2021 was a crazy year for K-Pop. While the world was still going through the pandemic, it didn’t stop our favourite artists from dropping chart-busting songs. It seems like a K-Pop wildfire has been spreading quickly across and consuming everyone in its charm. Potentially, 2022 will be no different when it comes to K-Pop becoming so huge that each year, it is competing with its own.
While we await what K-Pop holds in store for us in 2022, Team NH has compiled our favourite song picks of 2021 along with the reason why we love it so much.
Snigdha’s Pick – HWAA ((G)I-DLE)
Release Date: January 11, 2021
Album: I Burn
‘HWAA’ depicts the concept of women trapped in the winter. Leader Soyeon wrote the song after getting inspired by the phrase ‘winter girl’ used by member Shuhua in a conversation. This song is a personal pick of mine. The use of the word HWAA to denote different meanings in Korean and Chinese is a smart move. Further, I can’t resist a number that depicts girls or women in a strong light and HWAA is exactly that, whether through its lyrics, visualization, or powerful vocals. It may weigh in on the girl crush concept that is a running theme in many K-Pop songs of 2021, but it hits a little differently. The song has indescribable maturity to it. Even others around me who don’t really listen to K-Pop couldn’t help but notice when the song was on. Additionally, the MV is also a work of art.
Anushka’s Pick – On the Ground (Rosé from BLACKPINK)
Release Date: March 12, 2021
Rosé released the album ‘R’, almost a year after the announcement of her solo. With her song ‘On the Ground’, Rosé broke the Guinness World Record and became the first artist to reach number one on a Billboard Global Chart as a soloist and as part of a group. Through this song, Rosé wants to convey that everything we need is within us. She reflects on her life and realizes what matters the most in life is not money and fame but happiness.
Anushka from Team NH recommends the song. According to her, you can feel Rosé’s hard work shine through the lyrics. Anushka says, “The song is gorgeous be it’s Rosé’s voice, lyrics, or the whole MV. No doubt, this song has a special warmth and meaning. Rose’s solo was definitely worth the wait.”
Aaradhana’s Pick – Daisy (Mirani ft pH-1)
Release Date: April 7, 2021
If you are a fan of K-Hip Hop, this won’t disappoint. In an NH Exclusive Interview, Mirani revealed that she wrote Daisy based on her experience.
“I still can’t take it
When I get flowers
I honestly feel awkward”
This actually happened when she was filming a commercial. A staff member presented her with a beautiful flower which she thought she didn’t deserve. She expressed that she is not used to good and fragrant things yet. This is the second time Mirani collaborated with pH-1. Aaradhana nominates this song even though she recently found the track. In her opinion, “this is a meaningful hip hop track! Especially relevant for those trying to heal from something”.
Varsha’s Pick – Bittersweet (Mingyu and Wonwoo from SEVENTEEN (Ft. Lee Hi))
Release Date: May 28, 2021
Project: Power of ‘Love’
If you have ever been conflicted between love and friendship, then this song is for you. While Mingyu and Wonwoo are a part of the Hip-Hop unit of SEVENTEEN, it was a pleasant surprise to have a song focused on their vocals and in collaboration with Lee Hi, making it a perfect exhibition of their extending capabilities. According to Varsha, “It is a perfect song for rainy days. The fact that most of the song is set up against rainy weather adds to its vibe.”
Ileeka’s Pick – Runaway (EXO)
Release Date: June 7, 2021
Album: Don’t Fight the Feeling
The album was marketed as a special album, and it is indeed special for the fans. It was EXO’s return to the scene after almost 2 years. The album also marks the return of members Xiumin, Lay, and D.O. since ‘Don’t Mess Up My Tempo’ (2018). ‘Runaway’ talks about running away from prison without bars to a new beginning. The song is a fan favourite in the entire album, and Ileeka tells us why.
“Runaway is one of the best songs on the album. It gives me an ‘Oasis’ and ‘Walk on Memories’ vibe. The melody and momentum enhance the group’s vocals even though the song does not have an explosive climax. Runaway plays well into the emotions of being able to run away from the world, even for a moment. This song is my escape from the stress and mundane.”
Nicki’s Pick – Lazy (Woosung from The Rose)
Release Date: June 24, 2021
In an NH Exclusive Interview last year, Woosung disclosed the meaning behind the song.
“I have always been lazy in some ways, pushing things off that didn’t interest me as much. The only thing I wasn’t lazy for was music, so I wrote a song about it. I think we can all relate to our inner laziness and appreciate both when we are being lazy and being proactive. Balance is the key.”
Nicki highly recommends the song. She says “The song is extremely relatable in what it’s trying to portray. We always focus on telling ourselves to be productive and work hard. Nobody ever says: be lazy. That, too, I believe is important sometimes as we can come back charged up to work on the things that we love.”
Akhila’s Pick – DejaVu (ATEEZ)
Release Date: September 13, 2021
Album: ZERO: FEVER Part.3
This song is Mingi’s return to ATEEZ after an 8-month hiatus. The track is reflective of ATEEZ’s signature style, dark undertones, and powerful choreography. Rappers Hong Joong and Mingi contributed to the lyrics that dive into an obsessive type of love. ATEEZ wants people to feel like they are reading a mystery novel when listening to the song.
Akhila describes, “Apart from the stunning MV and dripping visuals, the song has a catchy melody, and the choreography was surprisingly easy for fans to catch on! The dark theme surely fits well with ATEEZ. This is my song of the year.”
Arya’s Pick – My Universe (BTS)
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Album: Music of the Spheres
‘My Universe’ is a track about bringing three universes together through music. The song is a collaboration between Coldplay and BTS. It is set in the Spheres planetary system, where Silencers have banned any kind of music. DJ Lafrique brings three groups from 3 different planets to perform together using HOLOBAND technology. The first band is Coldplay, the second is BTS, and the third is a fictitious alien band called Supernova 7. Chris Martin said the song is about how the power of love transcends all things, borders, rules, race, genders, and every sexuality. The song is shot quite strategically, given the pandemic situation, in sync with the story.
Arya recommends the song saying “It has a great message and vocals are complementary. It’s the best collaboration of the year. What makes the song more heartening is the rapport BTS and Coldplay share.”
Saakshi’s Pick – Rock with You (SEVENTEEN)
Release Date: October 22, 2021
As the title track of SEVENTEEN’s 9th mini album, ‘Attacca’, ‘Rock with You’ is a powerful yet passionate number. Members Vernon, Joshua, and Woozi participated in songwriting, with the latter also taking part in the composition. The song is like a strong love letter where SEVENTEEN conveys they want to rock and ride with the one they love. Saakshi is a hardcore CARAT but explains her choice well. “‘Rock with You’ is absolute perfection. I have high expectations when it comes to this group, but they exceeded them with this song. Everything about this song, MV, choreography is perfect, and the boys own the stage performances.”
Soumya and Jenifer’s Pick – Beautiful (NCT)
Release Date: December 14, 2021
As descriptive as the title, the song runs with a clear message: be yourself because you are beautiful. This pre-Christmas release is perfect for the season and for anyone looking to start 2022 with a smile.
This song received double votes from the Team NH members, Soumya and Jenifer. Soumya says, “This song hits home. It is the kind of song which will make you cry and give you comfort at the same time. It will lift you up. The message in the song is what the world needs as a daily reminder.” Jenifer believes, “The song has beautiful lyrics and will give you the motivation to move forward and keep dreaming.”
So there you have our picks from 2021. Let us know in the comments which is your favourite K-Pop song of the year!