The rankings for Asian Junkie‘s Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2017 start now, so I suppose the mess can truly begin.
Laughing at myself for thinking this was an awesome idea.
Any song released in Korea during 2017 is eligible to be included on this list, and just remember that it’s just one dumbass blogger’s opinion, so don’t get all bent out of shape over it.
100. GregK – “Hundreds Of Nights”
“Hundreds Of Nights” is a slow burn in terms of production, but the somber mood matches the content of the song, which revolves around GregK‘s pursuit of her dreams and how it causes conflict with her parents because it means she can’t be the daughter they want. Aside from being an honest and genuine entry, it also effectively showcases the considerable raw potential of GregK.
a lot of talent and this is a raw, honest, genuine entry that showcases the potentia
99. EXID – “How Why”
EXID‘s “How Why” starts simple with an acoustic guitar and finger snaps, but it quickly becomes apparent that something is about to change when light synths enter, and the result is an effective build. The payoff comes soon after in the form of a drop during the chorus that reminds of something The Chainsmokers might come up with on their best day.
Besides the build, the bridge was also a standout moment, and the whole thing owes to production that could best be described as pleasant. The transitions can be a bit sparse, which limits the song as the momentum gets blunted to an extent, but “How Why” is still a memorable foot-tapper that’s quite the easy listen.
98. Monsta X – “Need U”
Monsta X toes the line between R&B and dance carefully with “Need U“, and the result is a playful hip-pop song about the pursuit of a significant other. The beat booms but gives the song room to breathe, which results in a smoother finish for “Need U” than many other Monsta X efforts. The finger-snapping and flute-sounding aspects were a perfect way to express the light-hearted charm at the heart of the song, while the guitar and synths fill in the gaps to create a impressively fluid instrumental.
Surprisingly, it was the rap sections that limited the upside of “Need U” and caused it to fall down to this spot, and that’s not usually a problem for Monsta X. The second verse in particular bordered on cringe-worthy, and it says a lot about the strengths of “Need U” that it was still enjoyable after that. It’s the vocal sections that definitely end up carrying the song, and thankfully they more than cancelled out any negatives by creating an atmosphere of summery fun.
97. Red Velvet – “Peek-A-Boo”
“Peek-A-Boo” is a Red Velvet song through and through. The tropical-influenced part of the instrumental could be characterized as either trendy or played out, depending on your perspective, but it doesn’t matter much for Red Velvet because the quirks used throughout “Peek-A-Boo” mean the resulting sound is fresh.
The chorus is a pleasant drop, but that definitely limits the pop appeal of the song. However, where “Peek-A-Boo” excels is with an instrumental that keeps the listener guessing by adding and subtracting brass and bass throughout, and Red Velvet themselves utilize the off-kilter arrangement and ad-libs galore to always keep things fresh. It’s eccentric as hell and a lot of fun.
96. Nafla – “Jungle”
The instrumental utilized on “Jungle” is amazing and it makes the title more than appropriate. Most importantly, Nafla goes off, which was a necessary element because the song is more like a freestyle than anything else. Despite that limitation, it definitely earns its place and it might actually hold up better than some ranked ahead of it.
95. NCT 127 – “Good Thing”
While NCT 127‘s “Good Thing” is somewhat downtempo, it manages to create a celebratory type of atmosphere anyway thanks in large part to the heavy use of brass riffs. That’s further amplified by the chorus, where the repetition of “good thing” is surprisingly not the calling card, but rather it’s the jubilant refrain of “woah-oh-oh” that’s at the center of the song’s success. It isn’t exactly sophisticated, as it employs a rather simplistic formula, but it’s a feel-good pop hit that’s quite addicting. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.
94. VIXX – “Shangri-La”
VIXX‘s “Shangri-La” was conceptually nothing short of incredible, and it was truly a spectacle of art that deserved to be taken in visually and aurally. While the song is less impressive on its own due to the slow-developing nature of the verses, the chorus is actually quite redeeming and the song appeals to my addiction to the utilization of Asian instruments in pop music.
93. Shannon – “Hello”
Shannon seems to prefer upbeat dance tracks, as she likely still wants to emulate her idol: BoA. However, Shannon’s considerable vocal talent seems to sidetrack her in a way, as people expect her to settle for belting out emotional ballads or something. Thankfully, on “Hello” she seems to find a happy middle ground in poppy R&B that could quickly become her niche. Most of it avoids overstated belting vocals, and the verses in particular give hints toward her quality but could be performed by basically anybody. That patience leads to an impactful, polished (arguably overly so) chorus that allows Shannon to showcase her talent but doesn’t distract from the goal of creating an addictive song.
92. LOONA’s Chuu – “Heart Attack”
Chuu attacked the end of 2017 with “Heart Attack“, a brassy-as-hell switch from LOONA‘s generally synth-heavy releases. The lead verse is commanding and engaging, but the song falters a bit when it makes the odd decision to scale things back at the start of the chorus with something lighter and fluffier instead of taking advantage of all the effective momentum built. While the conclusion of the chorus is the memorable MAMAMOO-esque run of “you attack my heart“, it just felt like there was potential left on the table. Still, the resulting song is yet another successful release for the group, and this one definitely has mainstream pop credentials.
91. BewhY – “Hewgeso”
BewhY working reggae influences into his music was something I didn’t expect, yet “Hewgeso” does exactly that. It’s a different direction for BewhY, but it’s a successful one, as the guitar and snaps create a perfectly minimalist foundation for his rapping to build on.
BewhY’s laid-back flow on this perfectly reflects the lyrical content of one reminiscing about the struggles and sacrifices he’s made over the years, wistfully wishing he had rest stops along the way. There’s a sense of authenticity with this that makes it easy to connect with, and while the chorus is just quasi-rapping along with “hewgeso” being repeated, the way it’s rhythmically implemented makes it surprisingly effective.
90. ACE – “Callin'”
ACE maintain their hardstyle EDM sound in “Callin’“, but the inclusion of keyboards and a subdued start make it a lot more palatable to mainstream audiences. Still, the group’s gripping, uptempo signature sound is furthered when the chorus hits and relentlessly attacks as aggressively as ever. But for some reason this song never quite feels overwhelming, perhaps because it’s more melodic than their other efforts. Before you know it, the song’s done and it leaves you wanting to have another listen.
89. SONAMOO – “I (Knew It)”
“I (Knew It)” immediately inundates the listener with what will become a background constant in the vocal repetition of “I, I, I“. The chorus also starts with this vocal repetition, but where “I (Knew It)” stands out is that it doesn’t stop there, rather choosing to add further layers in the form an uptempo refrain that makes it pleasantly versatile. The rest of the instrumental is also a bright spot, as it adds brass to the Latin-influences, which creates a surprisingly dynamic result.
People always concern troll for girl groups, asking for concepts that aren’t cute or sexy, but consistently pass on efforts like this from SONAMOO. This should’ve been a jumping off point for the group, much like their aggressive debut, but given the reception I can easily see them falling back into something far more safe and far less interesting.
88. Chaboom – “Lord Of The Flies”
No bullshit hip-hop out of Korea that doesn’t have the artist trying to rep a life they clearly aren’t about is rare, but Chaboom brings exactly that to table on “Lord Of The Flies“. A thoroughly menacing, bare-bones effort that seemingly came out of nowhere, nothing done here is technically noteworthy, but there’s a certain charm to Chaboom just flowing old-school style. Eventually, even the haunting “dun-dun-dun-da-rah-ruh” section of the chorus comes off like a sinister warning of sorts. Love it.
87. KARD – “You In Me”
“You In Me” may not represent a significant deviation from KARD‘s usual style, but there’s definitely a different feel to the song. The verses are simplified with the house influence toned down, which helps emphasize the rap sections by making them jump at the listener with their aggressiveness. Perhaps most importantly, instead of a largely instrumental-driven chorus, “You In Me” features a largely vocal-driven one, and that’s a switch from the norm that’s done successfully and used to great effect.
86. TWICE – “Heart Shaker”
I won’t bother arguing against people who dislike “Heart Shaker” (or most TWICE songs, honestly), mainly because I also recognize that the verses flounder at times and it lacks a true hook unlike many of their mega-hits. However, the multi-layered chorus still brings me back every time just when I thought I was out for good. It’s honestly hard to justify, but I always end up enjoying “Heart Shaker” whenever I hear it, so fuck it.
85. SNSD’s Taeyeon – “Time Lapse”
“Time Lapse” starts as one of those ethereal, acoustic efforts that people love to hear from popular singers but get completely ignored when it’s done by a nugu indie counterpart. Thankfully, however, the song doesn’t settle there as the instrumental transforms more and more the deeper into the song it gets, adding layers and ending up sounding like one of Nell‘s soft rock efforts. Taeyeon‘s vocals match the instrumental evolution, as she goes from soft and sweet to soaring and passionate. A beautifully written song, “Time Lapse” takes a while to get going, but once it does the end result is impressive.
84. Melody Day – “Kiss On The Lips”
What? Did you expect me not to enjoy the reggae-lite charms of “Kiss On The Lips“? Melody Day hit pay dirt here with a song made for summer nights largely thanks to an instrumental that’s hard not to groove along with. Even though Melody Day have the capability to make this a mess of vocal wank, the temptation is resisted throughout and the song is better for it. That especially applies to the chorus, which effectively sticks to a sultry repetition of “ringa-ringa-ring” and supplements it with reserved interjections.
83. Day6 – “Dance Dance”
Hey, remember when Day6 was dropping energetic rock tracks at the start of the year? It’s understandable if you’ve forgotten by now, but “Dance Dance” is a nice reminder as it’s definitely the kind of upbeat sound I’d like to see them experiment with more. The playful and laid-back verses give way to a chorus that’s just joyful and will have its “dance dance, with me” refrain echoing through your brain. Hell, it even includes a tropical-influenced section to boot. In.
82. SF9 – “O Sole Mio”
SF9‘s venture into Latin-influenced EDM ends up as a rousing success thanks to the melodic chorus of “O Sole Mio“, despite the fact that they dizzingly cycle through like four languages without any regard for the listener whatsoever. Thankfully that doesn’t matter much in the end thanks to the strength of the production, and while it’s not quite an earworm, it’s one of those songs that you’ll enjoy listening to from start to finish when it does come on.
81. Kero One & Azure – “JazzHop”
“JazzHop” is basically the personification of effortless coolness, and it comes from the likes of Kero One and Azure. It’s a chill summer track with honest lyrics from two guys who immediately make you feel like you know them. It’s not one of those tracks where you’re gonna be blown away by significant moments, but the atmosphere created by the song is just irresistible, and the replayability is off the charts.