2017 has seen the most changes in the K-Pop market compared to previous years. It has been a year in which release patterns have shifted, prominent groups have experienced some changes, and the industry has started to become more open to the idea of strategic partnerships. It has been a year full of development, and one packed with a variety of great music. Now that 2017 is coming to a close, The Kraze takes you back to see which female artists have truly reigned and owned the year!
20. Gugudan - “A Girl Like Me”
I.O.I’s disbandment earlier this year naturally led to its members focusing on their respective groups, giving us a couple of excellent DIA comebacks, as well as PRISTIN, Weki Meki, and Chungha’s debuts. Likewise, Sejeong and Mina became fully devoted to gugudan after the I.O.I breakup, and when they did, the group’s strongest effort to date was released.
gugudan’s second single, “A Girl Like Me,” is one of this year’s most memorable songs simply because it masters the K-Pop formula. Overloaded with synth and fast-paced 808s, the arrangement alone is enough to captivate the listener. The hook does wonders in doing so as it features just the right amount of repetition and a great mix of rhymes, making it hard not to jam along when it hits. The song’s energy is well distributed, making for a great build-up leading to Sejeong’s vocal explosion after the bridge.
19. Girl Next Door - Deep Blue Eyes
Despite Girl Next Door only being a project group for KBS’s variety show Idol Drama Operation Team, it had a truly commendable lineup. Seeing “Deep Blue Eyes” come to life was a treat for a lot of fans, as it was only through the project that they got to see a more mature side to a few members.
With the harmony between Red Velvet’s Seulgi, Lovelyz’s Sujeong, and Jeon Somi’s vocals, it’s hard to believe that the track is sung by a one-time group. MAMAMOO’s Moonbyul and SONAMOO’s D.ana, who wrote their respective rap verses, also provide great variety in the track with their interesting play on words. Produced by B1A4’s Jinyoung, “Deep Blue Eyes” stays true to its electronic nature while having a fair share of sultry undertones.
18. Dreamcatcher - Sleep-Walking
It would be an understatement to call Dreamcatcher this year’s most unique female K-Pop group. Stepping away from the pop-dance genre they originally debuted with as MINX, the group re-debuted this year with the ground-shaking rock track “Chase Me,” successfully gaining well-deserved attention from both the local and international markets. It wasn’t until their third release, however, that one of the year’s best B-sides was released.
“Sleep-Walking,” the fourth track off their first mini-album Pre-quel, is a future-bass track that’s quite different from the majority of their discography, but it is just as distinct. Thanks to the trippy drop, as well as its unpredictable structure, the song’s arrangement is definitely one of the year’s most interesting. Despite the song’s lack of a concrete chorus, it still delivers due to the playful nature of the kicks and riff present in the breakdown.
17. Playback - Untold Story
Playback still being stuck in the so-called “nugu” zone to this day should be considered a crime. It’s a pity that not many have heard of the group before, as they consistently release high-quality material along with having a solid member lineup. With the addition of K-Pop Star 6 alum Ma Eunjin, the group tried their luck once again this year with the release of “Want You To Say,” but it was its B-side, however, that shined.
Written by 15&’s Jimin, as well as JYP Entertainment producers NODAY and Chloe, “Untold Story” is undoubtedly one of the catchiest tracks of the year. Layered with flavorful vocal runs and jumpy chords, the R&B track is full of interesting sections with its sleek rap inserts and its playful melody.
16. LABOUM - Hwi Hwi
With a three-year career under their belts, the five (then six) ladies of LABOUM have always been struggling to gain success. When things started to change due to their outstanding makestar feats and Solbin’s solo activities, the group made another comeback earlier this year with “Hwi Hwi,” bringing them their first ever music show win.
“Hwi Hwi” is the group’s most outstanding effort to date. Despite showcasing more maturity with this comeback, the song still has a certain playfulness to it, retaining the quirkiness found in a lot of LABOUM tracks. With an explosive chorus to boot, the song’s composition is top-notch, utilizing a great balance of real and digital instruments in its arrangement.
15. Nine Muses - Remember
The release of “Remember” was essential in establishing Nine Muses’ sound and style as a quartet. While last year’s “Lip2Lip” was technically the group’s first effort with just four members, it was through “Remember” that the group introduced a more prominent electronic twist to their sound. This track, different from the group’s past singles which had a certain “Namyu” formula, completely wins with its unpredictability. It has a lot of unexpected tempo changes, as well as a few percussion switch-ups, but the real surprise of the track happens during Sojin’s rap break.
The ascending melody in the “love me, love me, love me” line remains one of the year’s best musical moments, too.
14. Weki Meki - I Don't Like Your Girlfriend
Weki Meki proved to be one of the year’s most successful rookie girl groups after debuting with the quirky track “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend.” They not only became the best-selling rookie girl group of the year in terms of physical albums, but were also nominated for Best New Female Artist at this year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards. Despite losing out on the title, the girls proved through their debut that they are a group that can gain even more in the long-run.
Drawing influences from the tropical house and hip-hop genres, “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” is one of 2017’s most entertaining crossovers. It may sound confusing to a few listeners at first, but it’s a track that may very well be called a “sleeper” due to its ability to sound even better with each listen. The group’s knife-like choreography, which they showcased through their debut, also raises curiosity as to whether they can become the modern female counterpart of choreography masters INFINITE.
13. Shannon - Love Don’t Hurt
Completely abandoning the bright pop-driven sound her last comeback carried, Shannon returned with a complete 180 this year. “Love Don’t Hurt” marked the beginning of a new era for Shannon’s artistry in which her music features a darker sound, as well as deeper topics to sing about. This track, which served as a pre-release to her mini album Hello, transformed electronic layers to fit the formula of a pop ballad, resulting in a heavy base that fits the sad mood perfectly.
12. Brave Girls - Rollin’
It’s sad to see groups produced by Brave Brothers struggle in popularity seeing as they all burst with potential and never fail to impress. Brave Girls is no different.
Ever since the group made their long-awaited comeback in 2016, it has gotten hard to count them out of the game, having produced high-quality singles like the soulful track “Deepened,” as well as the summer anthem “High Heels.” Not letting the year pass by without a bop, the group released “Rollin’,” a tropical house EDM track where they returned to their darker roots.
The arrangement, which carefully progresses throughout, still does a great job at keeping its buoyancy, resulting in a light, consistent track that’s easy to listen to. The vocal direction is just as interesting, as there’s a great balance between the amount of falsetto thrown in the mix, as well as room left for the girls’ upper registers to shine.
11. CLC - Hobgoblin
Ever since 4Minute introduced a whole new definition to the word “Crazy” in 2015, a year without an essential “girl crush” track feels incomplete. With the help of former 4Minute member HyunA, CLC took charge this year and tried out the same concept with “Hobgoblin,” which surprisingly fits the group. Produced by Seo Jaewoo, the same producer of the iconic 4Minute track, “Hobgoblin” utilizes a fat kick and slaps it with a lot of synthesizers and white noise to create a wicked beat that works effectively with its well-written hook. Incorporating some repetition in both the vocals and the synth during the chorus was also smart, as it adds more depth to the aggressive nature of the section.
Now that we’re done revealing tracks #20 to #11, we hope you’re excited to see which artists made our Top 10! Check back next week as we reveal the full list of the best female K-Pop tracks of the year!