30. Infinite – The Eye (태풍) (Infinite Only)
Every year it is easy to count on Infinite to bring an exciting synth-driven pop tune. The Eye is really no different and continues the signature Infinite sound. A return to the more dramatic sound compared to last year’s Bad, The Eye could be seen as a follow-up to 2014’s Back. The synths give the song a sense of urgency while also providing a haunting backdrop to the powerful chorus melody. The interesting addition is the instrumental breakdown that happens after the chorus. While it doesn’t particularly fit into the rest of the song, it is an interesting addition. A great addition to their discography.
29. Ailee – Home (feat. Yoon Mirae) (A New Empire)
Ailee had gone 3 years of releasing similar title tracks. While they were all good songs, the fact is that Ailee could easily pull off many different styles due to her thundering vocals. Home was a welcomed departure and pulls elements from songs of the US Billboard Charts. It’s definitely much darker than her other material, but probably more dramatic than those big showstoppers as the instrumental is relatively haunting. I also like that Ailee doesn’t really blast off the high notes until the end to really finish the song off.
28. ASTRO – Breathless (숨가빠) (Summer Vibes)
2016 seemed like a great year for new boy bands. There was just a lot of choice and some excellent songs came from all these different groups. ASTRO was one of the biggest breakthroughs with their lighthearted and innocent sound. All three of their title tracks from last year were excellent, but I chose Breathless because the whole song is quite solid. Breathless fits the summer feeling perfectly with its bright arrangement and exciting vocals. It’s a bit cute at times, but doesn’t do it overwhelmingly. Refreshing.
27. PENTAGON – Can You Feel It (감이 오지) (Five Senses)
PENTAGON was another stellar boy band debut of 2016. While I wasn’t that impressed with Gorilla (partly because it was odd to sing along to), Can You Feel It impressed me to no end. It’s a bit more on the standard boy band sound and does a good job of blending pop with some hip-hop elements. I just really enjoy how big it sounds, especially when the chorus comes in. While a bit bare, it just has a lot of energy. It really is a rollercoaster with its many high points and breaks.
26. STELLAR – Crying (펑펑울었어) (CRY)
Since the group’s change to the sexier image, STELLAR has continually released excellent music. Working with Brave Sound this time around, Crying ditches the overtly sexual edge for something a bit more mainstream. While not as strong as 2015’s Vibrato, I love the bright sound of Crying that contrasts the sad lyrics. The song is perfect for a drive with its continuous thunder beat and funky synths. Maybe a little more on the generic side of the group, but the girls sound great and the songs is just a lot of fun to sing along to.
25. VIXX – Dynamite (다이너마이트) (Zelos)
VIXX is well known for their darker sound. While Dynamite is dramatic, it brings us a bit more 80s funk instead of the haunting synths and aggressive vocals. More lighthearted, Dynamite is seriously catchy. The great thing about this song is that it still sounds like a VIXX song. Every part of it seems thought out so well and each part stands out. It never has an area where it gets dull. The verses are slick, while the chorus comes thumping in with style. The middle eight also provides a bit of a breather before we get jolted into the chorus. Totally fun.
24. SNUPER – Platonic Love (지켜줄게) (Platonic Love)
SNUPER is another debut of 2016, but they came in full force with this 80s Sweetune jam. A bit on the sweeter side, what really makes this song is that wonderful 80s refrain that pops up during the instrumental breaks. The verses are decent, but the chorus is definitely where the song shines best. Its fast-paced vocal arrangement is catchy and works wonderfully on top of the sparkling musical arrangement. I do wish the song has a bit more power at times as it does just glide across, but it is mostly saved by the amazing refrain.
23. SHINee – 1 of 1 (1 of 1)
New Jack Swing is one of my favourite genres. Most of these songs tend to be upbeat and a lot of fun to listen to (woo Janet Jackson), so I was really happy when I heard SHINee was going to try their hands at it. 1 of 1 isn’t as stellar as last year’s View, but it is an excellent song. It does embody the early 90s R&B vibe and while the melody is a bit slower than I expected, it is still very catchy. I enjoy how it never really explodes with energy and keeps on a constant level throughout. It’s a quality tune.
22. SISTAR x Giorgio Moroder – One More Day (One More Day)
Another song that is recalling music from the past, One More Day was released as a special single by SISTAR. Unlike the slick I Like That, One More Day has a much more dramatic and sounds like it could have a ballad version of it. Giorgio Moroder is famous for his disco works (woo Donna Summer) and this screams disco. The verses are a bit and a little forgettable, but it’s the thundering chorus that captures the attention. While repetitive, it is quite haunting and the melody blends so well with the haunting synth-driven music.
21. A Pink – Only One (내가 설렐 수 있게) (Pink Revolution)
A lot of people give A Pink flack for not changing up their sound, but I am one who actually enjoys their mid-tempo pop tunes. Only One is pretty much the successor to 2014’s LUV with its calmer feel. Many said it was boring and while I can see that at times, there are a lot of fun twists in the song that keep it afloat. I love how the chorus takes an unpredictable turn and how the song dives into a funky instrumental breakdown after the chorus. The girls also sound stellar and it really helps show off some vocals.