Music 

These Are the Best K-Pop Songs and Music Videos of 2020

Our favorite releases from BoA, BLACKPINK, TWICE and more.

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Despite the challenges of 2020, many K-pop acts and musicians have remained busy this year, as they continue to release new projects and music for fans to enjoy in quarantine. Over the past few months, the booming industry has seen a number of exciting releases, including EXO and SuperM member KAI’s solo debut “Mmmh,” TWICE‘s second full-length album Eyes wide open and BTS‘ “Life Goes On.” Celebrating her 20th debut anniversary, BoA dropped her 10th album Better with 11 new tracks. This year has also proved to be an exciting moment for K-pop rookies like aespa and STAYC, both of which arrived on the scene with buzzy debut releases.

From unexpected collaborations to the exploration of different genres, K-pop continues to thrive this year. Below, we’ve put together some of the biggest hits and best music videos of 2020. Look through the compilation and learn more about the K-pop acts below.

While you’re at it, check out our list of the best K-dramas of the year.

ZICO – “Any Song”

ZICO kicked off 2020 with “Any Song,” an upbeat single that quickly became a hit. An “Any Song Challenge” began circulating on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, with the hashtag boasting more than 100,000 posts of fans dancing to the song. Atop the bouncy melody, ZICO delivers hopeful and carefree lyrics encouraging people to do whatever they want.

iKON – “Dive”

Returning after a year-long hiatus, iKON dropped a country-inspired tune reminiscent of Kesha and Pitbull’s 2013 track “Timber.” The group’s first release as a six-person band, “Dive” was co-written by former member B.I.

Gaho – “Start Over”

Besides K-pop, the Korean entertainment industry has received much international success with its TV dramas, some of which have become hit shows on Netflix. Featured on the soundtrack of Itaewon Class, Gaho‘s “Start Over” swiftly became a popular title earlier this year.

BTS – “ON”

Arriving as the lead single of the K-pop sensation’s fourth studio album Map of the Soul : 7, “ON” arrived with a cinematic choreography video titled “Kinetic Manifesto Film : Come Prima.” An official music video dropped shortly after, featuring all seven members against scenes that hint at biblical stories. Since the release, BTS has won a Guinness World Record in South Korea for having the best-selling album of all-time.

ITZY – “WANNABE”

A song about embracing yourself for who you really are, “WANNABE” landed as the first track from ITZY‘s second mini-album, IT’z Me. A blend of dance, house and hip hop, the track starts with a powerful beat, followed by the girl group’s signature vocals. “I don’t wanna be somebody, just wanna be me, me/I wanna be me, me, me,” the group sings confidently.

WINNER – “Hold”

One of the group’s latest releases before WINNER announced a hiatus due to member Jinwoo’s mandatory military service, “Hold” was written by the group’s rapper MINO. Featured in the four-piece’s third EP Remember, the song is accompanied by a music video of the members getting playful at home with fellow YG artist, AKMU’s Lee Suhyun.

Apink – “Dumhdurum”

You’ll find yourself easily immersed in the catchy tune and the visuals for Apink‘s “Dumhdurum.” Shot against aesthetic, vibrant sets, the music video sees the members dressed in high-fashion ‘fits from luxury brands like Gucci. The addictive track is taken from the the band’s ninth anniversary EP, Look.

NCT 127 – “Punch”

Along with its deluxe album NCT #127 Neo Zone, NCT 127 dropped a powerful music video for “Punch.” The song leads with suspenseful whipsering verses, while each member is pictured in front of a psychedelic background.

(G)I-DLE – “Oh My God”

A rising name in the K-pop universe, (G)I-DLE has been having a successful year so far with hit songs like “Oh My God.” Each member of the two-year-old group shows off individual performances in the music video accompanying the sensual tune.

Solar – “Spit It Out”

MAMAMOO‘s Solar made her solo debut this year with “Spit It Out.” Written by the musician herself and produced by rapper Sleepy, the track is a blend between dark pop and Latin pop, featuring energetic beats and unique synth sounds.

Chungha – “Stay Tonight”

Continuing her solo career following her year-long debut project with IOI, Chungha released “Stay Tonight.” The single boasts house-influenced beats, along with harp and piano riffs for a dramatic mood.

IU (ft. SUGA of BTS) – “eight”

K-pop’s popular singer-songwriter IU teamed up with BTS’ SUGA for the single, “eight.” The pop rock track features a nostalgic tune and personal lyrics. Midway through, SUGA jumps in with a rap verse, as a mix of animated and live footages of IU are played throughout the music video.

TWICE – “More & More”

The title track of JYP group TWICE’s ninth EP, “More & More” follows the releases of “FANCY” and “TT.” Upon dropping the record, the idol band performed “More & More” during a virtual concert.

Hwasa – “Maria”

Following her solo debut “Twit,” MAMAMOO member Hwasa released her first-ever EP with hit track “Maria.” Set to trap and synth beats with a hint of Latin pop, the song discusses the struggles Hwasa has experienced with mental health. The music video features a number of stylish wardrobe changes as well as stunning dance sequences.

BLACKPINK – “How You Like That”

Following the band’s year-long hiatus, BLACKPINK returned with its comeback track “How You Like That” in June. The track was released as the lead single for BLACKPINK’s upcoming record, THE ALBUM. From modified Hanbok looks to designer ensembles, the music video is filled with memorable fashion moments.

Sunmi – “Pporappippam”

“Pporappippam,” which translates as “purple-lit night” in Korean, arrived with visuals splashed with violet hues. A mix between dance and city pop, the tune features rhythmic beats and a catchy melody. Sunmi‘s music video glam — a purple eyeshadow and eyeliner — also became popular among fans, with many posting their take on the makeup look on social media.

EXO-SC – “1 Billion Views”

EXO’s sub-unit EXO-SC, comprised of Sehun and Chanyeol, dropped its first studio album 1 Billion Views earlier this summer. The title track features funky guitar sounds with a disco rhythm. In the music video, the two members dance on city streets lit with bright neon signs.

YUKIKA – “SOUL LADY”

Japanese pop star YUKIKA shifted her career by entering the K-pop world last year. Following her first solo single “Neon,” she revealed her debut album with lead track “Soul Lady,” in which she sings Korean lyrics atop retro, city pop-style beats.

SOMI – “What You Waiting For”

2020 has been a huge year for SOMI. The star has signed with Interscope Records, meaning that she will be releasing music beyond South Korea. Known for winning reality competition show Produce 101, the musician is now exploring new musical styles with co-producer Teddy. In July, the artist released her latest track “What You Waiting For” along with a beautifully shot music video.

HYO (ft. Loopy, Soyeon of (G)I-DLE) – “DESSERT”

Even if you aren’t familiar with Girls’ Generation or HYO, you may have listened to “DESSERT” already on TikTok. The K-pop veteran released the track with rapper Loopy and (G)I-DLE’s Soyeon along with a dance video on the popular social media platform. More artists and influencers shared their own take on the trend, joining HYO to enjoy the electronic sound.

SSAK3 – “Beach Again”

Earlier this summer, comedian Yoo Jaeseok enlisted OG K-pop stars Rain and Lee Hyori for a project band called SSAK3. With the entire making of the band documented and unveiled in MBC’s reality show Hangout With Yoo, the three-member team has become one of the most popular musical acts this year. Its single “Beach Again” was composed by Hyori’s husband and songwriter Lee Sangsoon.

Jessi – “NUNU NANA”

Rapper Jessi released her third mini-album NUNA with the track “NUNU NANA” back in July. With its catchy beats and lyrics, the song was quickly picked up by TikTok users. A surprise for fans, Jessi is joined by Hyori in the music video. It was later revealed that the duo had joined forces for their new project, the Refund Sisters.

JY Park & Sunmi – “When We Disco”

JY Park, head of JYP Entertainment, teamed up with his longtime friend Sunmi for a retro track titled “When We Disco.” The partnership gained much attention, as it was the first time the two musicians worked together after Sunmi departed from Wonder Girls and Park’s management company. Featuring heavy synth and disco beats, the song illustrates the story of two lovers who reminisce about their relationship. In the accompanying music video, Park and Sunmi show off ’80s style outfits as they perform a retro-inspired dance sequence.

BTS – “Dynamite”

Global K-pop sensation BTS revealed its first all-English track “Dynamite” in August. Following up on its Map of the Soul : 7 release, the group unveiled a set of visuals with a pastel color palette for the new song. The summer-friendly tune recorded more than one million likes on YouTube even before the music video had premiered.

K/DA – “THE BADDEST”

Following its 2018 debut, Riot Games‘ K-pop group K/DA made a grand return with a new song titled “THE BADDEST.” Featuring (G)I-DLE’s Soyeon and Miyeon, Bea Miller and wolftyla as contributing artists, the track features digital characters Ahri, Kai’Sa, Akali and Evelynn singing the chorus: “We’re comin’ at you live, real, real wild/Here to light it up, set the world on fire/Gonna break the rules and hearts in twos/’Cause that’s what the baddest do.” In the visuals, the members are portrayed in outfits that have never been seen before in League of Legends.

BLACKPINK & Selena Gomez – “Ice Cream”

BLACKPINK’s highly anticipated collaboration with Selena Gomez attracted over one million likes just minutes into the music video’s premiere on YouTube. Co-written by Ariana Grande and Victora Monét, “Ice Cream” is lifted from the K-pop group’s upcoming album, slated to release on October 2.

BLACKPINK – “Lovesick Girls”

Shortly after releasing “Ice Cream,” BLACKPINK dropped its much anticipated record, THE ALBUM. Along with a collection of new tracks like “Bet You Wanna” featuring Cardi B and “Pretty Savage,” the K-pop group delivered their title track “Lovesick Girls.” Straying away from the group’s usual style with powerful beats, the song depicts moments of heartbreak with a music video filled with addictive dance sequences.

Lee Suhyun – “ALIEN”

Known for being a part of duo act AKMU with her brother Lee Chanhyuk, Lee Suhyun made her solo debut this year with “ALIEN.” Deviating from her regular style, which mostly features ballad, the musician opted for a more energetic tune. An advocate of self-love, the artist reassures listeners that it’s completely fine to be different: “No need to hide behind the veil, ALIEN/Tell them who, who/Tell them who, who/If anyone asks who I am/I’m here to save this darn Earth, ALIEN.”

MAMAMOO – “Dingga”

MAMAMOO dropped “Dingga” ahead of its 10th mini album release, TRAVEL. Co-produced by members Hwasa and Moonbyul, the upbeat track touches on the activities that many of us have been engaging in during lockdown: “I just binge dramas/I can’t go driving/I feel a bit under the weather.”

TWICE – “I Can’t Stop Me”

Lifted from TWICE’s sophomore full-length album Eyes wide open, the title track “I CAN’T STOP ME” was unveiled with an ’80s-inspired music video. Released alongside other hits such as “SAY SOMETHING” and “UP NO MORE,” the track reveals a more mature side of the group compared to its signature upbeat and cheerful tunes.

Refund Sisters – “Don’t Touch Me”

Following the SSAK3 project, Yoo Jaesuk gathered divas Uhm Junghwa, Lee Hyori, Jessi and Hwasa to create a project group dubbed the Refund Sisters. Teaming up for a one-time release, the four musicians fused multiple generations of K-pop into one track. The accompanying music video features references to some of the most iconic moments in the singers’ careers, including Uhm Junghwa’s three-meter-tall dress that she wore for a performance of her 1993 song “Pupil.”

Monsta X – “Love Killa”

Marking the third studio album of Monsta X, FATAL LOVE arrived with 10 tracks including collaborations with the likes of Eric Nam and Jooyoung. The record’s title song “Love Killa” comes with a striking, red-themed music video that pays homage to horror films and thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs, American Psycho and Joker. The choreography for the track gained much attention for its impact without any large or exaggerated movements.

CL – “+5 STAR+”

Serving her fans with a preliminary dance video ahead of her new album release, CL dropped two new tracks “+5 STAR+” and “+HWA+.” Boasting contrasting styles, the former delivers love-filled lyrics with a music video featuring the artist herself alongside DPR Ian.

Taemin – “IDEA”

SHINee and SuperM member Taemin launched his third studio album Never Gonna Dance Again with a groovy tune titled “IDEA.” Featuring vocals from label-mate BoA, the track boasts intense beats and lyrics inspired by Greek philosopher Plato’s theory of ideas. In the music video, the artist complements the track with dynamic moves that are signature to his dance style.

STAYC – “So Bad”

2020 was an exciting year not only for returning groups and artists, but also for K-pop rookies like STAYC. The five-member group, informally dubbed HIGHUP Girls ahead of their debut, officially released their first-ever single “SO BAD.” In addition to their strong vocal skills and catchy song, the rising act has become a name to watch in the K-pop sphere partly for their producer Black Eyed Pilseung, who is known to have written music for the likes of TWICE, SISTAR and Apink.

aespa – “Black Mamba”

SM Entertainment’s ambitious project aespa became one of the most talked-about groups in K-pop when the company announced it would feature four digital avatars and four real-life members. With a futuristic theme that appropriately reflects 2020, the team debuted with “Black Mamba.” In the music video, members KARINA, NINGNING, WINTER and GISELLE are seen dancing alongside a digital render of a giant snake. The visual closes out with a glitching human figure that seems to tease aespa’s next release.

BTS – “Life Goes On”

Recently selected as TIME‘s Entertainer of the Year, BTS launched its latest album BE led by “Life Goes On.” Unsurprisingly, the song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Contrasting with the group’s previous release “Dynamite,” the new track is a mellow pop song that reflects on the past year. “There’s no end in sight. Is there a way out? My feet refuse to move,” V sings.

NCT U – “90’s Love”

SM Entertainment’s 23-member group NCT released “90’s Love” through its unit, NCT U, featuring Ten, Mark, Winwin, Haechan, Jeno, Yangyang and Sungchan. As suggested by the title, the track is all about nostalgia and celebrates how we remember happy moments from the past to become inspired and hopeful for the future. The ’90s-influenced hip hop and R&B tune arrives with a music video featuring each member in old-school outfits like retro hockey uniforms.

KAI – “Mmmh”

EXO and SuperM member KAI made his solo debut in November with “Mmmh.” Leading up to the release of his eponymous mini-album, the track is accompanied by a sensual and stylish music video, where the star wears standout pieces from brands like Casablanca, Marine Serre and POST ARCHIVE FACTION.

BoA – “Better”

Celebrating her 20th debut anniversary, BoA returned with her 10th album titled Better. Led by a track of the same name, the release sees the OG K-pop queen delivering a message of motivation and ambition, hinting to her fans that she won’t stop making music anytime soon.

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