10. EXID – DDD (덜덜덜) [Full Moon]
Despite Solji’s current health hiatus, EXID still came back in 2017 with two full mini-albums. While the first title track was a nice departure from their usual sexy pop tunes, DDD brought us the return of that sultry and explosive flavour that EXID has become best known for. DDD is probably my favourite offering from them since 2015’s Ah Yeah and features a similar structure to that song. It has the catchy instrumental refrain and an exciting chorus that helps to bring the energy of the song up. It’s definitely their most sensual title track, which fits them perfectly.
09. Shannon – Love Don’t Hurt [Love Don’t Hurt]
Love Don’t Hurt is actually the only full English song featured on the list. It definitely has qualities of American Pop, with its more programmed R&B sound and I absolutely love it. The song has a sadness to it that is only elevated due to Shannon’s amazing vocal abilities. Amber (from f(x)) also features on a verse, but I think this song would’ve been better as a full Shannon offering. Her voice, especially in the final chorus, really pushes the song to the next level.
08. BtoB – Missing You (그리워하다) [Brother Act.]
Although I’ve known BtoB since their debut and have listened to a few songs, they didn’t really interest me that much. It wasn’t until I heard this song that I really started to look into their ballads more. The group is definitely made up of some capable vocalists and its great that the group is able to pull off both upbeat and slower tunes. Missing You is probably my favourite ballad of theirs. It’s absolutely haunting and a little bittersweet in its delivery. It definitely captures the mood of missing someone and the boys know exactly how to emit the right amount of emotion into it.
07. BoA – Spring Rain (봄비) [Spring Rain]
I’ve listened to BoA since 2004 and she has been a staple artist that I have gone back to whether it be her Korean or Japanese releases. Spring Rain was a nice surprise and certainly her best song since Call My Name in 2013. I wish it was promoted more as the song is gorgeous. The subtle beat tied with the floating synths and gentle piano really bring an ethereal atmosphere. It’s that push into the chorus with the heavier percussion that really elevates that part of the song. Quite emotional and charming.
06. T-ara – What’s My Name? (내 이름은) [What’s My Name?]
Despite all that has happened since T-ara’s bullying scandal in 2012, the girls have continuously come back strong (except maybe 2016, where I didn’t quite like the song they brought). Grabbing on to the trend of tropical house, What’s My Name? keeps T-ara current. It’s not the showstopper that Number Nine or Sugar Free was, but it is such an earworm and has some really clever and interesting quirks. The hook played with the synthline in the second half of the chorus is a cool fusion, while the airy harmonies and odd background vocal moments really helps to make the song fuller. It has since become one of my favourites from the group.
05. ASTRO – Crazy Sexy Cool [Dream Part.02]
ASTRO has consistently released strong title tracks and Crazy Sexy Cool has been their strongest yet. While the song starts rather calm, it gains a bit more energy once the prechorus comes up. The intro into the chorus is euphoric and brings a nice funk sound that keeps the song going. That blasting bass really drives the song and the melody does a great job riding just above it. It’s their most mature offering yet, but it really keeps that bright pop quality that their other material also features. It’s rather gorgeous and has a great charm to it.
04. DIA – Will You Go Out With Me? (나랑 사귈래) [YOLO]
Despite Produce 101 and I.O.I featuring Chaeyeon (and Cathy), DIA has still taken quite a bit of time to take off. Their releases in 2016 were decent but really lacked some character and showed the group jumping around with different sounds. I really felt like 2017 helped bring a sense of a stability and the addition of two new members really brought a new charm to the group. Will You Go Out With Me? was the first introduction to these new members and really brought something new. It has that cute, innocent vibe to it, but the whole song is insanely catchy. It reminds me of AOA’s Heart Attack in the sense that every part of the song features a load of catchy hooks. It’s just intoxicating.
03. SONAMOO – I (knew it) (아이) [HAPPY BOX Part.2]
While SONAMOO started 2017 with a bright pop song, the latter half of the year brought in an entirely different feel and sound. The first part of the HAPPY BOX project came with a fun 80’s inspired tune, but it’s I (knew it) that really brings the needed energy and quality. The latin-inspired dance tune does a great job of blending the latin flavours with contemporary dance-pop and it really shows off the strengths of the girls. It’s dramatic, exciting and brings something not heard by other groups. The melody is catchy and the girls sound absolutely amazing and each of them is able to show of their own charm. I love it.
02. PENTAGON – I Like It [DEMO_01]
PENTAGON has easily risen to become my favourite of the new boy bands that have come out in recent years. It feels like each of their title tracks has gotten progressively better. I Like It was my favourite of 2017 because it recalls the more melodic and dramatic style of the 2010’s instead of the recent trend of the instrumental choruses. I Like It is insanely gorgeous. Written by leader Hui, the tune is like a ballad in dance form. The chorus is insane with its haunting use of background vocals to elevate the song and memorable melody lines. The final chorus definitely thrusts things to a higher level and takes things to a level not many other groups were able to reach in 2017.
01. Brave Girls – Rollin’ (롤린) [Rollin’]
Rollin’ isn’t as “insanely gorgeous” as the the last track, but there is something so sincere about this tune. It follows the trend of tropical house and doesn’t really change things up. Instead, it just brings a solid tune that brings a sort of emotion that is difficult to find in other songs. The verses are short but memorable and the chorus brings in some clever and exciting hooks. It’s that synth line in the instrumental that brings the much needed energy to the song though. It’s simple, but beautiful and really brings a sense of being carefree and bright. No song has been gotten as many replays from me as this in 2017.