To say that K-pop dominated 2019 would not be an understatement. Last year gave us multiple chart-topping hits from a long list of Korean leading boy and girl groups, solo artists, and emerging bands, like BTS, Blackpink, Got7, IU, Mamamoo, Chungha, and more. So we can't help but be excited for the many comebacks slated to happen in the first quarter of 2020, including BTS's Map Of The Soul 7 on 20th February, Blackpink's rumoured comeback, iKON's new music video, and of course, Big Bang's imminent return at Coachella this year. Ahead of these highly-anticipated big hits, we've decided to round up the best of last year's releases that are still at the top of our playlists:
BTS – MIKROKOSMOS
Everyone knows the legendary BTS hit, Boy With Luv (featuring Halsey), which also happens to be the number one most viewed video in 24 hours in the history of YouTube, but for this list, we've decided to pick another BTS song that we love to put on repeat - Mikrokosmos.
A wordplay on "micro cosmos", which means "small universe", this pop ballad is one that spreads the message of wholeness and self-realisation to tell its listeners that even though you are just a single entity amongst billions, you shine brightly as yourself. A true BTS creation where love and positivity is spread.
DAY6 – SWEET CHAOS
Instead of the textbook K-pop tracks we are all familiar with, Day6 sets themselves apart with a rock interpretation of the genre, and has been the buzz of the scene since their new album release, titled The Book Of Us: Entropy. And the most loved among the tracks is the title track Sweet Chaos, a song that combines swing and punk rock into a singular tune that will keep you hyped all day long.
HWASA – TWIT
Despite launching as a digital single, Twit by Mamamoo's Hwasa is, without a doubt, one of the biggest K-pop bops of 2019, which swept countless year-end awards and weekly music charts. From winning Gaon Chart Music Awards 2020 and Golden Disc Awards 2019 to topping the charts on Billboard and iTunes, this energetic solo debut track combines powerful vocals, a catchy melody, and must-see dance moves, and is definitely one not to be missed. Her performance at the Goan Chart Music Awards recently was the talk of the town (check out the video here).
(G)I-DLE – LION
A song created for the competitive reality show Queendom, this majestic song, Lion by (G)I-dle, shows us exactly why the group can be considered one of the top monster rookies of K-pop right now. Having debuted in 2018, this girl group is one of the fastest-growing Korean idol groups with many chart-topping hits like Latata, Uh Oh, and Senorita. You need to watch the accompanying music video, an epic production that touches on medieval aesthetics and costumes à la Joan Of Arc and Game of Thrones. Definitely one to watch out for in 2020.
BLACKPINK – KICK IT
One of the most popular girl groups in the world, Blackpink has everyone hyped, so much so that they are the first K-pop group to have a music video with more than a billion views on YouTube, courtesy of the hit track Ddu Du Ddu Du. And in 2019, they rocked the world with their Kill This Love EP - the title track itself broke many records as one of the fastest music videos to hit 100 million views and one of the highest views in 24 hours on YouTube.
But here, we want to highlight their B-side track Kick It, an upbeat song that wowed Coachella goers last year, mainly because of the rapper and dancer of the group, Lalisa Manoban (aka Lisa). Fun, cheerful, and with plenty of swag, Kick It is the perfect track to jam to, all year round.
RED VELVET – PSYCHO
While Red Velvet released quite a number of hit songs in 2019 (think Zimzalabim and Umpah Umpah), it is their last release of 2019, Psycho, that takes the crown as their top song of 2019. Part of The ReVe Festival: Finale album (the third in The ReVe Festival trilogy), the songs talks about "fools in love" and how lovers can be caught in a never-ending cycle of love and hate. An electric tune that mixes cute and fun with edgy and cool, this song is our go-to shower karaoke song.
EXO – OBSESSION
If we're talking about power dance tunes, then EXO is king. Their latest album release - Obsession - with a title track of the same name, is a hypnotising earworm that draws you into an endless loop. Based on the concept of duality, the MV has each active member of the group fight against their evil doppelgängers, making it an action-packed production that showcases each member's superpowers (Avengers style) - a recurring theme of EXO since their debut. Not to mention, the "I want you, I want you" chant in the chorus will have you obsessed in no time (pun fully intended).
WINNER – SOSO
A group that we have always stanned, Winner made an impactful comeback in 2019 with their mini-album, CROSS, and their title track SOSO is one we want you to add to your playlist. Even if it is claimed by some to be less commercially successful than other groups (although we beg to differ), the powerfully artistic music video pairs their signature hip-hop swag (Mino and Seung Hoon) and powerful vocals (Jinu and Seung Yoon), and is definitely one that has been constantly played on our Spotify since its release.
SEVENTEEN – HIT
Another great dance track to add to your playlist from 2019 is HIT by Seventeen, the title track for their latest album An Ode. Bright, vibrant, and dynamic, this electric pop song is one that fits into any club around the world, and it also makes a great track for your gym sessions. What we love about this track is its more mature tones, which bring out the more charismatic side of Seventeen as an idol group.
MAMAMOO – HIP
Known for their powerful vocals as a group, Mamamoo makes an impactful comeback with HIP, the title track for the album reality in BLACK. Overflowing with swagger, the track sings against criticism, bullying, and negativity - an ongoing issue in society and prevalently in the K-Pop scene. A bop right from the start, we adore this track also for its uplifting messages, which range from climate change to LGBTQI representation and equality for women. What more could we ask for in a song?
IU – BLUEMING
One of five artists to achieve "perfect all-kill" in the 2019 Korean music charts, IU is the only artist with two songs that have achieved such an accolade - the first is Love Poem and the second Blueming. Here we've chose to highlight Blueming, a refreshing spring-like track that has an equally upbeat MV to go with it. Dubbed one of the most successful Korean solo artists of today (and also the "nation's little sister"), IU presents herself in a visually stunning video that gets us on our feet and dancing in seconds.
AKMU – HOW CAN I LOVE THE HEARTBREAK, YOU'RE
THE ONE I LOVE
Another hit ballad that achieved the "perfect all-kill" is the spectacular brother-sister duo AKMU's How Can I Love The Heartbreak, You`re The One I Love (yes, that is a mouthful but it's worth it). Its release came almost immediately after Chanhyuk's (the brother) release from military service. Self-written and composed by Chanhyuk, featuring Suhyun's (the sister) sweet and alluring vocals, this song could actually bring you to tears when you listen carefully to the lyrics (or in our case, reading the subtitles).