Kicking all the game of the year stuff off it makes sense that the first thing that I, Optix puts forward is my most beloved subject. Arguably the thing that has taken up more time of my life this entire year. Here are the best pop songs that Originated from Korea in 2016.
Within this list I will also mention some hot summer bangers because they also need to be noted, and the top 10 will feature my summer banger of 2016 (it gets it’s own smaller award).
2016 had so many songs that I enjoyed and it was hard for me to find a 25 song limit, but the hardest part of this process was actually finding the top 10, so without further ado, here is the best of the rest, the 15 or so who could not make it to the top 10. I will list them as I feel like they still deserve some form of mention, some more than others (Note some of these may be vevo links which might not work in your country). AOA – Give me the love, GAIN – Carnival, CocoSori – Exquisite, Bulldok – Why not, Oh My Girl – Liar liar, Wonder Girls – Why so lonely, Kitti B & Jace – So Busy, Dynamic duo – High five, Sistar – I like that, Hyuna – Morning glory, Stellar – Sting, Laboum – Shooting love, EXID – LIE, Oh My Girl – A-ing, Luna – Free somebody, Mamamoo – 1cm, TWICE – Cheer up. Special note goes to Hitchiker – $10 for an amazing song video that I couldn’t put in my top 10, but it was close.
My actual top 10 will feature video links as well as short paragraphs as to why I felt they deserved those spots to beat all of the great songs listed above.
10. Tymee – Cinderella
Arguably one of the least listened to songs in my top 10, but I have a real strong love for this song. What makes this song stand out to me from the other K-rap songs on my list is the juxtaposition between the pretty lady and the super style that this song oozes, not to mention that the entire song is generally just great k-rap. The black and white with specialized colouring in certain places is great and the sampled beat works really well for me (not to mention her deeper than expected vocal ability).
9. Skull & Haha – Dont Laugh
At first I laughed, Korean reggae, it was a fun time when I found this song. Then this summer banger grew on me in a big way. The relaxed fun flow of this song is super easy to listen to and is a bonafide top 5 summer banger of 2016. The video is passable and could completely be ignored but the song in this one is what pushes this to 9th place.
8. Heize feat. Dean & DJ Friz – And July
Heize came out with a few good songs this year but this easily is the best of them all. With an amazing break sample the song already starts off strong and using Heizes great vocals it expands it further. Having Dean (who featured on other songs) on this song adds to it further and the video has a fun story of a couple who prank each other to the most extremes. Make no mistake, the main draw of this song for me is the hip hop sample but it has been worked by everyone involved into a very fun listen.
7. I.O.I – Very Very Very
What happens when you mix a big k-pop idol group with a generic drum and bass breakbeat? An extremely cute, fun and hype song. The video is somewhat fun without being too generic and musically this song does not really do much different to the first 30 seconds. But MAN, that 30 seconds is great, from the extreme hype of the beat, the fun build ups that occur throughout the song and the chorus that I can’t get enough of (from someone who can’t speak Korean) which sounds like they are just repeating the same word over and over again. This song is infectious as hell and it infected me in a big way this year.
6. BTS – Save Me
This was early in the year so it had not quite hit summer yet but in stead what came from BTS with this release was a great emotional style song. The video is different from most BTS songs which is set outdoors and while kind of focuses on their dancing, also focuses on mixing themes with the actual song. I don’t usually fall for these types of emotional songs, but this one really stuck with me. The chorus is great, the lyrics are pretty nice and I very much enjoy this song musically. Summer banger, this is not, but this song has a perfect place with me when I may not be looking for those uptempo songs and want to be a bit more moody, which has been a strong theme for 2016.
5. Red Velvet – Russian Roulette
My first introduction to Red Velvet was with Dumb Dumb, and this song is extremely similar in infectious catchy k-pop-ness. Not to say thats a bad thing as it is superbly fun infectiously, catchy k-popness. I can’t really quite say why I like this song so much, in part, the music is fun and happy to listen to, the video has a superbly clean style to it and the video is very fun. Even the dancing to this song is polished and incredibly well done. Nothing extremely stands out with this song but as a complete product it is finely tuned to be one of my favourite songs of the year as I cannot help but keep coming back to it.
4. Rainbow – Whoo
Another song that hit early in the year, another song which stuck with me the whole time and sadly is incredibly underrated. Sure this has a very generic setup to a kpop song but I have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. I think most of my enjoyment comes from it’s 80s audio stylings with it’s use of electric guitar, it’s breakdowns (featuring a clapped breakdown!) and it’s relaxed chorus. This is definitely one of my summer bangers of this year. Clap Clap!
3. Mamamoo – You’re The Best
As a self confessed big Mamamoo fan almost every song they released this year was super fun for me (1cm was definitely up there) but this was the song that stuck with me the most. Using an incredibly cute video this group created one of my favourite summer bangers of this year. Biggest highlight for me comes from the chorus dance moves as they just seem like the funnest thing to perform. I like Mamamoo for each performer in the group having very unique vocal abilities as well as generally having an air of they just want to have fun when performing more than anything. With a fun video, great vocals from everyone in the group and a fun beat that you want to bounce to, this song makes it to third on my list.
2. BTS – Fire
These two places were the toughest for me to figure out. Both are incredible summer bangers to me and involve a ton of hype. In fact this song is my number one summer banger of 2016, and yet it is in second place here.
First of all, this song is an absolute banger, from the dance moves within the song, to the absolute hype beat that is shown throughout the song. This song from start to finish makes me want to just jump out of my seat and bop around foolishly trying to recreate the dance moves that those pros can only master. Whether in a club, in the car or just in your room this song works well. Now to why it is second, personally it is pretty one note with it’s lyrics, it doesn’t quite hook me with the breakdown or the end section (even though the dancing is still top notch) not to mention the video around the dancing is pretty generic. The only theme to it is Fire and hype and Fire and hype. This worked the best when they performed the song at the Melon Music Awards this year with personally, the best live performance I have seen of 2016 in Kpop.
1. Kisum – No Jam
I should preface this with me saying that I am a massive Kisum fan. With that out of the way Kisum came back this year and had a new mini album with this summer banger on it. While it is not my 2016 summer banger of the year, this is my number 1 kpop song of the year. This is not just because I am a massive Kisum fan over a BTS fan. This is because I think as a complete package this song is better than BTS – Fire.
What attracts me to Kisum is her mix of really fun and cute beats and lyrical themes with her ability to be one of the best rhymers in krap. This song leans heavily into the more cuter and fun style of songs. Like Fire, I cannot help but tap my foot to this and want to get up and boogie to it. Where this song excels is not only does it combine an extremely fun hype beat with a cute video, it has an incredibly fun theme of doing what is fun and feels fun to you in the moment. I think it tries to capture the early 20s life of just having fun for funs sake, and right now in this world, sometimes we just need that. Kisum also excels over BTS throughout the song lyrically whereas Fire does have some lull moments, No Jam is a constant fun groove for 3 minutes of bouncy party music. As simply as I can put it, Fire is something which you want to tear up a club dance floor with, No Jam is something you want to party with your friends and have a good time with.
I wrote most of this while pretty drunk so some of it may be pretty repetitive or not make sense but I hope I was able to express how I was able to order all of these songs for 2016. 2016 was a great year for Kpop and while some new bands have been created (Twice, Blackpink etc.) some have gone on hiatus so 2017 will be a very interesting year. The best I can ask for is a new Primary album.