2016 will be remembered for many things, many of them troubling and contentious. But thanks to the young men and women who work tirelessly in the dance studios, song camps, and recording studios of Seoul, we had many great songs to brighten our year.
In many ways, 2016 might be the year that KPop began to grow up, embracing new concepts and musical ideas while solidifying its base in world markets despite the many forces that work against it, both internally and externally. We hope you'll enjoy this look back at the year 2016 in Korean Pop music. There were many memorable songs in this pivotal year in the genre, and the list given here represent the songs that popped our playlists the most. A couple of notes about the list: we avoided more than one song by a single artist which eliminated a number of great songs by artists like BTS, Luna, SHINee, Ladies' Code, Red Velvet, Akdong Musician and others; we included album cuts if they were particularly unforgettable; we expanded the list to include artists on independent labels. Hope you enjoy.
#35: "Years" - Alesso and Chen (of Exo)
2016 was the year that EDM made inroads into the world of KPop, and Swedish EDM DJ Alesso's remake of his hit song "Years" with Exo vocalist Chen was a perfect example.
#34: "Cool Hot Sweet Love" - Red Velvet
In 2016, Red Velvet release two EP's, the underrated The Velvet and the smash hit Russian Roulette. Included on the former was this priceless little sleek number that shows off their remarkable vocal and dance skill and cohesion. Here's the short version, performed on SBS Inkigayo:
#33: "에라 모르겠다(FXXK IT)" - Bigbang
Released along with "Last Dance" to sell the finally compiled version of their blockbuster Made album, this mid-tempo romp is highlighted by one of T.O.P's best performances ever.
#32: "Very, Very, Very" - I.O.I
JYP's hypnotic, video game sound production of this short-lived but already legendary group of rookies from various companies provided a priceless chunk of girl-group aegyo ear candy.
#31: "How People Move" - Akdong Musician
In 2016, AKMU was back at it, releasing their much anticipated follow up to "Play." The result, the EP Spring, was one of the best albums of 2016. "How People Move" was a perfect display of their spunk, energy and Lee Chanhyuk's inventive songwriting. Here's the dance practice version.
#30: "Rain" - Taeyeon
2016 may be remembered, among other things, as the year Girls' Generation's diminutive lead singer became the face of KPop. SM Entertain released a flurry of Kim Taeyeon's solo work in a wide range of genre's, each showcasing her unmistakable voice. One of the most overlooked of the songs was the soulful "Rain." It seemed each time she performed the song, it got better. Her version at KBS's Gayo Daejun concert was the best yet.
(Note: KBS mistakenly does not permit embedding from YouTube for reasons that are an unfortunate mystery to us. If you'd like to see this one and can't above, click here.)