2020 was another year filled with amazing K-Pop releases. Out of the countless new music albums that came our way this year, here are the favorites that the allkpop staff loved the most!
ishani-sarkar's Pick: BTS - Map Of The Soul 7
The influence of Map of the Soul:7 remained with me for the entirety of 2020 and I believe that MOTS:7 was a perfect representation of what BTS is as a whole and who the members are, in particular. Despite BE also being a spectacular album by BTS, it is more of an initiation/promise of a better world with 2021. MOTS:7, on the other hand, is pure creative energy channeled into music relevant not just to a year plagued by a pandemic but forever.
lorraineye's Pick: Taemin - Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2
If I could choose the entire series of albums that Taemin released this year, I would. But, if I had to pick one album to serve as the definitive album of the year, it's Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2. I've said it before, and I'll say it again- Taemin is K-Pop's luminary, and the artistry and heart he puts into his albums and performances never come up short. Every song on this release is executed perfectly with vocal arrangements and production that works as a blueprint for many other artists to pull inspiration from and follow. The album manages to be simultaneously haunting, beautiful, and enchanting. Taemin's Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2 is a feat of angelic range, showmanship, and creative production, making it my top choice for AOTY.
AmieAmore's Pick: Se So Neon - Nonadaptation
This is an album expressing the thoughts that many people, if not everyone, have had at least once in their lifetime - 'How do I fit into society? What is the norm of society?' The album shares the message of setting one's own values without mindlessly conforming to the standards set by society. However, that doesn't mean one should be rebellious but rather think about the values of co-existence.
Mocha89's Pick: BLACKPINK - The Album
This is BLACKPINK's first full album and has nothing but hit songs. All the songs are bangers and it contains a significant amount of English lyrics for their international fans.
moonkun's Pick: Super Junior K.R.Y - When We Were Us
'When We Were Us' was my favorite album of 2020 because it was a very long-awaited album for Super Junior fans. This is the unit's first album since they debuted in 2006, and Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, and Yesung proved their title as one of the top vocal trios in KPop through this ballad album!
olmal's Pick: Hwa Sa - María
We all had a lot of time to think about ourselves this year. Hwasa always delivers top-notch performances with catchy songs but this time, she also relayed an important message to her listeners- "Stay strong and keep on dreaming for yourself." Her songs, including the title track "María" and "LMM," featured on Hawsa's 1st mini-album 'María' calmly comforted me through the hard times this year, which is why I went back to this album the most.
KayRosa's Pick: ONF - Spin Off
Following their appearance on Mnet's 'Road To Kingdom,' ONF released this 5th mini-album when audience expectations based on their live performances were exceptionally high. Despite the pressure, this album proved to be yet another emblem of not only ONF's but WM Entertainment's particular talent in promoting atypically intimate tracks. Individually crafted by producer Hwang Hyun from Monotree, each song tells a poignant narrative about dreamy trips to faraway lands and beyond. From swimming in Sukhumvit to time-traveling in Belle Epoque and becoming a Pinocchio of Geppetto, the album takes listeners on a romantically surreal ride across time and space. Although my favorite tracks are "Belle Epoque" (a 'spin-off' to their 2019 track "Happily Never After") and "Message," the title track "Sukhumvit Swimming" definitely deserves the spotlight as an unconventional K-pop reggae track. Since I have never seen a bad album come from ONF, this 2020 'spin-off' only makes me expect more from the group next year!
hannahleex's Pick: Stray Kids - Go Live / In Life
In the two years from their debut until now, Stray Kids has released 8 EPs, 14 singles, and 2 compilation albums. Despite constantly spoiling fans with new music and new content, Stray Kids came back with more amazing music — this time in the form of their first studio album. Both ‘Go Live’ and the repackaged edition of the album, ‘In Life,’ do not disappoint. From the incredibly creative and catchy lead singles “God’s Menu” and “Back Door” to the sub-unit songs “We Go” and “Wow” that all fans have been waiting for, Stray Kids included everything one could ever ask for in an album. The album really showcases the talent of Bang Chan, Han, and Changbin (3RACHA), who were all involved in the production of every single track included in the album. Overall, this album was one that reaffirmed Stray Kids’ potential and makes me look forward to their future releases.
jennywill's Pick: SF9 - First Collection
SF9's first full album also gave them their first-ever music show win as well as their highest-ever ranking on music charts - and with good reason. The album is packed full of amazing songs, including the title song "Good Guy," the ballad song "Like the Hands Held Tight," Zuho-produced "Dance With Us," and the fan song "Beautiful Light" with lyrics written by all the members.
danisurst's Pick: TXT - The Dream Chapter: Eternity
'Eternity' was the perfect conclusion for TXT's 'The Dream Chapter' series, which encompassed all releases from their debut mini-album up through the "Can't You See Me" era earlier this year. Both musically and conceptually, TXT has always been a favorite because they linger in an interesting space between reality and the ethereal, and the tracks on 'Eternity' float seamlessly from one to the other, creating a (fittingly) dreamlike soundscape that ebbs and flows with the varying moods of each song. Highlights of the album include their cover of Light & Salt's "Fairy of Shampoo" and its jazz-influenced bass and horn accompaniment, the members' introspective self-composed song "Maze in the Mirror," and the haunting final track "Eternally," which — well, you should listen to it for yourself.
germainej's Pick: Baek Ye Rin - tellusaboutyourself
Baek Ye Rin has transitioned from K-pop to indie almost seamlessly, and this album seems to be the next step in her transformation. 'tellusboutyourself' is like an interesting break between more familiar-sounding K-pop releases.
veryuyu's Pick: DAY6 - The Book Of Us: The Demon
It has been a really tough year, and this album never fails to heal me. The title track Zombie harbors thought-provoking lyrics and a melancholic melody, while the b-sides did a great job complementing the overall tone of the album.
beansss' Pick: Baekhyun - Delight
This album really solidified Baekhyun's style and sound as a solo artist for me. I was a little uncertain about 'City Lights' last year because the sounds were so different from past EXO styles and also a lot of different genres were kind of jumbled. But when I listened to 'Delight' the first time through, this album was a pretty big wake up call to just how much more Baekhyun was capable of as a solo artist with his own sound and his own character, and how much people like me might have been sort of closed off to Baekhyun's potential outside of the distinct group EXO. I also felt that 'Delight' showed Baekhyun's growth since 'City Lights,' and he was able to mix up such different genres together in one album while making it cohesive, giving the whole album as a package a very made-by-Baekhyun feel. I love listening to the more upbeat numbers like "R U Ridin'?" and "Poppin'" while I'm driving on the road, but I've seen a lot of Korean netizens obsessing about "Love Again" pretty much all year on online communities. "Bungee" and "Ghost" and "Underwater" are so groovy and smooth, and last but not least, "Candy" is obviously such a sweet treat!
Paul's Pick: G2 - Water
This Korean-American rapper spits fire in his newest album 'WATER.' No BS, just straight hip-hop.
KG's Pick: NCT 127 - Neo Zone: The Final Round
Every song is a bop but "Not Alone" is the standout track. A great album as NCT leveled up this year.