Disclaimer: Any of my end of year lists are based upon what I have seen and/or watched. They might not be the ‘best’, if indeed there was a way to evaluate that objectively, but represent what I have most enjoyed listening to or watched. Feel free to disagree with me. And by the way, I am tone deaf …
10. Taemin: MOVE — ing
Beautiful Taemin, what can I say? Just a gift to the world and KPOP. Thanks for the multiple MVs of Move.
9. EXO: The War
As with BTS, I prefer EXO’s 2016 album. However I am in the minority here. Having said this, EXO once again demonstrate why they are one of KPOP’s leading boy groups with their on-point vocals and raps.
8. VIXX: Shangri-La
VIXX are the master’s of the concept album and Shangri-La is no exception. In the West, Shangri-La is known as a mystical place in the East – the name of which derives from James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon – where harmony and love provide an oasis from the real world. VIXX’s take on it, is darker and less harmonious than Hilton’s, but well worth visiting.
7. K.A.R.D: You & Me
K.A.R.D’s second mini-album of 2017 is considerably darker than Hola Hola and as such appeals to the Goth in me. While it didn’t do as well in the charts in Korea, it marks a more mature direction and style for what is the break-out KPOP act of 2017.
6. Seventeen: TEEN, AGE
The diversity of Seventeen’s subunits works well here, although there is a lack of thematic coherence as a result. However with this, there can be little doubt that Seventeen has cemented its place amongst KPOP’s leading boy groups.
7: GOT7: 7 for 7
The most cohesive work that GOT7 have produced to date which deserved more attention that it got when released. I hope that the group builds on this and receives the success that it undoubtedly deserves.
4: G-Dragon: Kwon Ji Yong
With this self-titled album, G-Dragon introspectively examines the unreal life of a KPOP idol in which life is lived out almost exclusively in front of the camera lens and in the glare of the media. Emotionally depressing Kwon Ji Yong might be, but it is perhaps the most authentic glimpse of the type of life that KPOP idols have to live and the unrealistic exceptions that surround them which are representative of larger societal problems in South Korea. Perhaps now is the time to reflect on this.
3: VIXX LR: Whisper
VIXX‘s LR – Leo and Ravi – is perhaps one of the best KPOP’s subunits. Ravi’s distinctive rap melds well with Leo’s silky vocals on this, their second EP.
2: BTS: LOVE YOURSELF 承 ‘Her‘
Certainly 2017 has marked a career defining point for BTS with LOVE YOURSELF 承 ‘Her’ smashing global records for a KPOP band. I personally prefer Wings and Blood, Sweat and Tears to Love Yourself and DNA, but then I am not the main demographic for the album.
1: Epik High: We’ve Done Something Wonderful
By far and away, my favourite album of the year. Powerful, haunting and emotional, We’ve Done Something Wonderful demonstrates that KPOP rappers do not need to culturally appropriate an’other’s experience and history to produce socially conscious music.