10 Rock-Inspired Korean Songs To Relive Your Angsty Teen Years

Within the ever-changing Korean music industry, groups often switch between genres and sounds, sometimes innovating their own to stand out. Perhaps that is why many K-pop fans are a mishmash of music lovers who have wandered in from countless, vastly different genres!

One of these genres is rock, and whether it’s your typical rock riffs or pulsing, heart-racing pop-punk drumbeats, K-pop has returned time and again to this classic genre – and for good reason. Without further ado, here are 10 K-pop/Korean songs that will speak to your inner rock fan!

1. Dreamcatcher – “Odd Eye”

As K-pop’s reigning princesses of rock, pretty much all of Dreamcatcher’s stunning discography is a unique blend of rock and EDM. Their 2021 single “Odd Eye” is one of their many dynamic rock-tinged title tracks. The dark, heavy electric guitar in the chorus contrasts beautifully with their sweet yet powerful voices.

2. DAY6 – “Sweet Chaos”

Like Dreamcatcher, this K-band puts out a mix of rock subgenres from pop and alternative to indie. “Sweet Chaos” is a standout track in terms of how true it remains to the genre and wins a ton of bonus points for how easy it is to head bang to it!

3. TXT – “LO$ER=LO♡ER”

In 2021, TXT ventured into the world of rock, and we can’t get enough of it! While their earlier single “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” takes on a more emotional, romantic approach to the genre, “LO$ER=LO♡ER” screams out pure unadulterated “I hate the world” teen angst, making it perfect for this list.

4. PURPLE KISS – “My Heart Skip a Beat”

One of the rookie girl group’s pre-debut singles, “My Heart Skip a Beat” could have easily been your typical run-of-the-mill electronic girl crush K-pop offering. Instead, the innovative new act chose to paint the background of this track with electric guitar and a driving, relentless drum beat.

5. B.A.P – “1004 (Angel)”

Arguably one of the most iconic pop-rock songs in K-pop to date, “1004 (Angel)” remains one of B.A.P’s greatest title tracks. Everything from the instrumental and the soaring desperate vocals to its angst-ridden music video and lyrics makes it utterly perfect.

6. ENHYPEN – “Tamed-Dashed”

While largely led by grinding, heart-racing EDM-style synths, the driving beat in “Tamed-Dashed” is reminiscent of countless pop-rock tracks out there, lending the song a sense of youthful energy. Hopefully the boys come out with a rock or live band version someday!

7. Jessi – “What Type of X”

Despite being known as a rapper, Jessi shows off her vocal chops in this song, giving us a glimpse of an alternate universe where she is the front-woman of a rock band. Again, while it is not a traditional rock track, the guitar riffs and bass lend “What Type of X” an edgy, confident energy befitting of Jessi’s devil-may-care attitude.

8. SHINee – “Why So Serious?”

Another throwback, SHINee made waves back in 2013 with this whimsical, dramatic funk-rock track only they would be able to pull off. The boys also got to show off their impressive vocal ranges, cementing their position as one of K-pop’s greats.

9. Taeyeon – “Can’t Control Myself”

K-pop queen Taeyeon challenges herself with every new record, and this year’s “INVU,” of course, is no exception. In the pre-release single “Can’t Control Myself,” the legendary star sings of a messy, dangerous love in this pop-punk style ballad. Who knew heartbreak could sound so beautiful?

10. Epik High ft. Younha – “Gray So Gray”

Ending off on a gentler note, Epik High and Younha take listeners on a soft alternative-indie rock journey in their newest single “Gray So Gray.” Despite the hip hop trio’s relaxed rap verses and Younha’s soothing vocals, this laidback track masks beneath it poignant, jaded lyrics that tackle self-hatred and guilt.

What are your favorite rock-inspired Korean tracks? Let us know in the comments below!

Gladys Yeo is a longtime K-entertainment fan and university student majoring in Media and Asian Studies. Outside of school and writing, she can be found listening to K-pop girl groups, attempting cool new pole tricks, watching anime, or trying (and failing) to control her two pet corgis. Feel free to hit her up on Instagram to chat about dramas, music, and life!

Currently Watching: “Through The Darkness,” “Twenty Five, Twenty One,” and “Thirty-Nine
Looking Forward To: “Soundtrack #1,” Red Velvet’s comeback

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