The year’s not over until the world floods the internet with their best-of lists, and of course, per tradition, I’m here adding to the fun. You’re all internet sponges, so you’re getting everything up front today.
This year we’re keeping things simple. No crazy rules, no strict guidelines. The only rule I followed in compiling this list is that each song had to have been released between December 1, 2015 and December 1, 2016. That’s pretty much it. Another thing to keep in mind is that some artists appear once on this list while others appear multiple times. It’s a diverse list, yet also very clearly my personal taste. From K-Pop to folk, R&B to punk; I listened to a ton of music over the course of 2016 and I did my best to make sure this list reflected that.
Also, I ranked these for the sake of ranking them, but don’t take it too seriously. The point is that all of these songs are great and no matter where they landed on the final list, they all left an impression on me and I’m sure a ton of you, too. So please enjoy my list of what I think are The Top 100 Korean Songs of 2016 and make sure to share all your faves with me in the comments section below, on Twitter @hey_arrrrnold, and on Facebook!
Listen in full: Spotify | Apple Music
100 Eric Nam – “Can’t Help Myself (Feat. LOCO)”
Eric Nam’s airy falsetto and breezy style of singing bring “Can’t Help Myself” to life. It’s hard not to fall for Nam’s charming personality, and this song captures that quality surprisingly well.
99 Cheeze – “어떻게 생각해 (How Do You Think)”
Cheeze’s “How Do You Think” is the kind of bubbly single, this one held together by a lovely piano riff and singer Dalchong’s quivering vocals, that I needed to get me through those tougher mornings this year.
98 Kim Hee Chul & Kim Jung Mo – “울산바위 (Ulsanbawi)”
Give it up to Kim Hee Chul and Kim Jung Mo for providing the only Trot song on the list. Hee Chul’s gutsy vocals punch through this rock song with an adequate amount of emotion. While his singing doesn’t shine as bright as some of the other members in Super Junior, here he is deep in his element.
97 Samuel Seo – “B L U E”
R&B singer Samuel Seo lowkey killed the game this year with his comeback single “B L U E,” a smooth, laid-back jam that features a groovy bassline and a whole lot of attitude.
96 Yoonmirae – “잠깐만 Baby (JamCome On Baby)”
This year, Yoonmirae delivered a slick rap track in “JamCome On Baby.” Filled with reverberating electronic undertones, this dreamy landscape was a welcomed breath of fresh air for the Hip-Hop Queen of Korea.
95 Roy Kim – “북두칠성 (The Great Dipper)”
Roy Kim’s “The Great Dipper” is a soothing lullaby that might have arrived late in 2015, but it sure spent its fair share of time rotating through my library.
94 CL – “Lifted”
If there was anything that CL’s “Lifted” lacked more than anything it was a bit of refinement. Because everything else – from layers of ‘tude to a bulletproof hook – was checked off the list and executed without fail. Eh ehhh.
93 Ailee – “If You”
Although Ailee is known for her showstopping energy, this year the powerhouse singer took her finger off the trigger of ferocity for a split second to release “If You,” a heartwarming R&B ballad that brought the singer back to her roots.
92 SILICA GEL – “9”
The fuzziness of SILICA GEL’s “9” (and of the rest of the self-titled album they released this year) adds a degree of warmth to the band’s psychedelic sound that both captivates and transports as the song unfolds.
91 Lim Chang Jung (임창정) – “내가 저지른 사랑 (The Love That I Committed)”
Release Date: 9/6/16
Power ballads were a force to be reckoned with this year and Lim Chang Jung’s “내가 저지른 사랑” was one of them. With an engrossing chorus and Lim’s full-chested singing, it’s no surprise why this single struck a chord with Korean audiences.