It’s that time of year again, where the “Top 10” K-pop lists come out. With 2017 being an exceptional year for K-pop, it was difficult to choose only ten albums to feature on this list. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best K-pop albums of 2017!
10. Twicetagram – TWICE (트와이스)
After a year of endless comebacks, the TWICE girls came back once again with their first full album, Twicetagram, released in October 2017. The title song, “LIKEY” was the usual bubble-gum, cutesy sound the girls are known for, but with a refined and well-produced twist.
This time, instead of only the title song shining, after listening to this album nonstop throughout the fall and winter season, it’s evident that all the songs were designed to shine. Twicetagram is a major breakthrough for the group, who finally earned the right to take hand in writing, producing, and composing many of the songs throughout the album, and this personalization shows. From the acoustic, calming track, “Missing U,” to the electronic, energetic 80’s inspired, “Rollin,” it’s an album filled with endless, unique hits.
9. Breaking Sensation – SF9 (에스에프나인)
Despite only debuting in October 2016, SF9 has been able to leave their stamp within the K-pop music industry by attending three KCONs, and releasing endless mini-albums, each different and more unique than the other. But, it’s their second mini-album, Breaking Sensation, which became one of their best, not because of its addicting title song, “Easy Love,” but of its other side tracks like, “Watch Out,” “머리카락 보일라 (Hide and Seek),” and “이러다가 울겠어 (Fall Down).”
While many might focus on the present, danceable hit, “Easy Love,” the other tracks deserve recognition for its retro flair and throwback to old K-pop beats and production. Many fans and non-fans of the group were left speechless with the SF9’s similarity in sound to other K-pop legends, like SHINee and Super Junior, particularly in the song, “Watch Out.” With this mini-album, SF9 made its mark as one of the most stellar rookie groups by incorporating what was great with old K-pop and molding it with the hit, electronic tunes in K-pop today.
VERSE’2 – JJ Project
The duo JB and Jinyoung from the successful JYP Entertainment boy group, GOT7, came out with one of the most intricate, intellectual, and profound albums of the year, VERSE’2. To put it simply, if you’re in the need for an answer, listen to this album and you’ll find it. It’s an album that any adolescent should give a chance, even with the inevitable language barrier.
With the sad, but soul bearing title song, “Tomorrow, Today,” the duo sings of the pain felt when tomorrow isn’t a guarantee and the realization that life-making decisions are never easy. Other great songs include the bass-dropping intro, “Coming Home,” and the inspirational, smooth electronic song, “Icarus.” It’s an album made up of many parts, cohesively placed into one beautiful, complete puzzle.
7. Perfect Velvet – Red Velvet (레드벨벳 ‘피카부)
Red Velvet is one of if not the most unique girl groups within the K-pop music industry, and with the release of its second album, Perfect Velvet, it just further proves this statement. Despite the album being released in November, Red Velvet was able to bring the spooky flair with songs like “Peek-A-Boo” and the haunting, disco-themed song, “Look.”
The album takes constant twists and turns, with the blaring instrumentals in “I Just,” to the smooth, R&B sound found within the ballad, “Kingdom Come.” But, with songs like the quirky, rap-filled hit, “Attaboy,” and cutesy club banger, “My Second Date,” it’s an album that surely won’t disappoint any listeners. Although Perfect Velvet can be seen as an album that’s so eccentric it’s just pure wackiness, it can instead be interpreted as the girls taking a step away from their girly exterior and letting their inner women shine.
TEEN, AGE – SEVENTEEN (세븐틴)
The boys in SEVENTEEN returned with TEEN, AGE, the second album from the highly successful Pledis Entertainment group. As one of the best-produced albums, TEEN, AGE is a thirteen-track album with nearly no mistakes and enhanced with an extremely strong marketing campaign, with countless teaser music videos, photos, and promotional activities.
Each vocalist, dancer, and rapper were featured in this three-dimensional album that went beyond being just about the music, but instead about the individuals creating and executing it. While SEVENTEEN is no stranger to good music, like with their hit summer song, “DON’T WANNA CRY (울고 싶지 않아),” no one could expect the diversity seen throughout this album, with songs like “CHANGE UP,” the rocking title song, “박수 (CLAP),” and the swinging bop, “Hello.” TEEN,AGE is an album that’ll get you dancing, singing, and clapping along.
5. Love Yourself: Her – BTS (방탄소년단)
It’s a new era for BTS, and the group showed it with the release of their mini-album, Love Yourself: Her, in August. The members left behind their dark boyish charm, and instead brought the idea of loving yourself through hip-hop, rap, and EDM electronic. Although Love Yourself: Her will never be at the same level as Wings, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the usually serious group.
The release of this stellar album catapulted the group into stardom, with record-breaking sales, endless YouTube views, millions of fans streaming nonstop, and even with the group breaking the Billboard Top 100 countless times. Probably BTS’ highlight was its performance on the widely watched American Music Awards of its hit title pop-song, “DNA.” But, other songs within the album shouldn’t be ignored, particularly “MIC Drop” the new BTS-anthem, which released a remix version featuring the famous DJ, Steve Aoki, and upcoming rapper, Desiigner. Other tracks like the uplifting intro “Serendipty” starring the angelic vocalist, Jimin, and the meme-filled, reggae-inspired, “Go Go,” gave the group the opportunity to breathe easy and tell their upcoming story of loving yourself in a refreshing, yet relaxing way.
4. 4.0 – 10cm
In the need for something that’s not filled with bass, tropical house, or blaring trumpets? Then look no further than the simplistically beautiful new album from 10cm, 4.0. With “Everything,” introducing the album, singer Kwon Jung-yeol brings his heart to the forefront and is ready to expose his inner thoughts and feelings to all available listeners. The album continues with the same rawness in the socially-aware ballad, “Help,” which tells the importance of being there and present for not only our family and close friends but for everyone within this difficult world.
However, the acoustic duo does include light-hearted songs with adorable tunes, “Pet,” and “Phonecert,” all focused on the sweetness and innocence of first loves. It’s this rawness, simplicity, and joy that makes 10cm’s style well-known within Korea and internationally. While many artists focus on producing the latest hit single, 10cm focuses on telling a dynamic story that’s sure to steal the hearts of every listener. This album is a hidden gem, which is finally receiving the recognition the duo greatly deserves.
3. THE WAR – EXO (엑소)
With the release of THE WAR by iconic boy group, EXO, it solidifies the group as the epitomy of K-pop in its purest form. The group focuses throughout the album on the concept of what K-pop is and how they can further enhance its sound, while keeping the authenticity. As a result, each member brings about a whole new layer of complexity by introducing new elements popular within current K-pop, particularly in the rapping styles of members Chanyeol, Sehun, and Kai.
The title song, “Ko Ko Bop,” is full of reggae vibes and tropical house vibes, definitely starting the trend of similar, but lesser well-done, tropical house songs being released by newer groups. While many albums tend to have electric title songs, and good, but not great, side tracks, EXO made sure each song from THE WAR had the potential to be a title song. From “What U Do?” to the ever-popular “Forever,” and the chill “소름 (Chill),” it’s a testament to the group’s strong dynamic and ability to perfect their sound and perfect the definition of what K-pop truly is all about.
2. Palette – IU (아이유)
On the top of many people’s favorite albums list is, to no surprise, IU’s album, Palette, released in April. As the cover signifies, the album is filled with color, life, yet IU’s expression shows sadness and past hurt. Its these conflicting emotions IU exudes which enables her album to be relatable on a deeper level to people of all ages. While the younger, cooler generation will enjoy the lighter, inspirational tunes like “Palette” (featuring the hippest K-pop rapper out there, G-DRAGON) and the sexy song “Black Out,” the older generation will enjoy the emotional ballads like “밤편지 (Through The Night)” and “이름에게.” IU has always appealed to the masses and Palette is no exception, greatly because of IU’s exceptional writing skills, particularly in her title song, “Palette.” A song that strikes the chord of anyone in their twenties, IU sings about her struggles of dealing with the media and public, but still finding the courage to believe in herself. It’s this courage and emotion which is spread throughout her album that enables it to be such a standout this year amongst the other one-dimensional releases.
1. Moonrise – DAY6
It’s sometimes the underrated that stand out amongst the overrated. DAY6 rises to the top of the list with the release of its compilation album, Moonrise. The K-pop rock band has conquered 2017 with monthly releases and concerts, two exceptional compilation albums, and even a tour across North America. Despite little marketing or advertising, the group has been able to rise to the top by producing good music. That’s it, just damn good music. I
t’s the talent of these five-members that has earned them the right to be called the “it” K-pop rock band of 2017, and also be known for its loyal fanbase, especially internationally. By owning the writing, composing, and producing processes, DAY6 were able to tell their story, without any outside noise taking over. For DAY6, and this album, it clearly shows that it’s about the music, not the recognition. With the anthem intro, “Better Better,” the comedic tune “Be Lazy,” to the emotional, promise-filled ballad, “노력해볼게요,” the group sings about the development of their emotions throughout the year and their love for simply playing. It’s this simplistic love which made Moonrise by DAY6 the top of this 2017 list.
Which albums were on the top of your list? Do you agree with this list? Let me know in the comments below!