2021 has been a less crazy year for K-pop as a whole but rookie groups definitely kept it more interesting. K-pop in 2021 featured a lot of nicely, diverse produced music and uniquely made ones as well. Many rookies made their mark this year and many amazing comebacks as well. With so much quality to choose from, how on earth do we single out the best K-pop songs of 2021? The OH! Press Team is here to take on the challenge.
Key – Bad Love
This explosive retro pop was everything I wanted from this track and more! Most of the creative ideas in the song as well as the album were mainly done by Key so it was great to see his ideas come into life.
STAYC – Slow Down
One of my favorite B-sides tracks of this year, Slow Down is a chill Tropical pop with catchy melodies.
Taeyeon – Weekend
Truly a chill and groovy track, Weekend by Taeyeon is a disco and city pop song with a range of guitar and retro synth beats.
YUKIKA – Insomnia
After Yukika’s stellar debut album, Soul Lady, inaugurated her as one of city-pop’s leading starlets, her comeback title track “Insomnia” is a testament to the continued refinement of her retro sound. Despite its more stripped back production, Yukika manages to captivate with her bright vocals, glossy synths and wistful aesthetics to match.
LeeHi – H.S.K.T (featuring Wonstein)
LeeHi’s third album is a striking return to form, as she embraces her soul and R&B roots, while showcasing her production chops. “H.S.K.T” is characteristic of her growth, utilizing the lustre of her lower register and the polish of Wonstein’s flow as the driving force for a playful teenage love story.
Billlie – flipp!ng a coin
With a torrent of new groups debuting in 2021, Mystic Story’s first girl group, Billlie (yes, with an extra “l”!) are undoubtedly one of the most promising. Reminiscent of some of the pulsating soundscapes present in f(x)’s 4 Walls album, “flipp!ng a coin” is a standout dance-pop track that lyrically invites the listener to “check out” their B-sides.
Yoon Jong-shin & Miyu Takeuchi – Forbidden Game
“Forbidden Game” is a remake of a song, originally released in 2014 featuring the singer, Kelly. This version instead spotlights the soulfully stylistic vocals of Miyu Takeuchi, AKB48 alum-turned-city-pop aesthete, and gloriously trades the folk guitar from the original song for the more upbeat flair of a classic city-pop instrumentation.
WJSN – Unnatural
“Unnatural” serves as both a musical and conceptual stepping stone into maturity, while retaining the consistent and addictive pop charm of their previous work. With all three main vocalists having their time in the spotlight, the chorus is truly able to pack and punch, and prove that WJSN are a force to be reckoned with.
TXT – 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) (featuring Seori)
It feels satisfying to see TXT as one of the newer groups who aren’t afraid to churn out a pop-rock anthem. 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) is a song that takes you on a whirlwind-like roller coaster of feelings up to the very last note. Play it in the wee hours of the morning while reflecting on your life choices, and you’re golden.
Seventeen – Ready to Love
Whenever I listen to Ready to Love, I picture myself walking on an open field that’s carpeted with kaleidoscopic blossoms under endless rays of sunshine. Everything about this song spells out calmness that leaves you wanting more. Thank the heavens for the replay button, honestly.
ONF – Beautiful Beautiful
Beautiful Beautiful shares a good and positive message. I want to highlight the acapella and hook that follows the chorus.
Brave Girls – After We Ride
It is a nice tune with a melody that moves naturally. I like the texture of the harmonies; it adds value to the overall sound.
N.Flying – Moonshot
There is passion, which packs a punch in Moonshot. I like how aggressive the track becomes, especially during the chorus.
Kim Sung Gyu – Hush
Hush moves gently. The singer’s unadorned vocals remind us of the focus in this narrative; words that relay feelings of solace.
Dreamcatcher – BEcause
I’m impressed by the production of the music; its prominent use of synths. The strengths of the group are clearly displayed: a sound they have effectively made their own.
Youha – Abittipsy
Abittipsy stands out. Together with the retro feel, synths lift the entire production, resulting in a familiar but lively and pleasant sound.
Pentagon – DO or NOT
DO or NOT is a bucket load of fun. They sound confident tackling the pop rock genre.
Cherry Bullet – Love So Sweet
Yes, Love So Sweet is cliché but also really addictive. It’s indisputably “sweet” (pun intended).
Sunmi – Tail
Tail dedicates a slick rhythm and it glues you to the music. You will want to get up and dance.
Jinyoung (GOT7) – Dive
As Jinyoung said: Dive will make you imagine that you are taking a trip to the sea. You’ll feel lighter and more refreshed after you hear it once.
Oh My Girl – My Doll
A special music video for this composition was released during Halloween; it was originally released in May from the group’s eighth EP, Dear. Oh My Girl. My Doll has a rather calming effect and this will help to soothe your spirit.
Purple Kiss – Zombie
Zombie is quirky, upbeat and easy-to-follow. I like the flow of energy shown by the members in each of their parts.
Eric Nam – Any Other Way
Any Other Way — recorded fully in English — has been described as a “cowboy, western, whistle-your-gat-dam-ear-off banger”, all of which is true. In other words, I would consider the sound as being quite friendly.