1. IU - Palette (feat. G-Dragon)
IU has grown exponentially with each release, and this mature cut from her latest album was instantly charming and refreshing to hear. When IU decides to work outside of the mold with which she started her career, she shines the most. In the absence of soaring power vocals for the sake of showing off (think "Good Day"), what fans received was one of IU's most tactful tracks yet.
2. TWICE - Likey
In case it wasn't clear already, TWICE has definitely become the (Korean) Nation's girl group. Each release breaks YouTube records and spends time atop the charts, so it only made sense to do a social media-inspired song with "Likey." This track offers a repetitive but addicting chorus, huge horns, and pulsing synths throughout to a "Likey"-ble effect.
3. Blackpink - As If It's Your Last
It's always great to watch an act come into their own as entertainers. At just 4 songs deep into their discography, Blackpink had a lot to prove still when "As If It's Your Last" came out, but this was definitely a song that silenced all naysayers. It's fierce but fun, with a chorus so big that it might as well have its own postal code. The Midas touch of producer Teddy continues to shine.
4. BTS - DNA
If you've been paying attention at all, you know BTS is the biggest K-Pop act on the face of the planet this year. "DNA" became their magnum opus, a song that allowed them to perform on American television several times while also becoming award show mainstays. With a "New Year's Rockin' Eve" performance still to come, BTS is perhaps most worthy of the "defined 2017" declaration.
5. WINNER - Really Really
WINNER is another group that truly hit their stride this year. Although they had hits before, none had become quite as ubiquitous as "Really Really," a tropical house influenced track that took over the charts this year. Even with one less member than they debuted with, WINNER has made their personality as a group clear and begun to stand out from the crowd.
6. G-Dragon - Untitled 2014
As a solo performer, G-Dragon has enraptured fans with a rebellious discography and appearance, so it was refreshing to hear him switch it up with a heart-wrenching ballad this time around. His vocals are the most developed they've ever been, and it definitely speaks to his power as an artist to be so emotionally resonant on such a simple arrangement. Even with the rollout of his album release altered in the light of scandals with his group members, G-Dragon made himself a standout this year by challenging himself.
7. Red Velvet - Red Flavor
It was hard to pick between this song and "Peek-a-Boo," but something has to be said about the number of parodies and TV appearances this song made over the summer. It was a certified mega-hit, another jewel in the crown that Red Velvet collectively wears, and yet it strayed away from traditional electro-pop sensibilities. This song is fun, energetic, and a little bit weird - the true Red Velvet combo.
8. HyunA - Babe
Every year, like clockwork, HyunA comes around during the summer to slay her legions of fans with another high energy song to dance to. This year, she went a little bit more abstract with her approach and ended up with her most exciting track in a long time. The sassy delivery and interesting sound effects make this song shine, and the Disclosure-like production helped it stand out during a year dominated by tropical sounds.
9. Sunmi - Gashina
For a certain portion of the K-Pop audience, this track became an instant classic from the second its first notes hit. Its manic and often funny video helped complete the package, and many found some sort of empowerment in the track by using it to "let go" as Sunmi did through her dancing. During a time when it's been difficult for soloists to make an impact, Sunmi created another classic for herself, proving that you don't need an army to win a battle.
10. EXO - Ko Ko Bop
If you can listen to this one without at least breaking into a bit of a lean, you probably don't have a soul. K-Pop going reggae can go any number of ways, but thankfully this time it went great. Between the quality of the song itself and a viral meme based on the dance, "Ko Ko Bop" became one of the most memorable parts of K-Pop in 2017.