Review

2020 In Review: Day 7 – Dance and Electronic

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2020 In Review

1. Introduction + Best Album Art
2. Song of the Year
3. Album of the Year
4. R&B and Soul
5. Rock and Alternative
6. Rap and Hip-hop
7. Dance and Electronic
8. Pop and Ballad
9. Folk and Country
10. Jazz and Blues
11. Crossover and World
12. Best Collaborative Work
13. Rookie Artist of the Year
14. Artist of the Year
15. Other Recognition
16. Concluding Remarks

Dance and electronic is our most crowded field year after year, and the extensive list of honorable mentions again shows the depth of this scene in 2020. Particularly notable was a strong crop of ambient and abstract electronica from the likes of Beck Junghyun, Song Youngnam and many more, as well as a dizzying array of sonically diverse albums (not just singles) by idol artists.

The “next-best ten” and honorable mention lists are sorted by artist name.

The 2020 Dance and Electronic Spotify playlist is here and also embedded below:


Albums

Best Dance and Electronic Album 2020

Cifika – Hana

Cifika’s sound can often be clinical and monolithic, but through both melody and vocal work she’s found ways to infuse deep emotion back into it. Hana, her first full-length, went a step further: this was a really passionate album. Despite the seemingly dispassionate landscape of big-beat machinery and eurodance, these tracks erupted in aesthetic, stirring beauty, perhaps none more than sprawling title track “Déjà Vu”. The raw intensity of the moments and themes that got Cifika’s attention – from imminent disaster (“Came to Tell”) to emotional collapse (“Kill Me With Your Love”) – accentuated these sensations, giving Hana a standout character.

The Runner-up

Beck Junghyun – One Groove

Former Windy City keyboardist Beck Junghyun had a busy year, dropping a hefty, globetrotting improv jazz album (which you’ll see in a few days) on top of this solo LP. One Groove itself, though, was among the year’s slower, more deliberate releases. Built layer by layer with tender bells, ginger piano and other ambience, the album felt spacious, but also determined: fizzy tracks like “Seoul” and hauntingly mysterious ones like “Love” alike had a clear story to tell, gentle but always flowing. Influences from Beck’s world-music background (check out “Dance of the Souls” and its drum rhythms) fleshed out the soundscape, joining the wordless but universal groove.

The First Ten Out

Aseul – Slow Dance

BTS – Map of the Soul: 7

Cor3a – The Early Hits of Cor3a

Cosmos – 무경계 (No Boundary)

Eeajik – 풍화 (Weathering)

Swimrabbit – Pond

Taemin – Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1

Twice – More & More

Uza – 악의 평범성 (Banality of Evil)

WJSN – Neverland


Songs

Best Dance and Electronic Song 2020

Taemin – Criminal
Written by Danke (Lala Studio)
Composed by Lauren Aquilina, Chloe Latimer, Shae Jacobs, Score (13), Megatone (13)
Arranged by Shae Jacobs, Score (13), Megatone (13)

There’s a reliable color and tenor in Taemin’s solo work, and yet his third album delivered something beyond. Title track “Criminal” saw a more prominent top-line emerge out of the heavy and viscous atmospheres that characterized Taemin’s electronica. While the track was no less ominous than Move or Want, the striking melody, brisk rhythm (captured in the memorable “la-la-la” jingle) and piercing background synths made this a more dramatic and dynamic composition than ever before. Danke’s story of destructive attraction, told in the language of innocence and temptation, hearkened back to some of SHINee’s boundary-pushing work; it found purchase in the delivery of a vocalist whose fatalistic charisma has grown to be unmatched.

The Runner-up

April – Lalalilala
Written/composed/arranged by Moonc, Kang Myeong-shin

[The following selection text is adapted from our 250 Greatest Idol Group Songs of All Time feature from November 2020, where “Lalalialala” placed at #21.]

It maybe wasn’t the most exciting song to read about on paper – yet another retro revival track, another syllable-mashup hook – but “Lalalilala” simply sounded so good, so addictive, that it rendered all the preconceptions useless. There was already a magnetic draw in the bold string-and-bass sequence and melancholy mood, but then an elegant prechorus really flipped on the lights. As Naeun dared “Just as many times as there are stars, will you think of me,” and as reverberating synths and bright textures enveloped the intrepid melody, “Lalalilala” forcefully convinced the listener of its feverish dream; the subsequent glorious refrain was but a victory lap. It was a magical moment when April, six years into an eventful but not-always-eminent career, became the surprising team to give us the best idol group track of 2020.

The First Ten Out

BTS – On

Cifika – Déjà Vu

Cosmos – Mother!

Ong Seong-wu – Gravity

Red Velvet – Psycho

Swimrabbit – Hiss (Feat. Yeseo)

Uza & Shane – 어쩌면 (Maybe)

Yeseo – Broken Water

YooA – 숲의 아이 (Bon Voyage)

Yukika – 서울여자 (Soul Lady) [read our review]


Honorable Mentions

Albums

Ab6ix – Vivid
Apink – Look
B of You – Phase One: You
Bagagee Viphex13 – Metamorphosis
Che-Kil – 2020 S/S Lovelobe
Cosmos Superstar – Eternity Without Promises
Cravity – Hideout: The New Day We Step Into – Season 2
Drippin – Boyager
GFriend – 回:Song of the Sirens
GFriend – 回:Walpurgis Night
(G)I-dle – I Trust
Glowingdog – Mixture
Golden Child – Take a Leap!
Hwasa – María
Imlay – Dystopia
IZ*ONE – BLOOM*IZ
Jida – Lucid
Loona – [12:00]
Lovelyz – Unforgettable
Mellow Blush – Herland
Mogwaa – Open Mind
Monsta X – Fantasia X
Monsta X – Fatal Love
Moonsun – 균열 (Collapse)
NCT – NCT Resonance Pt. 2
Nu’est – The Nocturne
Oh Heejung – 우리의 잘못을 (Our Fault)
Oxford Dropkick – Poppo
Pentagon – Universe: The Black Hall
Red Velvet – The ReVe Festival Finale
Song Youngnam – Worldless
SuperM – Super One
Syndasizung – Nightmare
Syunman – Digital Advance
Taemin – Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2
Twice – Eyes Wide Open
Two Tone Shape – Fantastic Machines
Uju – 선데이서울 (Sunday Seoul) Ep. 3
Up10tion – Light Up
Uza & Shane – Classy
Wona – Thanatoid Butterfly
Yeseo – Be
YooA – Bon Voyage

Songs

015B – 공기 한정판 (Air Limited Edition) (Feat. Lee Hyung-eun)
Ab6ix – Vivid
Alive Funk – DNCE (Feat. Yeseo, Ja Mezz)
Apink – Be Myself
Aseul – 잠 (Dying Practice)
Astro – Knock
Ateez – Inception
B of You – PS
B of You – Starlight
Beck Junghyun – One Groove I
Beck Junghyun – Seoul
Blackpink – Lovesick Girls
BTS – Dynamite
Casker – Teardrop
Chungha – Stay Tonight
Cifika – Grow
Cifika – Kill Me with Your Love
Cor3a – Lux Orientis
Cosmos – 헤엄 (Swim) (Feat. 10 to 4)
Cravity – Flame
Cravity – Ohh Ahh
Drippin – Nostalgia
eAeon – Mad Tea Party (Feat. Swervy)
Edge of Silence – Take My Hand (Feat. Baeeori)
Eeajik – 빙하기 (Binghaki)
Eeajik – 탈수증 (Talsujeung)
Elris – This Is Me
Everglow – La Di Da
Fromis_9 – Feel Good (Secret Code)
GFriend – Apple
GFriend – Here We Are
(G)I-dle – Maybe
Golden Child – One (Lucid Dream)
Golden Child – 훅 들어와 (OMG)
HA:TFELT – Satellite (Feat. Ash Island)
HA:TFELT – Sweet Sensation (Feat. Sole)
Holaola – Sink or Swim
Hwasa – Why
Idiotape – Future That Never Comes
Imlay – Theory
Itzy – Be in Love
Kim Areum – Sunset
Lionclad – My Love
Loona – 목소리 (Voice)
Lovelyz – Obliviate
Lovelyz – 자각몽 (Dream in a Dream)
Mellow Blush – 섬에는 집이 있고 집에는 방이 있다 (There Is a House in the Island and a Room in the House)
Mogwaa – Reflex
Monsta X – Love Killa
Moonsun – 옵 (Orb) (Feat. Khundi Panda)
NCT Dream – (무대로) déjà vu
NCT Dream – Ridin’
Necta – Braindust
Nu’est – Firework
Nunnun – 너와 나의 그림자를 (Our Shadows)
Oh Heejung – 내가 잠이 들면 (When I Sleep)
Oh My Girl – Dolphin
Oh My Girl – 살짝 설렜어 (Nonstop)
ONF – 스쿰빗스위밍 (Sukhumvit Swimming)
Ong Seong-wu – We Belong
Pentagon – Dr. 베베 (Dr. BeBe)
Peterpan Complex – 모두 수영장에 (Tous a la Piscine)
Raffina – π (PIE)
Raffina & Cavi – Canvas Girl
Red Velvet Irene & Seulgi – Jelly
Seon – Wander
Soop – 우리 (We)
Sowall – Flame
StayC – So Bad
Sujin – 그림자 (Shadow)
Sunmi – 보라빛 밤 (Pporappippam)
SuperJellyKing – Obirah
SuperM – 호랑이 (Tiger Inside)
Syn Hjang – Hope
The Boyz – The Stealer
Twice – Do What We Like
Twice – Don’t Call Me Again
Twice – More & More
Twice – Oxygen
TXT – 세계가 불타버린 밤, 우린… (Can’t You See Me?)
Uju – Metro 88
Up10tion – Light
Uza – Odd
Uza – 태엽 (Clockwork)
WJSN – Butterfly
WJSN – Pantomime
WJSN – 바램 (Where You Are)
Wonho – Open Mind
Yeseo – Beautiful Creature
Yeseo – Better Me
YooA – Diver


All album art from Bugs Music. Taemin header image from SMTown YouTube.

Read our past series:

2019 In Review

2018 In Review

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review

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