Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Honorable Mentions
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 1
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 2
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 4
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 5
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 6
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 7
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 8
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 9
Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 10
AKMU (Feat. IU) – “NAKKA”
Album: ‘NEXT EPISODE’
Release Date: July 26
A delightfully rhythmic newtro track, and the combination of AKMU and IU thankfully doesn’t try to do too much with the star power, opting for something immersive and cohesive instead. A bass-focused foundation with sinister synth drops mark the chorus, and staccato rhythmic choices make this a standout. The song encourages one to fall, yet reframes the act from an almost optimistic worldview in terms of saying they’ll find out people will be there for them. The production notes match the theme, with the descending chords coinciding with the calls to fall and trust. Everything just fits.
Golden Child – “Burn It”
Release Date: January 25
An intensity to “Burn It” starts from the very beginning — a burning desire, even (I’m sorry) — and continues throughout. There are a lot of things that go right here melodically, but the highlight is undoubtedly the explosive vocal chorus that begins with “we’re in the fire, then you’ll be fine, yeah“, which brings everything together and cemented its place on this list. The “burn it” repetition didn’t appeal to me at first, but the almost slavish chanting in the context of burning all of your fears does resonate.
Brave Girls – “After We Ride”
Album: ‘After We Ride’
Release Date: August 23
This is Brave Girls truly securing their status as far more than a one-off feel-good story. Yes, of course another summer jam is what people wanted, and being a SISTAR replacement for the season is surely what they’ll aim for. However, for non-summer releases, this breezy synthwave track seems like their ideal path forward, as it’s a fantastic anthemic ode to getting absolutely hammered and drunk dialing an ex. People often talk about relatable lyrics when it’s all emo shit, but buddy, there’s nothing more relatable than this.
SEVENTEEN – “Rock With You”
Release Date: October 22
“Rock With You” is a relatively simple pop rock, but it delivers on everything you’d expect. It has energy, it has rock guitars, and it’s unsettling how difficult it was to shake the “this time, I want to rock with you” hook, as well as the “baby hold on” repetition in the back half of the chorus. The rhythmic nature to it all just makes it impossible to not groove along with.
Dreamcatcher – “Odd Eye”
Album: ‘Dystopia: Road To Utopia’
Release Date: January 26
Perhaps an unpopular opinion because people really enjoy their more bombastic melodies, but “Odd Eye” is one of my favorites. It’s simple and relatively subdued by their standards, sure, but the guitar hits before the descending riff that seems influenced by 70s rockers is among their most timelessly appealing. The underlying beat of the chorus and the more aggressive use of electric guitar help modernize the song, and the requisite vocal runs caps things off impressively. It was actually rather nice for Dreamcatcher to prove they could subsist on rhythm and groove while still coming out of it aces.
Messgram – “My Second Funeral”
Album: ‘Part Of You’
Release Date: October 29
Messgram can be loud and brash at times due to being a metalcore/post-hardcore band and all, but for the most part they do this while remaining melodically-centered in a way that should be able to appeal to even those coming from the pop world. “My Second Funeral” is not one of their more complicated compositions, but revolving things around vocalist Jiyoung is never a bad idea, and in addition to the dramatic peaks of the chorus, the almost self-conversational “I was here, we were here” bridge section was beautifully executed.
Colde – “Dream”
Release Date: January 25
On an album that’s for the most part better than the sum of its parts, “Dream” stands out as deserving a starring role. A comparatively upbeat track from Colde, it features layers of guitar strums and drum hits that build to a beautiful vocal-centric chorus. It’s ultimately a rather soft track about running away together, and it exudes a smoothness for easy but compelling listening.
HOSHI (SEVENTEEN) – “Spider”
Release Date: April 2
Don’t take this the wrong way, but I did not expect this from HOSHI. It’s not that I necessarily doubted him, I just didn’t know what to expect, and to get this sophisticated, veteran dance track that hits all the right notes was a pleasant surprise. The ebbs and flows of the production are great at creating tension, and the bass-driven foundation of “Spider” is tried and true. The chorus is beautifully constructed, giving the listener the impression of creeping or slinking around to really drive the concept home, and the xylophone effects sprinkled throughout the verses help amplify that impression. This is as charismatic of a solo performance as you’ll find in 2021.
CHOSNG – “See You There”
Album: ‘See You There’
Release Date: July 23
“See You There” starts as something just pleasant and brisk but it becomes quickly apparent that there are greater ambitions for it, and when the chorus hits, the song becomes a foot-tapping monster that’s hard not to smile along with. It’s essentially a pandemic song for those who long for nights of gathering with friends, and it delivers a hopeful verve to it all by highlighting the promise of tomorrow. That unfortunately seems like an attitude we might need again in 2022. Regardless, CHOSNG took a theme that has generated so many boring, safe releases and managed to turn in an acoustic pop jam with a refreshing message instead.
JUNNY – “Inside”
Album: ‘Inside The Sober Mind’
Release Date: June 3
No matter how many times I listen to this, the beginning of the song still makes me laugh a bit. Maybe that was the point, I dunno, but it seems so out of place. Anyway, whether this was intended as a pandemic song or not, it sure helped me along the way with its gentle, drum-focused groove and message. Hell, staying inside and chilling is my mantra no matter what, which is why I’m writing shit on this here site. Ultimately though, these kinds of efforts come down to your affinity for the artist’s vocal stylings, and JUNNY‘s voice makes it easy for me to get into.