Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it and happy holidays! Today begins my countdown to the end of 2017, where I will be putting up a 2017 Best of K-pop list every day until the end of the year. Our first list is KAYBOP’s Top 10 Collabs of 2017. It has been exciting to see the collision of creative minds this year, and I have no doubt that 2018 will bring even more thrilling collaborations.
This list includes hip-hop, R&B, and indie artists (not technically part of the K-pop scene) as well as an unofficial song, because if not for the presence of these tracks, the list would be a bit hollow due to the rareness of two idols or idol groups collaborating. Please note that such releases will not be included in later 2017 Best of K-pop rankings.
Honorable Mentions: Chungha—Why Don’t You Know (feat. Nucksal); Zion.T—Complex (feat. G-Dragon); Triple H (HyunA, E’Dawn, Hui)—365 Fresh; IU, Palette (feat. G-Dragon); ZICO—Fanxy Child (feat. Fanxy Child); IU, Can’t Love You Anymore (feat. Oh Hyuk).
10. Heize, You, Clouds, Rain (feat. Shin Yong Jae): Rising R&B songstress Heize had an extremely successful year, featuring on a number of collaborations with other artists as well as participating in several OSTs. Her meditative EP, titled “///,” is lovely, but the jazz-touched “You, Clouds, Rain” is a wonderful moment on the album, full of melodic gentleness and quietly plodding percussion that sets a unique atmosphere.
9. Luna (f(x)), Hani (EXID) & Solar (MAMAMOO), Honey Bee: This highly addictive track gathers together vocalists from three of K-pop’s most underrated female groups, highlighting the unique style of each. Centered around the catchiest of jazzy horn hooks, “Honey Bee” sticks to your ear in just half a listen, and it’s hard to stop repeating it.
8. Dean, Come Over (feat. Baek Yerin): No one could argue with me if I were to say that Dean owns the collaboration game. The man’s a legend. “Come Over” is a gorgeously layered R&B confection, and Baek Yerin’s pure, piping vocal is an enormous contributor to the track’s refreshing sweetness.
7. Suran, 1+1=0 (feat. Dean): Hello again, Dean! “1+1=0” is a collision of two of K-R&B’s most creative minds. There’s tons of momentum in this track, drawn as much from the quickly strumming acoustic guitar as from Suran and Dean’s urgent vocal delivery. The spare instrumental allows space for the vocals to control the atmosphere, with super catchy results.
6. NU’EST W & SEVENTEEN, Heaven: Pledis Entertainment’s two current boy groups NU’EST-minus-Minhyun and SEVENTEEN united into a massive assemblage of 17 idols to compose, produce, choreograph, and perform this mind-blowing track for the 2017 MNET Asian Music Awards. It was among the 2017 MAMAs’ best performances, so it’s seriously disappointing that it was filmed this dreadfully, and even more so that Uncle Pledis never (well, has not as of yet!) released a studio version. Much of the performance’s impact is derived from the sparks that fly anytime two groups as powerful as these come together, but the song itself is a delectable treat—full of captivating production choices and featuring strong composition, especially in the entrancing verses.
5. Epik High, Here Come the Regrets (feat. Lee Hi): It was no easy feat paring down Epik High’s epic collabs from this year’s incredible album “We’ve Done Something Wonderful,” but Lee Hi’s star power and the song’s sinister slow-burning production won out in the end. That’s not even to mention Epik High’s lyrical impact, which is simply unparalleled (I’m still not over “God, I know you’re up there, but I needed you down here”).
4. Jun. K, My 20s (feat. Double K): Again, another artist whose collaborations over the course of the year were almost impossible to choose from. But this Double K feature is a masterwork from every angle. It’s so strange and imaginative, but there’s no catchiness lost—or rather, in a circular way, the song regains catchiness from the strangeness of its sounds, from the way it fascinates the ear.
3. Dynamic Duo & Chen (EXO), Nosedive: This song collected a huge number of awards at end-of-the-year awards shows, and rightfully so. You would never expect a hip-hop pair to have such incredible chemistry with a prodigal son of SM’s, but Dynamic Duo’s confessional lyrics and the always expressive vocals of EXO’s Chen combined for one of the most moving songs of the year.
2. O!Gon, I Like You the Most In This World (feat. J.Mee of the Lush): I just happened to stumble upon this jewel late one night after falling down a YouTube hole, and it makes me wonder what other K-indie gems I’m missing out on. This is one of the most enchantingly composed songs of the entire year (the only reason it won’t be topping my Top 17 Singles list is because it’s not, after all, technically K-pop), but by virtue of unpretentious vocals and easy-to-follow instrumental rhythms, it performs this magic trick of coming off relatively simple. This warm, humble attitude is the greatest charm of “I Like You the Most.”
1. ZICO, ANTI (feat. G.Soul): ZICO’s creative capabilities are just astonishing sometimes, and it seems to me that he keeps getting better. “ANTI” has an insane amount of energy for such a downtempo track, and it’s because of the unique hip-hop touches of both Zico and G.Soul, whose inimitable styles collide to make something absolutely wild.
Listen to these songs in a playlist on YouTube here.
Take a look at rankings for other categories of KAYBOP’s 2017 Best of K-pop here.
Did we miss any great collabs that you would put in your top 10 list? Let us know in the comments!