Favorites of 2021: August

I was so determined to publish this post towards the beginning of the month (instead of two weeks later like I’ve been doing lately), so I actually had like 90% of it prepared by September 1st. But of course, I still ended up having to wait because I needed to catch up on my reaction posts…sigh. (-_-) Though I guess it makes sense since August was a VERY busy month for K-pop, with plenty of releases popping up every week. Even though I was on vacation, it still took me a lot of time to sort through everything. I feel like I spent most of the time jumping from song to song, but I definitely had a few solid favorites by month’s end.

*Please remember that all of the following is my own personal opinion!*

This Month’s Favorites

NOTE: Groups who made comebacks at the very end of August (like BTOB) aren’t included, because I didn’t actually get around to checking out their releases until September.

Favorite SongFavorite DanceFavorite Music Video
#1Stray Kids,
“Thunderous”
Stray Kids,
“Thunderous”
Red Velvet,
“Queendom”
#2Red Velvet,
“Queendom”
The Boyz,
“Thrill Ride”
Sunmi,
“You Can’t Sit With Us”
#3The Boyz,
“Thrill Ride”
Red Velvet,
“Queendom”
Stray Kids,
“Thunderous”
#4TXT,
“LO$ER=LO♡ER”
TXT,
“LO$ER=LO♡ER”
The Boyz,
“Thrill Ride”

Favorite Overall Comebacks

#1: Red Velvet, “Queendom”

Technically, the #2 song on this list is probably more my style. But if you know me at all, you know that Red Velvet is one of my absolute favorite groups – so any time they’re around, they’re bound to dominate. Especially since their last group comeback was at the end of 2019, and I was starved for new content. I spent half of August listening to the upbeat shimmery “Queendom” and watching their bubbly performances and magical music video. And though I tend to have a short attention span with K-pop comebacks, I know in my heart I’m going to be stuck on “Queendom” for a long time. (Read my post about it here.)

#2: Stray Kids, “Thunderous”

I like Stray Kids best when their music is energetic and intense, and that’s exactly what they did with “Thunderous.” It literally checks all my boxes: strong and powerful arrangement, interesting beat, attention-grabbing choreography, and sensational music video. And I especially love how they blended traditional Korean culture with their extremely modern style. If Red Velvet hadn’t come back at the same time, Stray Kids would have easily grabbed #1. But “Thunderous” definitely made me even more interested in them, so I still consider it a win. (Read my post about it here.)

#3: The Boyz, “Thrill Ride”

Typically, I don’t always go for the bouncy and upbeat songs… but “Thrill Ride” is just so feel-good and catchy that I really couldn’t resist it. Though I still prefer The Boyz on the more mature side, I have to say they know how to have fun and pour on the charm. And after watching Kingdom, it’s become even clearer to me that I have a pretty soft spot for them. Everything about “Thrill Ride” is endlessly entertaining – even though summer’s on the way out, I keep finding myself going back for more. (Read my post about it here.)

#4: TXT, “LO$ER=LO♡ER”

Though I wouldn’t call myself a TXT fan at this point in time, I’m very much into this emo phrase their music is currently going through. “LO$ER=LO♡ER” looks and sounds like it’s come straight out of the mid-2000’s, and it’s giving me MAJOR nostalgia. Though I don’t always like dwelling on my time in high school, “LO$ER=LO♡ER” is so accurately angsty that just one listen automatically evoked long-buried buried memories of my own emotional teenage years. This is a TXT I can relate to, and I hope this sound isn’t just a passing phase for them. (Read my post about it here.)

Albums and B-Sides I Like

As a K-pop listener, it’s fairly uncommon for me to listen to a whole album consistently. I’ll check one out a few times to see if there’s anything I like; but since I listen to lots of different groups, I spend most of my time rotating through different title tracks. I don’t know why, but it’s just how I’ve always operated. That being said, I think it’s important to acknowledge the work that groups and artists put into their albums. So, I want to point out a few albums and B-sides that piqued my interest.

My Top 3 Albums of August

(You can click on the album’s picture to go to a playlist on YouTube.)

#1: Red Velvet, Queendom

#2: The Boyz, THRILL-ING

#3: Stray Kids, NOEASY

B-Sides

(You can click the song title to go to the video on YouTube.)

ArtistAlbumB-Sides I Like
ASTROSwitch On
(8th mini album)
“Waterfall”
CIXOK Prologue: Be OK
(1st full album)
“Bad Dream”
“Genie in a Bottle”
CRAVITYThe Awakening: Written in the Stars (1st full album)“VENI VIDI VICI”
“Celebrate”
Golden ChildGame Changer
(2nd full album)
“Bottom of the Ocean”
“Spell”
Jay BSOMO: FUME
(1st mini album)
“AM PM” feat. Wheein
Kwon EunbiOPEN
(1st mini album)
“Amigo” feat. BabySoul
“Blue Eyes”
MIRAESplash
(2nd mini album
“Don’t Stop”
ONFPopping
(6th mini album)
“Summer Poem”
“Dry Ice”
Red VelvetQueendom
(6th mini album)*
“Pose”
“Better Be”
Stray KidsNOEASY
(2nd full album)
“Domino”
“SSICK”
“Red Lights” (Bang Chan and Hyunjin)
Sunmi1/6
(3rd mini album)
“SUNNY”
“Borderline”
The BoyzTHRILL-ING
(6th mini album)
“Out of Control”
“Merry Bad Ending”
VERIVERYSeries ‘O’ Round 2: Hole
(6th mini album)
“Underdog”
WeeeklyHoliday
(4th mini album)
“La Luna”

*Queendom is labeled as Red Velvet’s 6th mini album, which strikes me as odd because they have way more than six mini albums??? So I’m not *quite* sure what’s up with that one….

Special Mentions

This section is kind of a catch-all for different things I want to bring attention to: artists that I don’t normally listen to, songs that I like but don’t have enough material to write a whole post on, songs that I find interesting but aren’t official comebacks, etc. While a lot of these songs were actually promoted on music shows for at least one week, I still chose to put them in this category since they were usually marketed as digital singles and/or pre-releases.

Hyoyeon (HYO) feat. Bibi, “Second”

(This one was probably a full-fledged comeback, but it ended up here because it took me forever to decide ^^”’) Hyoyeon is my Girls’ Generation bias, so I’m always down for her new music. Though she’s usually known for club jams – since she’s a DJ and all – I love that she went a more chill route with “Second” and sang instead. And of course, I was totally here for all her TikTok dances with her fellow Girls’ Generation members and other SM stars.

Hyolyn and Dasom (SISTAR), “Summer or Summer”

It’s been four years already, but I’m still sad about SISTAR’s disbandment – so I was thrilled that Hyolyn and Dasom reunited to give us another summer bop. It strikes a nice balance between being fun and bright and playful and flirty, and it makes me miss SISTAR immensely. I wish all four members could have done the song together, but I’m totally happy with it as is.

Ten, “Paint Me Naked”

For me, K-pop isn’t always just about the music – I also really enjoy watching choreography and videos. But if I am talking purely about the music, “Paint Me Naked” is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year so far. I love its pop rock style with the electric guitar in a starring role, and I love how it’s a little romantic and a lot rebellious. Ten is immensely talented, and this is the perfect song for him to show off both his singing and dancing skills.

Ten and YangYang (WayV), “Low Low”

August was a big month for Ten – after releasing “Paint Me Naked,” wasn’t enough, he made a quick turnaround and dropped this cool jam with fellow WayV member YangYang one week later. The two have already shown off their strong friendship to fans through their duo variety show, so it’s no surprise that chemistry translates to this song. “Low Low” is super chill and mellow compared to what WayV normally puts out as a group, so it’s nice to see a new side of them. And the melody is SO CATCHY.

CL, “Spicy”

I never really had the chance to get into 2NE1, since they disbanded shortly after I got into K-pop (and I’ll always be sad about that). However, I spent enough time with them to know that CL is most definitely one of the OG badass females of K-pop. And unsurprisingly, she’s kept her title as the years go by – her upcoming album is literally titled Alpha, and I can believe it. “Spicy” is an absolute banger with an irresistible beat, charismatic rapping, fun dance moves, and a bold aesthetic. (I’m living for the giant John Malkovich statue and the Pikachu car.)

This Year’s Favorites (So Far)

One of the reasons I created this column was so I could keep track of my favorites in “real time” as I progressed through 2021. This year, I hope to release several new end of year favorites posts in addition to my regular Top 50 (if I can get my act together). So, I hope that writing these down every month will help me better remember exactly how I felt about everything later on.

There are different colors to indicate any changes in the table from the previous table:

  • (NEW) means something has appeared in the Top 10 for the first time.
  • (+#) means that it’s gone up in my rankings.
  • (-#) means that it’s gone down in my rankings.
  • No mark means that there’s no change from last month.

Since August was a pretty busy month, not a lot of songs moved up my lists – it was mostly just me adding in my new favorites and shifting the chart accordingly. The significant changes usually happen in slower months, when I have more time to go back and revisit things. And it looks like a lot of my favorites from the first half of the year are getting replaced by newer songs, which usually happens around this time every year for me. But honestly, I’m normally a pretty fickle music listener… so I’m very impressed that some of these have remained in the Top 10 for so long!

Favorite SongFavorite DanceFavorite Music Video
#1Stray Kids,
“Thunderous” (NEW)
Stray Kids,
“Thunderous” (NEW)
aespa,
“Next Level”
#2NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (-1)
aespa,
“Next Level” (-1)
Red Velvet,
“Queendom” (NEW)
#3aespa,
“Next Level”
NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (-1)
Sunmi, “You Can’t Sit With Us” (NEW)
#42PM,
“Make It” (+1)
The Boyz,
“Thrill Ride” (NEW)
Stray Kids,
“Thunderous” (NEW)
#5LIGHTSUM,
“Vanilla” (-3)
2PM,
“Make It”
2PM,
“Make It” (-3)
#6Red Velvet,
“Queendom” (NEW)
NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce” (-2)
NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (-3)
#7The Boyz,
“Thrill Ride” (NEW)
SHINee,
“Don’t Call Me” (-4)
fromis_9,
“We Go” (-3)
#8NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce” (-2)
SF9,
“Tear Drop” (-2)
Taeyeon,
“Weekend” (-3)
#9SHINee,
“Don’t Call Me” (-5)
SHINee,
“Atlantis” (-2)
The Boyz,
“Thrill Ride” (NEW)
#10SHINee,
“Atlantis” (-3)
Oh My Girl,
“Dun Dun Dance” (-2)
SHINee,
“Atlantis” (-5)

My Listening Stats for K-pop in 2021 (as of August)

NOTE: These are primarily based on my Apple Music Replay stats.

Most Played SongsMost Played ArtistsMost Played Albums
#1Super Junior,
“House Party”
Super JuniorSuper Junior,
The Renaissance
#2aespa,
“Next Level” (+1)
NCT DreamNCT Dream,
Hot Sauce
#3ITZY,
“In the Morning” (-1)
Red Velvet (+1)Kingdom: Final Episode (+1)
#4LIGHTSUM,
“Vanilla” (+3)
SHINee (-1)ITZY,
Guess Who (-1)
#5NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce” (-1)
TWICE (NEW)2PM,
Must (+5)
#6SHINee,
“Don’t Call Me” (-1)
ITZY (-1)SHINee,
Don’t Call Me (-1)
#7NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (NEW)
SF9Red Velvet,
Queendom (NEW)
#8iKON,
“At Ease” (NEW)
(G)I-DLE (-2)(G)I-DLE,
I Burn (-2)
#9Rosé,
“On the Ground” (-1)
SEVENTEEN (-1)NU’EST,
Romanticize (-2)
#102PM,
“Make It” (NEW)
Super Junior D&E (NEW)Cosmic Girls,
Unnatural (-2)

Favorite Releases of the Year

This category isn’t just about how much I like a comeback and its separate elements. Those definitely play a factor, but I also consider how invested I am in it – how much time I spend listening to music, watching videos, tracking promotions, etc.

  1. Red Velvet, “Queendom” (NEW)
  2. aespa, “Next Level” (-1)
  3. NCT Dream, “Hello Future”
  4. Stray Kids, “Thunderous” (NEW)
  5. NCT Dream, “Hot Sauce” (-3)
  6. 2PM, “Make It” (-2)
  7. The Boyz, “Thrill Ride” (NEW)
  8. LIGHTSUM, “Vanilla” (-2)
  9. SHINee, “Don’t Call Me” (-4)
  10. SF9, “Tear Drop”

Favorite Albums and B-Sides of the Year

Favorite AlbumsFavorite B-Sides
#1Super Junior,
The Renaissance
Red Velvet,
“Pose” (NEW)
#2NCT Dream,
Hot Sauce
NCT Dream,
“Rocket” (-1)
#3Red Velvet,
Queendom (NEW)
Baekhyun,
“All I’ve Got” (-1)
#42PM,
Must (-1)
ITZY,
“Sorry Not Sorry” (-1)
#5ITZY,
Guess Who
Super Junior,
“Burn the Floor” (-1)
#6SHINee,
Don’t Call Me (-2)
The Boyz,
“Out of Control” (NEW)
#7(G)I-DLE,
I Burn (-1)
NCT Dream,
“Dive Into You” (-2)
#8The Boyz,
THRILL-ING (NEW)
2PM,
“Champagne” (-2)
#9Stray Kids,
NOEASY (NEW)
Super Junior,
“Tell Me Baby” (-2)
#10Cosmic Girls,
Unnatural (-3)
SHINee,
“Body Rhythm” (-2)

SOURCES: YouTube, ABYSS Company (Sunmi), C9 Entertainment (CIX), CL’s YouTube channel, Cre.ker Entertainment (The Boyz), DSP Media (MIRAE), Fantagio Entertainment (ASTRO), Jellyfish Entertainment (VERIVERY), JYP Entertainment (Stray Kids), Play M Entertainment (Weeekly), SM Entertainment (Hyoyeon/Red Velvet/Ten/WayV), Starship Entertainment (CRAVITY), Stone Music Entertainment (Hyolyn and Dasom), WM Entertainment (ONF), Woollim Entertainment (Golden Child and Kwon Eunbi)

Cover Image Idols: Red Velvet (SM Entertainment)

4 thoughts on “Favorites of 2021: August

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