It’s finally that time of the year! Given that most us have been stuck indoors for the greater part of 2020, it’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the halfway mark. And apart from the global pandemic, rising international tensions, social uprisings and natural disasters I would like to think that it’s been a pretty chill year……
So when it comes to K-pop, where do I personally think we stand? Throughout the year I’ve been complaining about the lack of quality comebacks and while that is still certainly true, I’m actually quite surprised by the strength of my 10 picks. Sure they don’t compare to the strength of tracks we had at this point last year but there are some real stunners within this bunch. But while I say that, there has yet to be a song this year that’s hit me as hard as let’s say a Miroh, Side Effects, Boy With Luv or even The Fifth Season. But given that 50% of my top 10 from last year consisted of tracks that came out in the second half of the year, I remain eternally optimistic.
Unfortunately, that sense of optimism has come incredibly close to collapsing on numerous occasions throughout the year. Whereas 2019 was the year where most big name groups lived up to their status with equally strong music, almost every big name comeback this year has disappointed to a certain extent. Groups like BTS, Blackpink, Twice, Seventeen have all returned with material that is far inferior to the groups best work. The same could be said for some of my own bias groups. Oh My Girl, Gfriend and TXT especially returned with decent yet unspectacular singles. This has led to long stretches of stale, boring releases that have felt too beholden to current trends to really leave any lasting impact.
Going into the second half of the year, I would really like a greater focus on melody and big choruses, a pattern that’s consistent with almost all of my picks down below. If even 50% of all the releases in the next 6 months manage to fit that bill, I’ll be over the moon. But enough of me ranting, let’s get to my top 10 favourite singles of 2020 so far!
*Stay tuned for my favourite albums and B-sides lists coming in the next few days
Honourable Mentions (In alphabetical order)
Bang Yedam (Treasure) – Wayo (review)
Craxy – Aria (review)
Imfact – Lie (review)
Lee Daehwi (AB6IX) – Rose, Scent, Kiss (review)
Loona – So What (review)
Oneus – A Song Written Easily (review)
WJSN (Cosmic Girls) – Butterfly (review)
TOP 10 (In alphabetical order)
Apink – Dumhdurum (review)
Kpops longest running girl group outdo themselves once again with this stylish blast of modern synthpop. It’s a near flawless combination of the girls last two singles and easily cements their position as one of the industries elder-statesmen.
APRIL – Lalalilala (review)
From its more reserved verses to that gargantuan chorus, Lalalilala was the kind of comeback April needed after their incredibly long hiatus. Few hooks this have sounded so massive.
ATEEZ – Answer (review)
Speaking of massive hooks, ATEEZ kicked off the year in dramatic fashion with the suitably bombastic Answer. The perfect conclusion to the groups excellent ‘Treasure’ series, Answer grew the groups larger than life sound whilst still injecting the necessary drama to really feel fresh and exciting.
BTS – We are Bulletproof: the Eternal (review)
We are Bulletproof: the Eternal was the song that reaffirmed my belief that few groups can pull of synthpop like BTS. From the slow opening verse to the soaring hook, few songs this year have been imbued with so much emotional pathos.
Dreamcatcher – Scream (review)
Dreamcatcher at their explosive best, Scream combined the more electronic elements of incredible b-sides like Silent Night and Sleepwalking with the groups signature rock sound to create one of the years most theatrical singles.
Gfriend – Labyrinth (review)
A b-side which I bumped up to title track status because of its increased promotion, Labyrinth was a big return to form for Gfriend. While the production and rapid-fire hooks are incredibly enjoyable, it’s that godly synth riff that really makes Labyrinth transcendent.
Golden Child – One (Lucid Dream) (review)
One of the years most structurally unique singles, One is held together by its incredible collection of hooks and the groups undeniable charisma. The daft punk inspired dance break has got to be one of the years best production choices.
ITZY – Wannabe (review)
After an incredible debut year, Wannabe assured ITZY’s place in my bias list with some excellent production and a hook to die for. It was the groups most instant track and one that’s only gotten better with time.
ONF – New World (review)
A Road to Kingdom single that was better than it had any right to be, New World combined its rapid fire verses with a suitably epic climax to craft one of the years most unique and explosive dance tracks.
Sunmi – Pporappipam (review)
After a rather disappointing 2019, Sunmi came roaring back with the incredible retro dance pop of Pporappipam. It’s incredibly simple yet fully showcases the power of a flawless melody and charismatic performer.