thing new to find in its depth upon every new pay attention. The tune has gone on to develop a cultish following of types amongst Okay-pop followers, as a result of each its wonderful manufacturing worth and the dynamic, glossy choreography. — T.H.
2. Purple Velvet, “Purple Taste” (The Purple Summer season, 2017)
The perfect pop songs can take a primary human emotion and make it the largest, most extraordinary factor on the planet — regardless of such familiarity, sure emotions could be rendered anew by way of exact distillation and amplification. It’s the rationale “Purple Taste” was such an simple hit since day one and stays ever-beloved by followers worldwide — it overflows with an exuberance that’s palpable from the very first second.
Purple Velvet have one of the vital spectacular and wide-ranging discographies of any Okay-pop group ever. From the delicate R&B throwback “Automated” to the frenetic Shibuya-kei-indebted “Russian Roulette,” the ornate balladry of “One among These Nights” to the brass-and-rap hypnotism of “Dumb Dumb,” they may by no means be pinned down by their self-imposed “Purple” and “Velvet” ideas. “Purple Taste” is most akin to the dubstep cheerleader romp of “Ice Cream Cake” — itself a symbolic baton cross from f(x) to Purple Velvet as the perfect idol group alive — however packages its kitchen-sink extravagance into an simply digestible kind.
Most significantly, the tune’s evocations of a shiny summer time romance are felt in each flourish and quirk. There’s swirling chimes and girlish sighs, chipper woodblocks and resounding horn stabs, drumline percussion and flagellating vocal samples — manufacturing and songwriting duo Caesar & Loui introduced the whole lot to the desk, as a result of a lover can change the whole lot about your outlook on life. Past the bricolage, “Purple Taste” options moments of candy repose that result in a last, heartfelt confession that the “summer time taste” they adore a lot is “you.” In three quick minutes, Purple Velvet make tangible probably the most ineffable of issues: love. — J.M.Okay.
1. IU, “Good Day” (Actual, 2010)
As the last decade involves an finish, the identify IU has turn out to be synonymous with descriptions like “unbeatable chart-topper” and “fearless artist” in Korea. However at first of the last decade, this was not the case because the honey-voiced singer-songwriter was nonetheless looking for her place within the business. All that modified with the vacation single “Good Day” that introduced the then-17-year-old sensation to nationwide consideration, and formally started her reign as chart queen.
“Good Day” is the epitome of Okay-pop’s uncommon skill to cross sudden genres and make them mainstream, as orchestral devices harmonize with sudden blasts of brassy horns. All through the refined key adjustments within the monitor, IU’s saccharine pop supply glosses the whole lot over to make these mastermind musical selections basically undetectable. With one tune, IU the vocalist makes her true debut, with a comforting, candy, and easy-to-sing-along fashion on the refrain — whereas letting listeners hear her true potential when the high-pitched climactic be aware hits on every chorus. It feels as formidable and complicated because it does easy and easy, a fragile stability that may solely be pulled off by a musician like IU, who continues to affect generations of future singers.
Whereas the Okay-pop scene has grown in its worldwide affect and acts as a roadmap to the world’s pop future — due to its tentpoles, like forward-thinking tune construction and genre-spanning enchantment — in the end, all of it comes right down to robust music on the core. A tune like IU’s “Good Day” defines this decade not solely as a result of it speaks particularly to the 2010s, however as a result of it speaks to any decade and in the end lets musicality take heart stage. Strip away the chart success, the visuals, the media hype, the movies, and the choreography — what must be left is a game-changing tune, sung by the correct artist. — J.B.