While title tracks are usually what steal the show, I’m someone more interested in what the accompanying albums contain. I’ve often found that some of my favourite songs of the year are unprompted album tracks that I never would have found if I had not actively began looking for and listening to most of what is released. In most cases I end up appreciating many of the songs buried within these mini or full length albums much much more than the lead single. Rookie and nugu groups especially tend to opt for more generic and crowd pleasing singles while hiding their more experimental and classic songs within albums.
This has especially been the case with 2020. Not only have I found that most groups have comeback with B-sides far stronger than their lead single, but in most cases the title track has ended up being the worst song on the album. But while the singles have been rather uninspiring and underwhelming across the board, 2020 has supplied us with some incredible album tracks. Infact, the quality of b-sides is probably the only aspect in which 2020 has 2019 beat. While 2019 really picked up the slack in the second half of the year, 2020 has been on a roll with the sheer strength of some of its b-sides. I had to rearrange my top 10 picks multiple times because of how strong and closely matched I believe some of these songs were. Oh how different 2020 would be if even half of these songs were given title track status.
2Z – 25
ATEEZ – Precious
Cravity – Top of the Chain
Day6 – Love Me or Leave Me
Dreamcatcher – Black Or White
Dreamcatcher – In The Frozen
Kim Sejeong – Skyline
Monsta X – Beautiful Night
Park Jihoon – Driving
Stray Kids – Phobia
Twice – Sweet Summer Day
Verivery – PHOTO
Winner (Hoony Solo) – Serenade
WJSN – Where You Are
ASTRO – Somebody Like
The only song that didn’t make the top 5 b-sides of its month, Somebody Like has gone onto become one of my favourite songs of the year. There’s just something about its chanted hook and buoyant summertime melody that I just love. I underestimated it upon release but I’ve come around to it in a big way. It’s the type of youthful pop track that Astro excel at and I would love for them to revisit sometime in the future for a single.
Dreamcatcher – Jazz Bar (Review)
Honestly, Dreamcatcher’s Dystopia: The Tree Of Language is so strong that I could switch this with either of the two honourable mentions and it would still stand. But 6 months on I think that the timeless and vibey Jazz Bar might just be my favourite b-side off the project. Not only is its melody pure perfection but its rhythmic jazz appeal and excellent vocal performance both come together to make one of the years most interesting mid-tempo’s.
IMFACT – Lalida
One thing that we’ve sorely missed in 2020 are songs that want to have fun just for the sake of having fun. And that’s exactly why Imfact’s incredibly fun Lalida is so freaking great. It just exudes goofy energy, harkening back to the days where kpop didn’t take itself so seriously. That hook reminds me of Teen Top hits like Crazy and Rocking in the best way possible.
ITZY – THAT’s A NONO (Review)
While the sample size is rather small, the carnival party starting That’s a no no is ITZY’s strongest album track yet. It’s industrial beat is heavily reminiscent of much of what SM entertainment were doing at the start of the 2010’s and it’s fantastic. But what really transforms That’s a no no into a larger than life listening experience is the gargantuan two part hook, which combines a rousing chant with an equally potent refrain to craft a knockout centrepiece for the years most club ready track.
Golden Child – OMG (Review)
Bright electro funk is one of my biggest weaknesses and Golden Child’s incredible OMG is one of the very best examples of the genre. It’s upbeat pop music that doesn’t forget the importance of melodic heft. The same could be said for OMG‘s chorus, which spirals into a cavalcade of instantly infectious hooks that alongside the clipped vocal adlibs make for a wonderfully enjoyable centrepiece. Few songs this year have been so utterly enjoyable from start to finish.
Rocket Punch – Lilac
While I still enjoyed title track Bouncy, the melancholic edm of Lilac was what really stole the show for me. I love emotional edm anthems and Lilac manages to convey *just* the right amount of musical catharsis to really feel vital. The girls have a great vocal line and the soaring vocal led edm chorus here is just the icing on the cake. Songs like this don’t always work but boy does this one hit the spot.
Stray Kids – Haven
From melancholy EDM to arguably the years best hype track, Stray Kids’ Haven is a soaring piece of anthemic dance pop. Few songs this year have sounded so big but Haven feels like the culmination of all the years energy into one show stopping song. It’s one of those songs that just begs to be promoted. That chorus is just lighting a bottle pop greatness.
TXT – Drama
Another song that should have undoubtedly been the title track for its respective album, Drama brings back the buoyant funk that TXT excel at. While the rest of the album is quite hookless, Drama bounds out of the gate with hook upon hook upon hook. It’s one of the groups best songs and would have fit right up there with the greatness of their first two singles.
WJSN – Pantomime
As inventive as it is catchy, Pantomime expanded the cosmic girls sound in exhilarating fashion all whilst still maintaining the groups trademark spacey sound. The stylish dance beats and mature vocal performance paint the group in a more sophisticated light and the constantly modulating dance beat is a wonderful highlight. It’s a track in constant flux, held together by the simple and wonderfully charismatic hook that cements Pantomime as one of the years best songs.
Weki Meki – Moya Moya (Review)
A song that was destined to rule the summer, Moya Moya recalls past summertime girl groups hits to create one knockout track. There isn’t a single moment were Moya Moyafeels like its lagging in momentum and boy is it refreshing. The singalong that opens the song and acts as the post chorus is one of the years most instantly addictive hooks, coasting along at a laid back pace that feels perfectly fit for the summer.