It’s been a hell of a year for K-pop released, with incredible music videos and music show performances. But it turns out, in my opinion, artists don’t always release the best song on their mini-album as the title track.
I’ve really enjoyed getting deeper into groups and soloists this year, listening to more than just their title tracks. In some cases, I’ve found I prefer the album tracks to the song that was given a music video and promoted on music shows.
So, to try and open some eyes to some absolute bangers that people might be missing, I’ve put together a list of my favourite K-pop album tracks of the year.
Blackpink – Don’t Know What To Do/Kick It
Blackpink released Kill This Love earlier this year with the title track being quintessential Blackpink. Of course it was insanely popular and the girls performed it all over the world.
But because Blackpink have a limited discography (YG, please give them the full album they deserve) I find myself listening to all of their songs with each new release.
Don’t Know What To Do is reminiscent of Forever Young from Square Up – summer vibes with a very catchy chorus. It served as somewhat of a B-side to Kill This Love, with them performing it on music shows too. Each member sounds great too, but I feel it suits Rosé’s voice incredibly well.
Kick It is a more chilled vibe, with Jennie and Lisa really shining throughout. Lisa’s English rap verse is the stand-out part of the song, tying in the Blackpink sound Blinks have come to love and expect from all of their music.
BTS – Dionysus
I mentioned Dionysus in my list of favourite K-pop songs from 2019, though included Boy With Luv on that list as I kept it to title tracks.
But truth be told, I prefer Dionysus to the title track from Map of the Soul: Persona from BTS. I love the energy in the chorus and the angsty feel to the rest of the song.
It’s a completely different sound to Boy With Luv and that’s something I really enjoy. Album tracks really give groups the chance to flex muscles they don’t usually with their releases, and this is the perfect example.
Chung Ha – Chica/Flourishing
Chung Ha had a great year for releases, and I wouldn’t have liked to have been on the team deciding which song from mini-album Flourishing to lead with. Snapping is, of course, incredible, but the album is full of great songs.
Chica – as you’d expect from the title – has a Latin feel to it which makes it perfect for the summer (and literally any day of the year). It’s a real female empowerment song, which allows Chung Ha to show off her vocal ability. The live performances of it have been brilliant too, with the choreography to match.
And as for Flourishing, which is all in English, this could easily be an Ariana Grande song. It’s breathy and a little moody and anyone not in the know would probably think it was Ariana if they listened to it for the first time with no background information. Obviously, it wouldn’t be the first choice for a title track (although it shares its name with the mini-album) due to it being 100% English, though it’s a perfect track for the album.
If Chung Ha performs in the UK in 2020 – PLEASE BRING HER OVER MY MUSIC TASTE – then this would be one of the songs I’d be most hopeful to hear.
CLC – I Need U
Honestly, every song on CLC‘s No.1 is great, but I Need U is the song I keep coming back to.
It’s another all-English song, this time with real retro vibes. It gives me late 90s/early 00s feels with the classic dance music throughout it. I’m also a sucker a big note, and I Need U does not disappoint.
Dreamcatcher – Silent Night
I’ve really, really, really got into Dreamcatcher this year and listen to their full discography regularly. But Silent Night from Raid of Dream is really something else.
It doesn’t share the same rock sound that Dreamcatcher are known for, instead going down the EDM route, like another fan-favourite song Sleep-walking.
It got a huge reaction when they played a snippet at their London date this year, with the crowd singing along with every word despite it being Korean. It builds up towards the chorus, which kind of just bobs along with the girls’ vocals over the top.
But the show-stopping moment comes with the tempo change, when the girls stop singing completely and it turns into a song that wouldn’t be out of place at a rave.
The Dreamcatcher members have said they’d like to explore EDM more, incorporating it with their rock sound, for future songs, and I’d support that wholeheartedly.
Everglow – You Don’t Know Me / Hush
This year I’m the most grateful for Everglow (and Itzy, more on them later). I’ll admit I think their title tracks are superior to their title tracks, You Don’t Know Me and Hush, from Hush, are still great songs.
Hush is a ballad, so completely different to title track Adios. It’s dreamlike and probably fits the group’s name, if you were to think of the music you might expect from a group called Everglow. Each of the girls’ voices sound beautiful but Sihyeon and Mia are the stars of Hush.
You Don’t Know Me could be a title track if Adios didn’t exist. It’s upbeat and fun and sassy. It does feel a little disjointed between verses, but it’s still a very good song. Again, Mia’s vocals are perfection.
Favorite – Fancy
Before Twice’s bop of the century Fancy there was Favorite‘s. Loca was absolutely the right choice for the title track, but what I enjoyed about this mini-album is that the songs are very cohesive.
Fancy, especially, sounds like Loca’s little sister. It’s a little more chilled out, not as powerful, but is very easy to listen to and enjoy. The musical break midway through doesn’t perfectly fit the rest of the song, but it doesn’t detract from it either.
Itzy – It’z Summer
Itzy‘s It’z Icy finally gave us more than just two songs, but It’z Summer was definitely the superior album track.
It compliments Icy perfectly, with a fun summer (duh!) vibe and dance routine too. It’s very catchy with a simple chorus, but it’s the backing music that really gets stuck in your head. There’s also the chanting section that adds some sassy flavour to the song.
Want It from It’z Different is also great, but I think I’ve listened to it too much and have fallen slightly out of love with it, hence why it hasn’t made my list.
Loona – Sattelite
Loona didn’t make it to my favourite K-pop songs of 2019 list because, simply, I didn’t really like Butterfly that much. It’s a nice song, but I think it lacks as a title track.
In my opinion, the other songs on [X X] are much better, with Sattelite my favourite. I listen to it far more than Butterfly and enjoy it more too.
One thing for sure though, is that Loona do album tracks very, very well. [+ +] is also full of really good songs, though I do love the title track Hi High too.
As an album though, [X X] is a great choice to just stick on and listen to all the way through. It includes [+ +] and six new songs, with the physical release of the limited edition having two secret tracks too. Although I haven’t heard those because I only have the standard edition and who actually owns a CD player in 2019?
Mamamoo – 4x4ever
Mamamoo are another group I’ve really got into in 2019, and it’s been a great year for them, releasing two mini-albums as well as Gleam.
But 4x4ever from Reality In Black is the perfect second choice as title track – if Hip wasn’t such a bop, that is.
The song feels so full, especially thanks to the girls’ incredible vocal talents. It’s a real anthem, that, if it had a music video, I’d want to see some protesting and lots of defiant fist pumping happening.
I’m excited to really go down a Mamamoo hole and find even more of their hidden gems.
Rocket Punch – Love Is Over
Rocket Punch really burst onto the scene this year with Bim Bam Bum. And while Bim Bam Bum is cute and fun, Love Is Over shows a complete different side to the rookie group.
It’s moody and more mature sounding and if bubblegum pop isn’t your thing, then it could be your chance to enjoy Rocket Punch.
It’s got tropical vibes to it, making it a great choice for a summer playlist too. I’m not surprised the girls performed it on music shows as well as Bim Bam Bum.
Twice – Get Loud/Trick It
Twice is another group that I’ve explored more this year, not just sticking their title tracks onto my playlists and calling it a day. And I’m so glad, because Feel Special includes some real gems.
While I enjoy Feel Special, Get Loud and Trick It are much more to my taste.
Get Loud is quite simply an exquisite pop song. It sounds full, it’s got a catchy chorus, the bridge builds beautifully and, honestly, I’d have released it as the title track because it would’ve made for an incredible music video, I’m sure.
Similarly, Trick It would’ve been a great choice for a title track and, any other group, probably would’ve been. The chorus is pop perfection and the vocal harmonies are beautiful too, proving Twice really have the talent to warrant their insane popularity.
If, like me, you’re keen to explore more than just title tracks, I’ve compiled each song mentioned here into a handy Spotify playlist. Listen and enjoy!