2006 Staff Recommended K-pop Songs And Albums

 2006 has just ended and we’ve known the results of all music award shows, including our own soompi gayo awards. Once again I am back with our staff recommended top 20 songs of the year, a post that I have written each year since 2002. Our album reviewer jahye also contributes with her recommended albums of 2006.

Unlike the year end top 20, this list contains songs of all genres, mostly contemporary, but it ranges from pop to R&B to hip-hop to rock. Some of the songs or artistes you may not have heard of, but they are highly recommended. Nevertheless, the top 10 songs feature many familar tunes.

2006 Soompi Staff Recommended Top 20 songs

1. Sung Shi Kyung – 거리에서 (On the Street)
Genre: Pop Ballad
Album: Sung Shi Kyung Vol. 5 Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

An outstanding ballad which is so smooth and fits Sung Shi Kyung’s voice so well. Big credit goes to songwriter Yoon Jong Shin. It grows on me every time I listen. The song is popular yet underrated because it was released around the same time as songs by DBSG, Bi, etc. But it did spend 6 weeks as No. 1 on our Soompi Top 20 chart.

2. Vibe (featuring Jang Hye Jin) – 그남자 그여자 (That Man, That Woman)
Genre: R&B / ballad
Album: Vibe Vol. 3 Track 2 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

My favorite song in Vibe is still their debut song "미워도 다시 한번" (which was No. 2 on my 2002 list). I wasn’t impressed with this song at the beginning. I felt that the melody was kind of boring. I changed my opinion after watching Vibe & Jang Hye Jin’s Power Recital on Show! Music Core. The live performance just blew me away. Some songs you have to appreciate more hearing it live. This is a good example.

3. ERU (feat. Daylight) – 까만안경 (Black Glasses)
Genre: Pop Ballad
Album: ERU Vol. 2 Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

My favorite pop ballad of the year. Almost everyone that I know likes this song, even though he or she may not heard of ERU or Daylight. The melody itself is easy to remember, and I believe the female voice at the end of the song (whether it is Daylight or Bae Sul Gi) contributes a lot to the popularity of this song.

4. Baek Ji Young – 사랑안해 (I Won’t Love)
Genre: Pop/Ballad
Album: Baek Ji Young Vol. 5 Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

Definitely the most popular song in the first half of 2006. This song revives the career of Baek Ji Young, who has risen to become one of the top female singers in Korea. Before the song was released, we all wondered how effective Baek Ji Young would be in handling ballads, as she has been primarily a dance song artiste throughout her career. This song fits her husky voice very well, a masterpiece by hitmaker Park Geun Tae.

5. Park Sun Joo (feat. Kim Bum Soo) – 남과여 (Man and Woman)
Genre: R&B Ballad
Album: Park Sun Joo Vol. 4 Track 5 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

The first of many songs that people may not be familiar with. Park Sun Joo is a songwriter and producer. In early 2006, she released her fourth album with this ballad that has a jazz feel. It is very comfortable to listen to, especially at night. Kim Bum Soo’s vocal part is more than Park Sun Joo’s, so I consider this a duet rather than a feature.

6. Cherry – 편지 (Letter)
Genre: Pop Ballad
Album: Cherry Vol. 2 Track 4 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

No, this is not Kim Jong Kook’s song. Not many people have heard of this song, maybe even fewer than those who have heard the No. 5 song. I came across this song accidentally but found gold. smile.gif I always like piano-arranged songs, and this tune has a nice piano intro and a simple melody that you won’t forget.

7. Lee Seung Chul – 떠나지마 (Don’t Leave)
Genre: Pop Ballad
Album: Somewhere Over The Rainbow Vol. 1 Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

A beautiful song with Lee Seung Chul’s sincere vocal. This song was first featured in the projected single album "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" Vol. 1, and later also recorded in Lee Seung Chul’s 8th album. Like jahye said in her Lee Seung Chul Vol. 8 album review, this song itself is worth buying Lee Seung Chul’s 8th album. I totally agree.

8. Se7en – 잘 할게 (I will do well)
Genre: R&B Ballad
Album: Se7en Vol. 4 Track 4 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

Se7en released 2 full studio albums in 2006, which is very rare among Korean singers. This song is the best of all in my opinion. It has an easy listening melody, written by Big Mama member Lee Young Hyun. Even though the song is just released as a follow-up to 라 라 라, I decided to include it this year rather than next year.

9. MC Mong (feat. Lisa) – 너에게 쓰는 편지 Part 2 (A Letter Written To You Part 2)
Genre: Hip-hop
Album: MC Mong Vol. 3 Track 3 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

Who could forget 너에게 쓰는 편지 Part 1 (feat. Lyn)? Part 1 made it to No. 10 in 2004. Part 2 is even better, in my opinion, so I ranked it one spot higher. The song has two versions, but I much prefer Lisa’s version (as much as I like Maybee). Just like 잘 할게, it is a hit now but I consider it a 2006 song.

10. Shinhwa – Once in a Lifetime
Genre: Pop Ballad
Album: Shinhwa Vol. 8 Track 4 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

Shinhwa has matured a lot over the years, and it showed in this song. Each member contributed equally in the song, which is the most popular World Cup song out of many. The song would have been even more popular had Shinhwa come out to perform more.

11. Kim Jong Kook – 사랑한다는말 (Words of Loving You)
Genre: Mid-tempo ballad
Album: Kim Jong Kook Vol. 4 Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

I mentioned in my weekly top 20 chart before that I think this song is better than his 편지. I was wondering why the record company did not choose this song as the first single. Having Yoon Eun Hye starring in this song’s MV also helps its popularity.

12. MC The Max – 사랑은 아프려고 하는거죠 (Love After the Pain)
Genre: Rock Ballad
Album: MC The Max Vol. 4 Track 4 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

MC The Max is a regular on my annual year-end top 20. Again, this song is written by their longtime Japanese songwriter Kohmi Hirose. It is a vintage sad ballad that blends Lee Su’s emotional voice.

13. Cho PD & Brown Eyed Girls – Hold The Line
Genre: Pop / Hip Hop
Album: Hold The Line (single) Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

I am so impressed by the multi-talented Brown Eyed Girls. In my opinion, they are the best new artistes of 2006. At first I thought they would be another R&B girl group that is doing ballads only, but this song changed my mind. It’s my favorite up-tempo song in 2006.

14. Sol Flower – 아프고 아프도 (It aches and aches)
Genre: R&B Ballad
Album: Sol Flower – Fantasy Story (Single) Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

Of all the songs written by Cho Young Soo and Ahn Young Min in 2006, I think this one is the best, but is also the least popular. sad.gif This is a more routine R&B ballad compared to Sol Flower’s debut song "Kiss The Kids".

15. Park Ki Young – 그대때문에 (Because of You)
Genre: Pop ballad
Album: Park Ki Young Vol. 6 Track 2 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

After having mostly rock songs on her 5th album, Park Ki Young is going back to more pop-oriented songs in her 6th album. This is a very well-written song by Park Ki Young herself. It reminds me a little of her song 산책 from her 4th album, which made our top 10 in 2002.

16. Choi YeNa – My Dear
Genre: Rock
Album: Choi YeNa Vol. 1 Track 2 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

If you like Park Jung Ah’s "Yeah" or Bada’s "Go Go Go", you should like this song too. Choi Yena is a new female rock singer with a good voice. Her debut album "Hardcore Romantic" has a lot of good songs too. Check it out!

17. SG Wannabe – 내사람 (Partner for life)
Genre: R&B / mid-tempo ballad
Album: SG Wannabe Vol. 3 Track 1 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

I really like the arrangement of this song. I think the melody is average, and also people have been saying that SG Wannabe’s songs sound similar. But that is not the case with this song with its unique arrangements.

18. EZ Life – 너말고니언니 (Not you, your older sister)
Genre: Hip-hop
Album: EZ Life Vol. 1 Track 5 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

EZ Life is a pop-oriented hip-hop group that debuted in early 2006. They did not receive a lot of exposure but I think both singles they released in 2006 (this song and also "고3") were quite good. There are many success stories in pop-oriented hip-hop artistes in Korea, so with more exposure when they release their second album, EZ Life should be able to catch up.

19. Loveholic – 그대만 있다면 (Just With You)
Genre: Pop ballad
Album: Loveholic Vol. 3 Track 10 and MBC Mini Series "One Fine Day" OST Track 3 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

I include a drama-related song each year. In 2006, I think this is the best drama OST song, even though the drama itself did not have high ratings. The song is really more pop than Loveholic’s usual modern rock tunes. It’s almost like lead singer Ji Sun’s solo performance.

20. Kim Jin Pyo – 사랑따위PT.2그자리에 (Love is Meaningless Part 2- At the same place)
Genre: Hip-hop
Album: 사랑 따위 (single) Track 2 – Listen here for 1 minute sample

Kim Jin Pyo started 2006 reuniting with Lee Duk to release Panic’s 4th album. He ended the year releasing a digital single of his own. 사랑따위 has 2 parts, part 2 is a better song and also more popular. It has a melody that is seems to keep you in "suspense", which is a trademark of Kim Jin Pyo’s solo songs.

Honorable Mentions:

We only have 20 spots but each year there are many good songs. These songs were close to making the top 20 but just came up short. We include these songs separately in this list. They are in order of singer’s names:

A.Bridge – Dream It
Buzz – My Love
Cherry Filter – Happy Day
EG – 아파도 사랑합니다
F&F – 발버둥
Jang Hye Jin – 마주치지말자
KCM – 태양의눈물
Maybee – 숨
Nan-A – 나에게 (Like Dat)
Page – 다시사랑해줘요
Paran – 습관처럼
Park Jung Ah – Yeah
Pearl’s Day – 차마
Peterpan Complex – 너는나에게
Rumble Fish – I Go
See Ya – 여인의향기
Seo Young Eun – 웃는거야
ZaZa – 2006 버스안에서

Top 10 Albums of 2006 (in alphabetical order) – written by jahye

Baek Ji Young 5th – Smile Again

Bobby Kim 3rd – Follow Your Soul

Buzz 3rd – Perfect

*Buzz 2006 Live & Acoustic

Kan Mi Yeon 1st – Refreshing

Lee Seung Chul 8th – Reflection of Sound

*RUI – The Best Great Hits

Lee Seung Hwan 9th – Hwantastic

Loveholic 3rd – Nice Dream

*Re-Wind: Remix Album

Nell 5th – Healing Process

Park Ki Young 6th – Bohemian

Shin Seung Hoon 10th – The Romanticist

* = other 2006 releases by the same artist

Honorable Mentions

As One 5th – 12 Different Tears That A Break-up Leaves Behind
Clazziquai 2.5 – Pinch Your Soul (remix album)
Infinite Flow 2nd – More Than Music
The Name 2nd – Second Chance To Fly
Yurisangja 9th – A Few Good Men

Best Christmas Album

Various Artists – Happy Rock Christmas
-Featuring: Peterpan Complex, Schizo, Mr. Funky, Wintergreen, Microkid and others