Rolling Stone magazine has released their end-of-the-year ranking of their writers’ favorite songs, appropriately titled “The 50 Best Songs of 2021.”
This year, the pop-music world felt more wide open than ever. Our list of 2021’s best songs includes a beautiful indie-pop celebration of queer love, a reggaeton star tucking into some sweet Eighties synths, a self-celebrating pop-rap smash that scandalized the American right, a Lorde track that sounds like it could’ve been a Nineties U.K. club hit, and unforgettable anthems that pushed the boundaries of K-pop, rock, and country.
— Rolling Stone
Three awesome K-Pop songs made the list. Here’s how they ranked:
3. “The Feels” by TWICE
The list started with TWICE’s English track “The Feels,” ranked at No. 50. Like the rest of us, Rolling Stone can’t get that catchy chorus and its point choreo out of their heads!
Nine-piece girl group Twice specialize in energy, bright colors, and fun choreography — even by K-pop’s high standards. Disco-pop track ‘The Feels’ was the group’s first original English-language single and it deservedly caught the attention of the Western market. ‘The Feels’ is a radiant burst of disco energy, with a masterfully slick bass line, an ingenious vocal arrangement, and one of the year’s most effervescent choruses: ‘Boy, I, Boy, I, Boy, I know, I know you got the feels,’ will be replaying in your head all day.
— Kristine Kwak
2. “Rosario” by Epik High feat. CL and ZICO
What happens when K-Pop legends Epik High, CL, and ZICO collaborate? Magic in the form of “Rosario.” It ranked at No. 40 on Rolling Stone‘s list.
Leave it to a trio of K-pop vets to show just where the genre is headed. On ‘Rosario,’ a track from Epik High’s landmark 10th studio album, the hip-hop group teams up with singer CL and rapper Zico and shuns the heavy-handed production and boisterous refrains of most K-pop songs in favor of something with a little more musical depth. Over a light trap beat and flamenco-style guitar, the three artists trade verses about setting the standard for K-pop acts to follow. CL takes it home on the defiant chorus: ‘Out of my way, I am a legend and I’m here to stay,’ she belts. New artists, take notice.
— Tim Chan
1. “Butter” by BTS
Of course, BTS’s hit song, the official song of the summer, had to be included! It ranked No. 16 but No. 1 in our hearts and multiple times on Billboard charts.
BTS celebrate the power of silky beats, sunburst harmonies, party raps, and jump-up choruses with such unguarded joy it makes everyone else on the pop charts seem drab by comparison. ‘Butter’ rides a Chic-loving disco groove similar to their megahit ‘Dynamite,’ yet where that song was about their triumph as a group, this one gives everyone a chance to shine — and the addition of a killer Megan Thee Stallion remix only added to the good time.
— Jon Dolan