Top 100 Korean Songs Of 2021: Part 9

Asian Junkie’s Best Of 2021

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 3

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 10

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WJSN THE BLACK – “Easy”

Album: ‘My Attitude’

Release Date: May 12

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Sleek, sophisticated, and simple, “Easy” relies on the groovy, funk-based sound built on a chugging guitar riff and pulsating beat that propels everything forward. Without vocal theatrics necessary, the quartet have to sell the song subtly, and they execute this amazingly by delivering an understated, wispy vocal performance, while Exy‘s rapping is just made for this kind of track. The “it’s so eeeeeeasy” refrain showcases how disgustingly … easy (I’m sorry) it can be to create an addictive hook that makes a whole song work.

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TAEMIN (SHINee) – “Strings”

Album: ‘Advice’

Release Date: May 18

Spotify | YouTube Music

YouTube | Instagram

There’s not a whole lot to “Strings” that you won’t recognize, as it doesn’t stray too far from the beaten path. But the slow and sensual track thrives off of TAEMIN‘s buttery vocal in the verses and transitions smoothly into the falsetto-heavy chorus for a performance that leaves a deep impression. The electric guitar riff is the powerplant of the song and the reverberating bass added in the chorus helps foster the sensual atmosphere, all while Taemin talks about you playing him like an instrument.

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BIBI – “The Weekend”

Album: ‘The Weekend’

Release Date: October 14

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Honestly don’t see any reason “The Weekend” shouldn’t smash in Western markets, it’s a perfect fit sonically and a more deserving chart-topper than like 80% of the actual ones at any given moment. The groove and rhythm is intoxicating, and BIBI‘s R&B vocal stylings pairs well with this laid-back pop atmosphere. Speaking of vocals, not sure if it was on purpose or not, but the almost whiny delivery of “why why why why why aren’t you into me” is perfection thematically and it provides a secondary hook to the disturbingly foot-tapping, earworm of a chorus. Catch me cruising down the highway with this blasting in six months.

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Meaningful Stone – “Dancing In The Rain”

Album: ‘COBALT’

Release Date: September 8

Spotify | YouTube Music

YouTube | Instagram

Meaningful Stone use a garage rock base and pop sensibilities to bring forth a joyous energy through addictive head-nodding (not quite banging) melodies. Written for those who feel stuck in the rut of life, the titular imagery is utilized as a way to express acceptance of one’s current situation (no matter how shit) and to essentially just say fuck it and roll with it. A mood.

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Woo!ah! – “SCAREDY CAT”

Album: ‘WISH’

Release Date: May 27

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

SCAREDY CAT” is a soundalike of PENTAGON‘s “Shine“, and while that costs some points for unoriginality, doing an updated girl group version of one of my favorite songs from 2018 is not going to have me complaining. It’s almost impossible to not bop along to the addictive and playful rhythm, and it’s a rare bright K-pop song where rap verses fit perfectly.

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Rocket Punch – “Ring Ring”

Album: ‘Ring Ring’

Release Date: May 17

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Ring Ring” jumps aboard the retro train as well, though Rocket Punch do make clear attempts to modernize it, utilizing heavy bass and a rap break that works thanks to the delivery of “yeah I’m picky kichi han ge nan joa, nugudeunji want it get it ttak malhae“. Additionally, it utilizes more tension and build than most in this archetype of song, which pays off due to the explosive chorus that brings back heavier synths and pairs them with a fleshed-out melody that has an earworm of a hook in “ring ring the alarm“.

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Susan – “Sugar Blues”

Album: ‘EROS’

Release Date: January 18

Spotify | YouTube Music

YouTube | Instagram

At first blush it seems like a bare bones instrumental, and while it’s definitely not dynamic, there’s a lot of variety if one pays attention. From piano to snapping effects to electric guitar to drum hits to hi-hats, the elements come and go to create a beautiful environment for Susan to thrive in. The sensual chill-out jam is reliant on her vocals to make it work, and that she does, whether it’s through gorgeous melodies or emotive vulnerability.

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Younha – “Oort Cloud”

Album: ‘END THEORY’

Release Date: November 16

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Man, what the hell is this? I mean, honestly. How is she going to name something “Oort Cloud” and serve this upbeat folksy anthem that utilizes an acoustic guitar strummed to oblivion and her beautiful vocals for melodic country greatness? Everything about it works, but the “let’s go!/beyond the road!” outbursts are so impactful and the electric guitar ripping to cap it off was a surprising touch. Always thought it would be fascinating if K-pop would explore more country-influenced music, but Younha doing it was not what I anticipated, and the fact that she pulls it off so effortlessly is impressive.

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YOUHA – “Abittipsy”

Album: ‘Abittipsy’

Release Date: January 13

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

At times during the process of compiling the year-end list I wondered if there was too much retro synth on it, and honestly there probably is, but that’s also the trend so there’s not much I can do about it. Also, uh, I love the trend. I mention this because “Abittipsy” is as straight with the listener about its intentions as they come, utilizing a throbbing synth from the get-go that quite frankly had me mostly sold 20 seconds in. Sometimes resisting the temptation to fuck with a great instrumental loop is admirable in itself, and this opts to just have YOUHA‘s voice carry it forward as the energy of the track continues to surge. Well … it worked.

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SHINee – “I Really Want You”

Album: ‘Don’t Call Me’

Release Date: February 22

Spotify | YouTube Music

Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

SHINee‘s singles as a group didn’t hold much appeal to me in 2021, which was quite the shocker since they usually dominate my playlists. However, “I Really Want You” is a throwback to SHINee’s own best work that thrives off groove and funk, and the brass section in the rhythmic chorus is utilized to great effect. Hell, it even subtly reminded me of one of my favorite all-time K-pop songs in “Married To The Music“, which just like this, is a lot of effortless fun. It’s the kind of sound that ages like fine wine.

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