New music hits the K-pop world every day. The genre’s wide range of styles is perfect for sprucing up any playlist. We’re keeping a running tab of the best new songs released over the course of the year. Bookmark this page and revisit monthly. There will be new tunes awaiting your arrival. Here’s the best of the best—from this month, anyway.
The best new K-pop of 2017
Red Velvet — “Red Flavor”
Red Velvet is a surging K-pop girl group, thanks to its arsenal of earworms and real estate atop the Billboard World Albums chart. This is a fun, lively summery rush of sugar to the head.
Exo — “Ko Ko Bop”
Adding to its ever-changing styles, Exo released a reggae-inspired dance track this summer to lead the group’s fourth full album. According to the group, the unusual title is meant to encompass dancing, having fun, and letting loose. Like a smooth roller coaster ride, the verses of “Ko Ko Bop” maintain a slow and rhythmic groove, then spiral into a noisy drop.
Jay Park — “Yacht (feat. Sik-K)”
In another collaboration with Seoul-based 1Million Dance Studios, Jay Park shows off some smooth moves to his chill new track “Yacht.” The song sustains a relaxing beat all the way through, painting images of lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun with its lyrics.
A few days after releasing “Yacht,” Jay Park announced via Instagram that he’d signed with Jay-Z’s management company ROC Nation, making him the first Asian-American to join the renowned firm.
AKMU — “Dinosaur”
Korea’s brother-sister duo AKMU, or Akdong Musician, returned with the wondrous “Dinosaur,” telling the story of lonely, troubled siblings who create an imaginary world to escape their struggles. While AKMU’s songs are normally lively and fun, “Dinosaur” takes on sad undertones. The song is EDM in sonic scope, but clean and stripped down: Where the pair could easily use synths, Suhyun instead provides high-pitched trills with her light voice.
JJ Project — “Tomorrow, Today”
Before they joined Got7, JB and Jinyoung were a duo, better known as JJ Project. “Tomorrow, Today” marks the pair’s first song since their pre-Got7 days five years ago, and talks about the stresses and fears of making decisions for the future. Both Jinyoung and JB co-wrote the lyrics with JYP, producer and CEO of JYP Entertainment. Between their candid lyrics and clips of road-tripping through beautiful countryside, “Tomorrow, Today” is all too relatable for young K-pop fans trying to find their place in the world.
Heize — “Don’t Know You”
Heize’s new song “Don’t Know You” sounds upbeat but unravels the frustrations of being in a finicky relationship. It flaunts a jazzy, modern bossa nova sound with a mix of Heize’s sweet vocals and expert rapping. The release comes before the soloist’s upcoming U.S. appearance at KCON LA in August.
NCT 127 — “Cherry Bomb”
SM Entertainment’s newest group continues its reputation of strong titles with “Cherry Bomb,” but unlike its previous songs “Firetruck” and “Limitless,” this offers a quirkier, psychotic beat. It’s got eerie flourishes atop muffled electric guitar pulses, and takes on a retro aesthetic with ‘80s-inspired cartoon animations. The group returns to Los Angeles in August.
Crush — “Outside”
In the spirit of summer, Crush brings a fun-filled, partying video with “Outside.” The comedic music video transforms Crush’s white, fluffy dog into human form. The party puppy enjoys a day on the beach with women in bikinis galore. The song’s not bad, either.
BoA — “Camo“
K-pop veteran and dancing queen BoA’s “Camo” is sexy. The video flaunts BoA’s killer dance moves amid seductive reds and blacks. The music takes on a darker and more adult tone that recalls mid-2000s Britney Spears. After 17 years on the K-pop scene, the release of “Camo” proves BoA’s still got it.
G-Dragon — “Untitled, 2014“
Unlike G-Dragon’s usual lively hip-hop songs, the Big Bang group leader revealed his softer side with “Untitled, 2014.” The song features the rapper’s gentle vocals and runs on piano and falsetto vocals. The artist dropped the track right before his solo world tour, Act III, M.O.T.T.E (or, Moment of Truth, the End,) which included seven U.S. shows in July.
VIXX — “Shangri-La”
In Vixx’s latest release, the six members marry intense synth beats to traditional strings with a colorful, eye-popping backdrop. Their sweet vocals deliver poetic lyrics, painting an elegant picture of love. The song portrays the feeling as intoxicating, using beautiful scenes from nature as a metaphor for the inescapable emotion.
Choreographers Keone Madrid and Mari Madrid—who choreographed Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” music video—created the dance for “Shangri-La,” a refined routine using folding hand fans. Vixx later released a dance practice video to showcase the choreography clearly.
Sistar — “Lonely”
The girls of Sistar—also known as the queens of summer in the K-pop world—released their annual summer track. However the melancholy, acoustic sound of “Lonely” is a twist from their usual upbeat, sexy bops, such as last year’s “I Like That” or “Touch My Body.” With “Lonely,” the four-member group announced their disbandment after seven years to pursue individual activities. The fun and happy scenes of the music video create a heartbreaking juxtaposition against the painful lyrics, injecting a feeling of sadness and nostalgia for fans.
Seventeen — “Don’t Wanna Cry”
The young, 13-member boyband is known for having a heavy hand in the production of its songs. Seventeen’s normal theme of playful and colorful romance gets replaced by mature, EDM beats and smooth vocals. Hints of Western pop sounds and sophisticated, synchronized choreography convey the regretful feeling of losing a lover.
Psy — “I Luv It”
Back with his unapologetic audaciousness, Psy brings the summer fire with “I Luv It.” Greeting fans with his sun-shining face, Psy tells it like it is from the start. (Spoiler alert: He’s not here to take any prisoners.) In his signature lively style, Psy’s lyrics call for dancing, partying, and having fun, despite “just hitting 40.” In tandem with “I Luv It,” Psy also released “New Face,” a bold and brassy track with a catchy saxophone. The releases are the singles to his eighth full-length studio album, 4X2=8, which features many of his YG labelmates like Taeyang of Big Bang and Bobby and B.I of iKon.
Teen Top — “Love Is”
Teen Top returns to its roots with “Love Is,” going guns blazing with high-tempo synth. Intense stripes and bright, harsh colors create a piercing aesthetic for a song about a cold and callous lover. “Love Is” is the title track for Teen Top’s second full-length album High Five, which features 11 dynamic tracks.
Despite losing member L.Joe earlier in the month, the now five-member Teen Top maintains its identity with powerful choreography and high-pitched vocals. “Love Is” shines more of the spotlight on members Ricky and Changjo.
Winner — “Really Really”
After over a year, boyband Winner released double title tracks, “Really Really” and “Fool” for its new single album Fate Number For.
For “Really Really,” the four boys come out looking fresh in a black and white music video, wearing suits and ties among an energetic flash mob. Winner’s home company YG Entertainment recruited American director Dave Meyers to direct the video. The director, who usually works stateside for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Britney Spears, and Jay Z among many others, reportedly hesitated to work with the K-pop group, according to allkpop. Meyers ultimately agreed because he was impressed by Winner’s sound and talent, as each of the members contributed to the music themselves.
Girl’s Day — “I’ll Be Yours”
In an exciting, upbeat track, the four girls of Girl’s Day tease with “I’ll Be Yours.” Each of the girls insert themselves into male-dominated environments, such as barber shops and boxing rings, signaling that it only takes some honesty and manliness to win them over. The music of the track rings with quick snares and beats, tied together with hints of a vaudeville-inspired piano. Girl’s Day shows off strong and loud vocals to match the vigor of the brass accompaniment.
K.A.R.D — “Rumor”
Korea’s up-and-coming next big thing, the co-ed K.A.R.D, released its third and final installment of its pre-debut series here. The single “Rumor” follows the group’s reggaeton-inspired, tropical house sound, which pairs well with the members’ deeper, smokier vocals. Although K.A.R.D hasn’t officially debuted yet, the group is quickly gaining popularity. For volume No. 3, they teamed up with LG to promote the company’s new flagship phone, the G6, by formatting the music video for a G6 screen.
Monsta X — “Beautiful”
Smooth falsetto in the chorus contrasts the rough raps, but maintains the same kind of power here. All seven guys are dressed to the nines, giving “Beautiful” a classy and lavish style with slick choreography—much less rugged compared to their previous two tracks, “All In” and “Fighter.”
For Monsta X’s first full-length album, The Clan: Part 2.5, strong beats clearly define each of the 10 tracks. Each song contributes to a solid album rooted in hip-hop culture, but distinct and strongly curated.
Highlight — “Plz Don’t Be Sad”
If you need some cheering up, Highlight has some upbeat pop for you. The title track starkly contrasts Highlight’s “It’s Still Beautiful” with vibrant colors, a brisk tempo, and party dance moves. The song opens with catchy wails that repeatedly appear post-chorus, and bouncy synths to go along with it.
“Plz Don’t Be Sad” spearheads the six tracks on Highlight’s first EP, Can You Feel It? No other song on the mini-album can rival the energy of the title track, but each song shows off another side of Highlight, such as “Start,” which has a slower, jazzy sound.
CNBLUE — “Between Us”
CNBLUE’s “Between Us” comes as a fresh and revitalizing song, flaunting an electronic, synth rock sound. Although a step away from the band’s usual path of straight rock, CNBLUE pulls off this song effortlessly. Energetic drums drive the quick tempo, creating a song worth jumping around to. The lyrics express the frustrations of confusion when trying to sort out feelings of how to progress a relationship once you realize you’re in love. “Between Us” is CNBLUE’s first release in nearly a year.
IU — “Through the Night”
IU, known as “Korea’s Little Sister,” released a soothing track called “Through the Night” where she sings the longing and reminiscent words of a lover. No one appears in the video except IU herself, enhancing the feelings of yearning and loneliness in the song. Her choice of acoustics complements the slight grittiness of her high voice, creating a warm and relaxing feeling. The setting builds a nostalgic sense with things like IU’s handheld mic stand and blossom hairpin. Watching her longing desires and restlessness, it seems like she channeled some of Haesoo, the lead character IU recently played in the 2016 drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo.
BgA — “Who’s It Gonna Be”
Back with another hit, the boys of BgA—or Boys Generally Asian—take the meaning of “bias” to a whole new level by literally asking, “Who’s It Gonna Be?” Following last year’s debut track, “Dong Saya Dae,” “Who’s It Gonna Be” parodies the K-pop world and what it takes to be a K-pop group.
The song itself is undoubtedly catchy, incorporating the key elements of an addictive pop song. As a group of famous and talented YouTubers, each member has a moment of flair to show off their individual skill, like JunCurryAhn’s expert violin playing or David Choi’s soulful voice and keys. Thanks to BgA fans—known as K-poopers—“Who’s It Gonna Be” reached No. 1 on iTunes and made the YouTube trending list.
Got7 — “Never Ever”
To complete the Flight Log album trilogy, Got7 released the eight-track EP Flight Log: Arrival following last year’s Departure and Turbulence. Key single “Never Ever” matches Got7’s previous release “Hard Carry” in terms of its forcefulness, but goes about it with a bold new sound. The song opens with a slow beat, as powerful rap parts take over, picking up the tempo with a catchy hook.
Live — “Laputa” (feat. Crush)
Live, of the Dream Perfect Regime music company, returned with another noteworthy collaboration, releasing a laid back and dream-like rap track with fellow emcee Crush. The song’s vocals are dazed and rhythmic. When the bridge hits, however, Crush unleashes swift lines that add some energy to the song’s chill vibe. Live also released another collaboration, “Right Here Right Now,” with rappers Loco and Jay Park. The music video is painted entirely black and white, unlike the colorful “Laputa.” Here strident synths permeate the otherwise perfectly catchy and measured beats.
Highlight — “It’s Still Beautiful”
Highlight released an exposed and emotional ballad this week, contrary to its usual powerhouse harmonies. The simple piano track carries a raw sadness throughout its dreary melody. Although the video has cold scenes of a broken relationship, the gentleness of the band’s vocals is downright comforting.
While “It’s Still Beautiful” may be the first track released under the name Highlight, it isn’t the first for the five members who make up the group. Highlight, formerly known as Beast, has been active since 2009. With the ending of its contract with Cube Entertainment in 2016, Highlight moved on to Around US Entertainment and adopted its new moniker.
Gfriend — “Fingertip”
Two years since debuting, “Fingertip” comes as Gfriend’s sixth single and employs a different style than its usual adorable, anime-inspired aesthetic and sound. Loud and impressive vocals show off Gfriend’s talents, but maintain their signature cuteness in a way that doesn’t overshadow the girls’ abilities. A funky bass opens the song, joined by retro synths. The girls also released a choreography version of the music video, which shows off the synchronized dances and dynamic formations they’re so well known for.
Day6 — “How Can I Say”
This month’s single release from Day6 incorporates the sounds of Japanese rock, keeping a head-banging, quick tempo. An intense electricity charges the song, which unabashedly tells the story of a detached lover who’s fallen out of love with his oblivious companion. The band recently performed a live, acoustic version of “How Can I Say” on Korean radio show “Kiss the Radio,” along with a shortened rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”
BTOB — “Movie”
Unlike BTOB’s November release “Pray (I’ll Be Your Man)”—an intense song with a melodramatic storyline—the six-member group returns with the lively “Movie.” With a comedic mood, each member parodies notable film tropes and characters, such as the Joker and a genderbent Kill Bill. “Movie” appears on BTOB’s tenth EP, Feel’eM.
B.A.P — “Wake Me Up”
B.A.P is known for powerful, dramatic songs, and “Wake Me Up” is no different. The song has an odd but urgent sound, riddled with addicting trills and idiosyncratic cadences. Nonetheless it still takes on a dark and serious tone, which shows particularly in the music video. Dull color schemes and somber scenes paint the picture of emotional and mental conflict. The casting, however, makes the video especially relatable, as the group recruited actors of all colors to represent universal struggle.
Taeyeon — “Fine”
Taeyeon’s first full-length album My Voice arrived this week, 10 days after lead single, “I Got Love.” Of the 13 tracks total, “Fine” is the “alternative pop song with intense melody,” as described by Taeyeon’s company, SM Entertainment. The song carries a Western sound through its acoustic strings and Taeyeon’s powerful riffs in the chorus. Between the music video and emotional vocals, Taeyeon conveys the anguish of heartbreak as she sings, “It’s not fine.”
Code Kunst — “Fire Water”
Code Kunst returned with a cool and breezy track, “Fire Water,” featuring rhythms from soloist G.Soul and flows from Tablo of Epik High. Like fire and water, the high pitch and smooth runs of G.Soul’s falsetto contrasts the unmistakable calmness of Tablo’s rapping. As the producer of the track, Code Kunst skillfully ties the two voices together in a soulful melody.
The song released under Highgrnd, a sub-label of one of Korea’s top three music conglomerates, YG Entertainment. Tablo launched the label in 2015 as a long-term project to expand the Korean indie and alternative scene.
Live — “Know Me”
Rapper Live hails from independent, multi-genre music group Dream Perfect Regime. “Know Me” drives DPR’s mission of producing a “unique and dynamic experience” both aurally and visually, and sports lyrics in Korean and English. Teamed up with R&B soloist Dean, Live brings an energetic track. Visually, intense blues and oranges paint the sky in the music video, turning Live into an ominous silhouette. Meanwhile, bright lights in the dark cast intimidating shadows on Dean, giving both a powerful presence.
Gugudan — “A Girl Like Me”
Jellyfish Entertainment’s first girl group came back with its second single since the summer, “A Girl Like Me.” The second mini album, Act 2: Narcissus, has five tracks plus an instrumental of the title track. With its bold and sassy vibe, “A Girl Like Me” takes the theme of narcissism as inspiration, but gives it a positive spin by reinterpreting it to mean “self-love.” While cute and catchy, all nine members exude confidence in the music video, backed by strong vocals and vibrant colors.
Twice — “Knock Knock”
Following up from October’s hit, “TT,” Twice returns with “Knock Knock.” The song’s cute, bubble-gum pop makes it stick, with sugary-sweet vocals and catchy hooks. Electric strings lace the melody with sounds of soft rock, and twinkling keys give the upbeat finishing touch.
With Twice speedily gaining popularity, “Knock Knock” broke the YouTube record for most views accumulated on a music video within 24 hours. For few hours, at least…
BTS — “Not Today”
Trailing “Spring Day,” BTS released a second song and video from its album You Never Walk Alone. “Not Today” is an aggressive power anthem, pumped up with sharp synths, clapping beats, and fierce lyrics. The song returns to BTS’ roots of strong and compelling tracks, implementing themes of resistance, persistence, and tenacity.
BTS released “Not Today” hours after Twice’s “Knock Knock,” contending with the girls’ addicting tune out of the gates, and making Twice’s record extremely short lived. The boy band’s fans garnered over 10 million views on “Not Today,” taking back the crown of most views in 24 hours.
San E — “What If”
In a cheerful, chipper track, rapper San E came out with a single musing about what it’d be like for males and females to switch places. The lyrics pose the question, “What if?” encouraging youth to consider each other’s perspectives to better understand “whatever you want/ whatever you need.”
The song is more than just a single for the rapper, however, as his agency—Brand New Music—announced “What If” as an official collaboration with fast food chain Burger King. Embedded into the video are subtle hints tipping off the partnership, such as the typography, emphasis on the word “king,” and little crowns stamped throughout the video.
Junggigo & Chanyeol — “Let Me Love You”
Like last week with “Rain,” Starship Entertainment released a second cross-company duet, “Let Me Love You.” This week’s song recruits Chanyeol, another Exo member, to sing alongside Starship R&B soloist Junggigo. Together their smooth and smoky vocals tell the story of a budding romance between actors stuck in a mediocre film.
Taeyeon — “I Got Love”
Glitter and diamonds rain down in Taeyeon’s new music video “I Got Love,” a sexy track that shows an entirely new side of the singer. Unlike her previous solo releases such as “I” and “11:11,” Taeyeon brings a different kind of passion this time out.
The dark and seductive tones of her silky vocals, overlaying a pounding bass drum and steady keys, deliver an electrifying vibe. Where the singer normally goes for sweet and sentimental sounds, she takes a sharp turn with the sultry, vintage track. Compared to her other releases, Taeyeon’s vocal prowess shows through considerably more in this song with her expertly smooth, high-pitched notes.
The single precedes the soloist’s first full-length feature album, which has no announced release date yet. Since her solo debut in 2015, Taeyeon has released two mini albums and two singles.
BTS — “Spring Day”
Following the release of BTS‘ October album Wings, the group prepared a repackaged version for the new year. Titled You Never Walk Alone, the album features all the original tracks plus four new ones, spearheaded by the single, “Spring Day.”
In conjunction with the album title, “Spring Day” evokes sad and somber feelings, but offers hopeful reassurance and comfort through the lyrics and imagery. The video’s bright color palette and surreal scenes contradict the depressed facial expressions of the members as they sing about the woes of ending a relationship and the pain of missing someone. BTS delivers a beautiful track and continues to explore heavy themes like loneliness, depression, and struggle.
Soyou and Baekhyun — “Rain”
Sistar’s Soyou and Exo’s Baekhyun come together for an emotional duet, “Rain.” Starship Entertainment—Sistar’s home agency—teased the highly anticipated collaboration on its official YouTube channel before releasing the song and bonus making-of video as well.
Soyou opens the song with her pretty, airy vocals, set against the acoustic guitar, violin, and piano. Baekhyun’s clear and husky voice enters in the second verse, conveying the song’s theme of bittersweet longing. Alone, Soyou’s breathiness and Baekhyun’s fullness make for a slightly mismatched pairing, but their beautiful harmonies at the end more than make up for it.
Dean — “Come Over”
Korean R&B star Dean returns with the Limbo EP, featuring “Come Over,” a duet with 15&’s Baek Yerin. Only one other song accompanies the release, a drowsy track titled “Invisible.” A dream theme defines the EP, as made clear by the phrase “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange,” emblazoned across the album cover.
The music video for “Come Over” also conveys a dream sensation, maintaining a black-and-white aesthetic while showing vague and abstract sketches of a man and woman searching for one another. The sounds of “Come Over” create melancholy, chill vibes. Unlike previous releases, however, Dean invites Baek Yerin for the collaboration instead of another hip-hop singer or rapper. With her sweet, down-to-earth voice, Yerin resonates against the smooth fabric of the music.
K.A.R.D — “Don’t Recall”
Co-ed K-pop quartet K.A.R.D impresses with its second of three releases, “Don’t Recall.” The song is an electronic dance bop infused with tropical sounds and beats. It follows the group’s debut song, “Oh NaNa.” The distinct differences of all four members’ voices and the sexy, strong choreography give “Don’t Recall” a dynamic profile.
K.A.R.D is a rookie band, breaking the usual standard of all male or all female groups. The group comprises two female vocalists and two male rappers, each of whom represent a letter of the group’s name. The boys are the King and Ace cards; the girls portray the two joker cards, and both take on the letter “R,” reserving the “D” for the “hidden card” member in each single. The first single featured former Kara member and labelmate Heo Youngji, but DSP Media has yet to reveal the second hidden member for “Don’t Recall.”
Block B — “Yesterday”
From the jump, Block B’s newest track screams fun with vibrant colors and sound. The seven-member group’s vocals have a distinct timbre that contrasts nicely with the happy, upbeat music of “Yesterday”—but don’t be fooled. Even though the music video showcases the group’s signature comedic storylines, the lyrics tell a tale of a boyfriend distrusting his girlfriend. The members sing of suspicions and confusion, asking what she did yesterday—and why she’s behaving so weirdly.
Instead of an official comeback, “Yesterday” is considered a special gift for Block B’s fans. They won’t be promoting the song on music shows, but they did reveal a special, playful live version on YouTube. And as a bonus, Block B did the Mannequin Challenge.
SF9 — “Roar”
Rookie group SF9 returned Sunday with debut mini-album, Burning Sensation, leading with the powerful track “Roar.” The song opens with booming, Neptunes-inspired hip-hop beats. SF9 delivers smoky, smooth verses, rolling into strong rap parts. When the hook hits, “Roar” comes together, rattling with an expert-level EDM drop.
The choreography is flashy and exciting, as members go aerial with flips against sharp, colorful backgrounds.
Day6 — “You Were Beautiful”
As part of the band’s 2017 project, “EveryDay6,” the boys released “You Were Beautiful” as the second installment of 12 on Monday. According to allkpop, Day6 will be releasing new singles on the sixth day of every month for the whole year. In addition, they’re scheduled to hold concerts within the week of each release.
“You Were Beautiful” comes as the release for February—a bittersweet and nostalgic tune about a past relationship. The song follows January’s release, “I Wait,” which has a rocking, anime-inspired sound. Day6 brings a different sound to the table, being one of the few traditional bands on the K-pop scene.
Cross Gene — “Black or White”
This multinational band—comprised of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese members—came out with an intensely dark single, “Black or White,” on Wednesday. The music video shows the band members clash with their nefarious alter egos in bloody and violent struggles.
However a listen deeper into the album, Mirror, reveals how Cross Gene put a spin on a popular, good-versus-evil K-pop trope. The following two songs, “Black Mind” and “White Mind,” sound strangely familiar to “Black or White”—because they are.
The band assigned members Seyoung, Casper, and Takuya to sing “Black Mind,” the song that supports the title’s strong and urgent verses. Meanwhile members Youngseok, Shin, and Sangmin sing “White Mind,” the electropop/house song that makes up the chorus of “Black or White.”
NCT Dream — “My First and Last”
Representing NCT’s youthful side is the seven-member subunit NCT Dream. Unlike most K-pop groups that have a fixed lineup, SM Entertainment’s NCT crew comprises a pool of different boy members who get grouped together to create different teams. The younger members of the pool make up NCT Dream, whose cute style starkly contrasts the mature sides of the other two units, NCT U and NCT 127.
In sync with NCT Dream’s previous release, “Chewing Gum,” the group released an equally cheerful and buoyant track, “My First and Last.” A scratchy, rumbling beat sets the scene for the schoolboy vibe and story of a love-struck student infatuated with the teacher.
Unlike NCT Dream’s brother groups, the band released a Chinese version of its track as well.
Wonder Girls — “Draw Me”
The Wonder Girls said farewell this week with final track, “Draw Me.” After 10 years, the girl group said farewell following the expiration of their JYP Entertainment contract. Before their time is up though, the four girls decided to record one last song.
“Draw Me” has a sweet and mellow sound with lyrics reminiscent of simpler, innocent times. The girls carry a relaxing tempo through their tropical strings, wooden percussion, and silky vocals. Like labelmates Day6, the Wonder Girls perform as a traditional band as well.
Editor’s note: This article is updated regularly for relevance.