Recently, Buzzfeed staff released a list of what they believe to be the 35 most unforgettable K-Pop songs of 2020.

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The list is subjective, but there are undeniably a ton of great songs included in their top picks!

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These are the 15 best releases in the genre according to the Buzzfeed staff this year that made it to the top of the list, with some of their reasoning as to why they chose it.

15. “God’s Menu” by Stray Kids

“God’s Menu” is the title track of Stray Kids’ first full-length album, Go Live, released on June 17. The album itself has sold over 330k copies, which is huge for this still-young group, and the music video for “God’s Menu” is currently at about 170 million views, easily their most-watched MV.

The song is heavily laden with food references, but the most iconic line by far is: ‘wonder what’s our special ingredient? We don’t use such a thing.’ Indeed, there are no special ingredients when it comes to Stray Kids’ success — that all stems from the group’s own creativity, ambition, and hard work.

— Buzzfeed staff Emlyn Travis

14. “Inception” by ATEEZ

“Inception” was one of the title tracks, along with “THANXX”, that was released on their latest album, Zero: Fever Part. 1, which is their fifth mini-album and was released on July 29. It’s the group’s best-selling album to date, with over 375k total sales, and the “Inception” music video has earned nearly 55 million views between the main and duplicate releases.

When they croon, ‘I’m in love’ in the song’s chorus, their pain feels visceral in your own chest. Blending that raw emotion with a powerful performance, “Inception” sees ATEEZ strike the perfect balance of both softness and intensity.

— Emlyn Travis

13. “Sacrifice” by Han Seungwoo

“Sacrifice” is the title track on VICTON member Han Seungwoo’s debut solo album, Fame. The album, released on August 10, has sold over 85k copies, and the music video for “Sacrifice” has reached around 11 million views.

While the song’s lyrics delve into the feeling of being so infatuated with someone you’d be ready to give up anything to be with them (hence the title), the real draw to this song is Seung Woo’s crystal-clear vocals. His effortless runs in the chorus will give you goosebumps and have you pinching yourself for not listening to him sooner.

— Emlyn Travis

12. “Turn Back Time” by WAYV

“Turn Back Time” is the lead single off of WAYV’s first full-length studio album, Awaken the World, which came out on June 9. Worldwide, the album has made over 280k sales, and the MV for “Turn Back Time” is nearly at 30 million views.

It’s a deceptively smooth track; one that lulls you into a sense of security with its slow-building rapping and vocals only to crescendo into a chorus that is so powerful it low-key makes me tear up. If you need a song to wake you up and get you in the right frame of mind, it’s this one.

— Emlyn Travis

11. “Blue Hour” by TXT

“Blue Hour” is the title track off of TXT’s most recent album, Minisode1: Blue Hour. Released on October 26, it’s TXT’s third mini-album, and has sold over 450k copies, which is amazing for this still-young group! The music video for “Blue Hour” is at about 51 million views.

 According to Tomorrow X Together it’s the most magical time of day, so it makes sense that their single “Blue Hour” would also be the very definition of magical too. The song is the epitome of youthful exuberance — from its uplifting lyrics to its funky bassline, there’s a sweet, innocent quality to the disco track that never fails to brighten my spirits.

— Emlyn Travis

10. “LA DI DA” by EVERGLOW

“LA DI DA” is the title track off of EVERGLOW’s latest and second mini-album, -77.82X-78.29, which was released on September 21 and has made nearly 50k sales. The music video for “LA DI DA”, like all of the group’s MVs, has quickly earned a ton of views, and already has over 75 million.

Their first dip into the ‘newtro’ genre (which combines both retro and futuristic sounds together), “LA DI DA” is dedicated to all of the ‘players and the haters’ and is a not-so-secret middle finger to those who seek to bring them down. The combination of sleek synthesizers that feel straight out of the ’80s with Everglow’s badass lyrics is something I never knew I needed in my life. It’s punchy, it’s iconic, it’s Everglow.

— Emlyn Travis

9. “Zombie” by DAY6

“Zombie” is the title track off of DAY6’s sixth mini-album, The Book of Us: The Demon, which was released on May 11. The album has sold over 80k units, and the music video for “Zombie” has around 14 million views.

This year has been difficult for everyone for countless reasons, but there’s a sense of comfort in knowing that there’s a band out there in the world who feels the same way you do. Day6 took those feelings and created a song that not only pierces your heart but mends it a bit too.

— Emlyn Travis

8. “Life Goes On” by BTS

“Life Goes On” serves as the title track for BTS’s highly anticipated fifth full-length album, BE, which was released on October 20. Though Map of the Soul: 7 is still their best-selling album, BE has already sold 2.66 million copies, which is phenomenal! The music video for “Life Goes On” is already at just about 220 million views as well.

But rather than dwell on the hardships of this year, “Life Goes On” instead chooses to send a message of healing. ‘Like an echo in the forest, the day will come back around. As if nothing happened, yeah, life goes on,’ the members sing. And, if that didn’t raise your spirits, J-Hope provides a ray of sunshine when he says that we’ve all: ‘stopped for now, but don’t hide in the shadow. Once again daylight will glow.’

— Emlyn Travis

7. “Maria” by Hwasa

“Maria” is the title track off of MAMAMOO member Hwasa’s first mini-album, Maria. Released on June 29, the album has sold over 66k copies, and the music video for “Maria” has a total of nearly 145 million views between the original and duplicate versions.

‘Maria, I’m saying this for you. It’s a shining night; don’t torment yourself.’ She sings. ‘Why are you struggling? You’re already beautiful.’ While song might have originally been written to provide strength and comfort to herself, “Maria” has become an unstoppable anthem that encourages fans all over the world who are going through similar struggles to never stop loving themselves.

— Emlyn Travis

6. “Open Mind” by Wonho

“Open Mind” is the lead single on Wonho’s first solo mini-album, Love Synonym Pt. 1: Right for Me, which he released on September 4 and has sold nearly 145k copies of since then. The music video for “Open Mind” has nearly 17 million views between both versions of the MV.

Few K-pop songs delve into the territory of romance without sweeping declarations of love included, but Wonho’s “Open Mind” is revolutionary in that it bypasses that route entirely and instead tosses the ball into the listener’s court. He might be asking for just one night, but one listen to “Open Mind” and you’ll be a fan of Wonho forever.

— Emlyn Travis

5. “Black Swan” by BTS

“Black Swan” is one of the two lead singles, along with “ON”, from BTS’s best-selling album, Map of the Soul: 7. Released on February 21, the album has sold an incredible 4.33 million copies, making it the best-selling album in South Korea’s music industry. The music video for “Black Swan” also has about 222 million views.

 The dreamy emo hip-hop song chronicles the inward struggle an artist feels when their ‘heart no longer races when hearing the music play.’ It poses a horrifying question to any creative person: what do you do when the thing that brought you the most joy in life suddenly doesn’t? Who are you outside of your art?

— Emlyn Travis

4. “MAGO” by GFRIEND

“MAGO” is the title track off of GFRIEND’s latest album, 回:Walpurgis Night, which was released on November 9 and was the third and final album in their 回 series. It’s their third full-length studio album, and has sold over 60k copies since its release. The music video for “MAGO” also has over 31 million views.

Written and composed by members Eunha, Yuju, and Umji, “MAGO” is about the members transforming into confident witches who prioritize their own opinions of themselves over what other people have to say. ‘My heart is waiting for you, the girl smiling at me in the mirror,’ the members sing. ‘Go on and judge me, I’ll never waver.’

— Emlyn Travis

3. “I Can’t Stop Me” by TWICE

“I Can’t Stop Me” is the lead single off of TWICE’s second and most recent full-length album, Eyes Wide Open. Released on October 26, the album has sold over 470k total units, and the music video for this single is already at over 191 million views.

The song’s lyrics detail the experience of seeing the warning signs in a relationship, but not being able to stop yourself from falling in love regardless. ‘I’m warning to myself, ‘you shouldn’t be doing this,” the members sing. ‘Every minute, every second, my heart goes ahead of me.’ Add in the group’s incredible choreography (especially that leg drop move!) and TWICE’s “I CAN’T STOP ME” is pure pop perfection that takes the group’s musicality to brand new heights.

— Emlyn Travis

2. “Mmmh” by Kai

“Mmmh” is the title song on EXO member Kai’s debut solo album, KAI (开), which was released on November 30 and has sold nearly 110k copies already. The music video for “Mmmh” is also over 33 million views so far.

A true dancer at heart, his delicate steps are almost poetic as they seamlessly transform from body rolls into powerful lunges that make the song’s lyrics stand out even stronger. The end result is a performance that is so clean, beguiling, and effortless it’ll steal your breath away. Although it might’ve been a long time coming, Kai’s solo debut was well worth the wait.

— Emlyn Travis

1. “Criminal” by Taemin

“Criminal” is the title track off of Taemin’s third studio album, Never Gonna Dance Again, on the Act 1 portion of the two-part album. Released on September 7, the album has sold over 150k total units, and the music video for “Criminal” is at nearly 20 million views.

It is Taemin at his most vulnerable, controlled entirely by someone else and yet thriving off the negative attention. ‘So elegant, the criminal who destroys me,’ he sings. ‘Not okay. I try and shake my head, but I’m only getting dragged in more deeply.’ The slick newtro song offers no resolution to the end of his plight, but perfectly sets the tone for the first album and makes his redemption arc in Act 2 that much sweeter. Theatrical and hypnotic, “Criminal” is pure genius.

— Emlyn Travis