2015 was a strong year with many considering it one of the best since 2009. There were many great songs this year, so it was hard to narrow down this list to just 50 songs. Some may be surprising additions, but with any list, it comes down to opinion. Our top 50 may be different from your top 50, and that’s okay! Let’s take a look at we have as the best of 2015!
- Ladies’ Code “I Smile Even Though It Hurts” | September 7, 2015
The remaining members of Ladies’ Code released “I Smile Even Though It Hurts” in tribute to EunB and RiSe. Every note has sadness laced in them. It’s difficult hearing the song knowing two voices are forever silenced. It’s beautifully written and performed despite the reason for the song to exist.
- Berry Good “My First Love” | September 23, 2015
Another song with a tragic backstory, “My First Love” is imperfect but beautifully performed. Berry Good make up for where they lack with impeccable emotions and delivery, helping “My First Love” to quietly become an underrated tune.
- U-Know “Champagne” | July 20, 2015
Released prior to his military enlistment, “Champagne” shows TVXQ’s U-Know’s fun side. The chorus is a misheard-lyric-landmine, however; so for unrefined ears, there’s sophomoric humor. It’s a catchy song that some may have missed.
- iKON “Rhythm Ta” | October 1, 2015
“Rhythm Ta” is one of those songs that easily gets stuck in the listener’s head. The deeper vocals help add strong dynamics. iKON need to work on their nasally vocals because they’re not for every listener despite how well-designed a song may be.
- Girl’s Day “Ring My Bell” | July 7, 2015
Girl’s Day have their fair share of lovers and haters. That’s the case with this song as well. While it’s not their strongest song, it provided a different look at them as they continue to shed their innocence and head into sexier tracks. They still maintain their fun-factor as they continue to blossom.
- Royal Pirates “Run Away” | December 1, 2015
Royal Pirates have a small but loyal fan base that always rallies behind them through thick and thin. Royal Pirates haven’t had an easy road toward “making it” in the industry. Recently, James got injured, so he currently can’t play the bass, but it hasn’t stopped him or Royal Pirates. “Run Away” is one of their strongest, if not the strongest, comeback. On-point vocals and instrumentals draw the listener into the song over and over again. Live performances are even better!
- Block B Bastarz “Zero for Conduct” | April 14, 2015
Block B and its members have grown a lot since debut. Even when members do solo or subunit activities, they have a distinct sound that is uniquely Block B. “Zero of Conduct” has that hard-hitting, in-your-face quality many love from Block B, but it’s nice hear something not as Zico-focused. It’s clear every member has talent.
- SNSD “Lion Heart” | August 18, 2015
Many would agree SNSD have lost steam in recent years, but they’re still the top girl group. The loss of steam isn’t because they lack talent, but it’s due to song choices not being as on-point as they were before. However, “Lion Heart” is a great song for them as it highlights vocals well. The retro styling makes “Lion Heart” memorable while reminding fans of why SNSD is a beloved group.
- Lim Kim “Love Game” | April 27, 2015
Kim’s vocals are among the most recognizable in the industry; her songs always sound refreshing. “Love Game” can be considered repetitive and nonsensical if listened to once due to its sing-songy nature. Kim proves she can take a song and make it work no matter what.
- VIXX “Chained Up” | November 10, 2015
“Chained Up’s” instrumentals sound like something straight out of Magic Mike, and that’s part of the charm. VIXX’s vocals continue to improve with each song as they continue to manage to walk the line between sexy and dark.
- CNBLUE “Cinderella” | September 14, 2015
“Cinderella’s” “somebody help me” hook has great execution for a song that isn’t among CNBLUE’s best. Yonghwa and company make the song rock with strong beats and harmonies that make “Cinderella” stand out.
- Huh Gak “Snow of April” | March 17, 2015
As far as recent ballads go, Huh Gak is one of the best for creating emotional, beautiful songs. With every waver of his voice, he has an ability to make someone pause and listen. Fans consider “Snow of April” a favorite, and it’s easy to see why.
- Jinusean “Tell Me One More Time” | April 15, 2015
Jinusean made their long-anticipated comeback this year with a song that’s both modern and distinctly 1990s-to-early-2000s. “Tell Me One More Time” is a good indication they haven’t lost their touch. Plus, the song is just as addictive as their previous hits.
- Click-B “Reborn” | October 21, 2015
Another first generations idol group made their return with the under-promoted “Reborn.” The mature vocals make the song enjoyable easy-listening. It’s a shame it went virtually unnoticed.
- Shinhwa “Sniper” | February 26, 2015
The whistling portions in “Sniper” verge on iconic. “Sniper” contains Shinhwa’s smoothness and maturity while being unique enough to compete with today’s musical artists. Previous years were better for Shinhwa (think “Venus” and “This Love” eras), but they’re still among the best.
- Oh My Girl “Closer” | October 8, 2015
OMG had one of the strongest debuts in 2015, but their second single, “Closer,” made them a group worth cheering. “Closer” sports dreamy, ethereal vocals that are haunting and pure. The angelic theming showed OMG’s strengths and made fans excited for what’s to come.
- EXO “Call Me Baby” | March 28, 2015
EXODUS was a high-quality album that yielded several songs that could have easily been promoted. “Call Me Baby” was the chosen song, and while good, it wasn’t the best representation of EXO’s strengths as it sounds like their previous releases. It is a strong dance track that represents SM Entertainment’s makeup and culture, and EXO-L’s loved it.
- Rainbow “Black Swan” | February 23, 2015
“Black Swan” divided fans with people either loving it and considering it one of Rainbow’s best, or people hating it so much they gave up on Rainbow altogether. Well, boo to the latter because “Black Swan” is a work of art that plays upon the ballet Swan Lake and the film Black Swan in gorgeous detail. “Black Swan” has strong but simple lyrics, but what stands out is the song’s arrangement.
- GFriend “Me Gustas Tu” | July 23, 2015
GFriend caught the ire of some K-Pop fans due to many thinking they were clones of APINK and SNSD rolled into one package with the release of “Glass Bead.” Since then, they’ve endeared themselves to fans with hard work, dedication, and catchy, cute, addictive music like “Me Gustas Tu.” The song has plenty of charm and some J-Pop elements, but it’s different enough to help set GFriend apart in their current rookie class.
- VIXX LR “Beautiful Liar” | August 17, 2015
Ravi and Leo pairing here is nothing short of pure poetry. Ravi’s, at times, harsh rap and Leo’s smooth high notes make “Beautiful Liar” a lyrical portrait of heartbreak.
- 4Minute “Crazy” | February 9, 2015
“Crazy” had 4Minute revisiting their roots, but with more Western flair. 4Minute went a little more hard-edged to show their growth as a group, which is why “Crazy” was more popular with Western audiences than the Korean audience.
- EXID “Ah Yeah” | April 13, 2015
Fresh off their surprising run with “Up & Down,” EXID returned with the equally addictive “Ah Yeah.” One of the best aspects of EXID is that each member gets a chance to shine in the song. It seems EXID finally found their path to success.
- Elsie “I’m Good” | May 1, 2015
T-ara’s Eunjung is quite the vocalist! Her duet with K.Will is equal parts sadness and artistry to show her strength and power. While some people in the Korean market still hate T-ara, in China, “I’m Good” helped solidify Eunjung’s and T-ara’s growth and popularity.
- Hong Ki “Insensible” | November 18, 2015
For his solo debut, Hong Ki proved he’s a solid storyteller. “Insensible” has a lot of life breathed into it due to Hong Ki’s grasp on emotional content and vocal scale.
- 9Muses “Hurt Locker” | July 2, 2015
While it didn’t win any music shows, “Hurt Locker” was the surprise sleeper hit of the summer. 9Muses keeps proving they deserve attention for their vocals and music. “Hurt Locker” allowed them to throw down the gauntlet, but will people notice?
- Junsu “Flower” | March 3, 2015
Junsu has a flair for the dramatic! “Flower” sounds theatrical and epic despite its uber-simplistic lyrics. What makes “Flower” bloom is Tablo’s feature, which helps add depth to a song that is already magnificently arranged and composed.
- Red Velvet “Ice Cream Cake” | March 18, 2015
At times, “Ice Cream Cake” verges on the creepy side with the monotone la, la, las; other times, it’s a cute dance track that is age-appropriate and bright. While it’s a weird track and oddly arranged, it’s a memorable one.
- EXO “Love Me Right” | June 3, 2015
“Love Me Right” is the strongest EXO release this year. Its catchy chorus and beat make the song enjoyable and worth a listen.
- Mamamoo “Um Oh Ah Yeh” | June 19, 2015
2015 was the year Mamamoo emerged as a next generation top-tier contender. “Um Oh Ah Yeh” isn’t that special of a song, but Mamamoo managed to make it work with great vocals and genuine personalities and quirkiness. They know how to have fun, which is why they continue to win over fans.
- B.A.P “Young, Wild, & Free” | November 16, 2015
After nearly two years, B.A.P are back, and they came prepared with an anthem track. Daehyun’s high notes and Yongguk and Zelo’s recognizable raps top the song nicely, but the song’s real bread and butter are how Jongup, Himchan, and Youngjae add depth.
- Ailee “Mind Your Own Business” | September 30, 2015
Ailee always has the ability to bring the house down. “Mind Your Own Business” has strength and power in more ways than one. Like “Don’t Touch Me” before it, “Mind Your Own Business” screams female empowerment.
- FTISLAND “Pray” | March 23, 2015
“Pray” brought the return to FTISLAND’s rock roots. “Pray” is dark and edgy with strong guitar riffs and superb musicality. It’s the FTISLAND many love and an amazing comeback that had soul.
- TWICE “Like Ooh Ahh” | October 20, 2015
TWICE already have been dubbed a super-rookie due to their reality elimination program. “Like Ooh Ahh” is a bit of a mess, but TWICE have fun with it and surprisingly make it work. It’s quirky with instrumentals that sound like they come from a 1990s-era teen comedy, furthering its charm.
- SHINee “View” | May 18, 2015
“View” was one of the songs of the summer with its warm tone and easy-going beat. The chorus is an earworm and easy to recall, so it’s fun to sing along to and get absorbed by the music. SHINee are emerging as SM’s most versatile male group, and “View” is one of the reasons why.
- PSY “Daddy” | December 1, 2015
People worldwide waited for PSY to return. He didn’t disappoint. His humor is still intact in “Daddy,” and it has viral hit written all over it. Sadly, that’s one of the downfalls: Everything PSY does now will be compared to “Gangnam Style.” It would be nice for newer fans to get acquainted with PSY from his pre-Gangnam era. We need another song like “Right Now.”
- Day6 “Congratulations” | September 7, 2015
Day6 had a solid album and debut song, but non-traditional promotions may have hindered them slightly since they didn’t get music show exposure. Their light rock sound, friendly appeal, and down-to-earth vibe make “Congratulations” a quiet force in the 2015 scene.
- BTS “Run” | November 30, 2015
The second part to “I Need U” packs a wallop. The lyrics and instrumentals pair nicely while helping to solidify 2015 as BTS’ year despite going up against EXO and BIGBANG.
- f(x) “4 Walls” | October 27, 2015
Like SHINee, f(x) take risks and do different sounds with their music. Fans worried if they could maintain momentum without Sulli, but it seems they only got stronger in order to help compensate for her loss. The EDM, experimental sound makes “4 Walls” a standout song because of how different it is compared to other releases this year.
- Wonder Girls “I Feel You” | August 3, 2015
Another long-awaited comeback, the Wonder Girls impressed with their heavily 1980s-influenced tune that makes listeners nostalgic for past music. Lim’s breathy vocals add a layer of sweetness to an otherwise sexy song.
- GOT7 “If You Do” | September 29, 2015
In 2014, GOT7 had the displeasure of being gifted some weak songs like “Girls, Girls, Girls.” They had fans, but not as many as they could have. Fast forward to 2015, and GOT7 emerge as a legitimate group thanks to “If You Do.” The song is smooth and ripe with great vocal performances. This is the GOT7 we knew could exist!
- BIGBANG “Bae Bae” | May 1, 2015
Sexy, humorous, and oozing with personality, “Bae Bae” shows that sexual themes don’t have to be all serious! The song is sinful and delectable, so much so a listener can feel the greasiness dripping from the speakers.
- BTS “Dope” | June 23, 2015
A few people didn’t like that BTS stated they are among the best in “Dope,” but actually earned the right to do so this year. “Dope” is in-your-face and has been used in promotions on American TV. Even advertisers know a “dope” song when they hear it.
- BIGBANG “Let’s Not Fall in Love” | August 5, 2015
“Let’s Not Fall in Love” doesn’t get as much love as other BIGBANG songs this year, but it should. It’s a glorious song that has pieces of each member’s soul in it. T.O.P sings; G-Dragon tones it down… it’s just soft, raw perfection.
- Taeyeon “I” | October 7, 2015
While it may be an unpopular opinion, but if Taeyeon ever decided to permanently become a solo artist (gasp!), she would be really successful. Of course, many want her to be an SNSD member until the end of time. “I” is a piece of her heart and beautifully written and performed. It has an Indie quality to it that helps separate Taeyeon the singer from Taeyeon the SNSD performer.
- Hyukoh “Comes and Goes” | May 28, 2015
Hyukoh put K-Indie on the map this year with “Comes and Goes.” The song found itself on the international stage with Billboard and other Western media singing its praises. Of course, when a song becomes popular, the plagiarism claims start to fly. They were unfounded, so “Comes and Goes” was safe to become a member of K-Pop lore.
- Turbo “Again” | December 21, 2015
Another 1990s group made an impressive comeback this year. “Again” sounds very 2015 while the group stayed connected to their early-years roots. Turbo definitely proved they can still rock!
- SHINee “Married to the Music” | August 3, 2015
Wonderfully weird and addictive, “Married to the Music” embraces SHINee’s vocals and individuality. “Married to the Music” is distinctly SHINee with recognizable versus and chorus. The song is joyful and high in fun and may remind listeners of something Michael Jackson and similar artists may have had at some point in their careers.
- Super Junior D&E “Growing Pains” | March 6, 2015
“Growing Pains” came out early in 2015, but it quietly had staying power. Its memorable chorus, solid lyrics, and heart combine to form a timeless, everlasting song.
- BIGBANG “Bang, Bang, Bang” | June 1, 2015
“Bang, Bang, Bang” quickly emerged as a party anthem and a companion to “Fantastic Baby.” “Bang, Bang, Bang” has elements fans love from BIGBANG including T.O.P and G-Dragon’s familiar raps and Taeyang’s recognizable vocals, to high replay ability. This is one of the songs that cements BIGBANG as a global group.
- BTS “I Need U” | April 29, 2015
2015 was BTS’ year, and it all began with “I Need U.” Strong rap, solid vocals, and emotion link together to form this memorable, beautiful track that unleashed BTS’ full potential. “I Need U” was the song they needed to cement their emergence as an up-and-coming top group for their generation. Congratulations!
What were your favorite songs for the year? Let us know!