Somehow we have reached the second half of 2021 and I am doing relatively fine. As someone who listens to every girl group drop since joining the K-pop religion last year, I’ve built my own sense of taste when it comes to this type of music. Here are my favorites of the year so far. This list will include songs from solo releases as well.
Before we go to my top 5, I have to mention all the other songs that didn’t quite make it, but are incredible songs on their own. They might even be on the top of your own list.
Rose’s On The Ground is definitely worth mentioning. A lot of people have been waiting for her solo and 2021 was made better when it finally arrived. She owned that song with her unique vocals and was everything I didn’t know I needed.
We also have IU’s Coin which is best enjoyed with the music video because IU is queen.
My first ever bias in K-pop also released her first solo album. I’m a bit disappointed that it’s not an original album, but I’ll gladly listen to any song she sings. Check out Joy’s Hello.
One of the most anticipated moments of every year is the time when all the summer songs drop. 2021 had an amazing share of refreshing songs from veteran girl groups. Twice’s Alcohol-Free, Oh My Girl’s Dun Dun Dance, fromis_9’s We Go, and Brave Girls’ Chi Mat Ba Ram are here to make your summer playlist more colorful.
Another entry worth a listen is Rocket Punch’s Ring Ring which is riding the tail-end of last year’s retro wave.
Two highly recommended songs for me are Aespa’s Forever and WJSN: The Black’s Easy, which are entirely different from each other but are both a mainstay on my Spotify playlist. Of course, I have to promote woo!ah!’s Pandora, which isn’t their title track, but is the superior song in my opinion.
And finally, how can I forget ITZY’s Mafia In The Morning which, while it is my least favorite Itzy title track, still managed to burrow deep into my brain.
Those are the songs that caught my attention for 2021. But now it’s time for the podiumers. These are the songs that entered my brain on the first listen and never went away. I can happily play these on loop and never get bored. In fact, these are the songs I listen to when I bike to work every day.
5. “Giant” by Yuqi of (G)I-DLE
Yuqi released two solo singles and both are terrific. It’s a different sound from what she makes with her group and I think this is really where she shines. I’ve always loved her deep register and being able to hear it for the entire song is definitely something I want more of. The moment this dropped, it never left my playlist.
For some reason, the song reminds me of something Lady Gaga would sing. It’s just so good and being able to understand the lyrics because it’s in English is the icing on the cake. Shoutout to her other single Bonnie & Clyde which is definitely a must-listen after Giant.
It’s such a shame that these are just digital singles because I would definitely fork over some cash for a physical copy of this release. I just hope that Yuqi will continue to make more of this sound because it is absolutely perfect for her.
4. “Unnatural” by WJSN
WJSN is the newest girl group on my radar because it takes me a long time to get into groups with a lot of members. They’ve already been shaved down to 10 members from 13, but I still had a hard time getting to know them at the start. Fortunately the members are all memorable and they are extremely fun to watch in variety shows.
I’ve listened to their songs before but none of their previous releases hit me as hard as this one did. How can I describe this song other than it is pure hype. I never expected this from them as they usually focus on dream-like concepts. Now they’re literally making me beg for them to step on me.
This song is just so good I’m sure it will pull even the non-fans in. The bridge part up until the final crescendo is just *chef’s kiss*
3. “ASAP” by StayC
StayC is my second favorite girl group right now and they’re absolutely killing it with 100% of their released songs being absolute bangers. They are currently 5 for 5 for songs I will listen to on my own volition. Their latest title track is wildly different from their debut track, but it is still as catchy.
Sometimes I will just randomly hum out the silent chorus and do the movements in my head. This song was obviously made with the TikTok generation in mind and that is why it is so addictive. But still, it has to be said that this is a song produced by Black Eyed Pilseung, so being a hit is already a given.
All the girls have their moments but I particularly like J’s parts, Sieun’s chorus, and Isa’s everything. It’s hard to believe that they are rookies because of how good they perform.
2. “First” by Everglow
Everglow was already in my radar with last year’s La Di Da, but somehow they just keep getting better and better. Just like the #4 entry, this song is pure hype. It will take a single listen for you to understand what I mean. This song goes 100% from the start and reaches plus ultra in the end.
Cliché as it might sound, but this song sounds like something a boy group would do. It particularly reminds me of SKZ’s God’s Menu in terms of the hype it generates for me. But regardless, Everglow nails this song. Massive props to my queen Onda for being the MVP in the music video.
This is a song that almost seems too short because I don’t want it to end. The instrumental lull right before the final line is orgasmic. I can’t wait to hear what else these girls have to offer. And yes, all the B-sides in this album drop are also good. Just the usual for Everglow.
1. “After School” by Weeekly
And the top spot goes to, unsurprisingly, my favorite girl group. Weeekly made a lot of waves with this song. It’s one of the most streamed K-pop girl group songs on Melon and Spotify right now and it deserves the accomplishment. This song is just too good. Even their sunbaenims can’t get it out of their heads.
When I first listened to it, the start was nothing out of the ordinary for Weeekly’s caliber. But when the deadly chorus dropped, that was it. This song has been living rent free inside my head and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’m so happy that Weeekly is getting a lot more recognition from this song because the girls really deserve to be standing on top of 4th Generation K-pop.
I know it’s just the first half, but this is already my SOTY for 2021. I don’t know if July-December will give us an even better song than this, but my ears are welcoming every release from every girl group.
But for now, urin seukeiteubodeu wiro!
Got any feedback? Want to share your personal favorites or recommend a song to me? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! Stay safe!