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The Best K-Pop of 2021

Updated: Jan 25, 2022


Hi, there. It's Amalia and guest PRPL Person Tom, here at the end of January 2022 to talk about 2021. Every year, Tom and I assemble a list of our favorite K-pop tracks, mostly for our own edification, but also to force our friends to expand their K-pop horizons. This year, we'd like to share them with you.


It should be noted that we have some major K-pop blind spots. If you're well-versed in K-pop or music writing, you might see some major omissions. That's because we are two people, and we are doing this for fun, and we only started listening to ATEEZ this year, so shut up.


Below, find a curated list of 25 of our favorite 2021 K-pop songs plus an honorable mention, a little bit about why you should listen them, and what artists they remind us of.



25. "Bicycle," CHUNG HA

For fans of Selena Gomez, Rina Sawayama, Nelly Furtado

Subtle, "Bicycle” is not, starting with a veritable moan and featuring the lyrics “I ride it, I ride it, you like it when I ride it,” in the refrain. But why must a song be subtle? Why can it not just be about riding dick with a Latin-inspired beat and 2010s production?

“Bicycle” is fun! It is also sexy and catchy. CHUNG HA sells the lyrics with conviction, squealing at the ends of words like an early Britney Spears. The track sits squarely in the well-trod realm of pop divas spouting breathy hip hop-imbued sex positivity, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, breezing on by with an onomatopoeia-ed hook drenched in vocal ad-libs. And sometimes that’s enough.

- Amalia


24. "Odd Eye," Dreamcatcher

For fans of Halsey, Flyleaf

To quote friend of the band Colin Joyce when he was asked to whom he would compare Dreamcatcher: “Lol these guitar riffs are hilarious, but make it hard to compare it to anything. This one is all over the place enough that comparing it to anything feels like doing it a disservice. And also Halsey.”

And if that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.


- Tom


23. "Wrap Me in Plastic," MOMOLAND feat. CHROMANCE

For fans of Poppy; the A.G. Cook Family of Artists (TM)

Look: I don’t know if the lyrics to this song are supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or not. There’s a version of this track that nails a quasi-Poppy “sexy baby doll femmebot” aesthetic, but I don’t know if it’s this one. The lethargic, clipped vocal delivery suggests there was an attempt made for this aesthetic, but whether or not that creative vision justifies a song that features the refrain “I can call you master, you can call me mine” is up to you.


It’s sitting here, on this list, at 23, because I listened to it so fucking much in 2021. The production and hook are entrancingly catchy, a sort of malignant ear worm that smooths over the wrinkles in my brain. I don’t know whether this song works or not as an artistic statement, but I do know it works as a pop song, because I’m able to listen to it for hours at a time without getting bored, instead lulled into a trance by its nearly hypnotizing beat.


And God, that hook rules.


- Amalia


22. "SCIENTIST," TWICE

For fans of Britney Spears, Spice Girls

“SCIENTIST” is not TWICE’s strongest showing in recent years, which is understandable given how unbelievably prolific the group has been and the quality of their 2019 and 2020 output. But it’s undeniably a track only TWICE could deliver, a party pop song with lyrics like Hilary Duff’s “The Math.” The sound is evocative of 00s candy pop, not out of place in the credits of a really good Disney Channel Original Movie. Much of TWICE’s success has come from their extraordinary charisma, and “SCIENTIST” is no exception, each line delivered with an audible smile and a sense of humor, exemplified by one of the group’s most outgoing members, Dahyun, intoning, “Ooh, you got a crush on me / ooh, you gonna fall for me” in the bridge. It’s a good time of a song delivered by a good time of a group, and few songs made me as giddy in a pretty tumultuous year.


- Amalia


21. "Helium," KEY

For fans of Justin Timberlake when he made good music, The Weeknd

It’s 2021! Idols are allowed to be horny now! (Idols managed by SM, at least, and under very specific circumstances.)


Why SHINee member Key chose to release this breathy R&B-influenced all-English track on his latest EP, we will never know. What we do know is this: it contains what may be the most fuckboy lines in all of K-Pop: “Hey love, Whattup? / With your friends? / So what? / Anyway, What’s up? / Still think / we can [moan]?”

The moan is heavily implied to be a replacement for the word fuck. In case that was unclear.


- Tom


20. "Tear Drop," SF9

For fans of Zedd, Afrojack

After hearing the charming upbeat xylophone-like melody, you might mistakenly believe that this is your typical bland mid-tempo pop serenade. it’s not. It’s this emoji: 😢 personified. The perfect song for a pre-breakup, “Tear Drop” will guide you along as you prepare yourself for the heartbreak.


- friend of the band, Vreni Romang


19. "NAKKA," AKMU (feat. IU)

For fans of Caroline Polachek, Christine and the Queens

"NAKKA," the lead single off of AKMU’s comeback EP Next Episode, certainly feels like a new episode (or even a new season) for the duo. It's a new episode in the sense that main songwriter and producer Lee Chanhyuk has returned from his compulsory military service, but also in the sense that it represents a marked difference in the group’s sound and production. Compared to the group’s earlier folk and jazz-oriented style, the layered synths and driving beat layered with lighter percussion (a xylophone, maybe, or a marimba?) are a really interesting change of pace that feels just as mature as their older sound while at the same time inventive and exciting.


- Tom


18. "Dance On My Own," LOONA

For fans of Tinashe, Ariana Grande

I used to be a LOONA hater. I am sorry to report this, but it’s true. I never felt like their songs stuck to one sound, which might work for some people, but not for me. I didn’t understand their aesthetic. I’ve warmed up to them in recent years, but “Dance On My Own” is the first track I’ve found myself humming under my breath while pacing from room to room, which is how I can tell I like a song, usually.

“Dance On My Own” sounds nothing like the Robyn song of a similar name, but its hook is similarly catchy. The vocals are dreamy and smooth, backed by a 00s drum machine beat, playing in a pop/R&B space. The lyrics suggest a more #girlpower #selfcare sound than “Dance On My Own” delivers, which is for the better. The melody meanders wistfully, imbuing the lyrics with tenderness supported by the group’s vocal performance. It’d be easy to imagine a version of this song packed with riffs and ad libs, something a little more Fifth Harmony. But “Dance On My Own” shows remarkable restraint, even down to the length of the track, a slender two minutes and 37 seconds. The effect is poppy and charming, S Club 7 for the modern age. And it might make me #stanloona.


- Amalia


17. "Butter (Holiday Remix)," BTS

For fans of "Christmastime is Here Again" by Ringo Starr and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

After reaching new conceptual and compositional heights in 2020 over the course of two LPs, BTS slowed down considerably in 2021, leaving ARMY with but a few scant singles to peck at between opuses. While the best of the bunch, “Butter,” bounces along as a genial enough pop-disco record, it’s nothing smash hit “Dynamite” hadn’t covered a year prior with more verve — a troubling instance of water-treading from the trendsetting septet. It’s an unexpected delight then that “Butter [Holiday Remix]” blows its predecessor out of the water, pulsing with a vitality the plodding, treacly “Dynamite [Holiday Remix]” lacked. Whereas the earlier remix sounded overwrought and cynically thoughtless, “Butter” smartly retains the bones of its pared-down funk, complemented by tasteful chimes and driving sleigh bells. These small tweaks are all it’s takes to give the song the zip it needed, while the festive surroundings serve to heighten the sloganeering goofiness of the defiantly non-seasonal lyric (unlike Dynamite, whose strangely topical references to milk and flying just confused matters). Everything about this arrangement is carefully considered and infectious, from the staccato piano to the squealing Clemons-eque sax solo that launches it into the camp Christmas stratosphere. Simply put, it’s a delight that glows with the heat of both the hearth and the dance floor. If BTS keeps committing this heartily to its yearly holiday throwaways (creating another parallel between them and ur-boy band The Beatles), it’ll become an annual tradition well worth anticipating.


- Frankie Vallium

16. "Love So Sweet," Cherry Bullet

For fans of Kim Petras, Carly Rae Jepsen, Aqua

While Cherry Bullet has several EPs and mini-albums under its belt, all of them have lacked the conceptual clarity of Cherry Rush, of which “Love So Sweet” is the lead single and title track. (Which, if you’re reading this unfamiliar with K-pop, mean the same thing. Title tracks actually do not have to be the titular track of the album.) “Love So Sweet” combines the cutesy candy pop of the group’s previous work with Y2K-nostalgic lovecore.

The track itself is a bit slight, and the group’s two best vocalists, Kim Haeyoon and Kim BoRa, have tragically very little time to show off despite their technical skill. But for the track’s aims, which are to be very cute and very catchy, by God, they’ve done it.


- Amalia


15. "Right Through Me," DAY6 (Even of Day)

For fans of Songs About Jane-era Maroon 5, Charlie Puth

Day6 has been a staple of JYP’s lineup for a long time, but I had never really listened to their music. Day6 (Even of Day) is a sub-unit of the band consisting of singer/guitarist Young K (aka Brian), singer/keyboardist Wonpil, and drummer Dowoon. This is a breakup song, written by Young K with music by Young K and Wonpil, as well as collaborator Hong Jiseung. The two vocalists take turns lamenting a lost love (about each other? perhaps. but also probably not). The chorus begins “Just walk away / Your words / Pierce right through me / Spinning out of control,” and the vocal performance fits the understated melodrama perfectly. As one YouTube comment wrote, “these boys sing like they’ve gone through four divorces.” (See this performance). It’s also worth noting that this is the only group on this list that play their own instruments. This isn’t to say that it makes their art more valid, but it does provide another outlet for the emotion of the song to shine through.


- Tom


14. "Zombie," PURPLE KISS

For fans of Bebe Rexha, Dua Lipa

Like another group on this list, IVE, PURPLE KISS is somewhat of a legacy group. As the second girl group under RBW Entertainment, it’s hard not to see them as successors to the power-vocal (and almost certainly soon to be disbanded) group MAMAMOO. As a rookie group, Purple Kiss is certainly on track to meeting the expectations that people might have of them. Not only are they vocally talented (especially main vocalists Go-eun and Swan), but they are one of the few self-producing K-pop groups from the latest generation. Each member has a hand in writing music for the group.


Zombie itself is a simple and well-produced throwback pop song, but it's elevated by the unique vocal timbres and harmonies of each member, its punchy four-on-the-floor beat, and the extremely catchy hook. The raps are also written by main rapper Yuki, who in addition to being pretty young, is also writing full raps in Korean as a Japanese person, which is impressive. Overall, Zombie is a fun and somewhat unique second single for Purple Kiss, and combined with their debut single, Ponzona, shows that they are going to have a wide base of concepts to build on moving forward.


- Tom


13. "You can't sit with us," SUNMI

For fans of Dua Lipa, Aly & AJ

SUNMI has based her career on 80s revival pop, and for good reason, because every time she returns to the well, it’s so goddamn fun. The group under which she debuted, The Wonder Girls, helped establish the subgenre in Korea, and the fact that SUNMI has created such a cohesive body of work without getting boring is a feat. In fact, she’s so good at blending nostalgia and current pop trends that Korean media refers to her music as its own genre called “Sunmi-pop.” If “You can’t sit with us” sounds like Cyndi Lauper for the Mean Girls generation, that’s because it kind of is, earnest and playful in equal measure. SUNMI is notable for writing and composing her own tracks which lends them depth: if they sound slight and sweet, it’s because she’s engineered them that way. “You can’t sit with us” sounds like it was written by a pop machine, and maybe it was. SUNMI’s eerily good at writing songs that feel familiar, and “You can’t sit with us” is the perfect kind of ear-worm that has defined her career.


- Amalia


12. "ELEVEN," IVE

For fans of Ava Max, Zara Larsson

As IZ*ONE disbanded this year, its members were bound to continue their musical careers in some capacity. Like I.O.I members CHUNG HA and SOMI before them, many of the members seem to have gone the solo route, with Eunbi, Yuri, Yena, and Hyewon releasing solo material. But the winner of the season, Wonyoung, and all-around excellent performer Yujin, have transitioned to another group: Starship’s IVE.

Because of their fame, this easily could have been the Yujin and Wonyoung show (as was the case with G(I)-dle's early work). But the song really gives every member of the group a chance to shine. Suffice to say, this is one of the best debut songs since TWICE's Like Ooh Ahh, and IVE has already won several awards on music shows like Inkigayo and Music Bank. Since Starship is responsible for the stellar Gen-2 group Sistar and the criminally underrated WJSN, it will be interesting to see where IVE can go from here as a group that potentially has more staying power.


- Tom


11. "My sea," IU

For fans of Adele, Celine Dion

I am not normally a ballad person, but this song makes me feel many feelings very strongly. IU sings the moving lyrics with such beautiful emotion, building from a capella to piano to full orchestra with a choir at the end. The message of the song also builds in this way, starting from a place of depression and self-doubt and blooming into hope. It also demonstrates that IU is a powerhouse vocalist and performer in her own right.

Ultimately, this song is about trying to return to the level of hope and optimism of childhood in a time when, for IU, it’s difficult to feel those on a personal level. It begins with the lines “there are certain things…that don’t heal over time / Because I couldn’t love myself wholly My heart is poor tonight.” At the major high note (which has been compared to “Defying Gravity,” (though actually the high note here is an F#5, slightly higher than the F5 in “Defying Gravity” but who's keeping track) she sings, “I don’t close my eyes to the darkness that locks me up anymore / I won’t pretend I don’t know myself again.” To me, it’s clear that IU is reflecting on her artistic career, in which she has been one of Korea’s most successful and beloved solo artists since she was a young teenager.


- Tom


10. "On The Ground," ROSÉ

For fans of Tove Lo, Lissie, Alanis Morisette

ROSÉ’s “On The Ground” sounds simultaneously like a throwback and while remaining refreshingly modern, pulling from 90s/00s acoustic pop but with a synth drop in the chorus. Boldly answering the question “What if Michelle Branch had sung Britney Spears’ ‘Lucky,” “On The Ground” is simultaneously easygoing and urgent. “I got too famous and now I’m sad” has never been the most relatable of motifs, but like Britney and others before her, ROSÉ makes it work anyway, sounding delightfully earnest. It’s hard not to listen to this song in conversation with the work of her main group, BLACKPINK, whose music sits squarely in the realm of “I’m so hot, I love to party and be sexy, and boys are mean (but hot).” (To be clear, I love both BLACKPINK and their music.) But the departure from her usual musical fare makes “On The Ground” all the more alluring, letting ROSÉ play with her unique vocal timbre in an almost percussive way.

Surprisingly downtempo for a pop song, “On The Ground” feels like a breath of fresh air for the artist and the K-pop scene in general, hopefully paving the way for more interesting solo projects from idols in the future.


- Amalia


9. "0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)," TOMORROW X TOGETHER

For fans of Youngblood-era 5 Seconds of Summer, FOUR-era One Direction

This song is all about the melodrama of it all. And I mean that both in the Stella Dallas sense and in the Lorde’s-second-album sense. The amount of emotion these boys manage to evoke in this pop-punk-esque power song is incredible (there was a small pop-punk renaissance in k-pop this year, alongside Xdinary Heroes’ “Happy Death Day” as well as Dreamcatccher’s continued existence). Let’s be real. This song has nine co-writers, including TXT’s label-mate, BTS’s RM. It’s also called "0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)", off of an album called The Chaos Chapter: Freeze. This is a piece of pop maximalism. So it’s a minor miracle that they are able to make the listener feel as much emotion from this song as they do. I think this speaks to the talent of the singers in the group, to be honest, lying somewhere between camp and catharsis.


- Tom


8. "SO WHAT," STAYC

For fans of Anne-Marie, Lover-era Taylor Swift

STAYC are back again, and they had some great singles this year coming off of the success of one of 2020’s best songs, "SO BAD." But Amalia and I chose this B-side for our list. This song is very relatable because it’s basically like, “I’m tired of people asking me how I am, I’m exhausted all the time, I don’t think I’m cool, I’m just gonna stop all thoughts from coming out of my brain.” Yet at the same time, this nonchalant attitude provides a positive counter messaging, especially for young girls. The second verse says “Don't worry if you've gained a little weight. Weight is just a number.” This is a pretty powerful idea in an industry that is so often driven by looks at the expense of mental health.

The chorus to this song also has what might be the singular best advice I’ve gotten about my PhD:

Thinking too much makеs my body heavy In that case, empty your thoughts, so what? Think simply, so what? Empty it еnough till you wonder if it's too much You know, sometimes you can take it slow Say it like this, so what?

- Tom


7. "Drunk-Dazed," ENHYPEN

For fans of David Guetta, Calvin Harris

K-pop, more or less, is an industry bolstered on whipping out certified club bangers. But sometimes a track is so much of a banger that it transcends the formula. “Drunk-Dazed” is one such track, nominally a pop song but with a thudding bass and frenzied tempo that push it beyond genre constraints. I did not intend to listen to this song; I had written it off due to cringing at the group’s unfortunate name. (It’s en-hype-n, not en-hyphen, as if it’s the noun form of hyping someone up, e.g. “Play this track if you want to enhypen a room.”)

But the algorithm had other plans for me, and I’m glad it did, because there is a time and place for tracks that make me want to do club drugs and re-watch Skins (UK), and that time and place is 2021. I have never watched Euphoria, but the raucous, tongue-in-cheek “Drunk-Dazed” makes me think maybe I should. As 2010s club music becomes vintage and Gen Z bemoans not being able to go to a club and hear “classic Nicki Minaj,” “Drunk-Dazed” feels simultaneously like a throwback and a look to the future, and someday when we are not confined to our houses, I plan to get extremely drunk, put on glitter, and force a DJ to play this at Beauty Bar.


- Amalia


6. "Psycho," JEON SOYEON

For fans of Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion

When Jeon Soyeon competed on MNet’s reality competition Produce 101 in 2016, articles were written about how ugly she was. Which is objectively absurd, since she is extremely beautiful, even though that’s beside the point. I mention this to explain a general attitude about women in K-pop, especially those that don’t conform to specific physical and social norms. Soyeon’s technical skill as a rapper was apparent even then, but there was nowhere to put her, exactly, within the industry as it stood. Her raps were too fervent to mesh with a cute concept; her personality was too bubbly to be a girl crush (still one of the only concepts available for outstanding female rappers in K-pop.) And of course, she’s “ugly,” which complicated things. She went on to debut in G(I)-dle, where she was given uncharacteristic artistic freedom, carving out the group’s unique aesthetic sensibility and writing many of their tracks.

“Psycho” is not the lead single off her debut solo EP, Windy, but it’s the one that lets her show off the most, playing with some of the ideas she’s explored under the G(I)-dle mantle but without the baroque sensibility that’s become characteristic of the group. Instead, “Psycho” relies on Soyeon’s charisma to sell lines like “Did you get what kind of bitch I am?” The tongue-twisting verse that follows establishes her as one of the best female rappers currently working, period, let alone in K-pop, but it’s the earned swagger so often denied to K-pop artists that makes “Psycho” special.


- Amalia


5. "Paint Me Naked," TEN

For fans of Troye Sivan, Years & Years

As his fans will tell you, there’s simply no one in K-pop doing it like TEN. Nominally a member of SM’s gargantuan NCT conglomerate of groups, Ten has rarely had opportunity to thrive in his own aesthetic, confined to SM’s R&B-noise-hip hop sound. Paint Me Naked is Ten’s first solo track since 2018, and it feels like a breath of fresh air from the company and in K-pop in general. Bright and cathartic without being toothless, tongue-in-cheek and sexy, it’s a shame the writers shoved a “looking at you, girl” in there, because the rest of it is...pretty queer.

There could be a lighter touch with the production on Ten’s stellar vocals, sure, but the track manages to be sonically complex and simple at the same time, just like all the best pop songs.

(The video is almost required viewing and, despite the shoe-horned heterosexuality of the lyrics, Ten’s wearing a rhinestone mesh shirt in a helicopter full of men. So it really evens out.)


- Amalia


4. "After School," Weeekly

For fans of Kero Kero Bonito, Spice Girls

Another fourth generation girl group! Listen, I’m not here to argue that this is the best song ever written. But it’s so cute and catchy! It’s just a song about being friends with your friends! And they ride a skateboard in the live choreography!

There’s something really nice about girls being able to sing about their own friendships without having to appeal to a fabricated romance in a song that they probably wouldn’t relate to. Yes, it is the sweetest bubblegum you may have ever experienced, but at its core, it represents a new generation of Korean girl groups navigating their sound and artistry.


- Tom


3. "Thunderous," Stray Kids

For fans of Vince Staples, David Guetta

Sometimes, when you let a group of 20-somethings write and produce their own music, they decide they want their entire brand to be rowdy, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes painfully earnest EDM. Stray Kids follow in the wake carved out by BTS and others, marking the rare breed of K-pop group permitted to be self-produced. But whereas BTS have held lofty musical ambitions, Stray Kids have opted to be...loud. Which I say in the best possible way. Helmed by the group’s core rapping/producing trio, 3RACHA, which consists of members Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han, Stray Kids’ music has always been about making a mark against all odds by sonic brute force. The aesthetic has garnered criticism, with detractors calling their sound “noise music.” So “Thunderous,” off their second full-length, NO EASY (no easy....noisy....do you get it), embodies the typical Stray Kids ethos: responding to criticism by doubling down, layering the track with so much sound it’s almost, well, thunderous.


“Thunderous” is ushered in by Changbin’s characteristic gritty rap, with the first two lines being "So they call me ‘the one shouting’ / It’s Changbin, I choose my own path” and going from there. The chorus hinges on the repetition of the sound “ptui,” an onomatopoeia describing the sound made while spitting, and Australian-raised Bang Chan and Felix are responsible for spitting some of the track’s only English lyrics, which is the line, “Man, I’m not sorry I’m dirty.”


Throwing in horns and ceremonial drums to round it all out, Thunderous is a joyful, swaggering declaration of what Stray Kids often chant in performances: “Stray Kids, world domination.” And since NO EASY sold more units than any other fourth-generation K-pop group, it’s hard to disagree.


- Amalia


2. "In the morning," ITZY

For fans of R3HAB, Cardi B, shygirl

It’s hard to think of a fourth-generation girl group that has had as much success and influence as ITZY. But to be fair to ITZY’s parent company, JYP, they are very good at making successful and innovative girl groups (see: TWICE, Wonder Girls, Miss A).

It’s virtually impossible to compare this song to anything else. The first time you hear it, you will hate it. (Amalia's note: I loved it from the start, because I have taste.) But then the pre-chorus will grab you, and then you’ll find little rap lines that you like, and sooner or later you’ll be championing the entire song and explaining “no, it’s actually about mafia the card game.” The live performances also really sell this song, especially this one from the MNET Asian Music Awards featuring Squid Game Actor Heo Sung-tae.


- Tom


1. "Lazy," Woosung feat. Reddy

For fans of Conan Gray, Shawn Mendes

Tom: Listen, 2021 may be the year that K-pop fucked, but only one artist has had the courage to actually end his song with the line “fuck you, fuck you.” Ostensibly, Lazy is a song about, well, being lazy, something that Woosung reiterates in pretty much every interview he has given on the subject. But more than just that, it’s a song about a growing frustration with the monotony of adult life. You don’t have to speak Korean to understand the emotional thrust of this song (not least because Woosung is American so many of the lyrics are in English). The music certainly helps, where the song starts with a minimalistic bass line that gets progressively built on with additional rhythm and the song’s trademark whistling synths, until it peaks at the bridge/post-chorus. But the real star is the vocals. I think Woosung has one of the most interesting voices in K-pop today. He uses it to great effect in this song, mixing his trademark vibrato with an airy head voice. I literally get chills every time I listen to him scream at the end of the bridge.

Amalia: Thankfully, Tom covered most of the reasons this song is good, so I can just add: This! Song! Fucks! It’s got malaise without dragging on, it’s got an interesting sound without being up its own ass, it utilizes dreamy indie-pop production without covering up Woosung’s emotive vocals. It is perfect for warm days and cold days, for driving and staying home, getting chores done and also doing nothing. I think Woosung should probably get a Zoloft prescription, but I might be biased since I am on Zoloft. If you listen to one K-pop song from 2021, it should be this one, because you’ll always be in the mood for it.


Honorable Mention: "Sticker," NCT 127

The first time I heard this song, I fucking hated it. Why is their simultaneously no melody, and also a lot of different melodies? Why is there a nearly ear-piercing whistle in the background? Why does it sound like the producers just pressed every button they could on a soundboard? Why does it sound like the vocalists were told to sing three different songs that just got put together in post-production?


Then I played it for my fiancé, who told me very seriously that it’s a great song with “bonkers” production. And the more I listen to it, trying to understand what’s happening sonically, the more I like it. I still don’t understand it. I don’t think it’s meant to be understood. It’s an objectively avant-garde offering, nearly operatic in scope, industrial and smooth, like if Death Grips produced a Boyz II Men song.


To borrow from NME, who named it their 24th best k-pop song of 2021: “NCT 127’s music seems to happen in a liminal space, like a dream that is a carbon copy of reality – yet you can’t figure out why the mirror is blurred or your phone keyboard is blank. Experimentalism is imbued in their essence, a sonic gift that is both brilliant and boundary-pushing.”

Is this a good song? I still don’t know. But I really want it to be.


***

Special thanks to Colin Joyce and Prescott Dunn for help with artist comparisons, and special thanks to Vreni Romang for writing about SF9's "Tear Drop."


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