The Top 100 K-Pop Songs of 2020 (20 – 11)

It’s time to countdown my top 100 songs of 2020! 10 songs, everyday, for the next 10 days. The rules for the countdown are as follows:

  1. To be eligible for this list, the song must have been released between the 1st of January 2020 and 15th December 2020.
  2. Song must be paired with a full music video and be promoted to some extent. 
  3. Performance video’s (Gfriend’s Labyrinth and ONF’s New World) will unfortunately not be considered for the singles list and will make their appearance in the Top 100 B-sides of the year list.
  4. Songs must be by a Korean artist and be in either Korean or English (Japanese / Chinese singles will get their own seperate countdown)
  5. And finally, this is all just my opinion. There is much bias to be found and if you’re unhappy with any of the placements, just remember that this is not meant to be a purely objective list.

For your viewing pleasure:

Honourable mentions // 100-91 // 90 – 81 // 80 – 71 // 70 – 61 // 60 – 51 // 50 – 41 // 40 – 31// 30 – 21 //

20. Stray Kids – Back Door (review)

Although Stray Kids did not manage to reach the kind of insurmountable highs they achieved in 2019, they managed to grow their sound in more interesting directions than many would have expected. Back Door introduces a layer of nimble funk that was, prior to its release, a rare presence within the groups discography. It’s an experiment that impressed upon release and has only gotten more addictive over time, imbuing its more or less instrumental hook with a great sense of charm that only extends to amplify the strength of its boisterous climax.

19. TWICE – I Can’t Stop Me (review)

Built upon an incredibly addictive synth riff that feels as though it’s been pulled out of any 80’s radio show, I Can’t Stop Me was a true return to form for the nations girl group after the rather disappointing More & More. It’s the great playground for Twice’s wide range of vocal tones, a characteristic that remains one of the groups biggest pulls. And its on full display here. At its best, I Can’t Stop Me feels like a perfect extension of the groups 2019 sound, taking a stylish retro inspired instrumental and pairing it with a mature vocal arrangement reminiscent of many a pop diva of old. 

18. Xia Junsu – Pit A Pat (review)

An outstanding return for one of the industries more renowned veterans, Pit A Pat felt more like a moment than a simple comeback. And in many ways it was. While others may rely heavily on the production for such bombastic dance tracks, Junsu manages to not only match the strength of the instrumental but actually manages to make his voice the star of the show. Few artists are able to convey so much pathos through their vocal tone alone and Junsu is one of those. The two part chorus is a show stopping combination of production and performance, and is a refreshing jolt of club influenced dance pop in 2020’s otherwise downbeat sociopolitical climate. 

17. ITZY – Wannabe (review)

After an incredible debut year, ITZY continued their flawless singles run with the sassy self empowering anthem, Wannabe. It’s a track that combines a hodgepodge of ideas into one incredibly addictive package that knows how to push the musical boundaries without feeling too much like a mess. Something ITZY and their producers have all but mastered at this point. But in regards to Wannabe, it would be but a crime to not mention its brilliant chorus, which propels forward on one of the years most memorable melodies while still retaining the attitude infused badassary and relentless energy that the group built their name on.

16. Golden Child – Pump It Up (review)

Listening to Pump It Up feels as though I’m literally injecting serotonin into my veins. Seriously, this has got to be one of the years most instantly addictive and jubilant singles. After completing their dark, adventurous, BLSSD headed trilogy, Golden Child bucked the trend of going dark and staying dark by returning with a track that is as far away from edgy as you can get. And what we got was a track that managed to effortlessly merge the golden child of old with the golden child of today. There’s just so much to love here, from the Jackson-5 esque beat to the gorgeous harmonies during the pre-chorus but it’s that stunner of a hook that will get you every single time.

15. The Boyz – The Stealer (review)

After securing their victory on Road To Kingdom, The BOYZ had to return with a track as commanding and momentous as their performances on the show promised. And to a large extent, the incredibly cool The Stealer did exactly that. It’s a track that isn’t afraid to take some sharp turns and after a few listens, it’s an experiment that I believe paid off in spades. The ambitious funk led verses are absolutely exhilarating and lend themselves to a lurching hook that’s only gotten stronger and more pronounced with time. It’s a brilliant listen all the way through but really becomes something special during its rapid-fire bridge and climactic chorus.

14. APRIL – Lalalilala (review

The song that should have launched April into superstardom, Lalalilala acted as a perfect return for under the radar girl group April after a near 15 month hiatus. Its reserved verses are enjoyable but act as the perfect connective tissue for one of the years biggest and most melodically satisfying choruses. It’s a brilliant hook, bringing together a soaring edm and string assisted soundscape that elevate an already great melody into something truely transcendent. It’s a sound that I happen to love and one that could have easily slotted into the discographies of either of my bias groups, WJSN and Oh My Girl. But saying that would be a disservice to April, who imbue the tracks quieter and more grandiose moments with enough personality to really make the entire package POP.

13. 1THE9 – Bad Guy (review)

As they say, If you want to go out, might as well go out with a bang. And 1THE9 took that to heart, going out with easily their strongest and most impactful single. Bad Guy‘s chorus ranks amongst the years best, pounding forward with the kind of intent that you would rarely find in 2020’s musical landscape. Rather than attempt to cover as much musical ground as possible, a trope that many early 2020 singles suffered from, Bad Guy succeeds thanks to its laser beam focus, powering forward towards its megawatt hook from its opening moments. And unlike many other tracks that feel a little too try hard for their own good, the aggressive sense of intent radiating out of Bad Guy‘s hook feels genuine, further elevating its charms. This is how you do a swan song.

12. Seventeen – Home;Run (review)

Who knew that embracing big band elements in a completely unironic and unabashed manner would result in my favourite Seventeen single in years? Everyone. Everyone did. Home;Run is home (hehe) to some of my absolute favourite musical tropes, harkening back to the era of jazz hands, brassy hooks and when the doobie doobie’s were king. And as you would expect, this is just musical catnip to my ears. Home;Run‘s chorus is a thing of beauty, perfectly incorporating the tracks title into a chorus that acts as the perfect bridge between the groups earlier era’s and more modern releases. There isn’t a weak bone in Home;Run‘s glorious brew and while my relationship with Seventeen’s music seemed to be withering, Home;Run brought it back with increased vigour.

11. GFRIEND – Mago (review)

2020 was the year that saw GFRIEND move from strength to strength and the girls saved their best for last with the incredible disco stomp of Mago. Its verses bop along at an addictive tempo furthered by the girls gorgeous vocal blend. But Mago is nothing without the killer chorus at its centre, which manages to be both bewitching and melodically satisfying. Without limiting itself to a single refrain, Mago unveils its glorious two part hook over a number of refrains that feel perfectly tuned towards the track and act as a great reminder to why chorus’ are so god damn important. It showcases a new side to the girls and one that I believe suits them like a glove.


3 thoughts on “The Top 100 K-Pop Songs of 2020 (20 – 11)

    1. If I create a critics’ pick list, I think Back Door, Nostalgia, pporappippam, Favorite Boys, Criminal, LA DI DA, Pump It Up, Criminal, Scream, Answer is going to be the 10, all of the critics kind of unanimously agree that they are the best songs of the year.


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