In difficult, unprecedented times like this year has been, music can be a great escape if even for just a couple of minutes. 2020 had lots of great new music to enjoy. I wanted to share some of my favorites. It’s always hard for me to rank songs or TV shows because I’m pretty indecisive that way. lol I set out to maybe list 20 songs and here I couldn’t even keep it to 50! And then when I do have them listed, I always second guess and think a song should be higher which then has me shuffling the whole thing again. lol
The list includes title tracks, B-side tracks, unreleased tracks and even a few OSTs from 2019 (which I only discovered while watching their respective dramas this year).
60. “Keep Going,” VOISPER
One of the best vocal groups in all K-pop, VOISPER opened 2020 with the track “Keep Going.” Another excellent showcase for their powerful vocals and passionate performance, VOISPER remains criminally underrated. But that never hinders them from releasing great music like this.
59. “G.B.T.B,” VERIVERY
The evolution and growth of VERIVERY has been great to watch. As they grow into a more mature sound, each track is a great showcase for their development as performers and vocalists. “G.B.T.B.” does just that. The catchy, anthemic chorus is paired with gentle verses. And it makes for an exciting and enjoyable package.
58. “Am I The Only One,” SF9
Not only my favorite song from SF9’s first full album which was released this year, but maybe one of my favorite songs from them, period. Representative of the group’s maturing sound, it is a seductive track that features the group’s harmonious vocals
57. “Sweet Sensation,” HA:TFELT (featuring SOLE)
HA:TFELT released one of the best albums of the year with “1719.” “Sweet Sensation” is my 2nd(!) favorite song from the album. In an album where HA:TFELT poured her heart and soul into each song, “Sweet Sensation” is a playful track that features encouraging, positive lyrics about emerging from bumps or hardships and starting off with a new day.
56. “Timeless,” WEi
55. “Hug You,” WEi
There’s a lot of familiar faces in WEi for me when they debuted. I enjoyed their music from their pre-WEi solo and project group activities. Their debut song “Twilight” was a nice track. But both “Timeless” and “Hug You,” B-side tracks from their debut album, are my favorites from them. Both songs are definitely my vibe and definitely got me looking forward to more from them.
54. “Better,” BoA
One of my very first K-pop crushes, I’m always excited when K-pop royalty BoA is back with fresh music. And this time, a full album! Title track “Better” is some excellent dance-pop goodness. An effortless performance from one of my all-time faves BoA. Which is definitely not a surprise.
53. “Butterfly,” P1Harmony
FNC’s new group P1Harmony made a very impactful debut with “Siren.” The hip-hop-infused pop dance track is very much old school K-pop through a contemporary filter. Their mini-album is full of strong supporting tracks. But my favorite track from the talented rookies is definitely the haunting, midtempo track “Butterfly.” A very promising debut.
And nobody asked, but my P1Harmony bias is definitely Keeho.
52. “After Midnight,” WayV
I am very new to NCT and only recently started listening to any of their music. (And that refers to all the different NCT units.) My first introduction to anything NCT this year was WayV who released their first album, which is great. But my favorite track off it is “After Midnight.” The sensual dance track was an unexpected change of pace for the album for me. And it’s another track to add to the 2020 night drive playlist.
51. “Universe,” ORBIT
ORβIT’s debut “Universe” is an incredible debut. Not only are all the members Produce 101 Japan alums I actually liked and rooted for, it also includes three members from K-pop group HALO which I am a fan of as well. “Universe” is a commanding track that grabs your attention right from the start. The big budget, glossy music video highlights the groups unmistakable charisma and talent. And it’s certainly a stunning start for the group.
50. “Monstar,” JO1
Produce 101 Japan winners JO1 are really asserting themselves at home and beyond Japan’s borders with their rookie year. Culminating in the release of their first full album, the group unleashed a succession of great tracks. My favorite of which is “Monstar”.
49. “Sorry Mama,” DKB
One of my two favorite debut songs from a new boy group this year is definitely “Sorry Mama” from DKB. They’ve had a great debut year and it all started in February with this excellent, impactful track. Since then, they’ve released some excellent music. (And Spoiler Alert! This won’t be the last time you’ll see DKB on my list.)
48. “Lie, IMFACT
One of K-pop’s most underrated groups, IMFACT continues to release great music. They released their first(!) mini album in April with the title track “Lie” being a great representation of the style and sound they’ve grown into the last two years.
47. “Rose,” DKB
From DKB’s second release,” Rose was able to show the group’s other side. The rap and vocals blend together in an interesting dynamic resulting in this great track.
46. “Come to Light,” D.COY
Debut title track “Color Magic” is a great introduction for rookie band D.COY. But I love “Come to Light” even more. It’s an emotional, mid-tempo rock ballad. And it definitely showcases the band’s great potential.
45. “Middle of the Night,” MONSTA X
Technically released as a single last December, let’s just consider it’s a B-side track from their first English-language album “All About Luv” which was released this year. It’s a mellow, mid-tempo love song that reminds everyone of MONSTA X’s charismatic versatility. A bonus, it still features vocals from former member Wonho.
44. “Shoot the Moon,” BDC
I had not even realized it’s been almost a year since BDC first debuted and that they hadn’t released anything since. But “Shoot the Moon” is definitely the kind of song that effectively announces their return. It’s a classic K-pop song with contemporary touches that make it current and an easy listen. But the trio’s vocals and performance definitely grab your attention. It was great to see them back and with a strong release like this.
43. “Blue Hour,” TXT (Tomorrow X Together)
TXT’s “Blue Hour” is an irresistible, bright track that harkens back to their excellent debut. It’s definitely a nice breather from their dramatic, narrative-heavy comebacks since then. The retro-infused dance track certainly draws comparisons to their label sunbae’s recent release. But “Blue Hour” is just as perfect a match for the group’s youthful vibe. It’s one of my favorite tracks from them now.
42. “My Beauty,” VERIVERY (Extraordinary You OST)
I watched a lot of Korean dramas this year and one of my favorites was definitely Extraordinary You which wrapped up its run late in 2019. Perhaps even more, I love one of the show’s themes “My Beauty” from VERIVERY. The rookie group released some great music of their own this year, but I just can’t help but love this OST by them.
41. “Every Day,” MVP
It was a pleasant shock when three and a half years after their debut (which until now was their only release), MVP returned with an emotional track that showcases their strong vocals. While I liked the debut enough, it wasn’t a song I put on repeat. “Every Day” is definitely the opposite. I love it. It’s just my kind of song and vibe. It’s a wonderful reintroduction to the group. And hopefully they’ll be able to release something much sooner next time.
40. “Satellite,” HA:TFELT (Featuring ASH ISLAND)
HA:TFELT released one of the best albums of the year in “1719.” And my favorite track from it is definitely “Satellite.” The track is a dreamlike adventure (with matching MV) that still highlights Yeeun’s beautiful voice.
39. “If You Don’t Mind,” Brooklyn
I first learned of Brooklyn earlier this month, but I’ve immediately become a fan of his. My favorite track from him so far is “If You Don’t Mind,” a catchy mid-tempo song. Brooklyn’s silky voice helps to make it an irresistible track.
38. “Still,” DKB
As great as “Sorry Mama” was, I loved DKB’s comeback track “Still” even more. Again, it’s the kind of vibe I like to seek out. And it takes the same energy and style from their debut to a different feeling and emotion.
37. “Ice Age,” MCND
My other favorite debut track from a boy group this year would have to be MCND’s roaring debut “Ice Age.” The powerful track has a catchy and memorable hook. And the energy is no less infectious upon each repeat listen.
36. “Blurry,” Elli K (Watcher OST)
The second drama OST on my list is this stunning track from the OCN drama Watcher. A song with Elli K’s haunting vocals perfectly exuding the heightened emotions from one of my favorite dramas that I watched this year.
35. “Drive (Japanese Version),” NU’EST
I’ve been a fan of NU’EST since debut and have been so happy to see their huge successes since Produce 101. I’m not sure if I’ve followed their Japanese releases. But their latest “Drive” is an excellent track to start with. The song fits perfectly with their current, more mature sound. And their vocals take center stage.
34. “Inception,” ATEEZ
When ATEEZ put their title track to a vote, I happily voted for “Inception” and was happy it won. It might be my favorite title track from ATEEZ so far. “Inception” is a familiar, yet fresh sounding take on the moody K-pop dance track. A grand, emotional track that is perfectly paired with a cinematic music video.
33. “Lupin,” DONGKIZ
Another underrated group that took a step forward in their growth is DONGKIZ. After releasing bright, youthful singles since their debut, DONGIZ released a playful, though more mature sound and performance that shows the great potential for the future. “Lupin” is a catchy song that best showcases the group’s vocals of any of their releases so far. Their other release this year “Beautiful” was also great.
32. “Waterfall (Eunho Solo),” UNVS
UNVS is another talented rookie group that debuted earlier this year. On their second release, the B-side track to their excellent title “Give You Up” is this solo from member Eunho. A beautiful, emotional and atmospheric track.
31. “Rest Your Bones,” Bobby
I’m not a regular listener of the group iKON. But I was so pleasantly surprised by member Bobby’s solo album “Love and Fall” in 2017. It quickly became one of my favorite K-pop albums from a solo artist. So I was very excited when he released “Rest Your Bones” earlier this year. Though not commercially released, the song definitely showcases who Bobby is as an artist. And it definitely has me waiting for his next full solo release.
30. “Angel,” OnlyOneOf
OnlyOneOf continues to be criminally underrated even as they are one of the most experimental and unique groups out there today. “angel” is another unique track in their discography. But it is considerably less dramatic and thus, a little more accessible than their excellent debut, the clever “savanna” and follow up “sage.” Still, “angel” shows OnlyOneOf’s unique style with a happier, more colorful track that shows the guys can have some fun when they’re not in the darker, atmospheric world of their first two title tracks.
29. “Accident,” WOODZ (Cho Seung Youn)
Cho Seung Youn, now going by the stage name WOODZ, has been releasing great solo music the last few years. “Equal” was his first mini album and “Accident” is an excellent track that shows yet another side of the talented artist. Very different from his title track, the funky “Love Me Harder,” “Accident” is a strong and emotional vocal showcase for him.
28. “Marching On,” Dami Im
X Factor winner Dami Im is an incredible talent with a stunning voice. “Marching On” is a soaring midtempo ballad that crescendos into an emotional climax representative of the personal feelings Dami hopes to convey in this self-composed track. Just an absolutely beautiful song and impeccable performance by an amazing talent.
27. “Never Forget,” Dalmatian
DMTN/Dalmatian celebrated their 10th anniversary with member Daniel bringing together all the members (except Jeesu who is serving his mandatory service) for this excellent, nostalgic track. The bittersweet, romantic track very much fits as a love letter and thank you to the fans who have supported the group who’ve been on hiatus for seven years now.
26. “All I Need,” 2Z (TuZi)
2Z has been one of the best surprises for me this year. The rookie band released some great tracks all year. But “All I Need” is the track that solidified it for me. The emotional, mid-tempo track would be an excellent introduction to the band for any new listeners. The summery “Not Without U” would be the next one.
25. “A Book in Memory,” ONEWE
ONEWE came back with the stunning ballad “A Book in Memory” earlier this month. Doing what they do best, the band’s passionate performance and powerful vocals are yet another excellent showcase of their talent. Leader Yonghoon’s vocals are especially just on another level. Amazing track.
24. “Rebel,” CIX
CIX has been doing well since their debut. But “Rebel” from their album “HELLO Chapter 3: Hello, Strange Time” might be my favorite track from them so far. The romantically defiant track is such a vibe and a pleasant surprise for me from them.
23. “Howling,” VICTON
VICTON is finally getting the attention they deserve and “Howling” is another step forward for their sound and performance. It is an emotional, dramatic song that utilizes the group’s silky voices to full effect.
22. “My Star,” SPECTRUM
This soaring pop ballad is a bittersweet track to listen to after the news of SPECTRUM’s disbandment. But it’s a beautiful love letter of a song from a talented group that deserved much more. My favorite pure ballad of the year.
21. “Made for Two,” VAV
VAV is one of my favorites. “Made For Two” is a dreamlike song of love and longing. On one hand romantic and bittersweet, on the other hand emotional and even more meaningful as member BaRon serves his country. The music video is also an aesthetic treat. VAV’s music videos are always as captivating as their music.
20. “A Song Written Easily,” ONEUS
ONEUS has experimented with different styles for each of their title tracks so far. “A Song Written Easily” is a track that somehow manages to balance being a calming song about longing while also being a dance track that gets you singing along with the refrain even after the song is over. The vocals, as always from ONEUS, are on point. But (and it’ll be very obvious who my bias is), member Leedo’s ability to shift from his deep rap voice to his softer singing voice in one song is definitely a highlight.
19. “Radio,” Henry Lau
Another one of my favorite artists, Henry Lau released his first full album in six years. And it is an excellent showcase for who he is as a person and an artist. Title track “Radio” is an emotional pop ballad. The dreamlike music video matches the song’s vibe and Henry’s passionate vocals and performance. Just excellent.
18. “She’s Bad,” Lee Gikwang
One of my favorite artists, Lee Gikwang has released a few songs to the official HIGHLIGHT Soundcloud while serving his mandatory military service. And “She’s Bad” is his latest. The self-composed dance track has an excellent vibe, very much representative of Gikwang’s solo style.
17. “Closer (Tokyo Remix),” Mackenyu Arata
I will admit, I’m not much of a Chainsmokers fan. But I do admit they make songs that are not easy to get out of your head. (Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on the listener of course.) But I’ve definitely been a fan of Japanese-American actor Mackenyu since appearing on Kamen Rider Drive. And when I heard he’d be performing a full cover to be included on the Japanese release of The Chainsmokers’ album, I immediately had to check it out. (And it was definitely a hunt to find it. *grr* at how difficult it is to listen to Japanese music releases.)
I knew Mackenyu was a talented actor. But I definitely didn’t know he could sing. And he does a great job here with vocals that suit the vibe of the popular song. The Japanese lyrics fit in well with the English lyrics, giving the song that little bit of freshness that makes it sound like a new song.
16. “Sand Castle,” UNVS
After a pair of excellent releases this year, including their debut, UNVS returned with a quite unexpected single in “Sand Castle.” The sexy song (with matching music video!) has the group capturing the final days of summer. It’s a great vibe. But definitely different from what they’ve released so far. It’s an exciting and pleasant surprise from a great rookie group and I’m excited to see what they have in store in 2021.
15. “6 days,” Demian
Though not officially a comeback, singer-songwriter Demian celebrated six months since his debut with an excellent song for his fans. Released onto his Soundcloud account, “6 days” is an upbeat track that shows off a different side of Demian compared to his more atmospheric releases since his debut.
14. “Last Piece,” GOT7
“Last Piece,” co-written by JB under his DEFSOUL pseudonym, is an immediately captivating track. The emotional lyrics are matched by a sort of energetic mellow. You’ll be vibing with the song in no time. Especially with the chorus where JB and Youngjae do their usual (and effortless) tag teaming with soaring vocals. Just an excellent track.
13. “Open Mind,” Wonho
Wonho is another of my absolute favorite artists. And I am so happy to see him make his solo debut this year. It is a perfect debut song that introduces who Wonho is while giving a taste of what he is capable of as a vocalist and a performer. The sexy and playful vibe of “Open Mind” is an excellent way to showcase Wonho’s effortless charisma.
12. “Be The One (English Version),” Beverly Caimen
It’s been almost two years since Kamen Rider Build ended. But Beverly Caimen treated fans around the world earlier this year with this unexpected track; an English version of that series’ epic theme song. English versions of songs can always sound clunky and awkward. But not this.
Beverly’s breathtaking voice is definitely not a surprise. But this English version sounds as if it was actually the original. The translated lyrics are on point and very much still embodying the season and the positive, hopeful vibe of the original Japanese version.
11. “Starlight,” N.Flying
This special track from N.Flying is a heartfelt song. Written by member Seunghyub as a tribute to his grandparents, the song is meaningful and emotional. And the accompanying music video is just beautiful. Definitely a relatable song for me.
10. “Yes,” Demian
Demian returned in August with his most ethereal and romantic track yet in “Yes.” The dreamlike track is the ultimate vibe. And of course it is another self-composed track from this talented artist.
9. ” Miro,” Corbyn
Cory Hong, formerly of group 24K, has released one excellent track after another since branching out on his own as Corbyn and as co-producer at 28Laboratory. “MIRO” is his second release this year and is a passionate track that is as cinematic in sound as its music video is with its visuals.
8. “Nice Things,” Far East Movement, Henry Lau, Alunageorge
Henry Lau is one of the most multi-talented guys in the business. Put him together with the talents of Far East Movement and English duo AlunaGeorge and you get this surprising track “Nice Things.” A sensuous, bittersweet and wistful track that highlights the vocals of Henry Lau and AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis with a deep, mellow melody. Also, in some ways, the Chinese version of the track is even more captivating.
7. “September Hills,” Narachan (M.O.N.T)
It feels like such a long time since M.O.N.T first released their excellent debut track “Sorry” in 2017. Since then, the trio has performed around the world and shown off their stunning versatility. From rock to hip-hop to pop and everything in between, M.O.N.T is certainly one of the most versatile groups in K-pop. Ahead of their album release, the members released solo tracks. And I was absolutely blown away by member Narachan’s song.
“September Hills” is a dreamy mid-tempo confession song. Narachan’s smooth vocals set the vibe with gentle verses and a rousing chorus. It is an immediately captivating song with a similar lo-fi music video to match. The song is unexpected in that when it comes to M.O.N.T, you should know to expect the unexpected.
6. “Karma,” Demian
A theme is emerging on my list. Demian appears again with his 2nd single. “Karma” is both sensual and bittersweet with an addicting melody that’ll have you humming its chorus “How to end my love” long after the song ends. If his debut song had not captured my attention already, this track certainly would have.
5. “Paradise,” Park Jihoon
Park Jihoon has really done a great job establishing himself as a soloist. And I’ve really enjoyed his music. He’s released a pair of great albums this year. But my favorite track from him this year is “Paradise.” The track has softer, mellow verses and an energetic, romantic chorus. Perfect to add to my night drive playlist.
4. “Ride,” KNK
3. “Highway,” KNK
Another of my favorite groups, KNK finally made a comeback after 14 months with their album “KNK Airline.” Title track “Ride” is a fiery track. The confident, sultry lyrics are paired with a powerful, almost urgent beat that grabs you and never lets go. Their charisma and performance skills are also on full display in the great music video. Meanwhile, B-side “Highway” is an impactful title track-worthy song. KNK show off their vocals in front of an addicting beat that gives the song a soaring, dramatic execution. It is one of their best B-side tracks. (And they’ve had plenty!)
2. “ODSEE,” Corbyn
You aren’t going to get a shortage of passion and emotion in Corbyn’s songs. And “ODSEE” is definitely a stunning record. Its dramatic melody paired with Corbyn’s vocals make for an absolutely memorable and haunting track.
1. “Cassette,” Demian
Demian’s self-composed debut track is so unexpected and impactful that it immediately made me a fan. The unique sound and Demian’s smooth vocals make for a memorable and irresistible experience. It was my favorite song at the halfway point of the year. And it has ended up my favorite song of the whole year.
Check out all these songs on my Spotify playlist!