2021 was an eventful year in Kpop, seeing the disbandment of some major groups, but also seeing the debut of many potential groups that could lead the industry in years to come. It also showed the popularity of pop music from other countries becoming more popular, and has showed us many underrated artists. With that being said, our amazing team of authors and editors presents: Our favourite albums of 2021!
yoyoyeol – TWICE – Formula of Love – O + T = <3, Taste of Love, MILLI – To The Max
Gosh TWICE really outdid themselves this year. From Alcohol Free to The Feels I loved ALL their tracks this year but my favorites were definitely the ones I listed above. I think the Taste of Love album was such a refreshing thing that 2021 needed to wash away all the horrors of 2020 lol and the FoL – O + T = <3 was just *chefs kiss* . When I say it is the ONLY Kpop album that I like all the songs in, I’m not lying. It’s everything I needed to end off my 2021. And for MILLI, I absolutely LOVE her style. I got to know her because of TikTok and how her rap was trending literally everywhere and then I did some research on her and I found this song and immediately knew it was a favorite ^^
sunniejunnie – Cravity – The Awakening, aespa – Savage
When I heard CRAVITY was going to have their first full album, I might have flipped a table (in joy, of course). And then a couple months later, aespa were announced to have their first mini album. I was at a table, so you can probably guess what I did… there is a chance I can write a 12 page essay in depth on both of these albums so let me cut it short – they’re purely amazing. If you prefer experimental songs, the title tracks are the best fit for you. Or maybe if you want a chilled song, check out Go Go and Lucid Dream! These albums may not compare to their seniors, but still are amazing either way. Special mentions to BiLLiE’s the Billage of perceptions : chapter one, LOONA’s [&] and TXT’s The Chaos Chapter : Freeze!
[TWICE – Taste of Love] When I listened to this album for the first time, I was really fascinated. I love the title track (“Alcohol-Free”) the same as b-sides, especially “Conversation” and “Scandal” which are my personal favs from “Taste of Love”.
[IVE – Eleven] I can’t describe IVE’s debut single by words other than “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular…”. I expected a lot from them and I wasn’t disappointed. Both songs from this album are very good, but I definitely prefer “Eleven” over “Take It”.
[twinpale – ショートケーカーズ /ぼくたちは失敗] This year has been my J-Pop awakening. I love twinpale so much, their music is so good and their visuals are so interesting. Short Cake (ショートケーカーズ) is the first song that caught my attention due to its cute appearance with a darker meaning.
[aespa – Savage] aespa have quickly made their way up my favourites list this year. Savage’s opening line, “Oh my gosh! Don’t you know I’m a savage?” has become my favourite thing to say to my friends (much to their displeasure). We also can’t ignore Next Level and Dreams Come True, which came out this year too.
[Billlie – the Billage of perception: chapter one] Although many K-Pop fans did not like Billlie’s debut, I found it quite enjoyable. The title track, RING X RING showcased the member’s abilities well, having sections for singing, rap, and dance. My favourite track by far was everybody’s got a $ECRET, with its dark and mysterious sound creating the perfect atmosphere for the time between Halloween and Christmas. The album created a distinct vibe that helped the listener immerse themselves in the colourful vocals only a Mystic Story group could provide.
[NCT Dream – Hot Sauce]
NCT Dream’s 1st Album has got to be one of my favorites of 2021. The album itself dropped during a really tough time in my life, and the mix of upbeat hip-hop and calm R&B tracks followed me on my journey to recovery. The title track Hot Sauce (맛) actually didn’t grab me after my first three listens, but quickly got stuck in my head later on with its catchy chorus and strong beat. Diggity, the album’s bside has to be one of my favourite songs on the album. It has a very powerful and strong instrumental to it, combined with a fair mix of vocals and raps. Be There For You (지금처럼만) and Rainbow (책갈피), both of which are soothing songs with wonderful lyrics. had the strongest impact on me. Be There For You is a gentle ballad sung by 3 of the members, which, during my downfall, gave me a strong feeling of security. Like I’m not alone in any of this. Their emotional vocals and the acoustic guitar in the background mixed with the soft melody of a piano create an incredibly comforting atmosphere to get lost in. I really recommend everyone to give this song a listen. The album’s final track Rainbow is a pop R&B track with a subtle guitar sound leading in the background. The rappers of the group all participated in writing the rap lyrics of this song, giving the track even more meaning. It is supposed to symbolize them creating a new page together, like a beautiful rainbow. Much recommend giving this one a listen as well. The track My Youth (우리의 계절) gets an honorable mention. It didn’t make it into my favorites, but considering it is meant to convey a beautiful message about memories never dying, while also being a rather upbeat song that’ll get you bopping your head to it, it’s definitely one of the more memorable tracks of the album.
[VICTON – Voice: The Future is Now]
This is actually the album that really got me hooked on VICTON’s music at the beginning of last year. It features 4 songs sung by one individual member, all of them leaning more towards the overall experimental style of the album. I fell in love with the title track What I Said immediately after my first listen. Their beautiful voices in this song together with the drums and brass instruments in the back easily makes it one of my favs from the album. It makes you feel so powerful, doesn’t it? Next, Flip A Coin. Oh gosh, I love that song as well. Again, really experimental instrumental in the background, definitely different from what VICTON usually brings to the table, but I am absolutely not against it. Both Unpredictable and Chess have a slightly darker tone to them, while Carry On is more of an uplifting comforting track that’s good to listen to at the end of a hard day, and I think that’s really beautiful. Though, my absolute favourite track on this album is Into The Mirror. It has just the right amount of bass, spice, and kind of feels somewhat futuristic in a way? I feel like the vocal line really popped off for this one. The song’s lyrics are basically about never giving up because tomorrow will be better. Circle and Carry On get an honorable mention for being two of my top comfort songs last year. <3
[IU – Lilac] 2021 was one of IU’s most successful years, showing high album sales and dominating the charts 13 years into her career. This album showed IU’s amazing songwriting and producing skills, with wide-ranging song styles and amazing vocals.
[cignature – Dear Diary Moment] This year was full of girl groups with a girl crush concept, and in the midst of it, cignature gave a refreshing sound with “boyfriend: that showed a new direction with their music. This overlooked gem is definitely worth a listen.
[sunkis 宋秉勤 – trust me] sunkis has proven himself to be one of the most underrated cpop artists of 2021, with his hit song trust me, with its catchy tune, amazing acoustic sound and thoughtful lyrics.
[IVE – Eleven] IVE’s debut single album ‘Eleven’ is one of my favorites as it consists of dark, but also upbeat tracks. The title track ‘Eleven’ also has a catchy instrumental. The bside ‘Take It’ also has a strong beat, a much stronger instrumental than Eleven, which I recommend listening to! This album is definitely worth a listen if you are into dark upbeat type of music!
[ASTRO – All Yours] Astro’s 2nd full album, All Yours is my favorite as the album consists of many unique tracks that compiles many different concepts. The title track ‘ONE’ has a strong beat which adds more spice to the overall album. The album even has great bsides, my favorites are Our Spring and All Good!
[SEVENTEEN– Attacca] Seventeen’s 9th mini album ‘Attacca’ is my favorite album release this year as well. The album has a mix of calm, and punk rock music which adds a unique touch. The title track ‘Rock with you’ is soft, but upbeat as well which I enjoy. The bsides are worth listening to as well, my favorites are To You, and Crush!
[CNBLUE – WANTED] One of albums I loved this year was CNBLUE’S WANTED, The reason I decided to listen to this album was the concept, it looked amazing & reminded me a little of AOA when I first saw it, The album is mixed with pop rock and ballads which is the perfect mix for me when looking for a album to enjoy. My favourite song has been 99% followed closely by ‘Nothing’ and ‘Love Cut’.
[KANG SEUNGYOON – PAGE]
One of my other favourite albums that came from 2021 was KANG SEUNGYOON’S PAGE, the album has a mix of songs ranging from upbeat to soulful which really showcase Seungyoon amazing and beautiful vocals which i think others may really enjoy when given the listen, I think the album itself is very special in that Seungyoon put parts of himself in every single one, my favourite from the album is ‘Skip (feat. wonstein)’ followed closely by ‘Obvious (feat. Simon Dominic)’, ‘Captain’, ‘365’, ‘IYAH’ and ‘Hey Rain’.
[MINO – TO INFINITY]
The last album which I loved from 2021 was MINO’S TO INFINITY, this album has a mix of genres all of which I loved right from the title track right to the last song, Mino showed off his many abilities in every single song and never disappointed me especially with the raps, I also think of this album as special and unique in terms of sounds. My favourite from the album is ‘Losing U’ followed closely by ‘Pyramid (feat.IIIBOI, Gaeko) and ‘Language (feat. Bobby)
[ONF – Goosebumps] ONF had an incredible year full of achievements and new experiences. They released 4 albums in 2021, and this time I would like to bring their latest album, Goosebumps, to the spotlight. Goosebumps is the last album ONF delivered to us before their group enlistment, so I think this album is quite special. Each of the 5 songs on the album has a different flavor to offer, with the ballad track Alarm being my favorite. The title track, also named Goosebumps, incorporates a darker pop sound with brief moments of R&B that binds the song together. The structure of the song is pretty interesting, and my favorite part would be the second chorus sung by Hyojin, which has been praised for giving off a similar vibe to 2nd generation K-Pop songs. Whistle calls to the listener with a groovy chorus and rhythmic whistle sound, and Fat and Sugar is an addicting hip-hop/pop track with hints of sweet and sour candy sprinkled throughout the song. Alarm reminds me of sitting on a cliff and gazing at the sunrise as dusk turns to morning, and even if ballads aren’t your thing, I think anyone will feel touched when listening to this track. Lastly, Show Must Go On gives the listener feelings of perseverance and determination as ONF confirms that they have their fans’ backs, just as strongly as fuses (ONF’s fandom) have theirs. I think ONF truly captures the essence of what they wanted to leave their audience with before starting the next chapter of their career, so Goosebumps is the album I would like to bring your attention to.
[NCT 2021 – Universe]
For those who know me or have tuned into my podcast, it is no secret that I am a huge NCT stan and I must say, I stanned the right group 🙂 This album is probably one of my favourite albums of all time, the album had their usually somewhat hardcore yet experimental style and this can be seen in songs like “new axis” and “universe (let’s play ball)” but there are also songs with a more of an rnb style which i absolutely love, which is probably one of the main reasons i love this album so much, the title track “beautiful” was literally a display of my ideal song with amazing vocal tones paired with a soft rap section with a catchy beat and lyrics. The music video for both “universe (let’s play ball)” and “beautiful” were both stunning and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry while watching the “beautiful” music video. My personal favourite tracks in this album would have to be “beautiful”, “vroom”, “miracle”, “dreaming” and “birthday party” but there was not a single song out of the 13 songs of this album that could be called a flaw, i loved every single one of the songs in the album and this is legit one of the best albums ever created on this “universe” 🙂
[JUNNY (feat. JAYB & lullaby) – nostalgia]
If I were only able to listen to one kpop soloist for the rest of my life, it would be JUNNY. I absolutely love his voice, it’s just so soothing to listen to and the style of this album is exactly the style I look for in my top songs. Although there are only 2 songs in this single album, it really is such a fulfilling album. For those with friends who don’t like K-pop or “korean music” this album is a great recommendation as there are large amounts of english in the songs with one of the songs only containing 2 lines of korean. Although I love both songs, “solo” is definitely the standout track for me and I could probably listen to it all day. All in all, listening to this album a few years down the road, it would not fail to give me “nostalgia” 🙂
[Nana Ouyang – 藏]
This song is one of the songs I could easily fall asleep to. Nana’s soothing airy vocals blend perfectly with the backing music, the airy high notes can make you feel as if you are floating on clouds. The song features smooth and soft vocals, for those who are looking for a calm and soft song, this, i would 100% recommend. Nana is one of those artists that has her own style but tweaks can be seen in her songs to make each of her songs unique in style in their own way.
Also one of the songs released in 2021 that I absolutely love and is probably my favourite sobg of all time is trust me by sunkis but as reaxoning has already mentioned it, I won’t futher elaborate 🙂
[Crazy In Love – itzy]
I was super excited to hear that itzy was having their first full album. I loved the opening trailer, and that’s what got me hooked. I love the concept, and my favorite song in the album is probably #Twenty.
[Dimension: Dilemma – Enhypen]
I honestly think Tamed-Dashed could be better, but it’s ok. I love the tracks (my favorite is Attention, Please!), and I love the mv for Tamed-Dashed. My favorite concept/version is probably the orange/Odysseus (the one at the beach). I love how they look so happy there.
[One Reeler ACT IV – IZ*ONE]
I am more than proud of IZ*ONE. This was one of the best albums in 2021. They really made it their song. They always had their own color and made sure that it is an IZ*ONE song. I am still sad they aren’t a group anymore but, I am happy they ended off on a good note. I’m wishing all of them a good 2022 with their future careers ^^.
[bugAboo – bugAboo]
This was one of my favorite debuts EVER. It was very good and produced very well. The members also owned this song and worked well with it. Absolutely love this group and hope they do well in the future! I’m excited ^^.
I want to give a special add on of O K Prolouge – CIX and BURN – JustB. Love both groups so much!
[CHALLENGER – JO1]
The future for the permanent Produce 101 group JO1 looks bright as they have shown off their incredible development from their debut year of 2020 to 2021, going from just being a bunch of dudes with a love for k-pop, singing, and/or dancing and deciding to join Produce 101 Japan as individual trainees, to a full-fledged group that releases banger after banger. They did a whopping 3 comebacks in 2021 alone with incredible versatility between music genres and concepts, but if I had to pick one as my favorite it would have to be their 3rd single Challenger! The single consists of title track Born to Be Wild became my most listened song on my Spotify wrapped this year for a reason, Speed of Light and Design are two b-sides whose powerful dance performances you just have to check out, 君のまま (Kimi no mama) makes me feel like a Disney princess every time I listen to it, and 伝えられるなら(Tsutaerarerunara) that they despite being a Japanese group performed in Korea on M Countdown.
If you want the perfect mix between the Japanese and Korean sound, JO1 is the one group you should check out! Special mention to both Stranger and Wandering that they also released in 2021.
[The Other Side of the Moon – GWSN]
Their long-awaited comeback after being absent for over a year and together back with Soso finally came! It’s always so incredibly difficult to pick a favorite GWSN song off of their albums, and this release was no different. If I had to pick one it would probably be Starry Night, but every song is so distinct and unique I have to also mention e i e i o and I Can’t Breathe, and of course their title track Like It Hot.
[STAYDOM – STAYC]
ASAP is one of those songs you can just have on repeat without ever getting tired of it, and that’s exactly what happened to my brain during 2021. I feel like I’ll remember 2021 as the year of ASAP. Both So What and Love Fool where characteristic b-sides that I enjoyed as well, and I was surprised I actually enjoyed the remix of So Bad as much as I did!
What’s your favourite album 0f 2021? Make sure to comment down below
Happy New Year!