It was a great and awful year in Kpop. There were several moments where I thought I’d need to walk away for good, moments it just hurt too much to keep listening. But who was I kidding? With a dinged and battered heart, I’ll always come back.
When I was tasked to create a list of my top 50 songs of the year, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. I listen to a lot of Youtube and Google Play created playlists, and those are never by year. When I started digging I kept having to remove song after song for not being in 2019, many of them just missing the cut by weeks. (Pouty face for Mino’s Fiance, Ovan’s Happiness, and the duet of Gaho and Villian) Turns out though, with a little bit of work, I was able to put one together just fine.
Spoiler alert? Stephanie likes K-rap. A lot. Like a lot a lot. A few of these additions even surprised myself. I wasn’t as strict with myself as SaraG was, realizing that if I was? I’d really have some trouble reaching that 50 mark as when I like a group, man, I fall hard! While I was able to create the list, I couldn’t make myself put it into any sort of order. Couldn’t do it and you can’t make me. Sure, there are songs which are higher on the list than others, but who really cares? I just want you to listen and know what I love. You might agree, you might disagree, but isn’t that the awesome thing about music?
(At the end, I’ve put together a Youtube playlist for ease of listening, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about each song.)
Winner, Ah Yeah
I’m always surprised I listen to a song, think, “Hey, I like this!”, look over and there is Winner. It doesn’t surprise me that they put out good music, I just kind of forget how much I actually like them. Nice way to kick off the list. I was also surprised that this one was 2019!
Hash Swan, Airplane Mode
Looooove Hash Swan. This album came out earlier this year and it’s so different from his other things, but it was one which INSTANTLY stuck with me and I listened to the whole album again and again. Love that putting this list together reminded me of it. I wish I realized I was this much of a Hashswan fan when I saw him as part of the Illionaire Ambition tour, which seems like a waste now!
NCT Dream, BOOM
While at heart I’m a 127 girl, some of the Dreamie songs just get me in that place. Love that they have such a grown-up sound now. Perhaps enough to learn the members or let’s wait and see what happens when Haechan ages out.
Jackson Wang, Bullet to the Heart
Jackson had a great solo year this year! While I love the video with the giant lobster, I actually like this song a lot more. Love to see that he’s really growing up, growing into himself, and reaching out to try new things.
JHope, Chicken Noodle Soup
SIGH. This song was a surprise to me. I saw it pop up on my feed while working, couldn’t resist instantly watching, a couple of coworkers came over with a question and I actually shooed them away. “I’m sorry, I’m having a moment and I need you to come back.” The concept of the song took me a minute to enjoy, but man, just seeing Hoseok having so much fun, singing and doing the street dancing he loves? Warmed my heart.
RAVI, Chillin’ Homie
This one was a surprise to me. We saw Ravi when we were in Korea perform on MNET Countdown and, honestly, I wasn’t that impressed. So when SaraG showed me this song? I gave her side-eye. But? Wow. Such a different sound and style than anything I would have imagined. He kind of sounds like a 90’s alternative singer here.
Eric Nam, Congratulations
I’ve never been a big Eric Nam music fan. Him? Adorable. His music? Just never really hit me. But this song? Wow. Grabbed me and didn’t let go. So glad I sat there and gave it a try.
Here’s another artist trying something new, proving he is capable of so much more. It could have gone wrong but this and the other song that made it to the list? Were instant repeats to me. I’ll always regret not going to the Zico concert, but hopefully, there will be future chances as I’m really impressed with what he’s accomplishing on his own out there.
WOAH. I didn’t think I’d like this song, but? SO WRONG. Love it. Love it, the video, Jay Park, and I kinda want to BE Jessi.
This is adorable. So sweet and catchy. It was amazing to see him perform it live at The Rose concert this fall. For a first time soloing, Woosung hit it out of the park.
Another in the “I didn’t think I’d like this song” catagory, so much so that when I heard JYP had a new song come out, I saw the thumbnail, I gave it an eyeroll, but this song is great! A throwback to the swing era, you don’t really hear a lot of other kpop like it, and I don’t know who BIBI is, but I’m certainly going to check her out now.
Gaho was one of the performers at the Planetarium concert, Leila and I saw this fall and I instantly fell in love. He was charming, prepared, and full of charisma. While I don’t generally go for his sort of music, now that I absolutely love him, I have found a lot of songs of his I really love too! Don’t you just get excited over these fun surprises? I thought I was at the concert for Villian, what did I know? FOOL!
This song is FREAKING AMAZING. This is actually the first time I’ve seen the video, I’ve always just listened to the song on Google Play, as it popped up on a radio station I was listening to, and I was astounded. Such a statement sound. I’m hella bitter I can’t go to his tour this month.
Golden, Hate Everything
This one I found on my own! (As usually I am lead to Kpop by SaraG and the ladies) I saw the title, the thumbnail on youtube and thought “What the heck?” GAH. This song is SO GOOD. I instantly sent it to SaraG and Leila….who had both of course already knew about it. I can’t get anything on these two!
Hash Swan, High Beam
I bet you could have guessed that Hashswan and his high whiny rap would be back! I didn’t see any actual videos for these songs, but that just makes me feel cooler knowing about them. Seriously, Hash Swan picked up his game here.
NCT 127, Highway To Heaven
NCT 127 had to make the list! While Highway to Heaven won’t be reaching the top of my 127 top songs, for this year? It was catchy and I had a lot of fun watching the video and singing along.
Zico again! This is actually my favorite of the two songs. It is so freaking beautiful and unexpected. Come back to the US Zico!
Jaehyun, I Like Me Better
It feels like a bit of a cheat having a cover on the list, but guess what? I don’t care! This song and video are amazing and Jaehyun is magnetic. I dare you to watch this and try and look away. Just try it.
This list could also have been the ATEEZ memorial list. Illusion is the first of a few spots on the top 50. I actually had to take out a few so they didn’t dominate. Illusion wasn’t a favorite at first, but it really grew on me. I love the idea of them being Steampunk Air pirates. Someone please write me this fanfic!
Blackpink, Kill This Love
I’m just as surprised as you that BlackPink made it to the list. Kill This Love kind of snuck up on me. It has such an anthem sound to it.
M.O.N.T, Korean Nation Mansae
Another one I found on my own! (Another one SaraG knew all about.) M.O.N.T is a tiny little group from a teenie tiny little company in the middle of no where. This song, this video is such a big risk for them. Talk about an anthem. I hope their chance worked out for them. I can tell you I watched this video over and over and over again.
As Junior McFeeley said, it feels a bit weird to have a Japanese song on the list, but it’s my list so I can do what I want. This song is really very sweet and watching the boys together just makes my heart happy.
Oneus is actually a new group for me to learn. SaraG was quickly and hugely enamored with them. It made me want to learn more about them and it kind of stuck. This is one of their newest songs and has some great sets, styling and dances. It didn’t take me long to actually be listening to it and them for myself.
Wayv, Love Talk
When I heard they were peeling away some of the members of NCT to create WayV, the Mandarin NCT, I was irritated, but, turns out? I LOVE WAYV! (And it’s not just my new Ten obsession talking here.) The NCT sound works really well in this language. I was surprised that this song got higher on my list than some of their faster, other songs, but it stuck. (Perhaps it could have been the hot Ten at the beginning.)
BTS, Make It Right
Its the song for the fans! I’m a fan! They made this song for me! It had to go on the list!
Chaaaannngmo. I luff you and I want to make out with your voice. That’s a thing, right?
Stray Kids, MIROH
See McFeeley’s? I do like Stray Kids, I like them enough for them to hit my list at least once! I do like their harder, rock sound. You don’t get that a lot in Kpop.
Stray Kids, Mixtape#2
Whoops, what is this? Stray Kids again? What is happening to me? Nothing. I have always enjoyed Stray Kids!
This release intregued me. We were all waiting to see what Dawn, formerly E’Dawn would do once he left Pentagon. I’m glad to see he’s going to continue trying with his music. I can see what he’s trying to do here, and I am happy to say I actually enjoyed it. My thoughts on Dawn are complicated, but I do wish the best for him, whatever that might be.
I.Love.This.Song. Surprised the shit out of me. I have trouble taking the video seriously, but every time it pops up on the radio, I pause and go, “Wow, I really like this song!” and then have to remind myself it’s EXO.
The Rose, Red
SWOOON. The Rose. Their music just does something to me. They closed their concert tour with this song and I was so happy to be there to witness it.
Yep, WayV again! Sure it’s an NCT 127 song, but it was a great way for them to show they are still part of the NCT franchise, to introduce us to the members, and to allow us a moment to realize NCT songs in Mandarin kick ass.
Tiffany Young, Run For Your Life
This one might not be officially kpop, but Tiffany Young and her Girls Generation background is, this song is fierce and fun, so it gets put on my list. I wish I could have seen her when she came to Denver, but sometimes life just sucks like that.
IM JooHoney, SAMBAKJA
I had never heard this song before going to see it at the concert this fall. LizC told me she knew I was going to love it, and you know what? She was freaking right. It was instant love. Watching them perform this? Well… let’s just say it made me think all of the inappropriate thoughts. I could totally go for a rap line sub unit!
Color me just as shocked as you are that an A.C.E song, a group I’ve never, ever paid attention to made it to my list, but it did! This song is great.
ATEEZ, Say My Name
This is the song which turned me into a fan. Instantly. It was actually this performance video. The styling, the suitcase dance, Mingi, HongJoong’s mullet, it all came together as a perfect storm of awesome and I was powerless to say no.
Monsta X, Someone’s Someone
I’ve deliberately tried not to listen to any Monsta X as of late, with the removal of Wonho, it was just to hard for me. I’m not trying to punish the band, I’m not even mad at them, no, it’s more a mourning period for me. But hearing this song? It reminds me why I became a fan in the first place. I don’t expect our separation to be forever, and I like to think the boys will be there when I’m ready to come back.
This is the first Winner release since the whole YG thing went down and it’s very interesting to see where their sound is going. Is this a one-time deviation? Or are they going to continue to try and branch out? I can’t wait to find out. Plus? Naked idols are always fun.
DO, That’s Okay
D.O is gone and that’s not okay, but he left us such a pretty song for us to remember him by, I’m feeling slightly better about it. Only one year left, right?
MCND, Top Gang
DUDE. This is a song which just came out, by a group that I think are super newbies. I was really surpised when I stumbled on it. I think it was pretty much a lock for me once I heard that deep-toned rapper. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a deep-toned rapper!
Oneus makes it again! I love this song and the video. It is almost like a fairy tale. Princes locked away on an estate somewhere. The fanfic almost writes itself!
Another SaraG addition. She always feels bad, thinking she’s dragging me kicking and screaming into the fandom, but, I’m stubborn and I think we all know, if I don’t want to do something you’re going to fucking know it. The group seems warm and cozy, which is exactly what my brain needs right now. This song is Minhyun’s solo, “Hey guys, I’m back with Nu’est” post Wanna One song. It’s such a pretty sound and the video is another one straight out of a fairy tale, one of those old fairy tales where nothing is wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end.
Last ATEEZ I promise! Such a great summer song. And Mingi leaping over everyone? Sigh.
Jessi, Who Dat B?
Yeah? Who Dat B? I think Jessi is saying we all need to be that B that someone is talking about, that B that someone else wants to be. Don’t be a follower, do your own damn thing.
Monsta X, Who Do You Love
You. I love you.
What the? A solo Taehyung song? I couldn’t help it, this song just sounds so much like the style of English music I listen to whenever I’m writing.
Simon Dominic, Ya Ain’t Gang
I want to be gang! I desperately want to be part of the AOMG gang! What do you think? Wouldn’t I make a great house mom? Someone to take care of all of them? They wouldn’t even have to pay me. They just need Simon Dominic, the Prince of Busan, to speak in my general direction and that’s payment enough.
I’m surprised this song made the final cut! I kept trying to take it off, kept trying to replace it with one of the other ones who just made it, but then I’d listen again and I’d have to put it back on! And it’s not just because I’m a sucker for Mino!
Another Monsta X incarnation makes the list! Man, when these two get together… I shouldn’t like this song, but, you can’t not like it. Seeing just how ridiculous it is, how they just completely throw themselves into it? They had a lot of fun working on this project and you can totally tell. I appreciate your effort boys and love showing this video off to anyone who hasn’t seen it.
You can call me Daddy? Giggle Okay, Daddy. I honestly don’t know anything about Kun, but I am IN. Like big time in.
Yay, I made it! So that’s my list of favorite songs of 2019! How’d I do? How’d you do? As promised, here are the songs in playlist form.