It turns out 2019 was a great year to be a K-pop fan. From strong debuts from the likes of Itzy and Everglow, to powerful comebacks from Twice, Chung Ha and Mamamoo, 2019 truly was the year to be a multi-stan.
It’s also been the year people have tried to downplay its significance and belittle its fans. Yes, I don’t understand what they’re saying (unless I look at the translated lyrics, which I often do), but it’s undeniably good pop music. Maybe it’s time to accept that K-pop doesn’t “suck”, you’re just a little xenophobic. Sure, pop music isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine, but hating on an entire genre – and to be honest, K-pop is full of so many sub-genres – just because you don’t understand the words or because young, mainly female fans like it, is completely ridiculous.
I’ve tried to narrow down my favourite songs of the year, but found it too difficult so have decided to split this post into two halves, decided alphabetically. The first 12 songs include veterans Apink, my new favourite group Dreamcatcher and my personal favourite debut of the year, Hinapia, among others.
I also decided to keep it to one song per group or soloist, because otherwise it would just get repetitive.
Apink – %% (Eung Eung)
I can’t pretend I’m a huge fan of Apink, considering this is the only song of theirs that I listen to. But from the opening few bars I was hooked, with the dreamy melody and haunting vocals to match.
It’s all about finding what the girls want in a man, with them making their perfect concoction in the accompanying music video. The MV is completely my taste when it comes to K-pop – pastel colours, sequins, and fun choreography.
Eung Eung was definitely part of my soundtrack of the first part of 2019, and while it’s not still one of my go to songs, I remember exactly why I fell in love with it whenever it comes on shuffle.
Blackpink – Kill This Love
I almost didn’t include Kill This Love out of spite for Blackpink‘s label, YG, only giving them one comeback this year. But BP are my OG stan group and the main reason I am obsessed with K-pop. I got a chance to see them live when they performed in London this year and it was easily the best night of 2019, or even my life so far.
Kill This Love is powerful, a strong mix of vocals and rap and the edgy, girl crush, vibes you would expect from Blackpink. The shot of Jisoo in the sun? It should be hung in museums.
Hopefully 2020 will be the year YG treats Blinks to more than one comeback and another solo debut, because 13 songs (and one collab) in three years is not it.
BTS – Boy With Luv ft Halsey
I’m not a huge boyband fan but you can’t deny BTS are rightfully making waves in the Western world. Their collab with Halsey from April gets stuck in your head and the album version is way better than the MV version, FYI.
I actually wanted to include Dionysus on this list instead of Boy With Luv, which is taken from the same album Map of the Soul: Persona, but I decided to stick with title tracks instead.
But BTS are the kings of the comeback, breaking records with everything they do. If you don’t at least know who they are in 2019, and going in 2020, it might be time to re-think what you think pop music is.
BVNDIT – Dumb
The first debut group on the list is BVNDIT, who I previously name-checked in Top 5 K-Pop debuts of 2019 – Jan-Apr (which, obviously, I didn’t keep up with for the rest of 2019, sorry). But BVNDIT were truly unstoppable this year, debuting and having two comebacks all in 2019.
Dumb is taken from their first mini-album BE! and, while I’m still obsessed with Hocus Pocus and Dramatic, Dumb feels and sounds much more powerful and polished.
If they keep up their momentum, and I see no reason why they wouldn’t, then BVNDIT definitely have what it takes to rise to the top of the new generation of K-pop.
Chung Ha – Snapping
I don’t know how she does it, but Chung Ha gets better with each comeback. She released Gotta Go back at the start of 2019 then released a whopper of a mini album, Flourishing, in early summer. Snapping was the title track, though album tracks Chica and Flourishing are just as good and deserve a place on this list.
As soon as I saw the teasers for Snapping, I knew I was going to be obsessed. Blonde Chung Ha is everything. Her dancing is next level and I could listen to her all day.
Whenever Snapping comes on I feel myself getting sassier by the second, and I love it. Chica is just as sassy and empowering, while all-English Flourishing could easily be an Ariana Grande song. If you put it on for a casual Ariana Grande fan, they’d think it was her.
CLC – Devil
Devil is somewhat of a bonus track from CLC this year, after their incredible mini-album No.1, with its title track No. They also released Me, which is a bop too. But Devil has earned a spot on my list for it’s fun sound and music video.
The chorus is as catchy as anything and is what the old folks would describe as a certified toe-tapper.
I’ve grown to love CLC this year, listening to No.1 on repeat when it was released. There are no bad songs on it and even features a song entirely in English, I Need U, which reminds me of the early 2000s.
DIA – Woowa
Woowa is the only DIA song I listen to, but I’ll be sure to keep up with their future releases. From first listen I was obsessed and still am. I’ve watched the dance practise video more times than I could count (and still haven’t mastered the routine, but I will) and find myself doing the hand gestures as I walk to the Tube listening to it.
It’s got a retro vibe, in both the sound and the music video. It’s got a disco feel to it, which makes it stand out on my playlist, because it doesn’t sound like much else I listen to.
But, despite being released back in March, it’s still one of my go-to songs whenever I’m walking to the Tube, in the gym or want a little dance in my room.
Dreamcatcher – Deja Vu
I was a casual Dreamcatcher fan at the start of the year, but I’m now a die hard stan. Silent Night, taken from Raid of Dream, is my favourite song of theirs of the year, but isn’t the title track, so Deja Vu got the spot instead.
Dreamcatcher is a complete anomaly in my K-pop taste, with the group being more rock and EDM than classic pop. But I am completely obsessed and could write an essay on why I’m such a fan.
I saw them live when they came to London and got the chance to meet them and interview them, which is a day I’ll never forget. You bet I got a photo with them and got them to sign one of their albums I have. They also gave my a signed tote bag as a surprise, which was really sweet.
Their sound is strong, haunting and addictive, while their choreography is intense and sharp. Siyeon, my bias, has one of the most beautiful voices in K-pop right now, and I could listen to her key change in Deja Vu on repeat.
The only thing that annoys me about Dreamcatcher is that their older albums are out of print, so impossible to get a hold of without spending a fortune. Something I can’t bring myself to do. Yet.
Everglow – Adios
Everglow are another group on the list who only debuted in 2019, though they’ve already had their first win and cemented themselves as one of my favourite groups.
Adios was their first comeback after debut Bon Bon Chocolat, and I haven’t stopped listening to it since it came out in August. The sound is full and moves away somewhat from the heavy autotune of BBC. The dance routine is just as catchy and simple enough to copy and it’s a damn shame clubs in London don’t play K-pop.
Mia’s facial expressions kill me every music video and performance they do and I’m so happy she really shines in Adios. Aisha is a goddess, too. Selfishly, I wish they’d had more than two releases this year.
I’m hoping they may come to the UK in 2020 though, as they’ve recently started working with MyMusicTaste, who brought Dreamcatcher over.
Favorite – Loca
Loca is easily among my top five songs of the year. I hadn’t come across Favorite until Loca, and I’m not much of a fan of their older music having listened to it since. But Loca – as well as album tracks Fancy and Hush – are perfection.
Like Woowa, Loca is another dance practise I’ve watched countless times. I even downloaded it so I could watch it when my internet was playing up, which it often does.
Like I said, I’m not such a huge fan of their previous tracks, so my only fear is that their next comeback won’t be to my taste either. Either way, Loca is still one of my favourite K-pop songs ever.
GWSN – Red-Sun (021)
GWSN completed their Park In The Night series with Part III this year, which produced the title track Red-Sun. It’s got the same sort of sound as Puzzle Moon and Pinky Star and I’m ridiculously happy about that.
The girls are like little EDM fairies, with their dreamy concepts, tight choreography and floaty visuals. I’m intrigued to see what sort of sound they go for next, as I’m expecting it to be different, given that their first three releases were part of a series.
It makes me happy to see Miya get more parts with each release too, after she was practically just a dancer in Puzzle Moon.
Hinapia – Drip
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Hinapia is kind of a silly name for a K-pop group, but look past that and just accept the talent the five girls exude. I was fully prepared to stan Hinapia as soon as they were announced, as they’re made up of four girls from Pristin and a new debut. Pristin’s Wee Woo was the first K-pop song I became obsessed with and I was truly heartbroken when they disbanded earlier this year. But, if Pristin hadn’t have disbanded, Hinapia would never have debuted.
Drip has a similar vibe as Pristin V’s Get It, which featured three of the five members of Hinapia. Gyeongwon, or Yuha as she was known in Pristin, should have been in Pristin V too, but that’s another story. It’s edgy, moody and I can’t stop listening to it.
I love the choreography and can’t help dance along, which means showers take twice as long if I listen to it in there. I listen to Drip on repeat, which I’m sure irritates my flatmates, but they need educating. And I wish the song hadn’t been a digital release, because I need a Gyeongwon photocard and a Hinapia photobook.
I also need more than just the single song, but given it was their debut, they’re off to a strong start. And if Drip is anything to go by, 2020 will be a big year for Hinapia.