Happy February, the month of Valentine’s Day, chocolate, love and kisses! Or, for others, just another winter month that includes one day of increased awareness of one’s solitude. Whether you’re besotted, bitter, or indifferent, here are some great K-pop tracks to carry you through the month.
1. Red Velvet, Happily Ever After: One of several Red Velvet songs inspired by fairy tales, “Happily Ever After” is a modern take on Cinderella. This oddball, manically upbeat and swathed in gorgeously composed vocal harmonies, is nothing short of infectious.
2. ZICO, Pride and Prejudice (feat. Suran): Ah, what a meeting of the minds! You’ve got to give it to these two excellent artists for bringing together their R&B and hip-hop influences to produce this simultaneously relaxing and addicting collaboration.
3. IU, Twenty-Three: IU wrote “Twenty-Three” about double standards, calling out the Korean public and media for expecting her to portray a cutely girlish image and a mature, sexy one at the same time. What quickly became her most controversial songs is also among her most genius, utilizing varying layers and tones of vocals to construct hook after inescapably catchy hook.
4. NU’EST, Pretty (feat. Yoo Ara): An underappreciated song from an underappreciated era. The smooth, flirty funk may sound like a throwback, but what really sets “Pretty” apart is the phrasing that toggles between complex and simple, engaging the listener one moment and allowing them to just jam the next.
5. Girl’s Day, Love Again: This spare track focuses almost exclusively on vocals and electric guitar, using bittersweet composition and a hollowly echoing instrumental to create a moody atmosphere.
6. WINNER, Sentimental: Now that former member Taehyun has left WINNER, no one talks about this golden song anymore because it makes us, well, sentimental. That’s a shame, because everything about the cheekily depressing pop-rock track is simply brilliant.
7. BTS, Hold Me Tight: I’ve never understood why this HYYH B-side is so habitually overlooked, even by fans who love to advocate for BTS’s lesser-known tracks. With a yearning melody composed by member V and lushly textured production, it’s without a doubt one of the group’s best side tracks of all time.
8. SONAMOO, I Like U Too Much: This candy-sweet track is vocal dynamite, stacked with jazzy hooks that show off SONAMOO’s talents as well as or better than any of their other title tracks.
9. B.A.P, Diamond 4 Ya: “Diamond 4 Ya” is one slick fellow, with a glossy electronic beat and plenty of breathy high notes. Its multifaceted hook structure and crystal-cut production make “Diamond 4 Ya” one of the most enduring B.A.P songs of the past year.
10. Taeyeon, 11:11: Taeyeon’s music always stands out for its accessibility, and this song is a perfect example, with an engaging, easy-to-follow melody sweetly arranged over an acoustic instrumental.
11. gugudan, A Girl Like Me: “A Girl Like Me” is a glorious intersection of girl group trends, heavy on everything from power vocals to cute sing-talking to hefty bass. The concept blending is seamless and massively fun.
12. PENTAGON, Organic Song: When PENTAGON debuted with “Gorilla,” I wasn’t 100% on board right away. This B-side, written by member E’Dawn, convinced me. If the “lyrics like a maze” and “melody that can’t be understood” don’t get you, then Hui’s breathtaking high notes certainly will.
13. Taeyang, Wedding Dress: I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to end this playlist than with an iconic song by a K-pop king who just got married this week. Congratulations, Taeyang!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Listen to this playlist on YouTube here.