Kpopalypse’s 30 favourite k-pop songs of 2020

It’s the post you’ve been waiting for – Kpopalypse’s top 30 songs of 2020! 

The year 2020 was simultaneously the best and the worst year for k-pop I’ve ever seen since the Golden Age of 2008-2011.  The start of the year was horrible with almost nothing good and a great deal that was bad, but somewhere around April/May a lot of Korean pop music output gradually started becoming more awesome.  By the end of the year, I was honestly spoiled for choice for great songs and there were very, very many that were on the shortlist for this list here as well as the honourable mentions list that just didn’t make it on.  So just because a song that you thought I liked didn’t make it to this list doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it – there was just a lot of competition this year, honestly more than I can remember since I started doing these lists eight years ago, and many songs that I really liked in 2020 were squeezed out of the list completely.

New readers, or readers who are easily confused, may wish to read the following dot points, which make clear this list’s scope and intentions:

  • Songs are eligible if they were released between 1st January 2020 and 31st December 2020, although the cutoff does extend a little bit prior to both dates to catch songs that were released in the dying days of the previous year.  This list was published on 31st December 2020 but may appear earlier for some readers due to timezones.
  • Songs have to be feature tracks/singles, but B side and album tracks are eligible if they were also “debuted” on TV shows or had their own official video made for them. 
  • Songs for OSTs are not eligible for this list, because they’re almost universally terrible and just not worth the effort to cover.
  • Songs for festive and sporting events are not eligible.  Christmas songs have their own separate list, and sport event songs are ignored in the hope that if we ignore them, they will learn.
  • Chart performance, cultural relevance, attractiveness of the members, who won something on an awards show, whether someone is possibly a nice person or not etc is not relevant for this list and these factors are only commented on for “narrative colour”.  This list is my 100% subjective opinion on music quality only and is purely reflective of my own personal taste, it does not constitute an authority of any kind.
  • “K-pop” is deliberately defined a little loosely for this list – as music either originating from or existing/trying to exist in the Korean industry.  Songs that aren’t strictly “pop music” are eligible.  Songs from Koreans trying to break into non-Korean markets and/or singing in non-Korean languages are eligible.  K-pop artists featuring on western artists’ tracks are eligible.  Western attempts at “being a k-pop” are also eligible.
  • I write these lists for fun, good times, the joy of sharing good music with others, an easy way to collect songs that I like so I can play them later, and as a fun writing exercise because I enjoy writing.  If you’re enjoying these lists for what they are (harmless subjective opinion, expressed with twisted cunty humour) then cheers to you and I appreciate your support and readership!  However if you hate it, then I question why you are here at all.  There are thousands of sites on the Internet that are devoted to k-pop, and they all have lists like this, so why are you sitting here reading the only one written by an asshole?  The fact that Kpopalypse remains an enduringly popular website after eight years indicates that maybe people do appreciate my style of humour and the opinions expressed with direct honesty (as opposed to the sugar-coated fluff that other sites peddle so as not to offend their reader base and sponsors) more than you might think, and that maybe if I followed your dumbass advice to “fix my tone”, then that would actually be to nobody’s benefit.  I write the way I want to write because I simply enjoy doing so, I’m not going to change, and you know this, so why are you really here?
  • On the other hand if this post was too sunny, bright and positive for you, you may wish to consider reading my worst k-pop songs of 2020 list instead so you can feel appropriately miserable.

Let’s proceed with the list!


 

KPOPALYPSE’S 30 FAVOURITE K-POP SONGS OF 2020

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30. Sori – Initial S

Cocosori were basically Orange Caramel with 100% of the novelty image but 10% of the songwriting that made Orange Caramel great, and Sori has never been that interesting solo either but certainly she at least seemed like someone would be sticking around in k-pop for a while.  So it was a huge shock to me when Sori told everyone that she was quitting being a k-pop for good, and an even bigger shock when she came out with “Initial S” at the same time.  It’s easily her best song ever plus one of many tunes that seems to be spearheading the “new 80s” trend that’s gradually filtering over to Korea from popular western artists, and finally, finally there’s a k-pop trend that exists that I can actually enjoy.  This “new 80s” style (for want of a better way of describing it) is not really 80’s music of course, crusty cunts like me are old enough to remember and know that the real 80s pop music never actually sounded like this.  In fact most 1980s pop was damn terrible and nowhere near as good as the modern recreations that are actually just ripping off the sonic template plus the melodic sense of the better songs from back then, but leaving behind a lot of the other shit that made the 80s sound like it did, like the boxy mixes, the idiotic percussion, the lame ‘new wave’ style vocals and the horrible washes of reverb on everything.  Sori’s take on this style is far from the best one I’ve heard but it probably benefits the most from the fact that musically she’s barely even in it – the keyboards are basically doing all the work in this song to make it good, melodically boosting Sori up at every step so she doesn’t have to expend too much energy on anything other than looking the part, which is probably the right decision.  I have no idea why Sori quit music (and she’s even quit being a YouTuber for a while now too, so I guess she really has had a gut full of all the bullshit on every level, hopefully it’s that and not something more serious) but she sure left on a high note and I’m not about to judge her choices in this shitty industry, especially when she gave us such a cool parting gift.

29. WJSN Chocome – Hmph!

I was thinking the other day about Annie from my 2019 list and how she’s probably walking back her tolerant difference-of-opinion-handling ways right now and creating a Kpopalypse voodoo doll to stick pins in because she damn well knows just as surely as I do that her #1 musical crush Taeyeon didn’t do a thing worth listening to this year.  After renewing my life insurance policy I suddenly remembered that Annie also likes Luda from WJSN, the “baby Taeyeon”, and it’s just as well for me that Luda happens to have found her way into subunit WJSN Chocome and their cool Orange Caramel clone song because it means I probably won’t have to go to the doctor about sudden mysterious pains in my ribcage.  “Hmph!” isn’t quite as good as Orange Caramel’s best work due to having a chorus vocal hook that’s about three parts catchy to two parts annoying, but a lot of other aspects about the song make up a large degree of the shortfall, the best positive point being that this is actually upbeat and cool with no stupid rap bits or anything else to fuck with the flow.  In a year where so many songs sound like they’re pieced together from about half a dozen other songs, it’s good to just have a decent pop track that is what it is, and definitely isn’t trying to be anything else, with no unwelcome rap, R&B, or any other bullshit style trying to muscle in on the pop good times.  Even the presentation harks back to the early 2010s era bubbly Korean girl group style which is becoming passe as it gets overtaken by a sea of “bad girls who are really bad yes we’re so bad as long as our agency says it’s okay”.  Also Luda does look quite a bit like Taeyeon, gosh isn’t she pretty.  Okay, that should be enough Luda praise to keep me off Annie’s “cancelled list” for another twelve months.

28. Jackson Wang – 100 Ways

The musical surprises sure kept coming in 2020, and GOT7’s Jackson was one of the last people I ever expected to do anything good given his general track record of being exceptionally mediocre, but here we are with “100 Ways” which is an absolutely great song.  GOT7 fans will no doubt wet themselves over the vocal lines here and I won’t judge them for it, honestly Jackson is fine and does the job nicely but his voice plays second-fiddle to the fantastic bass line which is the real star of the show.  The creeping ostinatos are the frame that everything else here hangs off, and they’re so good and do such an effective job at giving the song some forward motion and structure that when I first heard the post-chorus and that almost-tropical instrumental break popped up, instead of barfing on my own shoes I just kept nodding my head and thinking about how it actually fit together with the rest of the song perfectly.  Even the video is cool, with Jackson scouring the Chinese forest to rescue some random chick from the grave and then escaping with her in a cloud of Hong Kong riot police tear gas, no doubt yet another move by Jackson to show his solidarity with democracy.  Clearly Jackson is the hero that we all need, but even if he isn’t, at least he finally served us a decent song.

27. A.C.E – Goblin (Favorite Boys)

Yeah yeah, it’s not the same thing as “Cactus” or “Callin“, and that’s a damn shame because k-pop really could use a dedicated “hardstyle” concept group (which is apparently the technically correct name for “that doof doof shit”, or so I’m told by people who took way more drugs than I did in the 1990s so they would probably know).  I know this is a tall order, but if you can manage to put aside the desire to listen to “unce-unce-unce“, take ecstacy and dance stupidly until you transform into a dehydrated glowstick, you may find yourself appreciating “Goblin” for the ass-kicking track that it is.  The reason why “Goblin” is in this list and your favourite boy group’s song probably isn’t, is because they actually do something incredible that almost no k-pop boy group comeback is doing right now – having a hard backing track and sticking to the same tonal scheme.  Your average “upbeat comeback” boy group song in 2020 is a car crash of melodies and sounds that just don’t fit together, with oddball melodies and catchphrases thrown in from all over the place, often deliberately based around completely different scales and harmony, and the result is usually just a mess of shouting and random notes that don’t fit together.  Whoever wrote “Goblin” actually sounded like they wrote the song first and thought about “how is this going to fit into current boy group trends” second, or maybe never.  We should be thankful in any case, as it’s another great track from “the k-pop group that doesn’t skip leg day” in a year where almost every other boy group song reeks of sheer disappointment. 

26. Dreamcatcher – Endless Night

Although Dreamcatcher are generally speaking an excellent group, they always seem to have problems hitting exactly the right musical formula that makes their concept work.  As a metal-liking k-pop fan I’m naturally biased towards Dreamcatcher’s concept, they should be reaching #1 on these lists every single year, but they don’t.  Dreamcatcher’s Korean songs consistently hit the mark with melody and harmony, but too often confuse the issue with dabbling in stupid trendy musical styles that don’t belong, and generally hiding the guitars in the back of the mix where they won’t offend delicate Korean pop music sensibilities, like they’re afraid of alienating the Minx audience with too much palm muting and pinch harmonics.  “Endless Night” however is from the Japanese school of Dreamcatcher songcraft, where they seem to have the opposite problem – the heaviness meets required standards, and there’s no concessions to whatever lame pop music trend k-pop is cockriding this week, but the melody writing is just a little too far towards typical j-shit to sound appropriately kickass instead of like something that appeals to weebs who cosplay Japanese computer game characters you’ve never heard of.  Still, the bombastic backing track compensates enough to get the entire package over the line and then some, especially that insane guitar work in the chorus plus a blistering solo that I’d struggle to even play, and I’ve been playing guitar since before the eldest member of Dreamcatcher was a sugar crystal in a puff pastry before her dad ate it and his ballsack used the glucose energy to create the winning sperm.  Maybe one day the minds behind Dreamcatcher can combine the two schools of thought and then we’ll get a k-pop/metal hybrid so pure and refined that the sound waves can eliminate carbon dioxide by separating the carbon from the oxygen and then we can blast Dreamcatcher into the atmosphere and reverse climate change, but until then I guess this will keep me entertained enough.

25. Gwangil Jo – Acrobat

I criticise a lot of rap music for being weak as shit, so here’s how to have a good rap song in 2020, with aspects of good rap music listed with the most important first.

  • Have a beat
  • Maybe put a beat in it
  • Include a beat
  • Make sure there’s a beat
  • It helps if you have a beat
  • Don’t forget the beat
  • No really, it needs a beat
  • If you can rap a bit that’s nice too I guess
  • Did I mention about the beat

Everybody focuses on the MC but the fact is that the world’s greatest MC without good beats might as well just forget about rapping and become a poet or a comedian.  There’s actually no shortage of great rappers in 2020, but great beat-makers are almost unheard of, and that’s why rap music has declined so far from its glory days.  I’m not sure why this is – if it’s because writing beats that don’t suck is kind of out of fashion in rap music right now so nobody is doing it, or if there’s actually tons of people doing it but nobody having any commercial success with it because writing beats that don’t suck is kind of out of fashion in rap music right now, it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation perhaps.  So that’s why “Acrobat” is on this list.  I don’t speak Korean so I have no idea if Gwangil Jo is a good rapper or not, because as I’ve covered before, it’s literally impossible to tell who is a good rapper if they’re not rapping in your language.  Honestly though, it doesn’t matter that much to me anyway, because the fucking beat is slamming, and that’s enough.  It’s certainly enough to make this succeed where similarly themed but far more talentless and weaksauce “let’s dress up in traditional Korean shit and be traditionally Korean while we are traditionally Korean and oh did you notice this traditionally Korean architecture and my hanbok oh my I am so Korean now let me bust out this American style rap over a sample of Korean music I stole without credit” rap music has failed.

24. Haee – Subway

You may not have heard of Haee, but she’s not as ultra-nugu as you might think, in fact she was signed to one of the most successful agencies in k-pop history.  I’m sure that most Kpopalypse readers remember Glam, the girl group that BTS ARMYs would rather you forget because those stingy cunts at BigHit paid the girls so damn little and squeezed them for so much that one of them resorted to extortion and blackmail to pay off the six-figure company debt she had accumulated after just three fucking songs.  Those who did remember Glam may have wondered what happened to the girls after BigHit CEO Bang Si-hyuk forcibly disbanded them in the wake of BigHit being exposed as one of k-pop’s stingiest agencies – so as a community service to you the curious k-pop fan I have now located Jiyeon from Glam, now rebranded as solo artist Haee and doing this cover of an old Wax song “Take The Subway“.  Her version is actually very faithful to the original, with the only real difference of any note being that Haee’s version has a slightly drier, punchier sound, and that’s fine because the original is really quite a good, cruisy, straight-ahead pop song that didn’t need much improvement anyway, so no problems there because we really haven’t had enough of those lately.  I’m not quite so convinced about the choice of video imagery, but I guess it does the job in its own weird way and if you don’t like it you can watch this “live” version which really isn’t and marvel at Haee’s cute but very oddly controlled fist-pumping motion each time the main keyboard riff comes up.  Maybe she’s imagining shoving her fist up Bang Si-hyuk’s ass without lubricant and “paving the way” through his anal canal as payback for him scuttling her k-pop career, no wonder she looks like she can barely hold back her laughter.

23. Park Chaoreum – Time After Time

Now we actually are into the ultra-nugus.  I have never heard of Park Chaoreum and my research has so far turned up with almost nothing – a profile with no information in it, a couple songs which aren’t very spectacular which she did over the last year or so, and that’s really about all I know.  However, “Time After Time” is really good thanks to some compelling classical minimalism vibes courtesy of those keyboard parts, plus some really nice use of rhythms, the result sounds like a film score song on a budget, but it’s actually much better than most Korean film score songs.  It’s also an enjoyable video to watch just because of the sheer commitment of the keyboard player miming in the background, diligently swapping out patches on his workstation as if he’s actually fooling anyone, plus that other guy with the laptop, mixing desk and mini-keys putting in an equally A-class acting effort.  It’s a great package overall and it’s just a shame that I couldn’t find enough information about this woman to give her some proper financial support, because I really doubt that many people are going to be paying attention to this.

22. Changbin ft. Bang Chan – Streetlight

You know a song is good when it has that fucking awful hard Autotune R&B voice that nobody wants to hear and that I’ve spent the whole year shitting on, yet it gets in my favourites list anyway.  It even has those stupid tropical squirts coming in for the second chorus and it still got on, holy fuck you know this is quality.  Seemingly a same-sex-friendly version of the “Love The Way You Lie” template (male raps verses and female sings choruses over four rotating chords), “Streetlight” gets away with a lot of the musical crimes that other songs also commit simply by actually using the Autotune properly to make great vocal melodies throughout (instead of just as something for a rapper to jerk off to and “try to be randomly R&B” all over), and the fast pace through it is also very welcome.  “Streetlight” is helped along even more by those layers of piano and strings that come in and out at just the right times to give enough dynamics to make everything work, so when the raps go fast or the vocals go high it doesn’t feel like showing off, it feels completely appropriate to the material.  This is what so many don’t get when I talk about “vocal wanking” or whatever, I’m not saying “all good vocals are bad” or “all technical vocals are bad”, what I’m saying is “the song is the master – technique is great, but only if it serves the song, the song is not a vehicle for the technique”.  Hopefully that’s clear to everybody reading at this point but it probably isn’t so fuck it and anyway this song rules.

21. Love X Stereo – All Over Again

Keen readers of Kpopalypse blog will be aware of my “big boobs in k-pop part 7” post which is totally not a dog post instead apart from the bits where there are dogs.  You may have also observed that this post is almost exclusively focused on famous idols and solo singers plus their pets, with one very obvious outlier, that being Annie Ko from Love X Stereo and her magnificent large white doggo.  Readers may be surprised at this obscure pick but thanks to the “All Over Again” 360 degree video I was exceptionally familiar with Annie’s dog as I was able to observe this creature from many angles, confirming that it met required dog standards for the post.  Actually Annie’s dog exceeded required dog standards by a fair margin, as most idol dogs featured were disappointingly tiny and crap, no doubt due to idol living conditions necessitating that they have a pet that they can squeeze comfortably into their toilet-cubicle sized dormitories.  As such any Korean musician with a large dog that is actually their own can be assumed to be living a life of relative freedom that is necessary for management of such a dog.  You may be waiting for me to start discussing the actual music here, but I actually am discussing the music – just as pop idols have restrictions on their pet size (smol), they also have restrictions on the size of their musical creativity (microscopic).  The type of eclectic and rocking but also oddly soothing mantra-like jam that is “All Over Again” could simply not have been produced by anyone within an idol system, and this is why Kpopalypse always takes careful note of independent Korean musicians to see if they occasionally pop out gems like this one, and why you should also.  It’s not all insipid coffee-shop bullshit and crap ballads, some of these groups are actually really cool and Love X Stereo is consistently one of the best.  Now stop angling the camera down at Annie’s legs you pervert and buy their fucking album on Bandcamp, which has this great song, plus the excellent “Call My Name” from last year and a bunch of other cool stuff.  Do it today.

20. Monsta X – You Can’t Hold My Heart

I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the world, but in Australia, Monsta X are huge with k-pop fans.  Although I quit my radio show due to the pandemic in 2020, before then I was getting tons of requests for Monsta X consistently from new fans who I’d never heard of, and thanks to that I’m pretty aware of their entire back-catalogue despite making no special effort to be.  I was actually genuinely surprised when BTS started making huge international strides instead of Monsta X, and it still surprises me that “You Can’t Hold My Heart”, such an obviously great song, hasn’t been more popular.  However this list is not about popularity, and in a year where boy groups were even weaker than usual across the board, “You Can’t Hold My Heart” sure stands out as a quality pop song that sets a bar almost nobody else seems to be able to meet.  There’s nothing all that innovative or fancy about it, it’s just a simple mid-paced tune over a punchy beat, but what an incredibly catchy tune it is – we’ve had such a year of shouty nonsense that when a song comes along that focuses on such effortless sounding hooks I feel more appreciative than usual.  Also credit should be given for the great video which much like the song is impressive in the effective execution of a simple idea, even though the red room really fucks no end with my colour blindness. 

19. Itzy – Wannabe

Much like labelmates Twice, Itzy had a rough musical start to their careers with some pretty unremarkable songs, and at first, “Wannabe” continues this trend with a verse that is 95% attitude and 5% catchiness just like so much mediocre k-pop music over the last few years.  It was difficult to continue to listen on when I heard it, but I’m glad I did because then that chorus happened and then everything was great, the sun shone, the dark clouds went away, the flowers bloomed and there were no new coronavirus cases in my area.  Sure, the song is pretty much crap everywhere else, and that rap bit after the first chorus is particularly awful, but the chorus delivers so well that it makes digesting all the other junk a hell of a lot easier.  Even swallowing the usual boring “I’m so independent, I do what I want” lie that’s getting pushed out by every new group is much more palatable than expected as a result.  By the end of this song even Kpopalypse the cold-hearted cynic was cheering along, pumping my fist in the air and singing “I don’t wanna be somebody, I just wanna be me, be me, yeah motherfuckers…” and if it can make me do that even though I know it’s the biggest load of bullshit that’s been told in k-pop since Seungri said “come to the club you’ll have a great time”, you know it’s good shit.  Anyway I’m really enjoying living in the new utopia created by Itzy’s “Wannabe” so maybe you should listen to it some more and enhance your life.  

18. Blackpink – Lovesick Girls

Blackpink’s creative directors generally subscribe to the “shock and awe” songwriting style – blast the listener with amazing sounds, consummate production skill and pair it with rapid-fire slick imagery to compensate the listener for being drip-fed one or two big riffs and the barest of actual tunes.  Although it doesn’t always seem like it, it’s a “less is more” strategy that actually works well as a final product even if it’s occasionally a bit too cringe and advertiser-friendly for comfort, and those clamouring for Blackpink to get off YG Entertainment need to understand that Blackpink without YG would not look or sound anything like the Blackpink that they love.  If these four girls were on some Z-tier agency they would be looked at and treated exactly like the next artist further down on this list, and everybody except a few avid nugu hunters like me would be ignoring them.  With all this in mind, while I do like their previous few big hits, it’s good to finally hear Blackpink getting a feature track with a bit more melodic work in it for them to do, that’s more than just “here’s some phrygian mode riffs and some big bass plus some raps we wrote by stringing Twitter catchphrases together”, and so I’m happy that they didn’t go for “Pretty Savage” as the comeback track this time, as good as song as it is.  “Lovesick Girls” recalls the singalong melodic style of “Playing With Fire“, but without the tropical house inflections that slightly weakened that song’s impact, and I hope nobody at YG will dare to dabble with “the T-word” again for at least another decade until the inevitable godawful “retro tropical” movement hits.  At that point I’m sure they’ll be right at the forefront of it, but until then I’m all good with YG long as they can keep this level of song quality up for Blackpink and their new female CEO can give their trainees some clubbing street-safety tips.

17. Lim Haram – Secret Crush

The weird seasonal affective disorder that the entirety of Korea and k-pop fans seem to have about music is fucking strange to me and it also seems to be fairly unique to Korea – yes other countries have always done the same thing to some degree, but to nowhere near the same extent.  K-pop fans insist on winter songs in winter, summer songs in summer and so on, and if it doesn’t happen or someone pops out a song in the wrong season, boy they sure do get fucking sour about it.  It’s like nobody in Korea can write a fucking song without checking the 7-day forecast and making sure that their tune and concept is “meterologically correct”.  So it really surprised me that the “Korean summer comeback” of 2020, came from this girl and that hardly anyone seemed to know about it or make much of a fuss, I mean sure it has about half a million views at this stage but that’s pretty minor in the grand scheme of k-pop especially these days.  “Secret Crush” has everything a summer song needs – the Gfriend style melodies, the big Sistar-style brass bits, and the early Apink flower-holding white-dress-wearing image.  Maybe that’s the problem – perhaps the flowers she’s holding throughout were investigated by those notorious failures at life and everything requiring intellect, the “Korean netizen detectives”, and they were found to be a variety that doesn’t actually bloom in summer and Lim Haram then got swiftly cancelled for “problematic mis-seasoning”.  Or maybe some other girl held flowers in front of her face back in 1963 so everyone cancelled Lim Haram for “flower-holding plagiarism”, such is the flow of ridiculous and groundless plagiarism controversies sweeping k-pop so quickly that my own plagiarism series can’t keep up.  Nothing would surprise me, but either way, “Secret Crush” is neat, brisk, light and very very good, and you should stan Lim Haram.

16. AKMU – Happening

You know what would make Korea’s bland “coffee shop” music actually interesting?  Well it’d be a great start if there was some driving rhythm, you wouldn’t necessarily need big drums or anything, just a very consistent acoustic guitar strum pattern that repeats the same rhythmic turnaround with different chords would be enough.  Then over the top of that you could have melodies that don’t wank on in that usual hideous R&B way but instead have succinct phrases with lots of breathing room in between to let the guitar shine through.  If you wanted to be really fancy with that, you could have those melodic phrases cut across the bar all the time, especially in the verses, that’s the benefit of having such a solid rhythmic foundation, you can do stuff like that over the top and make it work.  A bit of dynamics in the arrangement also would help, which you can achieve by dropping instruments in and out at key points, which works as a good alternative to “loud and soft” for a quieter song that is aimed at radio play and therefore still needs to compete in loudness with everything else on the airwaves.  Of course you’re going to need visually presentable people to deliver this song so why not be a bit different and choose two people who haven’t had plastic surgery up the ass for a change, and as a result actually look like very visually pleasing and relatable young adults, hey now that’d be cool and a little different to everything else out there.  I’m sure somebody will think of something like that soon, you know, I think it might just work.

15. Younha ft. RM – Winter Flower

From one style that usually sucks to another – even though I’m a notorious ballad-hater, ballads can be good – but what makes a good ballad?  I’ve talked about the possibilities of ballads before, but in the case of “Winter Flower” the answer is in the sheer power of the sound.  K-pop songwriters and k-pop fans’ obsession with high notes is usually sickening and insipid, generally coming off as nothing more than disgusting “look how good I can sing” egocentric showing off that doesn’t add any actual emotional content to the song itself, but here it’s different – the soaring notes fit the chorus perfectly and don’t sound overdone even though Younha is quite obviously pushing her range to the maximum.  The vocal histrionics are counterbalanced by some pretty damn meaty backings which are generally a lot more dynamic and rhythmic than we usually hear in typical soft-as-shite Korean ballad material, it’s a forceful package where everything works together.  The rest of the song is really just low-profile window-dressing for that excellent chorus, and that’s fine because something softer to increase the dynamic range is all it has to be.  Even RM’s raps fit into the picture well enough, they’re nothing earth-shattering but his contribution does the job it’s supposed to and hopefully his presence here managed to put this song in front of a few ears that otherwise wouldn’t have heard it, but if you can’t stand anything BTS related because like every other normal k-pop fan the group have been completely ruined for you by their psychotic, hate-filled, doxxing, cyberbullying, religious-cult-like human garbage fandom, then you could listen to this live version with BX from CIX doing the rap part instead, you’re welcome.

14. Chillin Homie ft. Eptend – Wassup

Metal and rap is a really hard thing to combine and do well because they’re in many ways the equivalents of each other, both are styles where melody is frequently sacrificed at the altar of rhythm at all costs, because of this the two styles are really hard to fit together and make anything actually distinctive because the types of rhythm that make metal work well generally aren’t the types that make rap work well.  The only instances of metal and rap fitting together have either been largely completely metal, largely completely rap, or that separate the metal and rap parts of the song out into two completely separate camps rather than trying to combine them.  “Wassup” falls into the “actually completely rap” category, in these sort of songs the metal guitars don’t make a metal song because the rhythms are still rap-based (fixed machine-style grooves), not metal based (flexible live drumming).  The riffs here however are everything, and the way the guitar and drum rhythms interact with the lyrical flow in the verses make up for any other stupidity, like that hopelessly dumb chorus where they just yell the title of the song a lot like it actually means something meaningful beyond a hip-hop-approved way to say “hi cunt”, or the fact that the guy is called “Chillin Homie” which has to be about the worst rapper name I’ve ever come across.  Korean music hasn’t had a rap/metal hybrid this good since Iron’s “Rock Bottom” and you should rock the version in this post for maximum enjoyment, not the weak censored version from Stone Music’s channel.  (Oddly both of them are age-restricted so the embed breaks, sorry about the world being pussies folks.)

13. Uza – S.O.S

I don’t buy k-pop albums a lot, but when I do, I buy Uza’s Banality Of Evil on Bandcamp.  Everyone stop sleeping on Uza, seriously.  Listen to her here, six months in front of k-pop’s 80s trend, paving the fucking way with this great moody yet melodic track, and nobody even fucking bought this.  In fact I tell a lie, she’s been leading the way on this style for years, and regular readers will remember that my love affair with Uza’s music started with a great track called “Suitable” that is in a similar style and worked its way into these lists a while back, but “S.O.S” is even better than “Suitable”.  Also that stuff I wrote earlier about Love X Stereo applies here too, remember that when you buy the latest album from a k-pop idol they get about two cents from that if they’re lucky (but usually less), whereas when you spend money directly buying independent artists’ product on Bandcamp, they see about 85% of it, which is actually worthwhile.  All of you people who are constantly flooding my Curious Cat and QRIMOLE inbox with “what’s better Spotify, YouTube or iTunes” type questions, my answer is always check first if your favourite artist has a Bandcamp and go straight there if you want to support them in a meaningful way, because asking what streaming service is better is like asking whether it’s preferable to starve or eat cookies made from dirt.  You can give artists as much money through Bandcamp as you want, as often as you want, so instead of buying that next ripoff photobook of your bias, why not take that corporate cock out of your mouth and support Uza instead, or even better yet, make Uza your bias like Kpopalypse did. 

12. J.Y. Park & Sunmi – When We Disco

Sunmi was recently interviewed about “When We Disco” and she mentioned how awkward it was, having to act that her and label CEO JYP were a couple for the video.  I get how that would feel strange, imagine having to pretend to be smitten with the dude who was overseeing all your toughest times as an idol trainee, attempting to gaze into his eyes dreamily while remembering the 58th straight week of being on the brown rice diet and having the choreographer kick you in the shins.  However I’m pretty sure that JYP is at least a little bit fond of Sunmi as more than just a dance partner, after all not only did he make her star in his video as his love interest, but he did it for the best song he’s ever had as a solo artist – I’m sure that’s not an opportunity that’s passed around freely to whoever wants to put their hand up for it.  This makes JYP the K-pop CEO equivalent of that hapless and slightly creepy guy at Uni who was in a band and gave you a free copy of his self-produced CD in the vain hope that you would hear the love song secretly written about you on it and it would make you 0.05% more sympathetic about mixing your bodily fluids with his.  JYP has gone on record saying that he “hates this type of song” and it shows, often the best results in particular styles of music come from people who find the entire musical genre to be tired and boring and therefore aren’t afraid to mix things up a little more than most people just to keep it interesting for themselves.  As a result “When We Disco” is a trot duo utilising the type of driving rhythm, call-and-response vocals and chord progressions that are certainly trot-like but are diluted with enough of JYP’s idol pop sensibility to not really sound like anything that trot typically produces.  The song has one foot in trot and the other firmly in Wonder Girls “Nobody” territory, and coming off the back of a few years of k-pop choruses being reduced to “bzzzt-bzt-bzzzt kkxkxkx yaaaahhhh plink plink bzzzt” this unabashedly retro song feels ironically like a breath of fresh air.  I hope Sunmi let him down gently.

11. Twice – I Can’t Stop Me

Twice’s videos have looked like complete dogshit for a while now, and their fans have been noticing, even going to far as to protest JYP’s use of the video production company Naive, who created the most recent run of Twice videos.  While these fandom protests feel like typically silly and over the top fan behaviour, I’ll admit that they have a point – from “Fancy” onward all official Twice music videos have this weirdly dark appearance which just doesn’t suit the songs, not to mention the girls are all dressed and styled as unflatteringly as humanly possible.  So it actually surprises me that “I Can’t Stop Me” also looks like a fucking turd for exactly the same reasons that “Fancy” does given that apparently a different production company was involved this time, although maybe that was just a lie JYP told the press to shut the annoying fans up, because once again everything is in dark mode and the girls all look like someone farted in their faces.  Sure, at least the appearance does match the music this time, if only because “lots of dark and neon things plus some vehicles” seems to be the only “new 80s” concept about 95% of music video directors can come up with, but it’s still not much fun to look at.  It’s just as well that the actual music kicks a great deal of ass, it’s just an excellent song that gets down to the business of being immediately catchy and melodic, with no weak beats, and very little in the way of bullshit sections.  While it’s not the best song of this type this year it’s still pretty fucking good, completely redeeming Twice from their somewhat wayward musical path during 2020 and making them relevant on these lists yet again.  Thank fuck for this 80s trend which is finally pushing good melody back to the forefront of pop music, I don’t know if The Weeknd is gay but if he is he can redeem his free blowjob from Kpopalypse at any time for accidentally influencing k-pop and making it better.

10. Dreamcatcher – Scream

I’ve already had the “Happyface Entertainment what the FUCK are you doing with Dreamcatcher” rant here, so I won’t go through it again because there’s no need – unless I feel like it, which I totally do, so let’s shit on Happyface some more, because they are so stupid and they totally deserve it.  Seriously, Dreamcatcher should be as big as Babymetal and performing all the same huge global events that Babymetal perform, but they’re not, because Happyface are a pack of retards with no clue about the absolute goldmine they are sitting on.  In fact I think Dreamcatcher would have a little more truck with the metal audience than Babymetal do simply because they don’t have the word “baby” in their band name or dress up in poncy maid outfits, which might seem like a silly reason, but a lot of metalheads write off Babymetal just because of the image and would probably be less resistant to something that had more mature looking presentation and didn’t make them feel like their friends would judge them as closet pedophiles.  All Happyface has to do to really tap into that huge global audience for metal is present, market and manufacture more metal into Dreamcatcher – get them interviews in the metal press where the girls can actually say what they want without their questions being vetted and regulated for k-pop image purposes, make better metal style merchandise and have it freely available, and for fuck’s sake turn up the guitars more in the mix you dumb cunts.  At least “Scream” gets it right (finally) by being more or less compositionally metal all the way through, and while the guitars are still far too restrained and soft it’s still a great example of what the group should have been doing for the last few years a hell of a lot more often than they have been.  I know I labour this point constantly but as a metalhead it’s extremely frustrating to see Dreamcatcher be marketed as “almost-metal” but always pussying out at the last hurdle.  Dreamcatcher have always been great but are constantly weighed down by their lost potential – Happyface won’t even let Dreamcatcher talk about Minx in interviews, but on the other hand they won’t let them fully explore Dreamcatcher’s heavy concept either, as if they want to keep one foot back in Minx days – someone needs to tell the idiots behind this group to either shit or get off the pot.

9. Jambinai – Sun. Tears. Red.

All Korean music that meets criteria is eligible for this list, not just k-pop, so readers who are aware of my musical background may be surprised to note that Jambinai have been mostly excluded from these lists.  That’s because while Jambinai have always been an outstanding group, they’ve also always had one big problem, which is that their music has lacked the character needed to really push them ahead.  Sure, the traditional Korean instruments do help somewhat to make them stand out, but if you’ve heard one post-rock “start slowly and then gradually build into some big heavy thing and then die back down” excursion, you’ve pretty much heard them all, regardless of what instrument is being used.  That’s why their collaboration with f(x)’s Luna was so good, adding a small sprinkle of pop-song melodic appeal into their standard framework gave them just the boost they needed to make their exceptionally well-crafted but somewhat samey music feel more engaging.  “Sun. Tears. Red.” also fixes that issue to a great degree by mixing up their usual formula, having a much more defined structure as well as more melody than the usual post-rock rambling but with still more than enough grit and angst to make sure that things don’t go too far in the other direction where a lot of these groups just end up sounding like Coldplay with distortion pedals.  There’s a real sense of going on an emotional journey here which is in keeping with best progressive rock material but without ever sounding too overblown or masturbatory.  Jambinai should really be a lot bigger than they are given their quality, and while this track may not be enough to get them over the line into the massive worldwide fame that they deserve, hopefully it’ll at least remind a few people that these guys were making solid inroads into western alternative music scenes long before your oppars got on some bullshit chart the cheat way by blackmailing their fans to by all 57 versions of their album and repeat-stream their songs like corporate robots.

8. Apink – Dumhdurum

Apink have had consistently good features for the last few years, and “Dumhdurum” seeks to try and combine the best elements of their last two big hits, taking the riff-driven focus of the deliciously weird “Eung Eung (%%)” and mixing it with the sophisticated melodic disco feel from the more straightforward “I’m So Sick“.  Like both of those songs, “Dumhdurum” does dip its toes into modern trends with familiar sound effects and of course those marimba breakdowns, but not enough to the point where it crosses the line into trendy bullshit tropical house territory or otherwise shit the bed too much in general.  If anything “Dumhdurum” shows a conservative approach where Apink’s songwriters have settled on a “2.0” sound to take group solidly from their original white-flower-dresses incarnation into something a little bit more muscular but definitely still “light commercial pop” in every sense. It’s a polished sound that’s matched well by the video’s high-fashion imagery and the entire package is grown up and powerful but still sleek and smooth like Chorong’s dog, and I’m sure that’s no coincidence.  They probably went through hundreds of dogs looking for just the right one to complement the track and embody it’s most appealing features.  Somewhere in Korea there is a support group for pet owners who feel inadequate because their furry friend didn’t make the cut for a k-pop video audition, you can bet that “Dumhdurum” is their recruitment drive poster child and they all do the optical illusion hand dance together.

7. StayC – So Bad

I’m actually really over all these girl groups trying to convince me that they’re “so bad” all the time, given the obsession that Korea’s entertainment system has with extreme compliance, it feels more than a little disingenuous to have their indentured slaves shouting at us about how they’re bastions of free thought and independence.  As someone who genuinely likes “bad girls” and has dated more than a few, when some obedient makeup-smeared kids in cages try to mimic some of the energy of my actual girlfriends who partied with drug dealers and beat up other girls in public toilets it just doesn’t sit right with me.  Still, I can build a bridge and get over that in the case of StayC’s “So Bad” because the song is so great.  While people will probably consider this “another 80s song” they would be incorrect, “So Bad” is actually lifting musically much more heavily from the short-lived “garage/drum and bass” trend of the 1990s, and ends up being by far the best Korean iteration of that style that I’ve ever heard.  Not that there even are all that many versions of this style in k-pop at all – the only other good one I can think of is Red Velvet’s “Rookie“, a song (supposedly) co-written by One Direction members, which figures as garage was far bigger in the UK than elsewhere and k-pop doesn’t take its cues from the UK pop scene very often.  However “So Bad” is a much better song than “Rookie” and the reason is just the use of melody, with whoever wrote this demonstrating an all-too-rare understanding of not just drum and bass rhythm but also how to write a melodic line, something that’s becoming a lost art in today’s age of boring shouty choruses.  I guess this really is a song that’s “so bad, meaning good”.

6. H3athr Sun – Super Single Magician

If you’re not aware of this great song, you’re probably someone who doesn’t read Kpopalypse Nugu Alert, and that sucks for you because it means that you were missing out on this awesomeness all this time.  I covered H3eathr Sun and “Super Single Magician” in episode 50 which you can read here and I suggest that you click the link and do just that if you haven’t, because I’m not going to go into detail again about what makes this song awesome as I already gave it a reasonably comprehensive review in that article.  What I will tell you here though is that still with less than three thousand views at the time of writing, “Super Single Magician” is the nugu song of the year, and regardless of what you think about me, this blog, or anything else, you should check out this cool song.  In fact right here I just want to give a special shout out to the people who really don’t like my writing style at all, yet still stick around and read the weekly roundups, the Nugu Alert features and these end of year lists just to find the cool songs, plus recommend my blog to others for the same purpose.  I fully understand that the way I write isn’t for everyone, and never will be (especially for those in countries where the humour style is completely incompatible with my own lowbrow Australian humour), but I’m glad to be providing this community service of giving great songs to you, the k-pop fan desperately searching for something actually decent to listen to.  You could do a lot worse this year than H3athr Sun, who has a song that rocks and also comes across in the video like a genuinely cool girl enjoying life – it’s amazing how much more people seem to enjoy dancing when they’re not being starved to death and beaten by choreographers at some morally bankrupt agency squeezing every last cent out of underaged kids.  If you really care about how the Korean industry sucks, put your money when your mouth is and support independent musicians, folks.  I know I’m sounding like a broken record on this, but that’s only because you cunts don’t listen and then complain when the same old shit happens over and over.  Why not support the change that you want to see.

2020 was actually such a good year and the next five songs were so great that it was agonising trying to figure out some kind of order.  Any of these could have probably been #1, but we can’t have a five-way tie because that would be boring as fuck to read plus totally lame, so here we go with the top five.

5. Gfriend – Mago

When Source music were bought out by BigHit last year I was worried that it might spell the end of Gfriend’s music quality, so much so that I based my yearly ‘most fappable’ comic strip on a fictional raid on Source Music’s laboratory by Yua Mikami to steal the last good remaining Gfriend song for Honey Popcorn comeback purposes.  I’m happy to be wrong as Gfriend performed well throughout 2020, even their worst feature track “Crossroads” was only unimpressive because it too closely resembled other really good similar songs from Gfriend that came immediately before it.  “Mago” however is something fresh for Gfriend, a disco number that seems to be about satanism or something (because of course), and certainly once again the devil has proven that he has the best tunes as the high-flying chorus melody of “Mago” is instantly catchy and brilliant.  There’s plenty of other greatness to be found here as well, like the stomping beat, the cool electro bassline and SinB somehow pulling off a better “short hair Eunha” look than actual Eunha.  I guess BigHit have been more hands-off than expected with Gfriend after all, seeing as how they couldn’t seem to get a very similar disco concept right for BTS, so I can’t imagine there’s too much cross-pollenating going on with the songwriting given how badly they fucked that one up and how spot-on “Mago” is in comparison.  Let’s hope for the sake of Gfriend’s fans that BigHit have the sense to not fuck around too much with a good thing, but then it is BigHit of course who are one of k-pop’s most notoriously mean-sprited labels so they’ll probably find a way to fuck it up.  In the meantime enjoy “Mago” while you can.

4. Everglow – La Di Da

This year’s “song that sounded fucking great right from the very first note” award definitely goes to Everglow’s “La Di Da”, with those swoonworthy keyboards introducing the song and everything else in the verses and choruses doubling down heavily on the original mood.  It’s also a product where the video and the audio are very much thematically in sync, with the sheen of the synthesiser patches and drum machine beats being evenly matched by the shiny black leather, sparkly neon and laser lighting of the video.  Thematic visual/audio consistency is actually something that really good k-pop packages struggle with (think about Fanatics-Flavor’s “Milkshake” where the audio and visual were near-perfect independently of each other, but all wrong when paired) usually because the songwriting and visual production teams are often working completely independently of each other, so it’s great to see the team behind Everglow absolutely nail this aspect to the wall in a way that few other groups do.  Not everything about “La Di Da” is musically perfect – there’s too much dropping to half-time, the inclusion of rap is questionable, and the bridge at 2:46 is complete nonsense – but the core elements of the song are so utterly catchy and impressive that these small creative misjudgements can be tolerated.  This is a song that you only have to hear one time for it to lodge itself inside your skull for a great length of time, and if this came out with a “known western name brand” attached to it, it would be globally massive.  I have no idea of the success or failure of this song beyond its YouTube performance, nor does it matter from the point of view of these lists, but at least for the sake of popularising good music everywhere I hope Everglow did well this year.

3. Wonho – Losing You

It’s easy to be cynical about Wonho’s ballad “Losing You”, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it’s quite obviously a creation deliberately designed to rally fan sympathy after his hazily-specified controversies that resulted in him getting outed from Monsta X (the label he’s on now is a subsidiary of his former one, and big companies often drop a “heart-touching ballad” as the comeback for a male idol under controversy).  Wonho himself also sounds musically out of his depth, leaning heavily on the Autotune for pitching help as well as struggling with syllable articulation in places.  Then there’s the fact that it’s a “man-meat torso ballad” in the same sense as Taeyang’s awful, hideous “Eyes, Nose, Lips“.  However none of this actually matters a damn because the songwriting craft displayed in “Losing You” is truly on another level, demonstrating great yet subtle dynamics, a vocal line that has plenty of room for the music to breathe in between the notes, plus a perfect understanding of how suspension and resolution can be used both melodically and harmonically in this type of context.  Even though “Losing You” is already amazing for most of its running length, it gets even better at 2:19 with that final chorus bringing in extra orchestration and countermelody that just adds a new layer of awesome, but the layering is subtle and achieved without crowding anything else out of the mix.  This is that rare kind of ballad which is right up there with the best of the slow songs from X Japan, and would actually fit right into that group’s ballad catalog if it was spun out into an epic rock power ballad instead of clocking in at a brisk three minutes.  The only thing I’m not sure about musically is that I don’t feel like the oscillating pitch at 2:06 and then later was really the best idea as it doesn’t add much of musical worth and just serves to showcase how much the Autotune is being used as a crutch, but it’s a tiny, tiny flaw in a song that is so good that I had no hesitation in placing it very high in this list.  Apparently Wonho had a hand in the songwriting here, and I’m not sure exactly how much he really wrote as four other songwriters were involved also, but it’s good to see an idol actually doing at least some musical heavy lifting as well as the more traditional type of heavy lifting that Wonho is known for.  Thanks to the efforts of him and everyone else who was responsible for “Losing You” we now have this great song, and Wonho’s place in this site’s conceptual continuity fabric as more than just an objectification poll favourite and hentai game fapper is assured.

2. Sunmi – Pporappippam

Holy shit, “Pporappippam” is so good, featuring even more of all the elements that made her song “Siren” so excellent two years ago, with Sunmi once again channeling the melodic energy of Pet Shop Boys at their peak.  However I’d argue that Pet Shop Boys never actually had a song this good, because on top of having similar songwriting sense, “Pporappippam” also has a far more interesting handle on rhythm than Pet Shop Boys’ often very bland drum machine loops, with the song’s various punchy stops and starts punctuating the melody at just the right times to give the compelling but fairly harmonically straightforward song some more interest.  It’s also got some tinkly angel noise or whatever doing countermelody in the chorus and that just sounds gorgeous, I’m all about tinkly angel noise doing countermelody and there’s not enough of that in k-pop in general.  In fact this song is so good that it really should have been number one on this list, because the best parts of it are actually better than anything else this year, but however as you can see this didn’t happen – and why not?  Well the problem is at 2:29 where Sunmi succumbs to her usual Achilles’ heel – the breakdown.  To be clear it’s not a terrible breakdown actually, certainly nowhere near as bad as the one in “Siren”, but it’s still a bit bland compared to everything else around it which shines so much more brightly, and it’s just enough of an unwelcome intrusion to kind of fuck up the flow of the song and drag the energy down a little bit too much before it all goes back into the final brilliant chorus.  If you’re thinking “well that’s a bit nitpicky of you Kpopalypse”, then you’re right, I absolutely agree with you, I am being nitpicky – the top songs this year were all so fucking outstanding that order placement here really did come down to tiny little insignificant details like this.  Don’t feel too bad Sunmi fans, and rest assured that “Pporappippam” is a song that I’m going to be rocking for many years to come.

So who placed at number 1 for 2020?  Well, veteran readers have probably already figured it out by now, but for the rest of you, it’s…

…drum roll please…

1. Loona – Star

So here’s how to have a song that is better than the best song of the year, which as we’ve already discussed, is Sunmi’s “Pporappippam”, read closely and take notes if you wish.  Start by grabbing the “new 80s” rhythmic punchiness from Kavinsky and The Weeknd and combine this with “actual 80s” keyboard riffs and chords that are similar to (but better than) what you might hear in the music for the “Flashdance” soundtrack or Umberto Tozzi’s “Gloria” (popularised in the English-speaking west by Laura Brannigan).  Then add vocal melodies that comply with sensible phrasing lengths that Korean pop in general so often neglects, and with melodies that complement the chord riffs in the chorus, so there’s a decent amount of push and pull between the vocals and the instrumental backings, with the vocals still front and center as they should be but not dominating too harshly at the expense of anything else.  Then you can add the icing, a ridiculous amount of countermelodic action that takes quite a few listens to unravel, so you’ve got a mix that is really dense and detailed in the chorus with a ton of hooks, but also sparse verse sections.  All of this is what got Loona’s “Star” into the top five this year, but what got it to number one is what the song doesn’t do.  No inappropriate melody-pausing rap section, anywhere.  No clunky bit where it drops to a half-time beat just because half-time beats are trendy now thanks to Blackpink, anywhere.  No vocal quasi-improvisation cluttering up the mix with the kind of nauseating showing off that k-pop producers can’t resist making their artists perform, even though the group has at least one Chuu who is quite capable of doing exactly that if she is told to.  No long breakdown bringing the song to a crushing halt – yes we have a short pause in the rhythm at 2:43 but it’s short, at only eight quick bars long it doesn’t overstay its welcome and the song gets back to business briskly.  As a bonus (and unlike some other Loona comebacks this year ahem), there’s not even any idiotic English phrases – the whole song is in English with lyrics that are thematically sensible, well-written, poetic, non-cringe and make total sense – no thuddingly awkward “if you wanna pretty” or embarrassingly moronic “get up in the morn cup of milk let’s rock and roll” here.  Or if you prefer no English at all you can have the Korean version (called “Voice“) which is entirely in Korean with no token English phrases at all, whatever floats your boat.   Loona’s “Star” is simply a perfect song – a song that does everything right and nothing wrong, anywhere.  It’s a song as joyous as Chuu’s smile at 2:18, as bouncy and flawless as Yeojin’s new short hair, as smoothly executed as Gowon’s blue dye application.  This is the kind of song that not only appeals to k-pop fans who like good pop music, but also attracts new people to k-pop in the first place, if you want a more contemporary replacement for T-ara’s now decade-old “Roly Poly” as “that song I’m going to play to my friends who don’t really know anything about k-pop apart from that one overplayed BTS song as an example of what I think encapsulates the best aspects of the style” then this is about as good as it gets.  You’re welcome.

I hear you cunts now though: “oh, but we know you stan Loona, you’re just biased”.  Well okay then, maybe I am, but let me put it this way.  There’s a reoccurring conversation that I tend to have with my current partner from time to time, which goes like this:

Me: “you’re pretty”
Her: “yes, but you’re biased”
Me: “true, but I’m only biased because you’re so pretty, so that just proves my point”

Apply that logic to Loona and we get this:

Me: “I like Loona’s music”
Dumb cunts: “yes, but you’re biased”
Me: “true, but I’m only biased because I like their music”

Of course I stan Loona like any normal person but there’s an actual fucking reason for that, it’s because they had all those fucking great pre-debut songs, it’s the music itself that creates the bias, and since music is what we’re evaluating here, not Chuu’s smile (although that is also good), it makes sense to bias that which is biasable.  It was the same ten years ago with T-ara.  I didn’t stan the group just because Eunjung had nice hair or because my mother was in them, I stanned them because songs like “Roly Poly“, “Like The First Time” and “Wae Ireoni” fucking rocked.  That’s the bottom line of Kpopalypse’s Loonaversal logic.  

Have this bonus version of Loona singing “Voice” (the Korean-lyric version of “Star”) in Christmas gear, just in case your Christmas present this year was crap and you’re in need of a better one:

…but if you feel that I have this list methodology thing all wrong with the whole “importance of music” stuff and would rather just evaluate Chuu’s smile instead, here you go:


Caonima YouTuber and admin of dbkpop.com (the world’s best k-pop database), isaymyeolchigr, has created a video list of the 30 favourites!

That’s all for Kpopalypse in 2020!  See you in 2021, stay safe caonimas!

20 thoughts on “Kpopalypse’s 30 favourite k-pop songs of 2020

  1. At least StayC is just singing “I want you so bad” instead of “I’m so bad,” but yeah they can’t enunciate English that well so it’s hard to tell (and the title is seemingly a bait-and-switch although who knows if it was intended).

  2. I was hoping Retro Love by Boyhood would be on the list. It was easily my favorite song this year. Most of these songs are great though. It was such a great year for kpop. I guessed that Pporappippam would be number one on the end of year survey, and I was almost right. The favorites list always turns out way different than I expect, but that’s a good thing because I forget a lot of good songs from roundup throughout the year.

  3. Okay I see Luda in this list so you’re safe. I’m still keeping the voodoo dolls though, might be useful next year. kek

  4. The StayC song is produced by Black Eyed Pilseung. Their credits include:

    Shannon – “Why Why”
    Twice – “Likey,” “Fancy”
    SISTAR – “I Like That”
    APink – “I’m So Sick,” “Eung Eung,” “Dumhdurum”

  5. Now that SM has Aespa, I really hope that Lee Soo Man will piss off and leave Loona alone. IMO, “So What” and “Why Not” are the 2 worst songs Loona have ever recorded. It will forever frustrate me that due to LSM’s involvement, the insufferable “Why Not” had to be chosen as the lead single over “Star/Voice” (which is already starting to sound like a modern classic).

  6. I agree, 2020 Kpop is quite above average. I still can believe that Scream isn’t #1 since it’s so unbelievably good, oh well.

    Also good thing I listened to Super Single Magician, because it sounds legit like a dampened ‘Roly Poly’

  7. As usual, I enjoyed your 30 Favourite picks this year, but I still have problems connecting with the rap songs (or the so called “hard” genre, like metal songs). As years go by, I started to realize that my taste of music somewhat similar like yours, however, I have a higher tolerance towards ballads songs, including Korea OST ballads, and hated with passion pure metal and hard hip hop songs. Pretty bizzare haha…

    PS: Strangely enough, I enjoyed Drunken Tiger’s song you picked in 2018! Not the Dynamic Duo song you picked in 2016???

  8. No big surprises here (only a few small ones)

    Always happy about these lists. Helps me remember a few songs that I forgot about at some point in the year, like Time after Time. But more importantly it gives me some nice confirmation bias towards songs i like. Thanks for that.

    Only song thats missing out from the honourable list+this list for me is Swervy’s Blue. But I guess I just resonate with it more than other songs.

  9. I come here every end of year hoping to find more good music to listen to, but turns out that this year our favorites list is almost the same. Cheers mate, happy new year!

  10. Pingback: Results of the 2020 end of year list survey! - kpoplover

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