Welcome to Kbopped’s countdown of the Top 100 K-pop songs of 2021.
To Be eligible for this list, songs must:
- Must released between the 1st of January to 31st of December 2021 and have either a music video or highly stylised lyric and/or performance video.
- English songs by Korean Artists are eligible though Japanese and/or Chinese songs are ineligible as they will show up in other lists
- 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.
60. E’Last – Dark Dream
As K-pop’s current primary purveyors of over the top, symphonic dance pop, E-last struck gold with the grandiose Dark Dream. It’s a track that doesn’t follow a set structure, kind of going all over the place before combing back to that swirling, extended chorus which soars with the kind of over the top orchestral drama that you would expect from a group like this.
59. Kim Sung Kyu – Hush (review)
One of my favourite voices in the industry, Sung kyu’s voice along is enough to make almost any track a standout. But Hush sees him near the peak of his powers, taking inspiration from his roots in rock and melding with the classic balladry that he does so well. Layered over a gorgeous instrumental, it takes its time to build from nothing more than Sung Kyu’s delicate vocals to a soaring climax that feels like a sequel to his stunning 60sec.
58. Sunmi – You Can’t Sit With Us
Last years golden girl and KBopped Song Of The Year holder just misses out on the top 50 this year with this immensely catchy retro throwback. You Can’t Sit With Us isn’t anything revolutionary nor does it try to be. The entire thing feels like a homage to the 80’s from the pulsating synth heavy beat to the comedic, over the top music video. But it all comes together during the chorus, which combines some clever wordplay with an addictive repetition of the title to create a very potent centrepiece.
57. ENHYPEN – Drunk Dazed (review)
Enhypen moved from strength to strength for their first comeback, Drunk Dazed, taking the darker, dramatic sound of their debut and blowing wide open with a thumping beat and driving melody. And while its production falls into the exact same traps that limited debut track Given-Taken from its full potential, Drunk Dazed‘s mammoth chorus is more than enough to compensate. It’s absolutely immense, bounding forward on a soaring melody that attacks the listener and is furthered by the groups layered vocal blend.
56. fromis_9 – We Go (review)
fromis_9 have always have been very reliable suppliers of pure pop music and We Go is yet another great summery track from the girls. It’s a track that’s chock a block full of hooks and is home to a fantastic central hook that just explodes with an unrivalled sense of optimism. It isn’t a wholly unique piece of pop music but sometimes all you need is a great, catchy melody and a propulsive beat to create a knockout track.
55. Girls Planet 999 – O.O.O
As a massive fan of almost all the ‘Produce’ theme songs, I was going to love this from the start O.O.O is a very strange theme song in the sense that it kind of lurches around during its verses, killing much of the momentum that could potentially be build and recycled throughout. In that sense, it feels very fragmented. But when the hyper melodic pre-chorus hit, I’m completely under the tracks spell. Songs like O.O.O perfectly exemplify the desperation and immensity of its performers and when it climaxes in a flurry of percussion and electric guitar, it feels more than earned.
54. Twice – Scientist
A bouncy, sugary pop song by a group does this brand of idol pop best, Twice continued their streak of strong singles with this absolute bop. It takes influence from the years burgeoning retro trend and while not as in your face as last years Can’t Stop Me, Scientist gets so much right. The hooks are immediately effective and while the inventive wordplay definitely won’t be for everyone, it gives the track some much needed charm that it just grabs and runs with to great effect.
53. Wendy (Red Velvet) – Like Water (review)
I had expected a ballad for Wendy’s solo debut but despite my expectations, the gorgeous, understated Like Water just blew me away. Wendy has always been a fantastic vocalist but Like Water allows her to fully showcase her gorgeous vocals with a song that is expertly crafted to appeal to ballad lovers and detractors alike. The performance here is just magnificent, drawing the listener in from the very first verse and keeping that attention all the way through, climaxing in a stirring high note that still gives me goosebumps.
52. OH MY GIRL – Dun Dun Dance (review)
**This is the point that marks a really heavy shift in the countdown. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the songs that came before this point but the difference between all the following tracks and what came before them is very sizeable.**
By taking all the best aspects of last years Nonstop and channelling it into a tighter and more focused package, Oh My Girl supplemented their immense commercial success with this gorgeous city pop inspired track. With a chorus as catchy and backing track as light and refreshing, it’s not surprising that Dun Dun Dance maintained its appeal long into the latter months of the year.
51. Woosung – Dimples
As someone who loves Woosung’s voice and adores synth wave, there was no way I wasn’t going to like this song. And thankfully Dimples lived up to expectations, giving us a deliriously upbeat pop song with a killer instrumental and nostalgic melody which perfectly captures the very essence of why I love this particular genre of music so much. Just great stuff that’s only elevated by Woosung’s effusive performance.