K-Pop is a forever bustling industry. Between countless debuts and multiple comebacks from new and existing artists, one could potentially miss some stellar artists who’ve rolled out songs this year.
A mix of boy groups, girl groups, and a soloist, from Mamamoo to Ateez and more, take a look at our ten underrated K-Pop tracks of 2021.
ATEEZ – 멋(The Real) (Heung Ver.)
ATEEZ is an octet idol boy group that debuted in 2018. Despite their massive success internationally, Ateez remains unknown in South Korea’s Kpop realm. They released the two installments of their four-part EP ZERO: FEVER series with ‘불놀이야 (I’m The One)‘ and ‘Deja Vu‘ as title tracks from each series. While I’m The One resonated with Ateez’s signature anthemic sound, Deja Vu revealed their sensual and dramatic story-telling skills. The group concluded the Fever series with a surprise Epilogue with Turbulence and The Real (Heung Version) as its title tracks. The Real captures Ateez’s essence to a T and could be, hands down, one of the most memorable songs of 2021. Ateez is a powerpack group to look forward to with unmatchable dancing, singing, and performing abilities.
Dreamcatcher – BEcause
They have debuted twice and possess one of K-pop’s most diverse discography, yet the 7-member girl group Dreamcatcher often goes under the radar for most people. Undeterred by the fact that Dreamcatcher is an idol group, their prime genre remains elements of rock, alt-rock, and nu-metal, which they continue to explore. 2021 saw Dreamcatcher release their sixth mini-album “Dystopia: Road to Utopia” with Odd Eye, a rock and hip-hop track, as the lead single. They also released a special album titled “Summer Holiday” of which, BEcause was the title track. Infused with elements of rock, the song probes horror and eerieness, both of which are classic characteristics of a Dreamcatcher song and music video.
SF9 – Tear Drop
FNC Entertainment’s first dance boy group, SF9 (short form of Sensational Feeling 9) is a 9-member boy group that has been in the industry for a little over five years now. After participating in an idol group survival show called “Kingdom: The Legendary war”, the group released their anticipated 9th mini-album titled “Turn Over”. The album featured their title track “Tear Drop“, a suave and sensual song mourning about a lost relationship graced by the soft yet powerful vocals of SF9. After nearly four months, SF9 released their tenth mini-album titled “Rumination” with “Trauma” as its title track.
Whee In – water color
Mamamoo’s versatile vocalist Whee In released highly anticipated her first solo album “Redd” earlier this year. “water color” serves as the title track from this album. This groovy-retro pop song talks about being yourself and coloring your life the way you wish to. Whee In exhibits her vocal prowess backed by the rhythmic tempo of the track featuring an energetic dance performance. “Redd” is a seven-tracked R&B-infused album featuring pH-1 and Gsoul. She debuted her solo career with “Easy” released in 2018, featuring Sik-K.
HIGHLIGHT – Not The End
Veteran boy group HIGHLIGHT made their comeback after a prolonged four-year hiatus with “Not The End“. Amidst a member’s departure and mandatory military enlistment, fans of the group, who debuted in 2009, were awaiting HIGHLIGHT’s comeback as a solid group of four. Not The End is a fitting track to reunite with the fans, especially for a group that has been around for over thirteen years! “I’m still here, it’s not the end,” croons the members in this slow, EDM-inspired track. The song is featured in their third mini-album “The Blowing”.
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ONEUS – Black Mirror/Luna
2021 was packed and busy for ONEUS, who have been repeatedly releasing content from the beginning of 2021. Early in the year, the six-member group rolled out their single “Black Mirror”, “No Diggity”, followed by a special project called ONEUS Theatre. Their latest track “LUNA” is part of their sixth mini-album “Blood Moon”. Inspired by traditional Korean sounds and instruments, LUNA is soft, elegant, and upbeat with lyrics that are rich in poetry and Korean expressions.
Purple Kiss – Zombie
Rookie septet girl group PURPLE KISS made their first-ever comeback with the mini-album “HIDE & SEEK”. After the success of their debut single ‘Ponzona‘, the title track ‘Zombie’ is a groovy, Electro-Funk song. Accompanied with a post-apocalyptic music video, the visuals deliver elements of cuteness, fun, and horror as the girls compare crushing on or following a person as a zombie following its predator. Despite being a rookie group, the members are credited with lyrics for Zombie as well as other tracks from this album.
CIX – WAVE
Quintet boy group CIX is known to experiment with different types of music, yet having that signature CIX sound within it. They wrapped up their previous “HELLO” series, and released “OK’ Prologue: Be OK” – the first installment of their newest OK series, which is described to explore and narrate ‘youth’, ‘sin’ and ‘salvation’. Title track ‘WAVE’ resonates completely with this message. The energetic, mid-tempo track talks about overcoming the hardships of the youth by “going beyond the wave”, and crafting a future for oneself through the tribulations.
MAMAMOO – Where Are We Now
K-Pop’s vocal powerhouse MAMAMOO has been in the business since 2014. Their vocals, harmonizations, performance, sass, and confidence are truly unmatchable. The four-member girl group is best known for their hit tracks such as HIP, Gogobebe, Decalcomanie, and more! This year, the group completed their 7th anniversary and released an album titled “WAW” (Where Are We), and an accompanying virtual concert and documentary to commemorate their anniversary. The ballad title track “Where Are We Now“, as well as other tunes of the album, comprises stories that the girls have experienced in their long careers. Later this year, they also put out their first greatest hits album which included their newest song ‘mumumumuch’.