Every K-pop fan knows how hard it is to stay up-to-date with recent music: new songs are released every day in this fast-paced industry, and it’s easy to miss a crazy good single from a lesser-known group, or overlook a hidden-gem b-side. But every year there are several incredibly lit, empowering, gorgeous, or just plain catchy songs that deserve far more attention than they get. And now that we’re halfway through 2019, it’s time to take a look at some of these underrated tracks: so here is a list of 17 under-appreciated songs from the first half of the year that we all really, really should be talking more about. Go ahead and take a listen — or you’re majorly missing out!
1. “We Must Love” — ONF
We’re starting this list off strong with “We Must Love,” which is hands-down one of the most underrated bops of the year. The track captures your attention from its very first dramatic line and keeps you hooked with breathless rhythms that constantly change in unexpected ways. Add in a fast-paced choreo and visual treat of a music video, and this is a must-watch!
2. “ZGZG” — SAAY
Those of us who were fortunate enough to have “ZGZG” pop up in our YouTube recommendations (and there seem to be quite a few, judging from the MV’s comment section!) have been enjoying this song ever since — so take a listen before you miss out any longer! The track employs the unusual strategy of turning down for the chorus, alternately building excitement through SAAY’s sultry vocals on the jazzy verses and simmering the refrain. Hit play to borrow some of SAAY’s bad girl energy:
3. “Still Loving You” — 100%
100% has been giving us quality music since 2012, but still somehow flies under the radar of mainstream K-pop. But “Still Loving You” is not only a notable release for the group but also one of the most underrated songs of the year so far. Amid quirky synths, the track highlights the group’s vocal talent as the members sweetly lament being unable to get over a past love. We guarantee you’ll be hooked!
4. “And There Was No One Left” — DreamCatcher
Known for their signature vigorous rock sound, DreamCatcher changes it up for a different vibe on “And There Was No One Left.” The b-side is subtly intense and funky enough to keep you spellbound — speaking of spellbound, who knew a music video of the girls essentially just sitting and staring down the camera could be so captivating?
5. “Lonely Night” — KNK
When will KNK get the attention they deserve? The jazz-infused “Lonely Night” marks the group’s first single after parting ways with their agency and undergoing some lineup changes, and they’ve come back with a far underrated track that highlights their talent from its fresh raps to its chorus, where vocalists’ soaring notes intertwine with melodic trumpet sounds that lament missing a love of days gone by on a lonely night.
6. “Allure” — T-ara’s Hyomin
Flirty? Confident? Sexy yet mature? Hyomin checks all the boxes with “Allure,” once again proving herself a veteran of the K-pop industry in this deliciously flirtatious track, in which the T-ara member sings about how she’ll lure you in with just one look. And with a music video this cute, she’s not wrong!
7. “VIBE” — 1TEAM
1TEAM made their debut with “VIBE,” a title that aptly describes this bouncy R&B track. Bubbly synths and a delightfully plucky chorus make this a solid start for the group, and a song that received far less attention than it deserves!
8. “Focus” — Kim Dong Han
Former JBJ member Kim Dong Han has been putting out quality singles since his debut as a solo artist, exuding a soft intensity that is irresistibly charming. “Focus” is the singer at his smoothest, with fresh synths and unexpectedly edgy beats that make this track one you’ll want to listen to again and again.
9. “Blossom” — GFRIEND’s Eunha and VIXX’s Ravi
GFRIEND’s Eunha and VIXX’s Ravi are sweet and springy in “Blossom,” a duet for the “2019 Pepsi K-pop Collaboration.” About chasing both dreams and romance, this single is straight up groovy, which is no surprise given it was composed by GroovyRoom, WOODZ, and Ravi himself. Eunha’s sweet singing combines to perfection with Ravi’s manly vocals in this heart-fluttering song.
10. “Dear. Rude” — Brown Eyed Girls’ JeA feat. Cheetah
Two K-pop queens in one sultry, empowering song? Yes please! JeA’s rich vocals are breathtaking in the lilting, soulful “Dear. Rude,” and the inspiring lyrics, plus Cheetah’s badass rap, seal the deal. Fair warning: the MV is surprisingly creepy!
11. “Enough” — SF9
SF9 reassures their lover that she is already pretty “Enough” with a chorus of “Don’t be prettier” in their February release. It’s a sweet message that will soon be ingrained in your head, because from its coy intro to its explosive chorus, “Enough” is incredibly catchy! And, might we add, the boys have outdone themselves with what is also one of the most underrated choreographies of the year:
12. “You Know Better” — Hyolyn
Hyolyn bares her heart in “You Know Better,” a dance ballad that is equal parts moving and empowering — don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two to this gorgeous song! Hyolyn herself wrote the lyrics for the single, weaving a heartbreakingly raw story of being hurt after hoping, perhaps foolishly, to be able to trust someone.
13. “Spotlight” — 1THE9
The winning group from survival program “Under 19,” 1THE9 released “Spotlight” as their debut track, and it’s nothing short of addicting. With heavy salsa vibes, “Spotlight” is a hot single that transitions smoothly from lit raps to a fast-paced chorus that will make you want to dance. Check out the song at around the one-minute mark here:
14. “Sunny Side Up” — Red Velvet
By now you’ve heard “Zimzalabim,” but if you haven’t listened to all the b-sides on Red Velvet’s EP “The ReVe Festival: Day 1,” then you’ve missed one track you need to add to your summer playlist this year. “Sunny Side Up” is alluring and sizzling, with lyrics that compare romance to carefully cooking eggs sunny side up — go too fast, and things are bound to get messy and broken!
15. “Under Cover” — A.C.E
“Under Cover” is a straight-up banger, and A.C.E delivers it with so much swag and passion than you’ll forget the guys are still relatively new to the K-pop scene. While most groups opt for breezy tropical tracks for the summer, A.C.E went all out with this powerful, fiery single. Don’t miss out on the action!
16. “Me” — CLC
CLC is at their best with a strong girl-crush concept, and while “Me” is in the same vein as their hits “Black Dress” and “No,” the ladies seem to have really hit their stride with this track. An empowering affirmation of confidence and self-love, “Me” features lyrics co-written by member Yeeun, who also delivers a fire rap in the second verse. From its sizzling chants to its bombastic beats, “Me” is a pulsating, hair-tossing vibe that embodies “fierce,” and is one of the most flawless releases of the year so far!
17. “Leave It” — N.Flying
Here’s a nice, easy listen to round out this list: N.Flying started off the year strong with their popular January release “Rooftop,” but “Leave It” somehow didn’t manage to capture the same amount of attention — which is puzzling, since this song is pure fun. Enjoy!
Hey Dramacool, which of these songs is your favorite? Are there any that you hadn’t heard of? Let us know in the comments!