Music 

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

Our favorite releases from BLACKPINK, Jessi, BTS and more.

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4,518 Hypes

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 BTS‘ first all-English song and more recently, BLACKPINK‘s collaboration with Selena Gomez. OG stars like Lee Hyori and Rain came back to the scene for a project team dubbed SSAK3, delivering a nostalgic song for their fans. Additionally, following a successful debut back in 2018, Riot Games‘ virtual pop group K/DA has recently returned with its second track.

From unexpected collaborations to the exploration of different genres, the K-pop scene has been thriving this year, despite COVID-19 travel restrictions that have forced artists and producers to stay home. Below, we put together some of the biggest hits of 2020. Look through the compilation and learn more about the K-pop acts below.

For more on Korean music, read about Junghwa, Hyori, Jessi and Hwasa of girl group Refund Expedition.

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,” Mamamooo 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 arrives as the lead single for BLACKPINK’s upcoming release, 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.

IRENE & SEULGI – “Monster”

Red Velvet began venturing into sub-units with a new duo formed by Irene and Seulgi. The two members released “Monster,” which was later followed by “Naughty.” The medium-tempo dance track boasts heavy bass with dubstep beats, straying away from Red Velvet’s signature upbeat sounds.

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 has joined forces for their new project, Refund Expedition.

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 contirbuting 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.

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