Ah, it’s finally that time of the year again. After counting down my absolute favourite K-pop songs of the year and giving my thoughts on my favourite artists of the year, It’s finally time to look at the uglier side of the industry. Much of 2020 has been underwhelming but the tracks down below are those tracks that weren’t just underwhelming but were just flat out bad. I’m usually very generous with my reviews and statements but sometimes you just got let all that rage flow out you know. So this is what this segment is for.
And while the mid-year version of this countdown was rather terrible in its own right, I’ve managed to come across songs that are much much MUCH worse than I had ever thought. And while the second half of the year did see an improvement in terms of mainstream idol releases, the shit continued to pour out. As such, we’ve got 25 absolutely terrible songs that I came across over the course of 2020.
So before we get into the countdown, let’s lay down some ground rules.
- Songs must be released between 1st January and 31st December 2020 to be eligible for this list.
- Must be given and MV similar to the top 100 singles list.
- This is all subjective. So before you no life stans jump me in the comments section for including your favourite group, remember that I have the right to my own opinion. And if we don’t agree, that’s perfectly fine.
- List does not factor commercial success in any way shape or form and rankings are based on my personal enjoyment alone.
- Since K-pop is such a loosely defined term, this list will be considering Korean songs or songs by Korean acts that I listened to at least once from any genre.
- Also just remember that this list is literally just made for shits and giggles and is not some kind of be all end all monolith of quality.
And as I’ve mentioned previously, traditional coffee house fare like Bol4, Crush or Taeyeon won’t really be considered as while those songs might get low ratings from me, I find them more boring than bad. And that’s mostly down to me not understanding the hype around those tracks.
If I were to consider those tracks, we have two honourable mentions that would have snuck into the list, if only barely.
Crush & Joy – Mayday
Zico & Rain – Summer Hate
25. Ravi (feat Paloalto) – Rockstar
Okay, I kind of feel bad including this song. And that is because with a few tweaks this could have been a real standout. Instead, we have an absolute dumpster fire of a track that sounds more like robot fodder than something enjoyable. And that’s because Ravi the genius decided to slather every single one of his lines with a near unlistenable amount of auto-tune. The chorus especially doesn’t even sound like he’s saying anything. It’s just sound. With so much autotune that it actually ends up mind numbing. This is all a real shame because the instrumental is actually quite enjoyable by itself and the rousing climax sounds like it’s been ripped from a much stronger song. Paloalto also gives a very strong second verse FREE OF MULTIPLE LAYERS OF AUTOTUNE. SEE RAVI. YOU CAN RAP WITHOUT SOUNDING LIKE A ROBOT. Honestly, this is the one song that really should not be here but Ravi seems intent on never releasing anything worth listening to after his VIXX days.
24. DKB – Still (review)
Another song that chooses to fashion itself around its worst aspects rather than capitalise on its one strong element, Still was another big dud for rookies DKB. The guitar loop that opens the track is actually quite enjoyable and had it been used more liberally thought could have lent itself to a much stronger finished product. Instead, it’s drowned out by some incredibly obnoxious trap beats, lethargic vocal delivery that bores me to tears and a non-existent chorus that sounds more like a whining child at 4am than anything resembling a good hook. I’m still rooting for these boys but their music just isn’t it man.
23. Super Junior – 2YA2YAO! (review)
This is just embarrassing. I just don’t understand why a group of Super Junior’s talent, experience and status would ever willingly choose to be involved in a track as ugly as 2YA2YAO! It’s just a pointless single that would have been much better stuffed within an album or never released at all. The chorus is just bad, with a seesawing instrumental that sounds terrible on first listen but only gets more and more unbearable the more you listen. It’s Suju attempt to act all cool and hip and swag but it just comes off as some of your dads friends trying to act cool around you when you meet them at a family friend gathering or accidentally run into them when you’re not supposed to at 2am in the city.
22. Saturday – DBDBDIB (review)
I don’t really have much to say here other than helium + aegyo + incredibly annoying brass samples is never and I repeat NEVER a good idea. This is just mind numbing and I don’t know how you could listen to it multiple times. If even once all the way through.
21. NOIR – Lucifer
Ok, this is just your average “I’m so cool and dark and edgy” boy group song but it commits two major cardinal sins.
- It’s called Lucifer, which already warrants comparison to one of the greatest pop, let alone Kpop songs of all time.
- It has that incredibly annoying lurching sound omnipresent throughout.
And now that we have those two factors out of the way, let’s talk about why I absolutely hate Lucifer (wow, that’s a sentence I thought I would never say). Other than adhering to almost every conceivable edgy boy group trope in existence, the track just doesn’t have anything it wants to get across. NOIR have been attempting this go hard, go loud sound before but without any sense of momentum, any semblance of melody, you literally won’t get anywhere. The boys repeat the phrase “falling, falling” multiple times throughout the hook and while I assume they’re talking about falling into hell, the only thing they’re falling down is my bias list.
20. HYO (feat. Loopy, Soyeon) – Dessert
HYO has had a mixed record when it comes to here solo efforts ever since taking up the stage name of DJ Hyo but the obnoxious Dessert is probably the worst thing she’s ever been a part of in her entire career (don’t quote me on that, I’m probably forgetting some kind of low budget special single or putrid SNSD b-side, but that’s besides the point). I’ve come to realise that ‘jungle’ is a genre that I’ll never enjoy and a track like Dessert takes all my qualms with it and puts them in a blender to create this….. thing. Now, I liked (G)-idle’s Soyeon when she debuted and I still have respect for her skills as a rapper but god damn does she have terrible music taste. That or she just doesn’t know how to compose a song that has a good melody. I mean every single one of her recent songs has just been about being a badass and going hard and that’s a trope that’s just gotten tiring. Especially when all of them are anchored by just unlistenable or momentum killing centrepieces much like this one right here.
19. Mamamoo – AYA
From what I’ve gathered over the past year, it seems like Mamamoo just don’t seem to care any more. Sure, their popularity seems to be growing by the second but the strength of their full group music is just getting weaker and weaker. To the point where AYA isn’t really even a song. It’s a track that feels like multiple different samples stitched together rather than a cohesive whole. I’ve listened to AYA at least 5 times and I still don’t remember a single thing about the song. The concept and music video are great but the track has literally nothing on its bones. No developed hooks. No memorable melodic moments. No driving force. It’s just so lifeless. The entire thing is just multiple catchphrases and so called “exotic” instrumental moments that are meant to show how “unique” they are. But that doesn’t mean anything when the track is just so. Well. Nothing really.
18. DKB – Sorry Mama (review)
While I believe that I was WAY too harsh on Sorry Mama upon release, it doesn’t change the fact that it sucks big time. And while I hoped that DKB would evolve from this kind of lifeless trap infested dirge for future releases, I should have just seen it as a sign of things to come as the groups following singles have been nearly as bad. It’s just nothing more than a dark angsty generic boy group trap fest. Imagine thinking that screaming Mianhe eomma repeatedly with the post chorus hook I’m sorry my mama, I’ll be alright mama is badass. This kind of faux badassery is just cringe man. I wrote better lyrics than that in my year 5 poetry class. And I’m pretty sure I barely got a passing grade.
17. Cignature – Arisong
Much like DBDBDIB, helium + aegyo + incredibly annoying brass samples is never and I repeat NEVER a good idea.
But Arisong does one better (or worse?) by injecting a chorus that just cringes me out so hard that it nearly activated my gag reflex. Like what on earth is that. That vocal affliction that follows the “heeeeeeeeeeeeeey” sounds like it’s been ripped out of some kind of children’s show. And it’s a sound that has gotten past the point of saturation for me personally and I bet for many others two. This type of shouty, anything goes song has been in heavy demand over the past year or so, spearheaded by the likes of Red Velvet, Loona and ITZY but whereas all those groups have the budget and producers to smooth out most of the cracks to give a decent final product, rookie groups from smaller companies predictably suffer as a result. Such is the case with ARISONG, which fails at almost every point. The percussive bass driven segment is easily the strongest but is surrounded by an absolute dumpster fire.
16. TXT – Puma (review)
While TXT redeemed themselves big time with October’s ‘minisode1:Blue hour’, there was a brief period in the middle of the year where my faith in TXT and my enjoyment of their music had reached an all time low. And much of that was because of the god awful Puma. It’s a trap infested auto-tuned stinker and it’s incredibly hard to believe it was released by the same group that gifted us the masterful Crown and Run Away. I already have prejudice against tracks like this and Puma takes almost all my qualms with this kind of music and brings them together into something that just doesn’t sound pleasant to the ears. My favourite trap based tracks usually have a more invigorating instrumental sample in the backdrop but the sample that opens the track and forms most of the instrumental backbone here is just awful.
Puma’s conjure up images of fast, sleek creatures and this song sounds like it’s going out of its way to do a disservice to the species. This song is such a dirge to get through that if it were in the wild, it would probably get outrun by Danny DeVito.
15. (G)-idle – Oh My God (review)
A song that I didn’t enjoy on release and has only gotten worse with time, Oh My God is home to probably one of the years most irritating choruses. As I said in my April roundup, it’s gotten to the point where I just can’t listen to the song any more without feeling a sense of increasing disappointment. I mentioned just before while discussing why I thought Hyo’s Dessert sucked that Soyeon’s style of music is just not good. And a track like Oh My God exemplifies that. The chorus is just dreadful, screeching the track to a near funeral like pace and ridding it of any sense of goodwill it had been building until then. It’s just style over substance and while some might value it as some kind of ”high art” I just want a good song man. I know many love it but I despise it.
14. Elris – Jackpot (review)
A shriekfest that made me want to rip my ears out on my first listen, I find it hard how anybody could listen to Jackpot from start to finish. Like Jesus Christ how high do you want those girls to sing. That key is not healthy and physically hurts to listen to. It’s the kind of song that makes me happy that my school never had a cheerleading team. That combined with an irritating instrumental and you’ve got an unbearable mess of a comeback.
And once again, I’ll leave this here:
Helium + aegyo + incredibly annoying brass samples is never and I repeat NEVER a good idea.
13. Black6ix – Call My Name (review)
I forgot this even existed lol.
Says a lot about a song when it’s so bland and forgettable that you forget to include it in your worst songs of the year mid-year edition because its existence just completely faded from your mind. But yeah, now that I remember it exists, I kind of wish I didn’t. Because once again, this is just sound. Just very loud, obnoxious, poorly mixed sound. Kinda feel bad for them because of their low budget but damn does this suck.
12. IZ*ONE – Beware
Another song that has some god awful mixing but one I don’t feel an ounce of remorse for. Whereas all the songs preceding this one hinged more on my personal enjoyment, the tracks that follow (bar a few) are placed so low because of some severe technical faults or because I genuinely hate them with a passion. Beware falls under the “technical faults” category with production that I still can’t believe actually made it through to a commercial release for one of Asia’s biggest girl groups. Like I genuinely believe that IZ*ONE and their Japanese producers are taking the piss right now.
There is no way that after something like Suki To Iwasetai, we would get shit like Buenos Aires, Vampire and now Beware. Songs that were alright melodically but absolutely failed when it came to the production and mixing. Like why does it sound like the audio and instrumental were recorded in two separate rooms when all the producer needed to do was press 1 button on his extremely expensive and state of the art soundboard. Like what????
11. Joohoney – Psyche
Alright, challenge time. Listen to the first 15 seconds of Psyche without bursting out laughing. Ready?
Now if you managed to do that, here’s a cookie. I for one failed miserably. Like tell me what on earth that hook is. The sheer amount of autotune combined with a drawn out delivery that fails miserably, Psyche is a rap track that borders on being one of the years most annoying songs. It’s not at the top (there are a few atrocious ones coming up) but it goes onto show that sometimes people sound better within a group. Joohoney is one of my favourite Idol rappers and I love his verses in Monsta X tracks but I’ve pretty much hated all his solo stuff. But Psyche takes the cake for being his shittest thing yet, pushing the auto tune level all the way to the max and then giving a schizophrenic beat that just sounds and feels like something an amateur would make while experimenting for the first time in garage band. In fact, my 11 year old self composed something similar to this back in the day by just using free garage band samples. Kinda sad isn’t it.
10. Oh My Girl – Supa Dupa
So freaking annoying HOLY SHIT.
I love Oh My Girl but I detest their collaborations with Pororo. Songs like Bara bam and Supa Dupa are disgustingly bad and you can almost see the sheer anger and detest that some of the members are feeling especially during the music video. I understand that this is a kids song and that the best way to hypnotise your toddler while you get on with your daily commitments is to turn on some of the most needlessly repetitive and mind numbing music you can find but the fact that my favourite group released this makes Supa Dupa even worse. I don’t need to say anymore, just press play on the video below.
But Beware, you will lose some brain cells in the process.
9. Blackpink – How You Like That (review)
Oh How You Like That. We’ve had some fun times together.
It’s honestly quite impressive how turning an otherwise terrible song into a meme can make it more tolerable. Upon hearing this absolute mess of a track and giving it the lowest offical rating on the site (one that I have since thought was a bit too harsh), some of my friends began to meme the hell out of it. They’re both classical muscians and the sheer awfulness of How You Like That managed to fascinate them to the point where they would request me to put it on just so they could have a good laugh. And as such, it has grown on me abit.
That however doesn’t change just awful some of the song really is. And while its more melodic moments are pretty nice, the auto tuned farts of the drop take away any sense of unironic enjoyment. But if this were any other release, I wouldn’t have been as harsh on it. But given that this was the groups first release in over a year, it underwhelmed more than almost any other track this year. For arguably the biggest group in the world, the fact that this was their most popular single of the year is quite embarrassing.
8. AleXa – Villain (review)
Most of AleXa’s work has adhered to the staple girl crush sound with loud clatter trap backing tracks and even louder drops that sacrifice enjoyable melodic refrains for often underwhelming drops with incredibly cringeworthy hooks. Villian is the biggest offender of this sound adhering very heavily to most of what made Blackpink’s latest comeback so unbearable. It’s a sound of someone trying way to hard and the complete utter lack of melody really hurts it. This combined with the horribly cringey “sorry not sorry i’m a bad bit” just makes this one a hard listen. It’s basically How You Like That but more cringe and lower budget.
7. Lim Kim – Mong
Is this really even a song. I mentioned that Mamamoo’s AYA as nothing more than a number of instrumental samples strung together but Mong is even more so. Apart from there being literally no meat on the tracks bones, Mong is made even worse because of Lim Kim’s incredibly grating vocal delivery. She spends the entirety of the track just wailing, resulting in an awful listening experience. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I couldn’t find a chorus, a melody, a decent instrumental choice. Nothing. It’s just like the equivalent of 5 of minutes of white noise. Except when you’re listening to white noise, you can drown most of it out to focus. With Mong, you can’t even appreciate parts of the instrumental because of those god awful vocals. Like why did anybody think this was a good idea. It’s once again an example of concept over song, where the concept is really cool and unique but the song is absolutely terrible. Mong is certainly different but as we’ve all learnt, different doesn’t always mean good.
6. Lee Jinhyuk (UP10TION) – Bedlam
“Bro, Jinhyuk, I love you, but please. PLEASE. For the love of GOD. SHUT UP.”
And that ladies and gentlemen was my initial reaction to Bedlam while I was halfway through the song. I don’t mind songs where I get shouted at the entire time. In fact some of my favourite songs have this feature. But the thing is, Bedlam isn’t just Jinhyuk shouting, it’s like he’s trying to piss you off on purpose by wailing into your ear in the most annoying ass tone possible. He’s got a unique vocal tone that could be used to really elevate certain material but not when it’s utilised in ways that make a song nearly unlistenable. Like his voice during the hook genuinely makes me angry. It’s like the musical manifestation of when you run into an eshay at a train station. And I know I said that the beat isn’t completely terrible in my mid-year list but over the past 6 months I’ve come to the opinion that yes. The beat too is terrible. It’s boisterous and completely stuffed which actually contributes to why Bedlam is a near unlistenable dumpster fire. I’m genuinely surprised this was in Billboards Top 20 K-pop songs of the year.
5. Blackpink (with Selena Gomez) – Ice Cream (review)
After the disaster that was How You Like That, I came into Ice Cream with absolutely 0 expectations. And the fact that It still managed to underwhelm AND get worse with every listen, is genuinely an accomplishment. Ice Cream isn’t just Blackpink’s worst song yet but it’s easily the worst big budget idol group related song that’s come out this year. The instrumental is borderline unlistenable, consisting almost purely of an irritating trap beat that’s far too loud for its own good. I’ve grown to have a slightly more open attitude towards trap but when its used in such an obnoxious manner, it’s hard to really find any redeeming factors.
But if anything acts as the nail in the coffin for Ice Cream, it’s the atrocious vocal melodies that the girls have to perform. The nursery rhyme-esque melody alongside some oddly placed high notes and you’ve got a track that sounds like it appeals to kids but carries a message that very clearly is not for kids. The sheer number of sexual innuendoes presented in incredibly cringe heavy metaphors is just awful, transforming an already terrible single into something that hurts to listen to. Both musically and lyrically. Blackpink redeemed themselves big time with followup single Lovesick Girls but that doesn’t change the fact that Ice Cream is just putrid. The milk used here must have gone bad a long time ago.
4. Digital Dav – Weekend Getaway
Ok folks, we’re now getting to the actual unlistenable. Every song from this point onwards is genuinely unlistenable and I will judge you big time if you even think a song like this is enjoyable in the slightest. So let’s start with the atrocity that is Weekend Getaway.
Barely anybody has heard this song and it’s all the more better for it. I unfortunately have experienced this track and I regret every single second of my life that I wasted on this. The boring and irritating trap beat coupled with the absolute terrible autotune delivery are enough to get this track easily within the top 10. But what makes it an easy contender for the 4th spot is just HOW Digital Dav delivers those aforementioned autotuned lines. He draws them out. Like REALLY draws them out.
The central hook is just him going “We can getawaaaaayyyyyyyyy on a Weekend Getawaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy”. And that’s just one example of many. Just pure shit and while I never want to dishearten an artist from pursuing their dream, I really wish we didn’t have to experience something like this ever again.
3. Episode – Open My Door
Everyone’s already talked about this so there isn’t much I can really say. Yeah generic soundscape, yeah god awful mixing, yeah the producer probably never did anything prior to this. All the standard complaints. It’s pretty much become the years most infamous song and given how bad I feel for theses girls, I’m just not going to elaborate any further.
2. Leenalchi – Tiger is Coming
Ok, this has to be a joke or something. There’s no way that somebody would unironically write and release Tiger Is Coming, with this kind of vocal delivery and melody without it being a joke. Like what. This is genuinely unlistenable. The instrumental is decent and the vocalist definitely knows how to sing but what on earth is that delivery. It sounds like she’s periodically getting something shoved up her ass and as such her pitch just goes up and down at the most odd intervals. Like this song has to be some kind of massive troll because I can’t believe somebody would listen to this song unironically and go “yeah, this shit bangs hard”. Like what. Why. I don’t even have anything to say about this other than the fact that it’s absolutely bizarre. And the fact that this song didn’t take the number 1 spot should speak volumes about what I think about the song that did.
1. Uneducated Kid – Drop Top
Yeah, I don’t doubt the rappers name in the slightest.
This is an absolute atrocity. Imagine almost all the complaints I had about the other male fronted songs on this list and combine them into one song and you’ve got Drop Top. Like what is this shit. The fact that it opens with a laugh followed by an instantly annoying spit-laugh-esque exclamation proves that this guy is actual munted in the head. But if you thought that was just rapper style posturing, you 100% won’t question my statement once you hear the chorus. It’s easily the most mind numbing shit I’ve heard all year, making me all at once laugh and be concerned.
No Ueducated Kid, repeating the words “drop top” and “waejicha” 1000 times in succession does not make a good hook. Especially when you deliver them in such a manner that it manages to piss off the listener and make them never even consider listening to any of your music ever again. Like I’m actually baffled that this guy recorded this song, listened to it, had producers tell him it was good and then went on and released it. Like did the people around him not make him aware of how garbage this is. This is just pure shit and had I reviewed this song upon release, it probably would have recieved a rating between 0 – 1. I’m not even kidding.
Gave me a good laugh though.