Whether you got into K-pop yesterday or 10 years ago, there was that one song that lured you in. A conversion song, if you will. Without that special song, destiny may not have brought you to the wonderful world of Korean music. So in an effort to share the love, here are 23 great songs that brought many of us over to the dark side.
1. BTS – “Dope”
In a list like this, “Dope” is a must. I must admit my personal bias here, as this one has the most special place in my heart. From the beat to the choreo, everything is on point.
2. Epik High – “Born Hater”
For those more inclined toward hip hop, Epik High is the gateway drug to Korean music. “Born Hater” in particular features a lineup of some of today’s most talented rappers, including Beenzino, Verbal Jint, WINNER’s Song Mino, and iKON’s B.I and Bobby.
3. EXO – “Growl”
Some of you might groan at this one, since it’s popular to the point of being overplayed. However, you can’t deny its place in the K-pop hall of fame. “Growl” was one of the first K-pop songs that I liked, and I’m sure many other people can agree.
4. Ailee – “Mind Your Own Business”
For people who can appreciate a vocal goddess, Ailee is your girl. She always has that strong, independent woman vibe that you can’t help but love. Although she may be a bit of a rebel in “Mind Your Own Business,” Ailee is actually a sweetie in real life.
5. MONSTA X – “Hero”
This song is the catchiest of the catchy. “Hero” is a hype song that is perfect for when you need a boost of energy. And once you hear it, it’s difficult to get it out of your head.
6. Red Velvet – “Dumb Dumb”
Although there are several Red Velvet songs that I think fit this list, “Dumb Dumb” ultimately came out on top. With a vocal style that is almost reminiscent of Ariana Grande, many Western pop fans who are unfamiliar with K-pop can feel the appeal.
7. NCT 127 – “Cherry Bomb”
Just from their style of music alone, it is easy to tell that NCT 127 is well-loved by international fans. The group has a uniqueness about them that allows them to stand out in an industry that is a slave to trends. And the power and intensity of “Cherry Bomb” makes it one of the group’s most loved songs.
8. IU – “Palette”
For those who are a fan of singer/songwriter types, IU is the one for you. She has both a certain youthfulness and maturity about her that allows her to be relatable to all ages. “Palette” has meaningful lyrics about IU’s personal experiences of growing up in the spotlight.
9. Girl’s Day – “I’ll Be Yours”
If you put together power vocals, sexy concepts, and four beautiful girls, you get Girl’s Day. Their most recent hit, “I’ll Be Yours,” embodies all those qualities, and is empowering as hell to boot.
10. SHINee – “View”
Although SHINee has had many hits throughout the years, “View” is one of their more accessible tracks. Fans of easy listening and house music will adore this song, and the summer vibes are a plus too.
11. BLACKPINK – “Whistle”
These days it seems that BLACKPINK is the gateway girl group for many new fans. This doesn’t surprise me one bit, considering the swag and talent of the four members. Though you can’t go wrong with any of their songs, “Whistle” happens to be a favorite of mine.
12. SEVENTEEN – “Mansae”
SEVENTEEN is yet another group that has not put out a bad song; “Mansae” just happens to be the song that introduced me to them. The music video is lighthearted and fun, and you can’t help but smile while listening to the song.
13. HyunA – “Roll Deep”
After watching this music video, you can’t deny HyunA’s status as the master of sexy concepts. “Roll Deep” catches your attention from the get-go and gets more addictive each time you listen to it.
14. GD X Taeyang – “Good Boy”
If you’re an EDM fan, this one is for you. “Good Boy” is a song that is made for dancing, particularly in a club of some sort. G-Dragon and Taeyang make for an impressive duo, so it seems natural that they released such an impressive song.
15. Block B – “HER”
This funky beat is enough to have you jumping for joy, or at least doing some intense chair dancing. Block B has many different sides, with this one being my personal favorite.
16. TWICE – “Like Ooh-Ahh”
My goodness, this era was good. The outfits, the dance, and the entire vibe are all just plain fun. In my humble opinion, TWICE is a group that can be loved by all ages.
17. EXID – “Up & Down”
What an iconic song. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes it so good, but I can guarantee that one listen will have you singing along. Though the music video is a bit odd, something about it inevitably draws you in.
18. GOT7 – “A”
Everything about this song just screams happiness. The vocals and dance are refreshing beyond belief, though some of those old hairstyles leave much to be desired.
19. Apink – “Mr. Chu”
When some people think of K-pop, this type of bubblegum-y sweetness may come to mind. Without a doubt, Apink is supreme when it comes to soft, feminine concepts.
20. iKON – “Airplane”
You may ask why a more famous song like “Rhythm Ta” or “My Type” isn’t listed here. Well, this is where personal taste comes into play again. This song made me interested in iKON because the mood of the song is inimitable; the melody seems easygoing, but is actually heavy with melancholy.
21. DreamCatcher – “Fly High”
If you’re into more J-rock and metal, then DreamCatcher is the group for you. Their rock influence really makes them a rookie to watch right now. Keeping that in mind, “Fly High” manages to showcase this unique color along with the members’ talents.
22. Dean – “D (Half Moon)”
Dean’s music makes for an excellent introduction to Korean R&B, as it is a growing genre. For those less interested in the typical pop scene, Dean is the artist to listen to. “D (Half Moon)” makes for an easygoing listen as Dean’s smooth vocals bless your ears.
23. Girls’ Generation – “Gee”
A true classic. Without this song, the cute concept might not be as popular as it is today. To be honest, every K-pop fan should listen to this song at least once.
Which song got you into K-pop? Share your story in the comments below!
jadicus35 is a ordinary college student by day, and a not-so-closet fangirl by night. She spends her time on Tumblr when she’s not (but really should be) studying and/or pretending to be a functional human being.