[Special] 2017 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 30-21

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.

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.

[Special] 2017 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 40-31

40. HIGHLIGHT – Plz Don’t Be Sad (얼굴 찌푸리지 말아요) [CAN YOU FEEL IT?]
Despite the issues that BEAST had when they left Cube, the group’s return as HIGHLIGHT is definitely something to be happy about. Although I did enjoy quite a few of their songs, BEAST never quite grabbed my attention. Plz Don’t Be Sad is exactly what I was looking for though. Unlike the darker sound they released in 2016, this tune is so fun and upbeat. Every part of it is exciting (although the lyrics could have been tweaked a bit). The cheerful chorus that mixes some catchy hooks with a more melodic edge really works and helps to create a full experience. Their other releases in 2017 were also quite strong.

39. AOA – Excuse Me [Angel’s Knock]
2016’s Good Luck did very little for me. Although it was meant to infectious, the hook just seemed too obvious and a bit lackluster compared to the run the group had from 2013 to 2015. While Excuse Me isn’t going to be that classic jam, its retro vibe definitely switches things up. The repetition can be rather bearing at first, but it is certainly an earworm and is worked around cleverly to not focus entirely on it. While others haven’t taken too lightly to the random rap break, I find it helps to break the song up a bit.

38. VAV – Venus (Dance with Me) [VENUS]
VAV debuted in 2014, but have failed to really find their footing. With a revamp in 2017 that included a number of member changes, it seems as though VAV has finally found that spark. While the group released a solid four tunes in 2017 with Ryan Jhun, their comeback Venus (Dance with Me) was the song that really grabbed me in. Funk is one of my favourite genres and Venus is one of the strongest examples in K-Pop. That wicked bassline that keeps the song going really brings some refreshing life to the song, while the brass mixing also helps to fuse things into a catchy and unforgettable tune.

37. Red Velvet – Red Flavor (빨간 맛) [The Red Summer]
Red Velvet seemed in a weird place last year with the weak reception of One of These Nights. Although Russian Roulette helped to bring the spark back, 2017 saw the group really take off again. Red Flavor was undoubtedly one of the hallmarks of 2017 K-Pop with its summer freshness and dance-pop catchiness. Definitely something that could be by girl group Little Mix (it was originally crafted for them), it has that spunky element to it that only gains power as the song progresses.

36. The Boyz – Boy (소년) [THE FIRST]
The Boyz boasts a staggering thirteen members. While there have been numerous groups with this number in recent years, it is still quite a large amount. Unfortunately, Boy fails to really help distinguish the members from one another and instead we get a hectic bouncing of member to member. Fortunately, Boy is still an excellent song. It really grasps that youthful vibe that the group has going on and it does have its charm points. That booming and swift chorus comes and goes, but it has so many twists turns that it keeps the song flowing and interesting.

35. Joo – Late in the Morning (어느 늦은 아침) [Late in the Morning]
Joo has been on of my favourite ballad singers since her debut. Although her recent stunt on the survival show, The Unit, has shown that she has versatility, I still find her fragile voice works best in these simple ballad tunes. Late in the Morning is not an explosive and passionate song. It’s a gentle and calming tune that is more fitting for a rainy day. It’s the vocal performance that shows off Joo’s emotional yet sweet tone that really gets the work done. She really captures the emotion.

34. Dream Catcher – Chase Me [Nightmare]
One of the most surprising debuts of the year, Dream Catcher is actually the re-debut of girl group MINX. What makes the group so different is the choice of music they chose to come back with. Instead of the bubblegum synths or EDM beats, we given something more in tune with J-Rock. The piano line that plays helps to create a haunting foundation for that blast of guitar. The chorus is absolutely infectious and really makes me think of an impactful anime opening theme.

33. IU – Palette (팔레트) [Palette]
Slowing things down again is IU’s Palette. IU got into controversy over 2015’s Zeze, but 2017 saw her return to music and despite what happened a few years ago, she still showed she is a powerhouse. Palette brings us a gentle mid-tempo R&B-influenced pop song that focuses on self discovery. It really sounds like something played in Korean cafes, but there is something that really keeps it afloat and not lost in the sea of the majority of these tunes. IU’s airy vocal delivery and G-Dragon’s rap really help bring the star power and they both make the song so believable.

32. GFRIEND – FINGERTIP [The Awakening]
GFRIEND saw the peak of their popularity hit in 2016. Unfortunately, while their tunes were beloved, the group found scrutiny coming from those who wished the group change up their sound. FINGERTIP keeps a lot of the same aspects of some of their other songs like Navillera, but brings a great 80’s funk vibe to it. It’s definitely more mature than their past songs. With that said, it has some really great points. That explosive and catchy chorus tied with Yuju’s classic vocals really carry the song a long. It’s their strongest title track yet and I hope they bring back this sound.

31. DAY6 – You Were Beautiful (예뻤어) [SUNRISE]
2017 saw DAY6 go on a twelve month promotion cycle with every month bringing fans two new songs. You Were Beautiful was released as the title track for the February single and what a haunting tune it is. Unlike the more upbeat tunes that surrounded it, this one was definitely the prototype a lot of DAY6’s ballads followed. It’s an emotional pop/rock ballad that really captures the emotions of a break-up. The soaring chorus with its towering percussion and haunting synths really help to highlight the strong vocals the band can put out.

[Special] 2017 Top 100 K-Pop Songs 50-41

50. 2NE1 – Goodbye (안녕) [Goodbye]
Yet another top-tier group saw their demise in 2017. Although 2NE1 has been absent since 2014 due to a drug scandal, it still took three years before we could get another tune. Goodbye is an absolutely gorgeous song that really encapsulates its title. The more guitar driven tune is a nice return to the group’s ballad style of Lonely and Missing You. The verses are a bit dreary, but still have life in them. However, the melody in the chorus really brings the needed emotional. It really sounds like an end to a great group.

49. Samuel – Sixteen (식스틴) [Sixteen]
Samuel didn’t make it into Wanna One, but he definitely showed that he has a strong fanbase that will follow him. Debuting solo is a risk, but Sixteen showed that he has the potential to be huge. Sixteen is a tropical house tinged tune that has a bit of that mellow vibe going on. The verses aren’t bad, but it’s that twisting chorus that really grows. I wasn’t impressed at first, but the song has definitely consistently on my playlist since its release. I just wish they didn’t autotune his voice so much.

48. NU’EST W – WHERE YOU AT [W, Here]
NU”EST had a huge year in 2017. When it looked like they weren’t going to go anywhere, the group appeared on Produce 101 and soon hit is big after. Although Minhyun was the only one who ended up in Wanna One, it actually proved to be a good thing as the rest of the group continued to release music as four. WHERE YOU AT was the perfect return. It has the mature vibe of their last few title tracks, but updates things with something more mainstream EDM. That dramatic chorus backed by Baekho’s passionate vocals really allows the song to soar. It’s a bit generic, but a solid tune nonetheless.

47. Heize – Don’t You Know (널 너무 모르고) [/// (You Are Cloudy)]
Heize has exploded in popularity over the last year in large part due to her moody R&B/pop blend. While she initially came on the scene as a rapper, her vocals are unique and emotive, which lends itself well to the type of music she does. Don’t You Know brings something a bit more upbeat, but still with that Heize touch. The pulsating and progressing beat really keeps things moving and I love how well everything blends with her voice. The rap break is also a welcomed change that adds even more energy to the song.

46. MIXNINE – Just Dance [Part 1]
Produce 101 has had a huge effect and has sparked an outburst of several other idol survival shows. MIXNINE was one that popped up recently that was headed by YG Entertainment’s Yang Hyun Suk. Unlike Produce 101 that focused separately on girls and boys, MIXNINE has to bring a tune that mixes the two. Just Dance surprisingly does a great job of that. It’s a bit more simplistic in its execution and the chorus doesn’t have an in-your-face attitude about it, but that slick and mellow melody does wonders. I love how everything blends together so well and the vocals are surprisingly fluid.

45. NCT Dream – My First and Last (마지막 첫사랑) [The First]
I haven’t really been able to get fully into NCT yet. With that said, a few of their songs just seem to quietly sneak into my lists. My First and Last is a huge improvement over last year’s Chewing Gum. There is a bit of an odd transition between the verses and the chorus, but that chorus is to die for. The melody just seems to throwback to boy band’s of the 90’s, but it still keeps things fresh with the fun beat and clever harmonies. It isn’t a song that really hits you, but it easily grows.

44. ODD EYE CIRCLE – Sweet Crazy Love [Max & Match]
LOONA has shown a gradual rise in the quality of their work despite the group not actually “debuting” yet. ODD EYE CIRCLE is the second subunit and consists of members KimLip, Choerry and JinSoul. While their first release, Girl Front, was a fun and upbeat pop tune, Sweet Crazy Love tones things down with something a bit more sensual. What I love about this song is the number of synths and just the breeziness of the overall feel of its execution. The girls aren’t power vocalists, but their airy voices fit nicely with the more mellow tune.

43. BLACKPINK – As If It’s Your Last (마지막처럼) [As If It’s Your Last]
Unfortunately, BLACKPINK only came back with one new song in 2017. Good thing the song was such a strong tune. As If It’s Your Last is a bustling pop tune that mixes things up with some hip-hop elements. The biggest stand out of the song is that transition into the full-on pop chorus. It’s become much less jarring the more I have listened to the song and it really works to bring the energy up. I love how explosive it is and while I’m not the biggest fan of the rap break, everything still works well despite its general messiness.

42. BLACK6IX – Like a Flower [Like a Flower]
BLACK6IX would easily count as a “nugu” boy band as they have yet to gain a sizable fanbase. With that said, they have easily released some the best songs this year. Their debut, Please, was an emotional rollercoaster and tropical house follow-up, Like a Flower, brings an interesting twist to the overplayed genre. The verses are a fun blend of rap and singing, but the chorus steals the show. Although it has that signature instrumental break, the group plays things up with the melody and is able to blend it so the whole song doesn’t depend on just that. It’s a haunting tune and I hope the guys continue to bring it.

41. EXO – Ko Ko Bop [THE WAR]
EXO changed things up this year with something a bit more reggaeton. While a lot of people were surprised by the change, I was thoroughly impressed. Ko Ko Bop definitely benefits from the high production quality as everything flows so well into each other. I love the laidback nature of the chorus, but the energy is still able to come through with that hip-hop instrumental break. It’s a surprising twist, but it helps the song not get too monotone. It doesn’t have the same power as a lot of their past title tracks do, but I find it’s a good change in sound.