Year in Review: TMM's Top KPop Songs of 2016


Hello, wonderful Music Mind readers! As 2016 comes to a close, the Music Mind team has come together to share some of our favorite KPop songs of the year. From top-tier veterans to standout rookies, 2016 was a memorable year for a lot of our favorite idols and Korean artists.

To say it was a tough decision process is an understatement, but we did it! Here are our top KPop songs of 2016 in alphabetical order kicking off with none other than 2PM . Enjoy!

2PM - Promise (I`ll be)

I like this song as part of the chorus climax really convey the content of the song  that "I promise to always be by your side" and the music and music video suit well even there is no more powerful dance from them! - Vina

2PM - 緒に過ごした時間 (Time We Spent Together)

This is the best ballad song of 2PM. 2PM's vocal harmonization blend soo well in this especially when they alternately sang each verse word in the end. - Vina

2PM - Mayday

This particular song holds a special place in my heart. Chansung, who wrote this, has become one of my favorite composers in the group. Having been with the other members for almost 10 years, he's able to pick out the other member's voices and mesh them together to create some really special harmonies. My personal favorite is Wooyoung and Junho. Their vocal color is similar, but their style is different enough that it makes for a really lovely sound. The creative decision to add tracks of Hottests cheering for them was a really nice touch as the lyrics speak of the love and appreciation 2PM has for their fans. - Ploy

Ailee - Home (Feat. 윤미래)

This soulful song is hard to find in KPop because of the need to be overly trendy. This collaboration needed to happen because it will take this genre into the future. - Erica

Amber - Borders

This was a deeply personal song and most KPop artists don't usually go to this level of emotion.  Amber invited fans in and made us love her more. - Erica

I almost had the chance to see her perform this live at KCON.  Not sure I would have been able to watch it without having mass emotions spread over me. The message she is sending is so deep and I thank her for caring, not just because, but for the reason that every one of us matters. That's what I feel when I listen to it. - Lauren

B1A4 - 거짓말이야 (A Lie)

B1A4 came back just in time to make the list. I’ve always been impressed with the music the group produces but I’ve never been more in love with one of their songs than I am with A Lie. When I sat down to watch the music video after release, I was awestruck. I watched the video five times before immediately purchasing it off iTunes and placing the song on repeat… for two straight days. From the strings and vocal arrangements to the rich, deep tones of Baro’s rap lines to the encompassing theme of heartache, I can’t get enough of this song. I am super happy to see them winning on music shows and getting some recognition they wholeheartedly deserve. - Kelly

Baek Yerin - Bye bye my blue

There's something about this song that reminds me of a comfortable rainy morning. With 2016 being the turbulent year that it's been, this song provides the comfort and calmness that's needed to get through the rest of the year. - Eliysha

BEAST - 리본 (Ribbon)

BEAST dug their claws into me this year. They dug in deep with no intentions of letting go. While I had been a casual fan prior to falling down the rabbit hole, I had no idea what would happen once I fully embraced my fate as a member of this amazing fandom. The original six members of BEAST are phenomenal, with a certain indescribable quality unique to them.

Sadly, with the sudden departure of their lead vocal Hyunseung and poor management by their company, Cube Entertainment, 2016 has not been the kindest to the members of BEAST. Despite all this, the five remaining members pulled off a summer comeback with grace and finesse. 

It should be noted I had a difficult time choosing between Ribbon and Butterfly as both songs are amazing and are seemingly connected via their storylines. However, I choose Ribbon due to the poetic nature of the lyrics, wherein their main rapper Junhyung compares the ending of a relationship to that of the unraveling of a knotted ribbon. Main vocal Yoseob shines as usual, even though having only five members means each of the remaining vocalists has more lines. We even get hear Junhyung gracing us with the beauty of his singing voice. - Kelly

Beenzino - Life In Color

He has a distinct style in rapping that I have always liked and this particular song showcased a brighter, more colorful (HA!) side of him. The lyrics being sweet and not overly cheesy is an added bonus to an already-fantastic song. - Eliysha

BLACKPINK - 불장난 Playing With Fire

This is such a fun and catchy song! I love Lisa’s amazing rap in this song and all the vocals are amazing! - C Ly

BLACKPINK - 휘파람 (Whistle)

Even after 8 years into KPop, I think I have never seen someone’s debut being dragged as much as BLACKPINK’s. Despite the obvious and not so secret similarities to 2NE1, I think the girls of BLACKPINK represent YG as their only girl group well enough. Whistle is a good song with a catchy beat, definitely above average for a debut single. - Cate

Bolbbalgan - 나만 안되는 연애

Their unique vocals give this song a nice vibe and the lyric suits me so well. - Vina

Bolbbalgan - YOU(=I)

This song is catchy for me and although the music wasn't really upbeat, it was enjoyable. - Vina


BTOB is an incredibly talented, underrated group full of loveable goofs. They stole the title of bias group away from BIGBANG, the group that got me into KPop in the first place. How is that possible? I struggled with it for a long time, but the release of BTOB’s 5th Japanese single L.U.V back in June completely removed all doubt. I was already familiar with the superior and largely unrecognized level of talent the seven members of BTOB possess, however L.U.V blew me away. Each member’s strengths were showcased exquisitely and the emotional impact of the performances from the vocal line resonated very deeply inside of me. I had this song on repeat for weeks. Yes, I said weeks, literally weeks. - Kelly

BTS - 피 땀 눈물(Blood, Sweat & Tears)

Recently, I've been spending a lot of "let's work on this assignment until 3am" days, and this song is my new best friend when sleep schedule messes up with productivity. As usual, BTS' youth vibe radiated and the "just right" beat to keep one awake at the sleepiest hours, I can't help but think that this song has some relations to my endeavour in working with my assignment. Whenever work wears me out, I always say, "I spent my blood, sweat, tears in this and I'm not giving up", being much of a motivation. Thank you, BTS! - Archangel

This song made my list because I love the lyrics and I love the reggae and island vibe that this song has. It is definitely a new sound, but it is very unique and it just works! Also, BTS is my ultimate bias group :) - C Ly

BTS - 불타오르네 (FIRE)

Fire is such an energetic and hype song! It never fails to put me in a good mood and hype me up, therefore this song made my list! - C Ly

BTS - Stigma

This tops my list with the most recent track to move me to tears. Upon first listen I had to pause the song more than 3 times just because I was overwhelmed with emotion. The vocals V delivers are so heart piercing that to listen to this now I have to brace myself for the rollercoaster of emotions that come with it. - Lauren

BTS - EPILOGUE : Young Forever

Another track from these guys that moved me to tears. The song talks about the transition from childhood to adulthood, and I went through that transition yet again. Really brought memories and images of what's to come in life. - Lauren

Chancellor - Surrender (Feat. 린)

This song just made the deadline. Prior to this, I've only heard of Chancellor by the name of "Chance"; I've never listened to any of his music previously. After the first time I listened to this song, I went ahead and listened to the entire album as well as some of his previous work with One Way. I really love Chancellor's voice. There's a certain character to it that just works perfectly well with the music that accompanies it. And when you add in Lyn's vocals, who is able to convey the emotion of the lyrics, you can feel the frustration and the emotional turmoil of a relationship that is on the brink of a breakdown. - Ploy

DAY6 - 놓아 놓아 놓아 (Letting Go)

I really like Sungjin's powerful vocal among the other male singers and this song gives his vocals a really great platform to shine. - Vina

DAY6 - Hunt

Since their debut in 2015, DAY6 has become one of my favorite acts in KPop. This particular song caught my attention the first time I listened to the album; I couldn't stop listening to it. The vocals on this track are great, no surprises there. Young K's explosive rap really took the song to another level. They are a group I will keep a close eye on in the next coming years. - Ploy

DEAN - I Love It (Feat. Dok2)

Dean has always been associated with this, "You're really attractive. You also had a nice US debut and collaborations but in all seriousness, did you just pop out of nowhere?" thought. As if his visuals and vocals are not enough to get girls craving for more of his music, he came out with this guilty pleasure sort of idea reflected in this song, which I find memorable as it keeps me, and probably some others, waiting for what Dean will come up with next. Can we get over Dean's MAMA 2016 red carpet fashion, right? - Archangel

Echae Kang - Radical Paradise

It's difficult to forget the virtuosity of songs like Radical Paradise. Not only has this song stuck with me long after my Radical Paradise album review, but it's set a bit of a standard in my mind for how far an artist can push themselves to achieve personal and musical greatness. - Arnold

EXO - Monster

It's evident that dynamic concepts work best for a group as intense as EXO, and their massive comeback single Monster delivered on all fronts. From punchy verses to an immense chorus, this song tied in all the edginess EXO is known for while still pushing the group's brand forward. - Arnold

FTISLAND - Take Me Now

I have been patiently waiting for a new song from these rocking, pretty boys.  The cords, the percussion, and the raspy voice always deliver hard edgy music from the heart. - Erica

Bringing me back to roots of good rock music. Can't help from head banging along. I feel like a child again. I love that this brings into question all can I trust, or is it all just lies? - Lauren

Heize - And July (Feat. DEAN, DJ Friz)

I love the funky beats of this song combined with Heize’s lovely voice and Dean’s smooth vocals. This is the perfect summer song for me to jam to in the car! - C Ly

Heize - Shut Up & Groove (Feat. DEAN)

There's not much to be said about why this song is one of the best in 2016 because the title says it all: just listen and groove to the music. - Eliysha

Infinite - 태풍 (The Eye)

I was always into Infinite, but this the song that made me an INSPIRIT. The dance moves, the whole look, and the song itself. They had me at Bad, but now they stole me with this. - Lauren

Jay Park - 곁에 있어주길 (Stay With Me)

Mr. Park tends to be aggressively, sexual in his pursuit to crossover to America.  This song is his expression of gentle seduction, and he mastered it. - Erica

John Park - 네 생각 (Thought of You)

"Every time I look at something beautiful, I think of you"; this part of the lyrics is what made this song memorable for me. This song got me thinking, "When was the last time I saw something I considered pretty?" When it seems impossible to look at something beautiful due to our busy schedule and heartbreaking events happening around the world, it seems like this song, at least in my interpretation, reminds us to step back and be grateful at the pretty things of life compared to complaining about what went wrong. Moreover, John Park's vocals and the soothing melody of this song got me hooked the first time I listened to this song. - Archangel

Jonghyun - White T-Shirt

From my years as an avid fan of Korean music, I have found no song as versatile as Jonghyun's White T-Shirt. Commencing with a whimsical set of piano notes, combined with Jonghyun's sexy vocals, this song will perfectly fit in playlist categories as various as "jamming until 2am", "study buddy", workout, relax, "it's Monday", "help I'm stressed" or "let's move on". No wonder why this song is probably the most played song of mine, and I bet it's yours too! Also, have you ever wondered how good Jonghyun looks like in a white t-shirt? I honestly can't wait for other releases as versatile as this. - Archangel

Jun. K - 가지마 (Feat. Baek A Yeon)

Even though this is a remake, this version is gentler and almost sadder (in the best way possible) to the ears. Their voices meshed seamlessly while nailing that emotional chord perfectly. - Eliysha


This is very different from any other 2PM songs. Jun K. had my attention from the first note, and the abs made it even better (with no wispered "JYP" in sight). - Erica

Lee Hi - WORLD TOUR (비행) (Feat. MINO of WINNER)

Lee Hi has one of the most beautiful and interesting voices in KPop. I was moderately impressed by her title tracks from SEOULITE, but I found WORLD TOUR very good and mature, and I listened to it a lot this year. Again, I am trying not to speak with a biased mindset, but Mino’s low rap matches Lee Hi’s husky perfectly. - Cate

Luna - Free Somebody

I love me some f(x), so when vocalist Luna was launched into the stratosphere for her solo debut, I was fully on board to support. Her first single Free Somebody treads the same EDM waters as her group, with just enough space for her to vocally go awf. As one of my favorite singers in KPop, it's nice to finally see Luna get the attention she deserves. - Arnold

Mino -

The only guy who made it to my 2016 top 5 is none other than Song Mino. I am really trying not to be biased here, but Body blew me away. This kind of smooth and mellow hip-hop songs are totally my style: I really liked the instrumental and Mino did an excellent job with his rap. I still think Body deserves to be loved and acknowledged more, at least for the fact that Mino composed it and wrote the lyrics himself. - Cate

MONSTA X - 네게만 집착해

I had been slowly falling into the MONSTA X rabbit hole for several months prior to KCON 2016, and fell rather madly in love with them after seeing them perform live at KCON LA in July (they killed it). Just days later, MX released the music video for Stuck as a special gift for their fans and upon seeing the video and hearing the song, there was very clearly no turning back for me. I can’t seem to ever fully get this song out of my head. From Kihyun’s lines at the chorus to Jooheon and I.M’s raps and Wonho’s provocative dance in the music video, I am hooked no matter which way you look at it. I know every detail of the music video by heart and the song has spent many a day on repeat. The unmistakable opening notes pull me in every time. You could say I’m “stuck” on it. - Kelly

NCT 127 - 소방차 (Fire Truck)

This song, unlike every other song in this list, is not memorable by the typical "the beat is nice" or "I can relate to the lyrics" way. Given that, I seriously had to question myself, as I was putting this song on the list, on what to write as the aspect that makes this song memorable to me. However, I decided to keep going with this song as it is a song where you can listen to it all the time without fully comprehending why this song is always on repeat; it was that song for me this year. The only theoretical basis I can make to support why this song is memorable is that this song gives off a positive vibe, much of a need to some. - Archangel

Park Hyo Shin - Breath

I'm a sucker for broad, dynamic ballads and my boy Park Hyo Shin came through this year. After a lengthy hiatus, Park Hyo Shin finally returned to the light with one of the best ballads of 2016, Breath. This song brings out Park's timbre really well, with a chorus so severely grand, that it immediately wins the replayability points. - Arnold

SHINee - Feel Good

The song title says it all, really. SHINee sound absolutely angelic on this funky dance track. It's equal parts pretty and hip, with airy verses, lightly processed vocals on one end, and a groovy beat on the other. By the time the trap section drops, I'm already on cloud nine. - Arnold

Taemin - Soldier

SHINee’s maknae is known for his abs and shy, squishy personality but it’s important to remember he’s also a very talented vocalist and dancer. While he is often overshadowed vocally by his members, Taemin has had widespread success with his solo endeavors. 

2016 was a great year for Taemin and his fans alike. While choosing which song of his to highlight might seem like a formidable task, there is one song that stood out amongst the rest.

Soldier grabbed me the moment I first heard it. The hopeful, emotional impact of the track’s meaning mixed with Taemin’s bright, soft vocals gets to me every time I hear it. When I listen to Soldier, I envision it as part of an epic, dramatic OST or even on the soundtrack to a Hollywood film. The song really is that good and would enhance any piece of cinema foreign or domestic. This is another song I had on repeat for many, many days. - Kelly


TWICE is the one girl group that will probably dominate kpop in the next few years, and Cheer Up is their biggest hit so far. I have to admit I preferred last year’s Like Ooh-Aah, because I tend to get bored of cute concepts, but Cheer Up is seriously addictive. No one can deny that Sana’s "Sha Sha Sha" was this year’s trend! - Cate

Wonder Girls - Why So Lonely

Wonder Girls never fail to meet my tastes with their releases. Why So Lonely keeps the band concept I’ve already loved in 2015 and adds a slightly reggae sound, in line with this year’s trend and Wonder Girls retro image. A special mention goes to the music video, an authentic triumph of tumblr aesthetic. - Cate

I think we can all agree that the girls (the ladies?) won the summer with this song - it's impossible not to sing and sway along the moment you hear those first few chords. - Eliysha


This is probably my favorite collaboration of the year which is why I picked this song for my Top 5. There is nothing better than three extremely talented artists together in one song! I love everything from the flow of Zico’s rap, to Crush’s soulful voice, and Dean’s smooth vocals. - C Ly