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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 20-16

20. Infinite - Dilemma

For their first original Japanese release, the guys gifted us an aggressive, rock-infused pop track with a wicked guitar breakdown.

19. Teen Top - ah ah

At first it may seem underwhelming, but something about that summer sound works its way in your brain and sticks there.

18. Seventeen - Adore U

The year's best debut -- a giant candy-coated mixture of pop and hip-hop and big, boisterous production.

17. HIGH4 - D.O.A. (Dead Or Alive) 

Switching between genres for a year now, the guys finally settled on something that really does them justice -- a dark, dynamic dance track.

16. GOT7 - If You Do 

GOT7 had a big year, and this moody, melodic single was yet another breakthrough for them.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 4


4. BTOB - Complete

I never really gave BTOB much attention until this album. Although the title track was a (brilliant) ballad, the album as a whole does an expert job of seguing between balladry that's not boring, and new-jack-swing inspired uptempos. It's not an album that I expected to pay much attention to, but it was released at the perfect time of the year and I just found myself falling into it over and over again.


4. Sungkyu - 27

Sungkyu probably could have released anything and he still would have been on the countdown. That's how much I love his voice and performance style. It certainly helps that he created a mature, melodic album with enough experimentation and progression to make the music incredibly interesting and layered. He's certainly in his element here, and every song feels more like an artistic statement than a means to an end.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 25-21

25. BTS - Dope

Their ode to hard work and training, and this year's best example of how to do an instrumental breakdown the right way.

24. News - Four Musketeers

An odd pop song, that barrows more from classical orchestration than it does from current trends. Somehow, it all works brilliantly together.

23. Bigbang - Let's Not Fall In Love

Not the loudest or most in-your-face single the group released this year, but I feel like that earworm of a melody will give it the massive staying power that other songs lack.

22. Boys Republic - Hello 

A hazy summer track that borrows the best from melodic, late-90's boyband pop. It just sounds like a peaceful drive by the beach.

21. Red Velvet - Dumb Dumb 

A schizophrenic firework of a single, catapulting Red Velvet to the top tiers of k-pop. It's all about that beat.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 5


5. Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion

It would have been so easy for Carly to rest on her one-hit-wonderdom, but instead she came back with this perfect collection of candy-coated pop brilliance. For such a lengthy album, the quality level is remarkably high. Gem after gem floats by, sounding like lost number one hits from the 80's, all delivered with Carly's undeniable pop voice. It's a special feat that not enough people heard this year. This is the stuff that should be ruling American radio.


5. GOT7 - Mad

GOT7 released two mini albums this year, and although Just Right had the better title track, I think I prefer the more melodic Mad. This group is proving themselves as a go-to for solid albums, in a market where that's not always a necessity. What I like most (and what some have begrudged) is that they're willing to experiment with their sound with each album. I think the switch between upbeat, hip-hop inspired pop and melodic, moody material keeps them interesting.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Top 50 Singles of 2015: 30-26

30. GD and Taeyang (ft. Kwanghee) - Mapsosa

Quite the unlikely collaboration, recorded as part of Korea's biggest reality show. It's a prime example of Bigbang members having fun, without worrying about the need to project a "cool" image.

29. Ola Salo - How I Kill

The Ark's frontman went solo with a track that sounded a lot like his old band. In the glam rock wasteland that was 2015, this is a very good thing. This is also the highest ranking English-language track on the countdown. My, how things have changed!

28. iKON - Airplane

YG's newest group blitzed us with five singles in three months, but this emotion, midtempo pop ballad was the best.

27. Bigbang - Bang Bang Bang 

The successor in many ways to the group's epic Fantastic Baby, the only thing that prevented this from being higher is that letdown of a chorus.

26. News - Chumu Chumu 

Cheesy? Yes! But that's okay when the best and most fun elements of Bollywood are so expertly translated to bombastic J-Pop.

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Top Albums and Mini-Albums of 2015: Number 6


6. Red Velvet - The Red

I wasn't sure about these girls until: a) I saw them live b) I head Dumb Dumb, the title track of this album. Their concept is divided between experimental uptempo tracks ("red") and slower, more r+b influenced material ("velvet"). You can probably guess which one I prefer, and luckily this solid album is filled with it. It's just a fun, playful pop album that holds attention throughout its entire running time. That's rare these days.


6. iKON - Welcome Back (half album)

iKON arrived with so many expectations, and wound up not redefining music as we know it, but instead delivering a very solid YG release in a year where YG-albums were pretty much non-existent. That's enough to land them a spot on any countdown. Buoyed by a handful of excellent singles, the album tracks managed to be pretty solid as well. Add the two November singles to cap it out, and you've definitely got one of the stronger k-pop releases of the year.

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