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Top 5 Best K-pop Songs of 2021

It’s time to put the catchiest K-pop singles together on a playlist and just GO WILD into the New Year!

Which K-pop songs were impossible to get unstuck from your head in 2021?  I think I can make a pretty good guess here, and I’m about to get them stuck in your heads all over again!  Hopefully 2022 has you singing some new catchy K-pop tunes, but for now let’s go full force into that “repeat-one” button and just live back in all that 2021 goodness.  Compiling from popular streaming site rankings, (and just personal opinion) here’s the top 5 best K-pop songs of the year.

#5: aespa – “Next Level”

Although aespa’s Savage album made it onto my Top 5 Best K-pop Albums of 2021 list, “Next Level” was definitely on another level of ear-wormage entirely.  This song goes into the category of SM Entertainment’s songs that sound like a mashup of two or three different tracks, but I think that just means the chances of getting the song stuck in your head are 2 or 3 times higher, and the asepa members pulled it off flawlessly.

#4: ITZY – “In the morning”

Not only was this song one of the most played in 2021, but it was such a moment for ITZY’s fanbase because this was the first time we got to see a darker and stronger concept from the members.  The cute, fun-loving and full of personality ITZY members turned into bad-ass mafia members for this concept and we were alllllll here for it!  The lyrics are a good mix of heart-stealing puns and onomatopoeia that the song gets stuck in your head but you’re not mad about it.  I’ll definitely be singing this for a loooong while.

#3: TWICE – “Alcohol-Free”

Even though it’s at #3 on the whole 2021 year list, I might call this the definitive Korean song of the summer.  The fresh and carefree vibes of this song make it the perfect tune to hum to put you in a good mood.  The lyrics “I’m drunk in you,” are adorable, and watching the dance is also captivating.  TWICE is coming to LA as part of their North American tour,  and you can bet for sure that this song will have the entire crowd dancing with an alcohol-free drink in their hand.

#2: LISA – “MONEY”

“MONEY,” just like the single before it “LALISA,” has all of LISA’s fans envious of her confidence and luxurious style.  These two highly anticipated singles from the BLACKPINK member’s solo debut definitely lived up to the expectations, as they continue to top the charts and gain hundreds of millions of views on YouTube.  The English language song “MONEY” has even been on Apple Music’s Top Hits playlist ever since the song’s release, making it LISA’s first ever hit solo song in the US.   I’m picking “MONEY” over “LALISA” for this list just for that ever so sliiiiight reason, but know that the difference is not much!  Both of LISA’s singles were absolutely addictive and “LALISA” topped the Spotify Top Korean Music of 2021 playlist!

#1: BTS – “Butter” and “Permission to Dance”

Yup!  You heard me.  I’m putting two songs in rank one.  What BTS did with both “Butter” and “Permission to Dance” this year was absolutely history making!  “Butter” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks straight (the longest stretch in 2021, second only to Olivia Rodrigo) and then they replaced themselves at #1 with “Permission to Dance,” (the first time anyone has done that since Drake in 2018).  After that, they replaced themselves again, putting “Butter” back at the top! “Butter” spent 10 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 in 2021, making it #1 on my list of best K-pop songs.  The song is obviously catchy, engineered to be a hit and the members pulled off the complexities of the vocals perfectly. Of course, the song’s success is largely due to BTS and ARMY’s support.

Now that you have 6 different songs stuck in your head at once, what do you think about this list?  Would you change the order or even add different songs entirely?  Let me know who you think I’m missing, and which songs are on your 2021 top-played lists! 




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