My Favourite Korean Songs of 2016
So much fun putting this together
Every once in a while it’s fun to write something just for the love of the topic/genre and top 10 lists are my gift to myself. I love top 10 lists. I like reading other’s best of or “top” lists and I love writing my own. Why? Two reasons – first, it’s fun to both share and read opinions, and there’s nothing I like better than a good discussion (as long as no one gets angry/upset) about just about anything. I’ll debate film, music, food… even politics. So every year I look forward to writing my “top 10 of [insert year]” articles.
But the music top 10 articles are the most fun. And that brings me to reason number 2 – I get to revisit all the music I’ve listened to and enjoyed all year. What’s not to like about listening to good music for a week or two as I whittle down the songs to a manageable list? Of course, there’s always a couple of songs that I already know will make the list because I’ve been listening to them non-stop since they were released. And I look at my play counts for 2016 to see what I listened to most (yay for Google Play as it makes it easier to keep track of plays). All in all, this is a fun article to write.
Unfortunately, as much as I love top 10 lists, I just couldn’t get this list down to 10 songs. So it’s a top 16 of 2016, kind of fitting I suppose. Regardless of the number, below is music I love.
My challenge(s) to you
Before we get to the music, I want to challenge all of you, our lovely readers. First, I challenge you to check out all the songs on this list. Your taste in music may not be the same as mine, which is perfectly fine, mine isn’t even the same as my friends half the time as I’ve always leaned more towards alt-rock and punk/pop-punk than most of them. But I invite you all to check out the songs on my list if you haven’t already. Because they are all amazing.
Second, I challenge you to tell me what was your favourite song (or songs) from 2016 in the comments. Because it’s a two-way street, I want to recommend the music I love but I always like to hear about the music you love too. And I promise to listen to each and every song you all suggest. Because you know I love discovering new-to-me music. So don’t be shy! Tell me which songs you love!
Without further ado, here are my
top 10 top 16 songs from 2016… in no particular order. Whenever possible, I’ve included the music video or Bandcamp player and links to where you can buy the album or EP the song is from.
Cindy’s Top 10 Korean songs of 2016
“Stereotypes” by Riot Kidz
While I only started listening to Riot Kidz recently after reading a review, I’ve been making up for lost time with their new album, My Last Holiday. While I definitely recommend checking out the entire album, if I had to pick just one song, it would be “Stereotypes”.
“Ready or Not” by Big Phony
“Ready or Not” is my fav from Big Phony’s self-titled (and successfully crowdfunded) album, Big Phony and the whole album is a treat to listen to. “This Might Be Love” and “Shoot the Shit” are also amazing.
“Somewhere Anywhere” by Guten Birds
It was hard to choose just one song from Things What May Happen on Your Planet, but as “Somewhere Anywhere” was the song that set the tone and my opinion of the album, it got elevated to my fav. But like most, if not all of the songs on this list, check out the entire album it’s from because it’s good.
“My Leather Jacket (내 가죽잠바)” by No Brain
I’ve been a fan of No Brain for the past 10 years and can’t say enough about how much I love Brainless, the first of two new albums they released this year (they also released 20 to celebrate their 20th anniversary). If you want to see my full review, click here. Other songs to check out include “Mommy, The World Is Scary” (feat. JTONG) [2016 Ver.] and “Whisky Blues (위스키 블루스)”
“This Obsession” by HEO
It was hard for me to choose just one song from Actress as it’s such a fabulous album (I wrote about it here) but “This Obsession” edged the others out. But you should really listen to the entire album! Other notable songs include “The World is Calm Again” and ”
“Dead Beat Generation” by Love X Stereo
“Dead Beat Generation” from Love X Stereo’s latest EP, We Love We Leave: Part 2, is a fabulous song but it’s actually not my favourite – that title goes to “Hide and Seek” but it was released in 2015 prior to the EP (and made my best of 2015 list). Don’t worry, the rest of the EP is just as good so it wasn’t hard to choose another song.
“Don’t Stop” by Adoy
While they’ve only released a few singles so far, I’m liking what I’ve heard from Adoy so far. Of course, it helps that I was already familiar with a couple of the musicians that make up this new group but you should definitely check them out.
“It’s You” by Neon Bunny
Her new album is good, especially “Romance in Seoul” and “Room 314” but “It’s You” just makes me smile. And while it was available as a single prior to 2016, it is on Stay Gold, so I’m including. Plus I like it.
“Genuine” by Bye Bye Badman
This is just such a sad song, but oh so good. It’s one of the few on the list that’s a single and not currently from an album.
“Asian Foul King” by Asian Chairshot
From the 사랑이 모여서 single (which is actually three songs), “Asian Foul King (동양반칙왕) is a great example of this rock band’s talent.
“I love It” by DEAN featuring Dok2
As the sole R&B song on my list, it’s a little out of place but I’ve been intrigued since I saw him at SXSW earlier this year and “I love It” featuring Dok2 is my favourite song from a solid album, 130 Mood: TRBL. And yes, the song technically came out as a single in 2015 prior to the release of the EP but give me this one please. ^^
“They Keep Silence (그들은 말이 없다)” by Jambinai (잠비나이)
This is just such a powerful song. Jambinai blend Korean traditional instruments so well with post-rock and bring such energy and passion to their music and performances. If you ever have the chance, catch them live! Oh, and “s from their A Hermitage album.
“Let the Hope Shine” by Nell
I’ve been a fan of Nell since I lived in Korea so I’m always eagerly awaiting new music by them and they never disappoint. With songs like “Day After Day” and “Home”, there’s a lot to like from their latest album, C, but “Let the Hope Shine” rocks in such a beautifully understated way that it chose itself.
[Sorry, I couldn’t find anything to embed for “Let the Hope Shine”]
“Nothing But You” by Dead Buttons
It was a hard choice between “Want It” and “Nothing But You” but the latter caught my attention right from the start. Of course, the whole album, Some Kind of Youth is good but those two were my favourite songs.
“Johnny” by Diealright
Like many of the bands above, there were several great songs on Diealright’s 2016 album, Minor World, like “Satellite” and “Hello” but ultimately, “Johnny” was my fav of the bunch. Seriously though, check out the entire album!
“Stream of Consciousness” by Wings of the ISANG
Love the entire album, it’s amazing to write to, but man, was it hard to choose just one song. I went with the title track of the album, Stream of Consciousness, but could have just as easily chosen “Cosmos” or “Void Circle”.
My criteria: the songs (or albums they are from) were released in 2016, Korean, and I could only select one song per artist/group). The last criteria was hard as there were several great albums where I liked several songs. I didn’t care about the genre, all genres were eligible, although I do tend to listen to more Korean indie (alt-rock, rock, punk, post-rock, electro-rock) so you’ll see that reflected in the songs I chose.
I was also lucky as several groups/musicians I like released new music this year which made my job easier – or harder as my list ended up bigger than expected. There was just so much great music to choose from! Can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us.
But don’t forget my challenge to you! I want to hear about your fav songs from 2016!!
And if you want to see some more best of lists – check out Chris from Korean Indie’s Best of 2016 (for Korean indie music) and Arnold over at Is This How You K-pop’s Top 100 Korean Songs of 2016 (for a very large mix Korean music).