My Favourite Korean Songs of 2017

When I first started writing this article, I thought I was going to be apologizing for not writing a “best of 2017” article and simply starting 2018 with an article about the music I had been listening to (which I thought was older music I already owned & loved). Mostly because I hadn’t reviewed as much new music as I normally do so I assumed I hadn’t listened to enough new music in 2017 to write a “best of” post. Turns out I was wrong. Looking at the music I bought in 2017 and my playlists, I listened to… and liked… a lot of music. Or rather, my normal amount of music. The problem was, I didn’t review as much as I normally do (or should have). But I’ll do better with music reviews this year!

Music best-of articles are a treat to write, and this one was no different. I mean, what’s not to like about listening to music I already know I love again to see which songs would make the list. And of course, the songs below are only a small example and narrowing the list is always difficult. Just a note on how I narrowed the list, when it was a single I liked it was easy but when I liked all or most of an album, I listened to the album again and went with the song that spoke to me the most (so when I mention an album below, don’t be afraid to check it out in its entirety). And since making a ‘top 10’ was impossible, I went with my fav 17 of ’17. Hey, that means I get to pick 18 songs for this year!^^

So what or rather who did I listen to in 2017? Keep reading to find out! Just like last year, I want to challenge you, our lovely readers, to give a listen to each of the songs below, especially if they are ones you haven’t heard from (don’t be shy about letting us know what you thought of them). Don’t forget to support the musicians by buying their music if you enjoy it.

And of course, let us know YOUR favourite songs of 2017 in the comments. I love checking out your recommendations and I know our other readers will too. Without further ado, here are my favs from last year, in no particular order.

My Top 17 Songs of 2017

“Molotov Cocktail” by National Pigeon Unity

The whole album, Hero, rocks and I can’t recommend it enough, but “Molotov Cocktail” is such an amazing song that it stands out, even in such a great album.

“Grace” by ADOY

I loved Catnip, which was released last year by ADOY and while “Don’t Stop” is my favourite song from the album, it made my best-of-2016 list (the song was released as a single then) so I went with my second favourite song from the album as it’s just as good.

“Noise Control” by From The Airport

From their 2017 album, The Boy Who Jumped, “Noise Control” grabbed my attention from the first time I played it and quickly became my favourite song of the album.

“살 (煞) Cursing Ritual” by PAKK

I loved the instrumentals on this song and it’s been on my commute playlist from the first time I heard it. In fact, many of the songs from the album it’s from, 살풀이 Salpuri, are on different playlists.

“Wake Me Up” by Taeyang

I’ve long been a fan of Taeyang (Big Bang is the one K-pop group who I never miss a song from) and White Night is a fabulous album. Taeyang has such a beautiful voice that it’s always a pleasure to listen to his music and “Wake Me Up” is a perfect example of that.

“Awaken (나를 깨우네)” by 3rd Line Butterfly

I was first introduced to 3rd Line Butterfly when they came to Toronto in 2013 and I’ve been listening to them ever since. Their 2017 album, Divided By Zero, was great and “Awaken (나를 깨우네)” was the song on it that most spoke to me (I think I have a penchant for long songs).

“Foggy Night” by Dead Buttons

They’ve long been one of the bands that top my list of bands I love but haven’t yet seen live so I’m always eagerly awaiting new music by them. And rabbit didn’t disappoint. While I liked several songs on rabbit, “Foggy Night” was one I kept coming back to.

“Iya” by TSUN (티썬) x zighway

A while back I was contacted by TSUN and she introduced me to her music which is simply lovely R&B. I’m particularly partial to her collaboration with Zighway (자이웨이), “Iya”, although I definitely recommend checking out all her music.

“Pineapple (파인애플)” by Seoulmoon

While all of the singles Seoulmoon released last year are worth checking out, I really like the trio’s song “Pineapple (파인애플)”.

“Home is Far Away (feat. Oh Hyuk)” by Epik High

As a longtime Epik High fan, I was happy to hear that they were putting out a new album, We’ve Done Something Wonderful and it was worth the wait. “Home Is Far Away” is hands down my favourite song from the album. Oh Hyuk’s voice works so well with Epik High on this song.

“Wanli” by Hyukoh

You might have guessed from the last song, and seeing Hyukoh live last September just cemented their place on this list. The whole album, 23, is amazing but my favourite song is “Wanli” – it’s just so haunting. Although “Leather Jacket” is a close second as it makes me dance around my apartment

“무제(無題) (Untitled, 2014)” by G Dragon

While not as known for his more mellow songs, I’ve always been partial to them ever since “Butterfly”. But the whole EP is nice too. And I did tell you that Big Bang was my K-pop kryptonite.

“Purgatory (연옥)” by Billy Carter (빌리카터)

Billy Carter released two EPs in 2017, The Green and The Orange, and they’re both great. “Purgatory (연옥)” is from The Orange.

“Two Windows (두개의 창)” by Howaho (호와호)

This is such a beautiful, yet haunting single released last year by Howaho. Here’s hoping there’s more to come.

“Trendkill” by Love X Stereo

I’ve been a fan of Love X Stereo for quite a while and had a blast listening to all the new music they put out in 2017, including two new albums, 37A and 37B. While both albums are good, I’m a bit more partial to 37B and “Trendkill” is one of the delightful songs you can find on it.

“Is there any way you could change” by J.Knife

Shawn from Sounds of the Korean Underground mentioned that I should check out J.Knife – who’s only 14 and so incredibly talented at such a young age – and when I did, I was immediately blown away. You can check out her music on Soundcloud and “Is there any way you could change” is my personal favourite so far. (The video has her whole album on it.)

“No Longer Human (인간실격)” by Wings of the Isang (이상의날개)

I’m a huge fan of Wings of the Isang and this single released last November just makes me want another full length album.

Final Thoughts

Despite my lack of reviews, there was a ton of great music coming out of Korea last year and the songs I mentioned were just the tip of the iceberg. I hope you enjoyed checking them out, especially if they are new to you. And if you’re looking for more recommendations from last year, I can recommend a few other “best of” articles from other writers and publications. For Korean indie music check out the three “best of 2017” articles from Korean Indie writers Danny and Jean, and editor Chris. For a huge “best of 2017” article that covers K-pop, indie and hip hop, check out Is This How You K-pop‘s Top 100 list in Part 1 and Part 2. And for another huge “best of 2017” that covers a wide spectrum of music, including music from Korea (but not solely about Korean music), check out Camiele’s top 100. And of course, if you liked any of the music above, support the artists by buying it!

Don’t forget to let us know your favourites in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear which songs rocked your 2017!

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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