We’re only just now coming up on summer, but so far the year has been good for K-pop. If it keeps up like this, we might just be looking at the best year ever. Consider these your best options for any warm-weather playlists you may be cooking up—we’ll let you know of any new developments.
1. Mamamoo – “1cm (Taller Than You)”
One of the best songs of 2016 from any country, Mamamoo’s “1cm” mixes Dr. Dre beats with the lyrics about being, well, competitive about height.
2. Jimin (AOA) and Xiumin (EXO) – “Call You Bae”
Jimin is the “idol rapper” (and one of the most popular members) of AOA, who are pretty much the biggest girl group in South Korea. She sings a bit in this insanely catchy song with EXO heartthrob Xiumin.
3. Got7 – “Fly”
Got7 is a seven member boy band that’s considered one of the coolest groups in South Korea. Their new song, “Fly,” from their mini-album Flight Log: Departure is nearly perfect. Jackson really shines in this song with his smooth rapping. (FYI: In Korea, when you think a member is the best member of the group, that’s called your “bias”).
4. Twice – “Cheer Up”
The new nine-member group debuted last year with one of the best songs of the year(“Ooh Ahh”), and “Cheer Up” is just as energetic and fun. Wait for it to build up to the cheerleader chant of “Be a man, a real man, gotta see you love me like a real man.” A slice of perfect K-pop.
5. NCT U – “The 7th Sense”
NCT U is SM Entertainment’s newest and most mysterious boy band. The name stands for Neo Culture Technology, and the group apparently has no set number of members—like the Korean Earth, Wind, and Fire. NCT U is the groups’ first sub-unit of six members. “The 7th Sense” is an unreal debut that cribs from American trap and R&B.
6. Oh My Girl – “Liar Liar”
Oh My Girl (or OMG) are already famous in the States after they were stopped at LAX and sent back to South Korea when officials mistook them for sex workers. Thankfully, they are also incredibly catchy and good, and here they are fighting! (“Fighting” is K-pop for “encouraging fist pump.”)
7. Block B – “Toy”
Block B is one of the most famous K-rap groups, and their lead member Zico is a particularly showstopping rapper. “Toy” is a great comeback track for them.
8. Akdong Musician – “How People Move”
Fondly known as AKMU, the new mini-album by Akdong Musician was one of the most anticipated albums in the K-pop. While they’ll never capture the pop perfection that was their 2014 song “200%,” “How People Move” is a pretty great showcase of Suhyun’s unique voice and Chanhyuk’s cute rapping.
9. Bangtan Boys – “Fire”
BTS is the biggest boyband in South Korea right now. “Fire” finds them energetically rapping over EDM beats.
10. AOA Cream – “I’m Jelly Baby”
As I mentioned before, AOA is the biggest girl group in South Korea. Like many groups, they sometimes split apart into smaller sub-groups. AOA Cream’s debut “I’m Jelly Baby” is an extremely catchy way to start, and I hope they do more soon.
—CocoSori – “Dark Circle”
I included this for the weird factor. Done in the more traditional “trot” style of 80s K-pop, the song is about staying up late at night waiting for a boy. To combat the dark circles under her eyes, she needs to eat broccoli. Obviously.