You simply can’t have a great K-pop comeback without eye-catching choreography. With each passing year, it’s become more vital to the industry. Dance routines are excellent for a variety of reasons, ranging from intricate “how did they do that?!?” moments to simple point moves that become trendy touchstones. This list covers both of these extremes and everything in between.
2021 END-OF-YEAR MASTERPOST
10. SEVENTEEN – ANYONE
You know Seventeen has to make it on any choreography list, right? This year, my favorite routine wasn’t in support of an actual title track. Anyone‘s clean, stomping moves lend the song tons of power and take advantage of the group’s large configuration.
9. HOSHI – SPIDER
From full group to soloist, Spider‘s choreography is all about Hoshi himself. The use of props will always score bonus points from me, and Spider‘s bars give Hoshi the ability to hang and twirl and generally compel viewers’ attention.
8. ONEUS – BLACK MIRROR
Taking cues from the song’s Michael Jackson inspired concept, Black Mirror‘s choreography is a blast to watch. We’ve got moonwalking, wrist flourishes and an indefatigable sense of showmanship. There’s just so much to see.
7. STAYC – ASAP
When compiling this list, I try to think of the point moves that were most iconic in 2021. ASAP‘s kneading (?) arm movement will certainly go down as a popular cover dance for years to come, highlighting the song’s fun, quirky energy.
6. GOLDEN CHILD – BURN IT
Burn It‘s choreo emphasizes each resounding thud of percussion within the track. It’s a powerful routine, yet knows when to slow things down to channel the emotion driving the melody. The point move in the chorus is also super memorable.
5. ENHYPEN – TAMED-DASHED
ENHYPEN have already proven themselves an excellent troupe of dancers, and exuberant choreo like Tamed-Dashed reinforces that. I love the contrast between angular and smooth in the chorus, highlighted by an eye-catching point move.
4. KEY – BAD LOVE
Bad Love is consistently powerful, and its choreography follows suit. The attention is always on Key, with a series of larger-than-life movements. But, it’s the commanding performance during the song’s chorus that really seals the deal. It’s simple, memorable and very effective.
3. SUNMI – TAIL
Tail‘s routine beguiles with an approach that feels inspired by burlesque. Sunmi is all over the place, crawling and weaving and always stealing the show. But, the “cat tail” leg formations vault this to another level entirely, resulting in memorable imagery that enhances the track.
2. AESPA – NEXT LEVEL
Not all of Next Level is super compelling (there’s a lot of fancy walking), but none of that matters because aespa delivered the point move of 2021. If this year in K-pop will be remembered for anything, it’ll be that arm-bending, face-framing hook. It’ll be copied for years by every idol on every variety show.
1. ONLYONEOF – LIBIDO
OnlyOneOf offered the most striking routine of 2021. Every aspect of this comeback built upon the song’s theme, mood and energy, but libidO‘s no-holds-barred choreo best illustrated its striking power. From a threatening crawl to a forceful grasp, this was a dance too risqué to exist on weekly music shows without editing. OnlyOneOf pull it off with good nature and a tongue-in-cheek glee that urges viewers to let down their guard and join the bacchanal.