Yesterday we shared the first half of our Top 100 countdown and now we've got the final 50 for you!
From record-breaking K-pop songs to the best in C-pop, J-pop, Vietnamese pop and much more, this list contains some of the top songs of 2019. While we couldn't include all of our faves, we bet you'll find lots to love in this list and to make your own playlist of the best Asian pop songs of the year.
Check out the top 50 below and tell us what you think!
50. Hiroomi Tosaka: "Supermoon"
J SOUL BROTHERS III from EXILE TRIBE member Hiroomi Tosaka focuses in on electronic pop with “Supermoon”, with his vocal range putting this track a cut above other similar releases. In one song he packs in as many falsettos as lower tones, and even some autotune to keep us on our toes.
49. (G)I-DLE: "Lion"
What starts off slow becomes a roaring anthem as (G)I-DLE declare themselves queens, forging ahead with determination. The pulsing rhythm of “Lion” fits perfectly with the message: the girls are here, they’re rising up and they’re only going to go higher.
48. J SOUL BROTHERS III from EXILE TRIBE ft. Afrojack: "Scarlet"
“Scarlet” takes cues from R&B ballads and amps it up into an Ibiza nightclub-worthy track by enlisting the production power of Dutch DJ Afrojack. Just when you think it’s reached the peak, the song takes itself even higher with heart-racing electronic beats.
47. Red Velvet: "Umpah Umpah"
Queens of summertime jams, Red Velvet returned with another onomatopoeic earworm. The core of this song is in the vocals; you can envision it being a perfect acapella track. The music borrows from 90s pop and R&B with the almost-hidden synth riffs and ‘oompah-pah’ vocal samples, to create something light and fresh. The self-referential lyrics add a little something special to it too.
46. ONE N ONLY: "Category"
J-pop boy group ONE N ONLY’s up-tempo bop “Category” pumps with EDM energy that matches the song’s message to be yourself, ignore stereotypes and exist outside of the rules society tries to place on you.
45. MAMAMOO: "HIP"
“HIP” marries the best elements of MAMAMOO’s one-of-a-kind musical style: a focus on instrumentals with jazzy undertones, specific verses that give each member a moment to shine, and best of all - a message that lets the haters know that they’re unfazed by negative attention that tries to pigeonhole them within society’s expectations of women.
44. RADWIMPS: "Is There Still Anything Love Can Do?"
If Weathering With You didn’t break you emotionally, the movie’s theme song certainly will. RADWIMPS always know how to tug at our heartstrings, and it’s the simplicity of this song that makes it so universally relatable. Focusing on a sole voice and gentle piano progression at the start, it grows in the same way the emotions of love, despair and joy do in the film: a cinematic take on love with a sentimental message.
43. ITZY: "ICY"
ITZY’s message of self-confidence carries into their second single. The rhythm bass that underlies the entirety of "ICY" is a deceptively powerful hook, especially when combined with the girls’ individual vocal styles and the various dips and turns in tempo. Their rise to the top truly feels unstoppable with tracks like this under their belts in their first year.
42. ASTRO: "All Night"
Just when “All Night” has lured you into mid-tempo comfort, it whips out synths and a persistent percussive beat on the chorus. With the members’ voices playing with repetition in the lyrics, and their distinct colours on individual parts, it’s a song that highlights ASTRO’s talents to create a buoyant atmosphere.
41. Official HIGE DANdism: "Shukumei"
Official HIGE DANdism changed it up for this track, bringing a bold horns section into the song to lift it out of mid-tempo and make it an inescapable smash hit. The core of their music remains built upon a simple piano riff but here it grows into an anthemic tune about ambition and dreams.
40. ONEUS: "Valkyrie"
ONEUS have released more than one outstanding single this year, but we chose “Valkyrie” for its strength as a debut track. It’s irresistibly catchy and gives each member a chance to shine, with Leedo’s gravel tones and Hwanwoong’s smooth vocals standing out especially. It’s the perfect debut single to peak interest in the group, and their 2019 releases don’t disappoint.
39. EVERGLOW: "ADIOS"
Rookie girl group EVERGLOW’s “ADIOS” uses a whistling refrain and a deep bass to lure you in before absolutely blowing the roof off with the EDM chorus that slams home the song’s message.
38. Sunmi: "Noir"
A relationship in its final phase, a call-out on the vapidity of social media - Sunmi’s “Noir” is open to interpretation depending on whether you take the song on its own or team it with its tongue-in-cheek music video. Either way, it’s a clever pop gem that teams her addictive vocals with a retro-synth beat you can’t get out of your head.
37. Noo Phước Thịnh: "I'm Still Loving You"
An up-tempo song with a bittersweet theme, solo star Noo Phước Thịnh’s voice is the real star here. He sings of unrequited love over a pulsing beat, using his falsetto and subtle key changes to express the yearning in his lyrics. From the opening acoustic guitar through to the final lyric, it keeps you moving to the beat.
36. LOONA: "Butterfly"
Bright and airy, “Butterfly” allows for LOONA’s diverse vocals to shine individually with a hook that focuses on falsettos that make the listener feel like floating - apt for the song’s message of taking flight and following your dreams.
35. SF9: "RPM"
SF9 have consistently released standout pop songs that somehow don’t get the attention they deserve. “RPM” is another unique turn from the boy group: it totally subverts the listener’s expectations on its synth and bass-heavy chorus and stands out from the pack with its aggressive instrumentation and memorable chorus.
34. Woosung: "Face"
The Rose singer’s solo debut is a minimalist ode to desire with a simple message: I like your face. Woosung’s voice is genuinely like no other, instantly recognisable and endlessly captivating, it’s the glue for a song that uses low-key instrumentation to let him really stand out. The music video is also an admirably inclusive representation of bodies rarely seen in K-pop.
33. Hwasa: "Twit"
“Twit” appears on surface level to be a peppy track with a simple chorus, but it gives MAMAMOO member Hwasa room to showcase her vocal range and really draw the listener in. It’s catchy but defiant, the lyrics twisting between guilt and annoyance in a relationship that’s basically over. It’s honest and in a way, brutal, but it’s confection-like chorus makes it a delight.
32. Bích Phương: "Let's Du Dua"
Disco meets modern EDM for a fun track that’s made for the club dancefloor in “Let’s Du Dua”. Bích Phương muses on the palpable tension of a new crush and the first rush of feelings with a cheeky vibe permeating the track, both in the teasing chorus and when she goes for a husky spoken tone towards the track’s end.
31. Taemin: "Want"
Prince of K-pop sensuality, Taemin brings his signature charisma to the fore on “Want”. He’s confident as he beckons the listener to want more while never getting enough - an unquenched thirst all Taemin fans will be familiar with. Every aspect of this song is flawless: Taemin’s voice is honey smooth, the incessant electronic twitches and beats are addictive, and the lyrics tease in that way that only Taemin can.
30. Aimyon: "Haru no Hi"
Wistful nostalgia tinges Aimyon’s single “Haru no Hi”, where the spotlight is on her voice and lyrical ingenuity. The gentle melody gets stuck in your head along with the rolling guitar riff, for a spring song that conjures memories of loves known and unknown.
29. IU: "Blueming"
Taking a page out of 2000s girl rock, “Blueming” is a song only IU could deliver. Musically, the focus is on band instrumentation that rollicks and rolls, while vocally IU is vibrant as she expresses the excitement of blooming love.
28. SEVENTEEN: "Fear"
Self-producing artists SEVENTEEN had a year of creative, often experimental, K-pop releases and “Fear” is the top tier of it. Ominous, powerful and electric, “Fear” is a mature SEVENTEEN stepping into the spotlight. From Wonwoo’s attention-grabbing intro through to Seungkwan’s cry of “someone tell me what should I do?” and the cumulative chorus, it’s a song that blends SEVENTEEN's innovative production with K-pop melodies.
27. G.E.M.: "Real Talk"
Chinese singer-songwriter G.E.M mixes rap with her signature vocals as she takes on mindless pack mentality. She sounds brimming with anger as she energetically calls out those who do the same as others, admitting her own faults along the way and her determination to live her own life outside the socially acceptable norms for women.
26. NCT 127: "Superhuman"
Dare we say this is one of NCT 127’s more conventional songs? That doesn’t take away from it being an absolute hit and a progression in NCT 127’s futuristic sound, that somehow also touches on retro elements using synths and an anthemic chorus that fits the superhero theme. The energy reaches impossible heights in its four minutes, and teamed with the inventive choreography, it’s another track that heralds NCT 127 as one of the best in K-pop right now.
25. TXT: "Crown"
“Crown” sparkles with efferverscent youth from the second it kicks off. Containing all the qualms of adolescence in a shining pop track, TXT’s charms are instantaneously felt and fallen in love with. Their harmonies have the perfect balance of light and dark, and the adlibs power the sing-along effect that have you coming back for repeat listens.
24. CLC: "NO"
CLC returned in 2019 to say that they won’t play by society’s rules with “NO”, and the response was a resounding “yes” and “thank you”. The girl group call out the demands put on them to dress, talk and behave a certain way, and make it clear they have no interest in doing anything they don’t want to. The message goes beyond linguistic boundaries and will have you shouting “NO” alongside them; empowered, angry and delighted.
23. Stray Kids: "Miroh"
Stray Kids showcased infinite range in 2019 with releases ranging from heart-rendering ("Levanter") to aggressively anthemic ("Double Knot"). “Miroh” is a battle-cry, a motivational anthem that soars on the back of aggressive electronic beats, their united shout of ‘Stray Kids!’, and a message of fighting through adversity no matter the obstacles.
22. Fromis_9: "Fun"
There is no other way to describe this than by its title: Fromis_9’s “Fun” is pure, unbridled, fun. It’s three minutes of bubblegum pop at its finest, hitting all your senses at once. The visuals are tongue-in-cheek and dazzlingly bright, while the vocals are on-point: it’s so joyous it’s almost overwhelming. “Fun” is the pick-me-up you need to get through the day and put a smile on your face.
21. MONSTA X: "Follow"
Giving their signature aggression a fresh twist with evocative instrumentation, “FOLLOW” highlights all of MONSTA X’s strengths. There’s charisma from the whole vocal line and especially in Kihyun’s power and Shownu’s seductiveness; while Jooheon and I.M are captivating with their rap style. MONSTA X has always stood out with their particular brand of passionate, dark music, and “FOLLOW’ fits while showcasing their growth and potential.
20. ATEEZ: "Say My Name"
The monster rookies of K-pop at this moment, ATEEZ’s “Say My Name” makes you want to follow wherever they lead. Everything here is bombastic: triumphant chord progressions, emphatic lyrics that demand attention, a rally cry for fans to believe in them and follow them to greater heights - which surely will come.
19. Official HIGE DANdism: "Pretender"
The song that made the four-member band a viral sensation, “Pretender” is a break-up song with all the makings to tug on your heartstrings from the rolling rock riff and synth breakdown to the evocative lyrics of all the missed opportunities in a love story.
18. Jolin Tsai: "Life Sucks"
Jolin Tsai flips the message of positivity on its head with a song that tackles negativity with a more honest approach. As she sings about the struggles of daily life, the EDM track builds into a euphoric chorus that’s almost at odds with her message of ‘be negative, negativity helps, life has its ups and downs’. Her final sentiment is even stronger thanks to the electronica and her impassioned voice as she encourages you to understand negativity as a part of life’s journey: embrace it and transform it.
17. TWICE: "FANCY"
If any group has perfected the pop song and all its addictive qualities, it’s TWICE. “FANCY” seems like a simple tune because TWICE make it look easy - that’s testament to their experience and talent. From the choreography to the vocal performances, TWICE prove they’re the queens of earworm pop with “FANCY”’s bright celebration of crushes.
16. TXT: "Run Away"
The frustrations of adolescence and the journey into young adulthood are captured in the whimsical world of TXT’s “Run Away”, where everything from retro guitars to Harry Potter magic meld together to make heart-swelling music that calls for escaping into the world entirely of their own invention.
15. A.C.E: "Under Cover"
After dabbling in both aggression and lightness on previous songs, “Under Cover” sees A.C.E throw the rule book away and return with something no one else was doing this year. A full-blown electro-rock song, it would’ve been easy for the members to get drowned out by the music, but instead they each rise to the challenge. Their vocals insert delicate melodies over grinding guitars while their choreography is heart-racingly powerful. The visuals in the MV alone are worthy of K-pop’s Hall of Fame.
14. Super M: "Jopping"
The premise of SuperM seems outlandish at first: what would happen if you combine so many individual talents in a new formation? Turns out, you’d create an ingenious futuristic track with all the braggadocio you’d expect from an SM Entertainment super-group that includes members of SHINee, EXO, NCT and WayV. “Jopping” is an epic song that demands stadiums, with each member’s talents shining brightly: from Baekhyun’s incredible falsetto to Taemin’s dance skills and Mark’s rap break, there’s so much going on here, it's overwhelming in the best way.
13. Apink: "Eung Eung"
Imagine having Apink’s power to make an onomatopoeic sound so catchy that it demands repeat listens. “Eung Eung” is a near-perfect pop song: its rhythm drops and lifts to keep the listener on their toes, and the girls’ vocals are unanimously flawless.
12. GOT7: "You Calling My Name"
GOT7 has been consistently releasing top-tier music that exists in its own universe of groove-laden, vocal-driven pop. “You Calling My Name” is seemingly retro yet modern, utilising the best of instrumental music (jangling rhythm guitar, keyboard riffs, steady percussion) along with an acapella approach to vocals. The stripped back take on the first chorus heightens the tension in a song that’s remorseful yet yearning.
11. Sơn Tùng M-TP: "Hãy Trao Cho Anh"
Certified Vietnamese superstar Sơn Tùng M-TP stuns with top-notch production on this fresh trop-house song. His vocal style and cadence is what makes it stand-out; his voice creates its own tempo above the backdrop that makes for addictive listening. The Snoop Dogg cameo also feels natural rather than wedged in, making this a true summer groove song with the most chill vibes.
10. Kenshi Yonezu: "Uma to Shika"
From the first strains of this song, you know it’s Kenshi Yonezu. The singer/producer has developed a signature sound of emphatic percussion and building verses that lead to soaring choruses. “Uma to Shika” strikes hardest when the strings meet Kenshi’s vocals, making melodic magic.
9. TWICE: "Feel Special"
Whether you think of “Feel Special’’s lyrics as directed to fans, a loved one or the group members singing to one another, the message is universal. It’s a heart-warming, positive song that focuses on gratitude and appreciating the people around you. All that wrapped into another of TWICE’s impossibly catchy tracks to make it a stand-out release for 2019.
8. ITZY: "DALLA DALLA"
Rushing out of the gate at full-speed, JYP’s newest girl group arrived with a thumping female empowerment anthem that both announced their presence and spread a message of self-love and standing out from the crowd. The members’ special vocal quirks all get a chance to shine against a soft EDM beat that has some clever breakdowns to switch up the sound just when you think it’s hit the peak. One of the best debuts of 2019 without a doubt.
7. WayV: "Moonwalk"
WayV confidently usher in a new era on the operatic “Moonwalk”, with swaggering raps and flawless high notes. Taking Chinese pop into a different dimension, “Moonwalk” is cinematic in its scope: the strings command attention, the piano lures you into false security before bursting into a cacophony, and then there’s the grinding guitar breakdown complete with dance break. The lyrics are replete with complex imagery and the passion is evident in every moment of this thrilling ride.
6. BLACKPINK: "Kill This Love"
“Kill This Love” is laden with small details that keep you coming back: the key changes on Jisoo’s and Rose’s bridge vocals; Jennie and Lisa’s commanding rap exchanges; the sudden drop into the chorus when you expect it to go for maximum noise. The song transforms from a break-up song into a self-empowered anthem by utilising marching band percussion and boisterous horns, demanding you sing along.
5. EXO: "Obsession"
EXO has been releasing some of the most experimental and innovative K-pop of recent times, and “Obsession” plays to all of the members’ strengths despite the group being down to six members. The repetitive “I want you” is a clever callback to the obsessive lyrical theme, while the sneering “I don’t think so” creates a faultless call-response dynamic. The song pulses with underlying ominous beats, and the members’ harmonies are layered together to create new melodies. From production to choreography, every element of “Obsession” is mesmerising, making it easy to fall deeply for it.
4. Stray Kids: "Side Effects"
Stray Kids took a turn for the experimental on “Side Effects”, with its head-spinning mix of ominous bass, English-language sample and unexpected changes in tempo throughout. Each members’ talents are highlighted perfectly, whether it’s Felix’s deep voice or Changbin’s breathless raps. The music feels as frenetic and anxious as the emotions the lyrics capture; youthful fear and concerns laid out openly.
3. Chungha: "Gotta Go"
Two days into the new year and Chungha delivered one of the best songs of 2019. The solo star stands strong on her own with a seductive song that teases with thinly-veiled longing. Her beguiling vocals evoke the midnight vibes of the lyrics, while the already iconic choreography proves she’s a consummate performer.
2. Jolin Tsai: "Womxnly"
Jolin Tsai has been hitting hard with songs packed with socially conscious messages and here it’s an empowering reassurance to those who feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Jolin’s voice is smooth and full of attitude as she offers consolation with words like ‘Never let anyone change who you are/boy or girl, you can be whichever you want’, and calls for kindness over cruelty.
1. BTS ft. Halsey: "Boy With Luv"
Several records broken, many countries toured, milestones made - BTS' 2019 successes could fill endless pages. Yet the Korean title for BTS’ track really says it all: "A Poem for Small Things". There’s something beautiful in the world’s biggest boy group making a song that focuses on the minutiae of life like ‘how’s your day?’ and ‘I want to know everything about you’. It works doubly as a romantic pop song and an ode to fans, as if to say no matter how high BTS soar, they won’t forget where that love comes from, and how extraordinary it is.
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