17 K-Pop Songs From The First Half Of 2020 That Deserve More Recognition
We’re just reaching the halfway point of 2020, and it’s been quite an eventful year. It’s difficult enough in a normal year to keep up with the endless stream of new releases in K-pop, but with all the chaos that 2020 has thrown at us so far, it’s even more possible that you might have missed some hidden gems over the past six months! This list features 17 songs that were way underrated for how lit, catchy, or epic they are. Whether they’re singles from under-appreciated groups or releases from well-known artists that somehow flew under the radar, these tracks deserved a lot more attention than they got, and are sure to win you over!
1. “Lie” — IMFACT
“Lie” is definitely one of the most underrated songs of 2020, given that it’s not only catchy but also understatedly beautiful. The song explores the denial and longing after a relationship has ended, wishing that it were the farewell that is a “lie” rather than the promises the couple made to each other. Reflective subject matter aside, the song’s tropical beats underly a chorus with harmonies that give the track a wonderfully warm quality you won’t be able to get enough of!
2. “LOVELY” — Minzy
“LOVELY” is one of those beautifully affirming, comforting songs that makes you feel like everything will be okay — and that’s in no small part thanks to Minzy’s rich and soulful voice. The lyrics, which the former 2NE1 member wrote herself, speak of the bond between Minzy and her fans while reminding them to stay healthy and happy. “LOVELY” marks the singer’s first release since she parted ways with her former agency earlier this year, so hopefully we’ll be getting more Minzy in the future!
3. “End of Spring” — ONEWE
ONEWE crushed it this year with their duo of quality spring releases. Their refreshing April single “Q” garnered some attention for featuring MAMAMOO’s Hwasa, but “End of Spring” flew totally under the radar. With ONEWE’s signature rock sound, the track is a little moody (it is the end of spring, after all), yet sizzling enough to pave the way into summer. We promise this one will be replaying in your head all day!
4. “HEADACHE” — B.A.P’s Jongup
“HEADACHE” marks Jongup’s solo debut, and it shows off an easy-going, fun side that we love to see from the B.A.P vocalist! The song features a groovy verse from rapper YUNHWAY to complete its retro vibe, and its infectiousness is perfect for a track about the dizziness of being in love.
5. “Villain” — Stella Jang
“Villain” is not only a refreshingly unique song, but also one that really makes you think. It’s about how we all think of ourselves as good people, but everyone has probably been a “villain” to someone else, perhaps not even realizing that we’ve hurt another person. Turn on the captions to catch these genius lyrics, which are just one of the things we love about this track: it’s jazzy, coy, and all wrapped up in a trippy and hilarious MV!
TVXQ member Changmin finally made his Korean solo debut this year, and it took our breath away. “Chocolate” was somehow way underrated, perhaps because it’s an understated song, layered with intensity and sexiness for a slow simmer. We expect nothing less from this veteran artist!
7. “Dazzle Dazzle” — Weki Meki
Weki Meki still has yet to achieve the appreciation they deserve, and there is a lot to love about their February release “Dazzle Dazzle.” Somewhere between a cute and a girl-crush concept, the song is sweet and youthful, yet flirty and fun. Most importantly, it’s super catchy — and we love this choreo!
8. “Come Back Home” — ONEUS
ONEUS has been criminally underrated in 2020, starting with their under-appreciated March release “A Song Written Easily.” Their appearance in the Mnet show “Road to Kingdom” shone more of a spotlight on the group’s talent as artists and performers, but their comeback track for the finale deserved more attention than it got. Even setting aside the group’s breathtaking performance for “Come Back Home,” the track itself is a masterpiece, from its cinematic opening chants to its epically powerful chorus.
9. “Life Sucks” — HA:TFELT
HA:TFELT’s album “1719” is full of songs that are worth a listen, but “Life Sucks” is by far the most powerful. Entirely in English, the track explores the deeply personal story of a scandal surrounding HA:TFELT’s father, as well as the raw emotions that the singer felt at his betrayal. This former Wonder Girls member’s soulful vocals lend the track a haunting quality that adds to its catharsis.
10. “Breath” — Hong Eun Ki
Hong Eun Ki really turned up the heat for “Breath,” where his soft-spoken vocals are complemented by strong rhythms to give the song its intensity. “Breath” is the most mature concept yet from this former “Produce 101 Season 2” contestant, and it’s definitely in the running for one of the sexiest songs of 2020 so far.
11. “Jungle” — BVNDIT
“Jungle” might just be one of the most interesting girl group releases of the year: with its Middle Eastern flair and infectious hook, there’s never a dull moment. The track wastes no time, diving right into its mesmerizing beat and ramping up the energy until it hits an insanely powerful dance break. “Jungle” is epic, and we only wish it got more attention!
12. “All I Need Is You” — DONGKIZ
If you’ve never heard of DONGKIZ, then allow us to introduce you to this quintet through the cheerful “All I Need Is You” (although we also recommend their sexier release “LUPIN“). This song is the kind of infectious, feel-good hit that would have blown up if attributed to a better-known group, so make sure you don’t miss out on the talent and enthusiasm of DONGKIZ!
13. “Knock” — ASTRO
ASTRO seems to get taken for granted at times, like when “Knock” came out in May of this year and was too quickly forgotten! The track is the definition of “refreshing,” and builds to a beautiful climax that creates the feeling of standing under a star-filled sky, befitting of the song’s galaxy-themed lyrics. “Knock” received a fair number of MV views and a music show win, but it deserved so much more!
4. “LALALILALA” — APRIL
APRIL is another girl group that is consistently underrated, but in “LALALILALA” they offer a unique concept that they pull off with style. The track is electronic with a futuristic feel, making it a fresh listen that offers a somewhat mysterious vibe to keep you hooked!
15. “Get Ready” — Ha Sung Woon
We definitely weren’t ready for how lit Ha Sung Woon’s June release was! “Get Ready” is without a doubt one of the songs of the summer, with a distinctive funky vibe derived from Ha Sung Woon’s breathy vocals coupled with jazzy instruments like the saxophone. This song is the definition of an earworm!
16. “Basquiat” — PENTAGON
There was just too much talent in the “Road To Kingdom” finale to give every group its due appreciation! A chanted chorus and rock influence give “Basquiat” a gritty power that grows into epic proportions: as the song builds to a climax, it draws on electric guitar riffs and insanely impressive high notes from Hui, who produced and wrote the track with help from fellow member Wooseok. Thankfully, PENTAGON has begun releasing teasers for an official version of the song, so we can only hope it will gain more recognition soon!
17. “Girls” — NATURE
Released in mid-June, “Girls” has already garnered some attention, and with good reason: the song (and its unique, horror-inspired MV) is absolutely bewitching. The track’s addicting melody is followed by a chanted section that is downright haunting, which after the last hook evolves into a call-and-response bridge that ups the song’s urgency. “Girls” is a strong release that also feels like a turning point in NATURE’s career, so hopefully the track will blow up more in the near future!
Hey Soompiers, what’s your favorite underrated track from 2020? Which of these songs had you not heard before? Let us know in the comments!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases.