The end of the year countdowns are finally here! As always, we’ll kick off with the big one: The Bias List’s top 50 songs of the year! Each day this week, I’ll be counting down ten of the year’s best, until number one is revealed on Friday.
To be eligible for this top 50 list, songs must have had a Korean release as a title track, follow-up or promotional video between Dec. 1st, 2020 and Nov. 30th, 2021.
Curious about past countdowns? Check out the masterpost here!
50. U-Know – Thank You
2021 kicked off with a standout from one of K-pop’s elder statesmen. U-Know’s Thank You borrowed just enough DNA from TVXQ’s music and tied it to his own charismatic energy and ambitious vision.
49. Youha – Abittipsy
Synth pop was a common thread throughout the year, with shimmering midtempos emerging from groups and soloists alike. In many ways, Abittipsy‘s evocative melodies and satisfying build set the template. (full review)
48. Rain x JYP – Switch To Me
K-pop legend meets K-pop protégé, trading barbs over a funky new jack swing beat. Switch To Me is endlessly nostalgic and feels like genuine fun. The industry could do with more intergenerationalism — especially when the music is this light on its feet. (full review)
47. A.C.E – Changer
A farewell (for now) track with bite, Changer sent the first stage of A.C.E’s career off on a high. Its satisfying, chant-heavy drive moves relentlessly forward, fusing the guys’ adventurous energy to sentimental spirit. (full review)
46. AB6IX – Close
Though AB6IX’s music often dabbles in popular trends, it’s at its best when given a sleek and stylish sheen. Close is a real earworm, tailoring chunky 90’s dance beats to listeners’ modern taste for deep house throb. (full review)
45. BAE173 – Loved You
Even years after their latest release, Bigbang’s influence looms large. Loved You is a sturdy “Junior Bigbang” emote-o-thon, powered by a surging instrumental and cathartic chorus that begs to be echoed to the heavens and back again. (full review)
44. IU – Lilac
K-pop’s ever-beloved chanteuse delivers a wisp of springtime breeze with the blissful Lilac. Its light city pop influences are a great match for IU’s bright tone, tying together a series of gentle melodies perfectly suited to its season. (full review)
43. NCT Dream – Hello Future
While the vast majority of 2021’s NCT releases leaning toward tough edginess, Hello Future‘s bright melody and confident vocal acrobatics were a welcome salve. It’s daring in its own way, but that ebullient chorus is pure pop bliss. (full review)
42. Brave Girls – Pool Party (ft. E-Chan)
Brave Girls completely conquered the summer, and even though follow-up single Pool Party was woefully under-promoted, its fizzy hooks and bounding, synth-kissed instrumental offered the perfect soundtrack for beachside adventures. (full review)
41. E’Last – Dark Dream
E’Last’s symphonic sound reached a climax with the slow-burn of Dark Dream. This song sunk its teeth in over a series of weeks, its dramatic flourishes bringing much-appreciated grandeur to the K-pop stage. (full review)