Coming out of my cave to say, finally! The year end Kpop list that we had all been talking about @infinitize @crysta @jaelegant! I…can’t help but feel a little sad, now that I won’t have to think about it for another year at least.

A few things to note before I begin:-
i) This is a mixture of albums and singles because I didn’t want to butcher the albums I love by breaking them into singular tracks. Plus, doing so would just mean that I would have to add them all to my list separately and then this list would have ended up being only EXO & DBSK.
ii) Yes, it is an oddly numbered list but 10 was too less and 19 (cause it’s 2019, a Fini idea) was too much and I didn’t want to add more songs just to fill up the spots.
iii) I tried to stick with more b-sides because those normally get neglected and tried to include only one entry per artist. I did get sneaky with the latter but hey, my list my rules.
iv) I have written too much for some and too little for some. It doesn’t mean I love the latter any less.
v) Yes, I am a Cassiopeia and EXO-L so this list is going to be dominated by them. If I didn’t like their music this much then I would have no reason to be their fan now, would I? Blame them for being too good.

Now, on to the list!

1) [ALBUM] EXO – Obsession: Back when this comeback had first been announced, I had put this album straight at the top of my list. And as always with EXO, I was not disappointed. Yet another solid album filled with standout tracks. The overall sound of this album is a bit different from the EXO that we are used to, their trademark style of vocal layering taking a bit of a backseat, but it fits the concept with which this album was constructed and they use this opportunity to play around with new vocal dynamics that also helps put some spotlight on the more in-the-shadows members of the group. I could write an essay about this album but I’m going to try and make this as short as possible – love the refrain-as-percussion of Obsession, the verses buoyed by that bomb consistent bass, the sinister horns and whistles that come in for the pre-chorus, and the culmination of it all into their signature sensual R&B chorus. It’s dark, unsettling, in line with their concept, experimental and unique, and is a full bop. A quick look into the other tracks in the album – love the use of rarer instruments for Groove (& its dreamy fantastical nature) and Non Stop, and Baby You Are’s folk instrumentation. Day By Day is more typical EXO so there’s no reason not to love it. Ya Ya Ya is such a fun and playful track. Trouble is another good dance track that doesn’t rinse and repeat the same reggae samples throughout. Butterfly Effect is probably the weakest link in this album. While still a good song to listen to, it doesn’t have as much of a distinctive quality to it as the rest of the tracks and hence didn’t grab me the same way, a pattern I have noticed with all songs, across artists, tagged as a “fan song”. Makes one wonder…
Special Mention – Jekyll. The song is structured as a conversation between their two alter egos à la Jekyll and Hyde, with Jekyll’s verses being delivered with a rough aggression born out of fearful desperation, struggling to push out their darker selves, while Hyde’s verses are delivered in smooth, seductive vocals, like a lover softly asking their partner to not push them away, that shows the chilling confidence they have in winning this fight, or rather, that they know they have already won.

2) [ALBUM] Chen – Dear My Dear: The lyrics! Omg! The songs in this album have very evocative lyrics that build a beautiful visual tapestry and it is an absolute treat to…listen? see? haha. So I would urge everyone to listen to these tracks with a good translation pulled up. Unlike its predecessor, this album sees Chen also delve into retro and brit pop. Apart from that, it’s Chen. I doubt I need to say much more than that.

3) [ALBUM] U-know Yunho – True Colors: Strap yourselves in, cause this is one banger of a ride. A Michael Jackson-esque dance funk album, Yunho goes with simple but impactful instrumentals without a lot of decorative bells and whistles. And. It. Works. Oh so well. I must say though, considering how dynamic the rest of the album is, Hit Me Up was disappointing in the way that it submitted to the current trends. I would have preferred if the album didn’t have a ballad in Change The World but I really like the track and it serves as a nice change of pace so I don’t mind it.
Special Mention – Swing (ft. BoA). If this collab isn’t what we had all been dreaming of! I admit, I started to feel some doubt at the pre-chorus but then the instruments dropped away completely and Yunho came in with that harmony before the killer beat of the chorus hit me upside the head. I almost broke something in me by how hard it had me dancing.

4) [ALBUM] Chen – April, and a Flower: Again, it is Chen. And if he can make me like a straight Korean pop ballad album…..

5) [ALBUM] Baekhyun – City Lights: While the songs in this album are good, I wouldn’t really say that they break any major borders and as such, its replayability majorly depends on Baekhyun. EXO’s main vocalists have vocal prowess to spare however, and Baekhyun more than rises to the occasion. Even within the group, his voice is a favorite of mine. So a whole album with only him at its helm? That too a dark R&B album? YES, & YES!
Special Mention – UN Village. This album’s USP is Baekhyun’s voice and no other track in this album understands that better than this one. The track wisely remains on the low and just lets Baekhyun do the heavy lifting to build the atmosphere of the song as he lures us, and his lover, into secret moonlit rendezvouses, seductively crooning over the difficult rhythm of the track with confident ease. It is hypnotizing and, simply put, is a siren’s song.

6) EXO-CBX – Paper Cuts: I don’t know how to coherently talk about why I love this song to bits. All I can say is, it’s heartbreakingly gorgeous, with lyrics that I interpret as being about wanting to make your loved one happy even at your own detriment (“A night sky without stars, so I’ll cut it out/The paper cuts in my hand are illuminated by the light/Fragile and on the verge of breaking/The paper cuts in my hand, but your smile, it’s so lovely”). It’s simple but the emotions hit you right in the heart. And it’s sung by an EXO subunit consisting of Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin, so you know it’s real. They just lay themselves bare on this track.

7) Chanyeol – SSFW: Not everything needs to be an experimental marvel to be loved, and this track is evidence of that. It doesn’t try to break out of any boxes but the melody is really pretty and soothing. I find myself putting this song on replay every time I am feeling down and it does the trick. Not to mention, a rare track with Chanyeol singing! He may not be main vocal material but he knows what works and sticks to it. His deeper timbre blends well with the song and amps up the calming effect.

8) Hong Jin Young – Love Tonight: I cannot not include my Queen of Trot in this. Her songs are instant pick-me-ups and have me breaking chairs left and right as I climb on top of them for silly dance times. Just go listen to her. You are welcome.

9) AKMU – Chantey: It is such a haunting song and I absolutely love it. Songs like this are a rarity, sadly. Any recs based on this song would be highly welcome.

10) SuperM – No Manners: This song had me right from the moment that the dark spanish guitar kicked in…which happened in the first second, so. I love the mysterious and sexy vibe of the song, even if the lyrics seem to be following a different thread entirely.

11) Red Velvet – Sunny Side Up!: A reggae trap song with Red Velvet’s harmonies? Oomph! This song can very accurately be described as HOT. It is like a hot summer day with some sultry passion thrown in that leaves your head spinning.
Special Mention – In & Out for the ones who love their edgier Velvet releases, and LP and Milkshake for those who love their quirkier Red releases. Or all 3 for those who love it all!

12) Dreamcatcher – Silent Night: Ah, Dreamcatcher. Such a unique little group whose genre of choice is sadly not my type. However, the rare times when they decide to go electronica? It’s glorious and this insane psytrance song is proof of that.

13) TXT – 20cm: There had initially been fierce competition between Crown and Run Away for this TXT entry since their title songs are such solid, poppy, catchy fun. But the game was over the moment I heard 20cm. It’s about a best friends to lovers romance, except it’s told through the lens of puberty. The boys sing about the awkwardness of the changes they are physically going through, as well as the way that it triggers changes in the dynamic between them and the girl, both slowly becoming aware of each other in new ways. Like how nice her hair smells, or the way that her hands suddenly feels so small in theirs. It is so relatable and absolutely adorable, it had me squeeing à la kdramas! The old-school R&B instrumental is also perfect for it and just ups the feels. And the 20cm in the title? It’s their new height difference post-growth spurt! HOW. CUTE!

14) Jus2 – Focus On Me: It has an understated melody that just beautifully blooms when the chorus hits. It makes me sigh with satisfaction.

15) BTS – Dionysus: PROCEED WITH CAUTION EVERYONE. CAUSE THIS SONG IS A SHOT OF PURE ADRENALINE. It’s deliciously unrefined hard-hitting rock-hiphop à la rookie BTS and I. Enjoyed. Every. Second. Of it.

Honourable Mention: Ok, this one is a blatant breaking of rules but again, as my dear friend had reiterated to me, mah list mah rulez (that was totally cool & hip, Kale) . So there is no way I was going to end this without my other boy from my OG group because I cannot even count how many times I have watched this. Even the heavens went “this is going to be amazing so we should go make an appearance as rain”. And with this, I am going back to my cave. Hope you all had a great Christmas and have a great 2020!


    That is a dramatic performance, and that crowd looks huge.
    The AKMU song is haunting. You have me curious with the Chen and Britpop combination, I’m going to have give that album a listen. Actually, the majority of these albums I have not delved into and will use this as a jumping off point.


      Yeah it was a Japan concert and DBSK is still big in Japan.

      And kyaaa! Do come back and tell us if you like any!!


      Beverly! Hi! Because our previous EXO rabbit chat was doomed – there is a small separate server over on Discord where we fangirl over EXO (it gets pretty r-rated for them, I gotta warn you 😂😂) and other groups like SHINee, ATEEZ, Stray Kids, and Kpop in general. All of us are beanies obviously, like Infinitize, bea, etc. So if you would like to, come join us – ! We are also planning to hold a kpop party at 9:30pm MST with all the songs in our year-end lists, if you are interested! Also tagging @vipsky4796 @minminfan for the same! Come, you guys! And please don’t think I am being creepy


    I’m glad to see Jus2- Focus on Me made your list. It’s one of my faves from this year as well 💚 I also loved AKMU’s album and Chen’s.


    Cat & Dog is not on this list. This list in invalid.


      Cat & Dog is the song of the decade and my puny little list is UNWORTHY of even mentioning that song.