30. Bangtan Boys – DNA [Love Yourself ‘Her’]
Probably BTS’ most ‘mainstream’ sounding song, DNA has garnered mixed reception from the group’s fanbase. With that said, I absolute love it. I’ve rarely enjoyed their more hardcore “hip-hop” songs, but their pop tunes are always stellar. DNA is a slick EDM pop tune that brings that current structure of a drop for its chorus. Things can get a bit generic, but the song has such great energy and the synths and whistling keep the song alive. It’s a fun play on a more recent sound.
29. Akdong Musician – Dinosaur [Summer Episode]
Dinosaur is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never really listened to AKMU’s other music, but this is something I could get into. It takes that popular tropical house sound, but cleverly works with it. It’s lightweight and focuses on a “ooh ooh” refrain. I just love how laidback the verses are and how the energy really propels forward once the chorus hits. It has a sense of melancholy to it as well, which gives it a nice edge. While it doesn’t really have that flushed out chorus, everything is executed so beautifully. The lyrics are also really fun and a nice twist on usual subjects.
28. Uhm Jung Hwa – Ending Credit [The Cloud Dream of the Nine]
Although Uhm Jung Hwa has been around for nearly 30 years, she has still been able to reinvent herself in a way very few veteran pop stars can. Ending Credit is an absolutely haunting midtempo dance-pop tune and one that caught me left field. It’s not as flashy as current pop tunes usually are, instead relying on the subtle beat and light synths. However, that melody is so hauntingly beautiful that it keeps making me want to come back. It’s something only Uhm Jung Hwa could really pull off in K-Pop.
27. TWICE – Likey [Twicestagram]
TWICE is such a force in K-Pop that I was wondering why it was taking so long for the group to pull out of that overtly “aegyo” phase. While Likey does have that cuteness factor, there are a lot more mature elements and it really helps that the song has such a strong base to it. Every part of the song has hooks and each part is memorable. I find myself enjoying every section and not waiting to get to the next part. The best part of the song though is that fantastic arrangement. The instrumental breakdown before the final chorus really brings things to life.
26. I.O.I – Downpour (소나기) [Downpour]
I wasn’t particularly impressed with this song when I first heard it. A lot of idol ballad songs tend to sound a bit forgettable to me and it takes me a while to warm up to the ones that are quite strong as they tend to sound so similar to others. Downpour isn’t reinventing things, but it sure is a solid piece. It starts off rather gentle and slowly gains speed. The best part of it is that gorgeous chorus melody, which is especially great at the end with Yeonjung belting it out.
25. Hyolyn & Kisum – FRUITY [FRUITY]
With SISTAR’s disbandment, there was definitely uncertainty with how things would play out. Fortunately, Hyolyn came back with this light-hearted summery pop tune. It’s absolutely intoxicating and one of the few songs that could really give me that “this is summer” kind of feel. Both Hyolyn and Kisum do great and each shows of their charms here. Especially with Hyolyn, we hear something a bit more held back and something that really works with her great tone. It’s a bit fruity and simple, but FRUITY is a great tune.
24. SEVENTEEN – Don’t Wanna Cry (울고 싶지 않아) [Al1]
Although I’ve enjoyed quite a few of SEVENTEEN’s songs, their title tracks have always been a hit or miss with me. Fortunately, 2017 saw the group really step it up with Don’t Wanna Cry. A beautiful EDM tune that really brings a more Western feel to the forefront, there is something so robotic, but emotional about this tune. The chorus is repetitive and laid out in a way that seems relatively simple, but it is just so effective. Everything around it does a great job of highlighting that piece and it actually comes off as a rather heartbreaking tune.
23. LOONA (KimLip) – Eclipse [LOONA (KimLip)]
LOONA has really brought it this year and each of the individual girls has been able to give their own colour to the overall project. My favourite has definitely been Eclipse. A gorgeous R&B-inspired dance tune, I’ve been missing these flushed out choruses. It’s sensual, sexy and slick and KimLip’s airy vocals float right above everything. She’s not the strongest singer, but her nasally voice works wonders in this ethereal song and it blends so nicely with the powerful beat, synths and layered background vocals.
22. April – April Story (봄의 나라 이야기) [Prelude]
April has had a good year this year. Despite the loss of a member, they returned with two more and have shown an evolution of their sound. While I absolutely adored Take My Hand, April Story is definitely the strongest tune from the girls this year. A beautiful winter pop tune, April Story takes on a more mature form, but keeps the youthfulness of the group. The thumping beat with the soaring synths tied with the emotional lyrics and melody really help to showcase a different side of the group.
21. WINNER – REALLY REALLY [FATE NUMBER FOR]
I was a bit slow to get on the REALLY REALLY train. I’m pretty sure by the time I got into the song, it was already well passed summer and actually heading into the cold. Definitely the “it” song of tropical house in K-Pop for 2017, REALLY REALLY showed a return of WINNER’s prowess with a tune that’s totally crafted to be a huge hit. Despite the song’s sweeter lyrics, the song seems to have a more melancholic sound to it. It works gorgeously though. That hook heavy chorus is so simple, but well-executed that it’s impossible to not get it stuck in your head. It’s truly a powerhouse.