My Top 5 Favorite K-pop Releases of 2021 (So Far)

Being a big K-pop fan is stressful but very rewarding. The stress is from having constant releases from all of your favorite artists. The reward? It is having constant releases of new music and content to enjoy and learn to love. It is only April but the new music keeps coming with new comebacks being announced every other week. Here is my list of my top five releases so far! 

  1. 1. “Devil” by ONEUS

    ONEUS is a group I recently got into, but their music is so amazing that I consider them as one of the leaders of the fourth generation of K-pop artists. Their previous title tracks each sound different from each other, and “No Diggity” is no different. They really pulled out all the stops for “Devil” since it is their first studio album, and it was no disappointment. I streamed “No Diggity” on Spotify for weeks after it was released in January. The B-side track “What You Doing” is one of my go-to songs as soon as I pull up Spotify on my phone and laptop. 

  2. 2. “Duality” by I.M

    As a rapper of the group Monsta X, rapper I.M (real name Im Changkyun) stands out for his deep voice and his incredible songwriting and producing talent. He previously releases his own music in a mixtape form on Soundcloud, a common practice for K-pop artists who want to release solo work on the side. “God Damn” serves as the title track of his first solo album release, “Duality.”

    It is a song that fits the American music market so well as a mellow, sensual and vibey R&B track. Although I usually don’t gravitate towards that genre of music, I became obsessed with his album as soon as I first listened to it. 

  3. 3. “Love Synonym Pt.2: Right for Us” by Wonho

    Previously as a vocalist and dancer of the group Monsta XWonho debuted as a solo artist last year with “Love Synonym Pt.1: Right for Me,” and he showcased his dance skills, incredible vocals and unbelievable stage presence. I loved his debut because it was his return to the K-pop industry after leaving Monsta X, and it was so stunning.

    He raised the bar so high for himself and with his first comeback. He outdid himself. I remember staying up until midnight for the release of the title track “Lose” and sat there in awe the whole time, even after the music video had ended. No words can describe how much I truly love this release. 

  4. 4. “Zero: Fever Part.2” by ATEEZ

    ATEEZ had established a leader of the fourth generation K-pop artists with their debut in 2018, which is a big accomplishment in itself. They have been gaining popularity very quickly in South Korea and internationally. They concluded the “Treasure” series after five Korean releases and released the first release in the “Zero: Fever” series last summer with the title track “Inception.” I loved the release, although I was not the biggest fan of the title track.

    They had their comeback with the newest title track, “Fireworks (I’m the One),” and absolutely killed it. Even with member Mingi absent due to hiatus, they did not stop them from being as powerful as they can be. I love the title track and all the B-sides because, to me, this is what ATEEZ is best at. Powerful music with stunning performances and mind-blowing choreography. 

  5. 5. “Bambi” by Baekhyun

    As a vocalist of the legendary group EXOBaekhyun debuted as a solo artist in 2019 with the release of “City Lights.” It is one of my favorite releases of 2019 because it was truly a form of art. His vocals and the soft R&B genre of the EP really cemented his style in the K-pop industry. With the release of “Bambi” for his 2nd solo comeback, he continued to impress everyone. In the title track of the same name, he continued to show off his astonishing vocals and smooth dancing with a simple but mesmerizing music video.

    As one of the most anticipated solo comebacks of the year, I was very excited since I love him in EXO and as a solo artist. My jaw kept dropping as I watched the music video when it was released because he kept blowing my mind. His music is a form of art, and “Bambi” proved this release is the most pre-ordered album by a soloist in South Korean history with over 833,000 preorders.