Review

2021 In Review: Day 7 – Dance and Electronic

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2021 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

We had a curious bifurcation in 2021, as our top-12 of electronic albums was dominated by independent artists while the top 12 songs were heavily driven by idol pop. Broadly this has been the trend for a few years now, but never to this extent. (This observation is purely at the top, of course: there were plenty of great indie tracks and idol albums, as evidenced in the honorable mentions below.)

Especially notable was the robust performance from new faces: Jenna Eun’s genre-mixing debut and M3chvnic’s controlled chaos of EDM and rap were just two examples of rookies pushing the envelope, and even some of K-pop’s greatest popular successes were contributed by the promising work of Aespa, Weeekly, Enhypen, and more. With a possible boom in the performance dance scene from Street Woman Fighter and the continuing popularity of audition survival shows, the visual and performative elements of dance and electronic music also saw meaningful growth in 2021.

Note that eAeon – 어쩌면 (Maybe) will not be listed below, since it was our Song of the Year on Day 2. The “Next 10” and honorable mention lists are alphabetically sorted by artist name.

The 2021 Dance and Electronic Spotify playlist is here and also embedded below:


Albums

Best Dance and Electronic Album 2021

eAeon – Fragile

The oppressive sadness of Guilt-Free is lifted, but there’s still a hard-to-articulate melancholia; there is more warmth through natural acoustics than before, but the heart of Fragile is still the grotesque discord in painstakingly engineered notes and artifice. Newfound, mellow tenderness (“Nights Gone By”, “Btfl Mind”) as well as surprising collaborations with young musicians from RM to Jclef and Swervy (in our Best Collaborative Song of 2020) expand the horizon, as eAeon wins this category again after a decade.

The Runner-up

Shinee – Atlantis

A sumptuous album with a little bit of everything for fans of Shinee and of early/mid-2010s K-pop: “Atlantis” retains the old spirit of the group’s most kinetic, elating tracks, while the groove of “Heart Attack” and “Body Rhythm” are modern and polished takes on familiar ground too. But it’s the brilliant moments that look ahead rather than behind, like the booming trance of “Don’t Call Me”, that promise a rare kind of relevant longevity for Shinee.

The Next 10 (Alphabetical)

Byul-yang – Asymmetry

Chungha – Querencia

Eundohee – Unforeseen

Glowcean – Essence

Jieon – WWW

Leesuho – Monika

My Q – What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?

Rainbow99 – 물의 순환 (The Water Cycle)

Room306 – 술과 꽃 (Booze and Petal)

Twice – Formula of Love: O+T=<3


Songs

Best Dance and Electronic Song 2021

Youha – 오늘 조금 취해서 그래 (Abittipsy)
Written by Youha
Composed by Youha, Vadim Arnaud Constantin, Ryan S. Jhun, Jeremy Lecarour, Rodolphe Lejeune
Arranged by Amo Cost, Ryan S. Jhun, Jeremy Lecarour, Rodolphe Lejeune

A triumph of both songwriting and performance: the endearingly ditzy and jumpy lyrics are brought alive by Youha’s breathless delivery, and the absolutely massive synths are so much fun that, much like the narrator, you hardly notice the wistful longing underneath until it hits you all at once. It was the happiest breakup song and the most exhilarating moment of 2021.

The Runner-up

AkMu – 낙하 (Nakka) (With IU)
Written by Lee Chan-hyuk
Composed by Lee Chan-hyuk, Millennium
Arranged by Millennium

Lee Chan-hyuk’s genius, captured in cascading synths and stuttering rhythm this time around, shows us an inventive vision of what 1980s retro could sound like in the 2020s beyond just the citypop revival. In his writing and the evocative voices of Lee Su-hyun and IU, the concept of falling – the instinctive fear associated with free-fall – becomes an intentional plunge into a scary world, together and on one’s own terms.

The Next 10 (Alphabetical)

Aespa – Next Level

Fromis_9 – Airplane Mode

Kirara – Pulling Off the Stars

Pentagon – 10초 전 (10s And)

Rosé – On the Ground

Seventeen – Rock with You

Shinee – Atlantis

Super Junior – Burn the Floor

Weeekly – After School

Yeseo – Youthful Kids


Honorable Mentions

Albums

25 – Post Pessimist
Ab6ix – Mo’ Complete
Astro – All Yours
Byul-yang – Early Years
CIX – ‘OK’ Prologue : Be OK
Cacophony – Reborn
Enhypen – Border: Carnival
Enhypen – Dimension: Dilemma
GWSN – The Other Side of the Moon
Gahohn Kim – Fathers’ Buffalo
Haihm – Nowhere
Higa – Epiphany
Iz*one – One-Reeler / Act IV
Jenna Eun – How Are We to Live
Key – Bad Love
Love X Stereo – Xennials
M3chvnic – M3chvnic 1st Episodes
Meeploss – Non-Shelter
Minit & Avokid – WWW
Monsta X – One of a Kind
NCT 127 – Sticker
Neon Bunny – Kosmos
Net Gala – 신파 (Shinpa)
Nu’est – Romanticize
ONF – ONF: My Name
Oh My Girl – Dear OhMyGirl
Oowl Hannal – 긴 (Ginn)
Rainbow99 – 오름의 지금 (Oreum)
Seventeen – Attacca
Sunmi – 1/6
TXT – 혼돈의 장 (The Chaos Chapter): Fight or Escape
Twice – Taste of Love
Universe Mongae – Adults Only
Victon – Voice: The Future Is Now
WJSN – Unnatural
Weeekly – We Play

Songs

45xxx – Dreams, Slow Dance
Ab6ix – 감아 (Close)
Aespa – Savage
Aespa – Yeppi Yeppi
Ailee – Bling
Ailee – New Ego
Astro – One
Astro – 발자국 (Footprint)
Ateez – Take Me Home
BTS – Butter
Bibi – Why Y (Feat. Tiger JK)
Billie – Ring X Ring
BoA – Better
Brave Girls – 술버릇 (운전만해 그 후) (After We Ride)
Byul-yang – Gumiho (Feat. Jichul Shin)
Byul-yang – Human Habitat
Byul-yang – Lightpollution
CHS – Semeng
CIX – Cinema
CIX – Tesseract (Prod. Hui, Minit)
CIX – Wave
Cacophony – Sea of Love
Cacophony – 계속 (Reborn)
Chungha – Bicycle
Chungha – Flying on Faith
Chungha – Killing Me
Cignature – Boyfriend
Cignature – My Diary
Cona – Love Ya
Dreamcatcher – Odd Eye
Drippin – Vertigo
eAeon – Null (Feat. Jclef)
eAeon – 그냥 (I Just)
eAeon – 많은 밤을 지나 (Nights Gone By)
Enhypen – Drunk-Dazed
Enhypen – 별안간 (Mixed Up)
Eundohee – Songbird
Exo – Don’t Fight the Feeling
Exo – Paradise
Faver – Get Lost (Prod. Demicat)
Fromis_9 – We Go
GWSN – Burn (Song by Miya, Seoryoung, Anne, Lena)
GWSN – Like It Hot
Gahohn Kim – Fathers’ Buffalo
Ghost9 – Control
Glowcean – Pure (Feat. Jade, Cherry Coke)
Glowcean – Wheels (Feat. Suzanne, Thama)
Golden Child – Ddara
Ground Lxxp – Perfumer (Feat. Carson City)
Ha Sung-woon – 스니커즈 (Sneakers)
Her Chan-hoe – 불꽃놀이 (Firework)
Higa – Won’t You Take Off Your Shoes and Run in the Morning Rain?
Hot Issue – Purple
IU – Celebrity
IZ*ONE – Panorama
Itzy – Love Is
Jenna Eun – Let Me Go Home
Jieon – 돌직구 (Straightforward)
Jieon – 진정 (Sincerely)
Johnhasabigmouth – 색깔 (Colors)
Kang Daniel – Antidote
Key – Bad Love
Kingdom – Black Crown
Kirara – HRT
Kirara – vc19111
Leesuho – Lights (Feat. Kim Hanjoo)
Lightsum – Vanilla
Lightsum – Vivace
Loona – Wow
Luli Lee – Howl
Luna – Madonna
Minit & Avokid – Reflection VIP (Minit, Will Not Fear Remix)
Minsu – Healthy Food
Mirae – Sweet Dreams
Mixxxd By – S
NCT 127 – Far
Necta – Fvck Art Let’s Dance
Neon Bunny – Bloom
Neon Bunny – Twilight
Nu’est – Drive
ONF – Beautiful Beautiful
ONF – The Realist
Oh My Girl – 나의 인형 (안녕, 꿈에서 놀아) (My Doll)
Pixy – Bewitched
Raffina & Cavi – 우후가 (Woo-hoo Song)
Raiden – It Wasn’t Me (Feat. Choi Yoojung)
Rainbow99 – 바다로 간다 (From the River to Ocean)
Rainbow99 – 오름의 지금 (Oreum)
Room306 – 보존 (Preserve)
SF9 – Dreams
Seventeen – Heaven’s Cloud
Seventeen – 소용돌이 (To You)
Shinee – Body Rhythm
Shinee – Don’t Call Me
Shinee – Heart Attack
StayC – ASAP
TXT – 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) (Feat. Seori)
Taemin – Light
Twice – Conversation
Twice – Last Waltz
Twice – Scandal
Twice – Scientist
U-Know – Time Machine
Ultramodernista – FNIO (Feat. Uju)
Universe Mongae – Man, I Don’t Need Your Lighter
Uza – Language
Uza – Name
Vangdale – 춤사위 (Choom Sa Wee) (Feat. Moon, Blasé)
Verivery – Get Away
Verivery – Trigger
Victon – Circle
Weki Meki – Luminous
WJSN – New Me
WJSN the Black – Easy
Wei – Breathing
Yeseo – Free Up
Yunji – Underwater Fairytale


Lyric translations by author. Artist profile and album cover images from Bugs Music.

Read our past series:

2020 In Review

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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