Staff Recommended Top 20 K-pop songs and albums of 2007

2007-12-28 07:21:18 2010-11-24 11:07:57
I always say this is my favorite post of the year. Once again I am back to post my favorite top 20 k-pop songs of 2007. Please be reminded that these are purely my recommendations only and will not affect the results of the 2007 soompi gayo award.

For those who are familiar with this post, the songs that I list here are more contemporary in nature. Some people have said I include too many ballads, but I think in the long run, the ballads are the songs that people come back to listen to and also remember. Just like every year, I try to include all genres of songs: pop, R&B, hip-hop, rock, OST songs, etc. This year is the same. Most of you may not have heard of some of these songs. I hope to take this opportunity to introduce these good songs to you. These songs may have gone under the radar and it is time to discover them. smile.gif

To sum up the k-pop music scene in 2007, I notice the following trends:

1. The class of new singers this year may be the strongest ever. We have a few rookie singers in this countdown, but they may not be the familiar names that you expect.

2. Female singers and groups are having an exceptional year. K-pop was male-dominated for the past few years. This year, Ivy, Yang Pa, See Ya, and Wonder Girls all have dominating No. 1 songs.

3. More digital singles – the trend of releasing digital singles did not start in 2007. But this year, more well-known singers are taking this route. Because of the ever declining k-pop album sales, releasing a digital single is a lot lower in cost. If it is successful, the song will later be included in the singer’s new album. I think digital singles will eventually take over as the main source of k-pop.

4. Repackaged albums – I think Shinhwa started this concept a few years back, but it is getting really popular now. Usually the repackaged version of an album will be released about 2 months after the main release, with a new cover, CD booklets, and a new title song that did not appear on the original album. Sometimes it also includes a DVD of the songs’ MV. This concept is going well especially on younger singers and groups whose fans won’t hesitate to spend money to buy the CDs. It is indeed giving the album sales a boost.

5. Male/female duets – When I first got into k-pop, I was wondering why there were so few duets. It all comes out this year and we do have a few duets making it into our top 20 and also in the honorable mentions below.

Before I start, here are my recommendations of last year as a reference:

https://www.soompi.com/staff.recommended.kpop.2006

In 2007, I feel that on average, there are many quality songs. However there is no really stand-out song that would be a clear No. 1 song. So when we get to the top 5 songs, any of those can be No. 1, and I ranked it just on my slight preference.

Honorable mentions:

As usual, there are some songs that just missed the cut but they are worth mentioning. This year I’ve selected 10 songs as honorable mentions. They are in random orders:

Hun – 그맙습니다 (from drama "Thank You") Watch: MV
Ruby – 품 (Width) Listen: full song
Ilac – 그래도 사랑합니다 (I still Love You) Watch: MV
Lee Ki Chan – 미인 (A Beauty) Watch: MV Live Performance
Lee Soo Young – 단발머리 (Bob Hair Cut) Watch: MV Live Performance
Dave & Tae Sa Bi Ae – 손바닥 (Palm of the hand) Watch: Live Performance
Fighting Daddy – Fighting Daddy Fighting Watch: MV
Lisa (feat. Lee Seung Chul) – 시작보다 끝이 아름다운 사랑 (Love with a sweet ending) Watch: MV
MINE – I Know Listen: full song
Hong Kyung Min (duet Kim Ah Sun) – 그때가좋았어 (Those good times) Watch: MV

Here are the top 20 songs:

1. Yang Pa – 사랑…그게뭔데 (Love…What is that?)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Yang Pa Vol. 5

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live performance
Comment: Returning after 6 years of absence from k-pop, fans don’t know what to expect from Yangpa as the industry went through a lot of changes over these 6 years. Instead, she proved that she belonged to the top and reached a new height on her career. This song and her album spent several weeks on top of the music charts. Her vocal skills are undoubtedly among the best, now she’s more mature and controls the flow of the song with her voice even better than before, putting a lot of emotions to the song. It became one of the top hit songs in the summer. Congratulations! smile.gif

2. ERU – 흰눈 (White Snow)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: ERU Vol. 2

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live performance
Comment: Let’s not forget this song because it was a hit very early in 2007, and was from an album in 2006. "Black Glasses" (ranked No. 3 on our list last year) brought ERU fame and fortune. This follow-up song, written by ERU himself, is equally good, if not better. Too bad his 3rd album did not do nearly as well this year. But this song and "Black Glasses" were probably two of the most popular songs from the same album in recent memory.

3. Zi-A – 물끄러미 (Absentmindedly)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Zi-A 1st single album – Voice of Heaven

Purchase this album
Watch: MV
Comment: If we are ranking songs in terms of their MVs, this song is definitely No. 1. It uses the formula of mega production movie-like MV, like so many k-pop classics before. The MV of this song stars Shin Hyun Jun and Kim Ok Bin, who also appear on the album cover. Zi-A is still a mysterious singer, as only a few saw her face in a duet performance with KCM on Yoon Do Hyun Love Letter. We all can tell that she’s really got the "voice of heaven". Of all the hit songs Cho Young Soo has written in 2007, I think this one is the best.

4. Tei – 같은 베개 (Same Pillow)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Tei Vol. 4

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live performance
Comment: Tei has hit No. 1 on the title songs of each of his first three albums. This song, unfortunately, did not accomplish that, but I think this is his best song to date. As a result, Tei appeared on our year-end top 20 list for the first time. Hope that’s a nice consolation. smile.gif

5. Lee Seung Chul – 사랑한다 (I Love You)
Genre: Rock Ballad
This song is from: Lee Seung Chul Vol. 9

Purchase this album
Watch: MV
Comment: Please don’t retire! Lee Seung Chul had hinted that this may be his last album. If indeed that’s true, it’s a huge loss to k-pop. Lee Seung Chul has been one of the most consistent hit makers over many years, whether with Boo Hwal or solo. This song is a warm and sincere rock ballad. It could have been our No. 1 song this year had it been released earlier.

6. Jang Hye Jin – 가라 사랑아 (Go Away Love)
Genre: Pop Dance
This song is from: Jang Hye Jin power album – Tomboy

Purchase this album
Watch: MV
Comment: We saw quite a number of singers changing their music style in the last 2 years, mostly going from up-tempo songs to ballads. Jang Hye Jin is taking the opposite route. Already well known as a ballad singer, she switched to this dance song last summer. She pulled it off nicely as the song reached the top 10. While younger singers rely on their dance steps in up-tempo songs, Jang Hye Jin still focuses on her powerful vocals in this song. Definitely my favorite up-tempo song of 2007.

7. TY Keys – I’m Sorry
Genre: R&B Ballad
This song is from: TY Keys – TY Project No. 1

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live Performance
Comment: It is very difficult to separate this song and 8Eight’s "Forget Love and Sing", both songs are of very similar R&B styles. Even the group composition is the same: male vocalist, female vocalist, male rapper. I like this song just a little bit better. Each member from Tykeys was supposed to go solo but the record company decided to group them together. That’s good for us listeners. You can compare this song with 8Eight’s song to see which one you like more.

8. 8Eight – 사랑을 잃고 난 노래하네 (Forget Love and Sing)
Genre: R&B Ballad
This song is from: 8Eight Vol. 1

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live Performance
Comment: It is quite fitting that 8Eight are No. 8 (I’ve put Se7en at No. 7 before, lol) but they have plenty of talent to back it up. The winners of MBC’s "Show Survival" (like American Idol), their pure R&B sound earned them the nickname of "Korea’s Black Eyed Peas". Definitely one of the most talented new groups in 2007.

9. Jang Yeon Joo – One Sweet Day
Genre: Soft Rock
This song is from: Jang Yeon Joo digital single 스마일 프로젝트 Vol.1

Watch: MV
Listen: full song
Comment: This song fits perfectly to the easy listening mode. Jang Yeon Joo is particularly good in singing this type of music. Her debut song "Something Special" back in 2003 also made our top 10 that year. Songwriter Park Keun Tae has written many top hit songs for female singers in 2007, but perhaps this song is one that people will overlook. The song also features a cute MV about a female astronaut.

10. J (duet with Lee Jung) – 눈물로 (with tears)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: (1) J digital single "with tears", (2) J Vol. 6

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live Performance
Comment: This is as good a duet as it can get. Both singers are known for their vocals, and their music was mostly R&B in the past. This song is more of a pop ballad. The piano arrangement at the beginning of the song is a very nice intro and attracts listeners. In my opinion, this is the top male-female duet song of 2007.

11. Lee Ssang (feat. Ali) – 영화처럼 (Like A Movie)
Genre: Hip-hop
This song is from: Lee Ssang Vol. 4

Purchase this album
Listen: full song
Comment: Most fans remembered the title song "Ballerino" from this album. Instead, this 2nd single is my favorite song of the album. Lee Ssang found a lot of mainstream success on their last two albums, perhaps the laidback style rapping and vocals, plus Ali’s clear voice add spices to their songs. This album proved that their huge crossover success two years ago was no fluke.

12. Ivy – 이럴거면 (If It Is Like This)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Ivy Vol. 2

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live performance
Comment: It’s like a coin flip to decide whether to put this song or the upbeat song "유혹의 소나타" (Temptation of Sonata) to the countdown. I decided to go with this song as it showcased Ivy’s vocal better. Of course, "Temptation of Sonata" showcased her dance skills. Ivy has basically redefined the requirement of a modern-day k-pop singer: you need to be good at different types of music to be successful. Ivy already proved that even in her 1st album 2 years ago. Now she has become the top female soloist in Korea.

13. MC The Max – 가슴아 그만해 (My Heart Cannot Go On Like This Any Longer)
Genre: Rock Ballad
This song is from: (1) MC The Max Vol. 5, (2) MC The Max Vol. 5 Part II, (3) MC The Max Vol. 5 Full Package + New Single – Fall… In Love

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live performance
Comment: Another regular on our countdown. In 2007, MC The Max finally solved their contract problem and came back to release their 5th album. In the past, they usually released their album in winter as their sad ballads were tailor-made for winter. This time, MC The Max released their album in the summer, but it did not affect their success as they scored another No. 1 for this song.

14. See Ya – 사랑의 인사 (Love Greeting)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: See Ya Vol. 2

Purchase this album
Watch: MV Live Performance
Comment: In a span of just 2 years, See Ya have firmly established themselves as the top female group in Korea. Critics may not like their latest album, as many have said it is too "popish" compared to the R&B sounds they had in their debut album last year. Nevertheless, this is the sacrifice they have made for more mainstream success. The trio scored two No. 1 songs on this album. Last time a girl group accomplished that, we might have to go back to the days of SES and FINKL.

15. J-One – 기다리고 있어 (I’m waiting)
Genre: Rock Ballad
This song is from: J-One digital single "Show Time"

Listen: full song
Comment: Perhaps no one paid attention to his debut. I wonder why such a good song has no promotion and no MV. I caught this song also by chance and I like it very much so I decided to put it on to this countdown. Hope you like it too. smile.gif

16. Daylight – 머리를 자르고 (After Hair Cut)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Daylight digital single "After Hair Cut"

Watch: MV Live performance
Comment: One of the better digital singles of the year, Daylight’s name got more recognition after featuring in ERU’s big hit "Black Glasses" last year. Once a modern rock singer of the band "Daylight", she is now using the same name but has found her niche in singing ballads.

17. Dear Cloud – 얼음요새 (Ice Fortress)
Genre: Modern Rock
This song is from: Dear Cloud Vol. 1

Purchase this album
Watch: MV
Comment: A good song doesn’t take long to impress me, especially if it is a rock/modern rock song. smile.gif This is the newest song on the countdown, only released a month ago. Usually I find many good k-rock songs each year, but this year the k-rock scene is kind of slow. I am glad to find this new group at the end of the year. Their album is excellent! I hope to see them crossing over to the pop scene soon. I think their songs are listener-friendly enough to have mainstream success.

18. Jung Dong Ha and Park Ki Young – 천년의 연인 (Thousand Year Lover, Love Theme from movie D-War)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Movie D-War OST

Purchase this album
Listen: full song
Comment: Every year I included a song from drama OST. This year I did not find any drama songs worthy of being in my top 20 (the closest being Hun’s "Thank You"). So I turned my attention to movie OSTs and found this good song from the sci-fi movie D-War. It’s a lovely ballad that has the movie love theme song style written all over it. Park Ki Young is a regular on this countdown. Seems like every year she has a new song out, she’s making it into the year end top 20. smile.gif

19. PK Heman (feat. Lee Ji Hye) – Evergreen
Genre: Hip-hop ballad
This song is from: (1) PK Heman digital single "Evergreen" (2) PK Heman Vol. 1 – Lover

Purchase this album
Watch: MV
Listen: full song
Comment: Hip-hop style ballads have become increasingly popular in the last 2 to 3 years. PK Heman is perhaps the first hip-hop artiste to focus on ballads. Ex-S#arp member Lee Ji Hye provides the vocal in this song, reminding me a little bit of S#arp’s big hit "My Lips Is Like Warm Coffee". This is one of the many songs written by the team of Cho Young Soo and Ahn Young Min in 2007, perhaps their first hip-hop song.

20. Sunny Hill – 통화 연결음 (Ring Back Tone)
Genre: Pop Ballad
This song is from: Sunny Hill’s digital single "Love Letter"

Watch: MV
Comment: Sunny Hill is a rare combination co-ed group with 1 guy and 2 girls. Turtles is the only other group I can think of with this combination. Male member Jang Hyun was a winner from Battle Shinhwa, but he decided to join this group instead of Battle. The female duo are Seung Ah and Joo Bi. They remind me of As One’s "Day by Day" with their high-pitched vocals. A very refreshing song.

Recommended albums of 2007

When we are looking for a good album, we look for the overall quality of its songs. Having one big hit only may not make the album worthwhile to recommend. That’s why some of the albums we listed below may not match the top 20 songs of 2007. In fact, some of these albums don’t have a big hit, but overall they are very good.

Our two album reviewers, Hitorijime and motoway065, and myself, have compiled a list of 20 albums released in 2007, that we recommend. There are many k-pop albums released each year. Forgive us if we miss some good ones as this is the choice of 3 people. We don’t rank this list, and the singer’s name appears in alphabetical order. You can buy these albums by clicking on the "purchase the album" link under each album cover:

Brown Eyed Girls Vol. 2 – Leave Ms. Kim

Purchase this album

Dear Cloud Vol. 1

Purchase this album

Drunken Tiger – Vol. 7 Sky is the Limit

Purchase this album

Epik High Vol. 4 – Remapping the Human Soul

Purchase this album

Fly To The Sky Vol. 7 – No Limitations

Purchase this album

Ivy Vol. 2 – A Sweet Moment

Purchase this album

Ji Eun Vol. 1 – Rain

Purchase this album

Lee Seung Chul Vol. 9 – The Secret of Color 2

Purchase this album

Lee Ssang Vol. 4 – Black Sun

Purchase this album

Lexy – Vol. 3 – Rush

Purchase this album

Lim Jeong Hee Vol. 3 – Before I Go, J-Lim

Purchase this album

Lyn Vol. 4 – The Pride of the Morning

Purchase this album

MC The Max Vol. 5 – Returns

Purchase this album

Outsider Vol. 1 – Soliloquist

Purchase this album

Park Jin Young Vol. 7 – Back To Stage

Purchase this album

So Nyuh Shi Dae (SNSD) Vol. 1 – Girls’ Generation

Purchase this album

Suh Young Eun Vol. 7 – Happily Ever After

Purchase this album

Tim Vol. 4 – Love Is…

Purchase this album

Yangpa Vol. 5 – The Windows of My Soul

Purchase this album

Younha Vol. 1 – The Perfect Day to Say I Love You

Purchase this album

Zi-A single album – Voice of Heaven

Purchase this album