American publication Teen Vogue chose the best 21 K-Pop music videos of the year, and here are their picks.
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Whenever a K-Pop group makes a comeback, they stun fans by releasing videos that take a track and create a story out of it. Whether it is an uptempo track or ballad, each music video showcases the identity of each artist and can be vital to gaining new fans.
1. “Rain To Be” – ONEWE
ONEWE is one of the most underrated groups in K-Pop, and no matter what genre, their tracks never fail to connect with fans worldwide. In particular, in their 2021 track “Rain To Be,” the members used the dynamic lyrics and rhythm of the song to create a spectacular video. The members were submerged in the water made by a storm to create an atmosphere that perfectly fitted the song and represented the beautiful lyrics.
2. “Advice” – SHINee’s Taemin
When it comes to creative music videos, SHINee’s Taemin always delivers, and “Advice” was no exception. The music video was nothing but dramatic with the beautiful backdrop, outfits, and atmosphere that perfectly matched the dramatic music.
3. “XOXO” – Jeon Somi
In her track “XOXO,” Jeon Somi perfectly exuded badass vibes in a song that screamed “girl crush.” In the music video, Somi created a small movie to showcase the lyrics perfectly and, with a cameo from her dad, it is definitely worthy of an Oscar for its dramatic aura.
4. “FIRST” – EVERGLOW
No matter what track they release, EVERGLOW always slay any concept they are given, and “FIRST”‘s space warrior theme didn’t disappoint. With the dramatic changes of scenery to the girls’ badass outfits, it was a fitting video for an absolutely amazing track.
5. “Bambi” – EXO’s Baekhyun
Everything about EXO’s track “Bambi” screamed artistic masterpiece, which rightly earned it so much praise. In particular, the video made sure that Baekhyun was the center of attention with something that combined the essence of Michael Jackson and an old cop movie.
6. “Butter” – BTS
BTS is known for releasing songs of all genres and making them hits. The 2021 track “Butter” did just that, and with a high-tempo rhythm and catchy lyrics, the colorful and stylish video was the perfect way to represent the song. The members’ charisma and personality were on show throughout and made it hard not to smile throughout.
7. “Thank U” – TVXQ’s U-Know
After almost two decades in the K-Pop industry, TVXQ has proved they know how to create amazing music videos. At the start of the year, U-Know released his track “Thank U,” and it was another video that looked like a mini-movie, and it allowed him to showcase his talent, visuals, and acting skills in a very sexy way.
8. “Tail” – Sunmi
Since debuting as a soloist, Sunmi has treated fans to so many classic tracks with videos that showcase her talents. This year’s track “Tail” was no different, and with references to the character Catwoman, Sunmi showcased her sexy and sultry side that proved she is major girl crush material.
9. “Summer or Summer” – SISTAR’s Hyolyn & Dasom
As longtime champions of summer comebacks, SISTAR Hyolyn and Dasom returned in 2021 with another beach-worthy summer jam. ”Summer or Summer” perfectly encapsulates the group’s friendship, or better yet, their unbreakable sisterhood. Hopefully, fans can see all the members perform very soon.
10. “Maniac” – NCT U
NCT U’s track “Maniac” has been called one of the most underrated songs of the year, and it isn’t surprising why. Led by the vocalists Doyoung and Haechan, the song has so much energy. What also makes it unique is the focus on dancer and choreographer Lia Kim. With the beautiful choreography and lyrics, it is definitely brought a new style to music videos.
11. “LMYL” – GOT7’s Jackson Wang
When fans think of GOT7’s Jackson, they see a happy and charismatic idol. Yet his 2021 track “LMYL” showcased a very different side to the star with another video that radiated true romantic movie vibes. From falling in love to heartbreak, Jackson takes listeners on an emotional rollercoaster in a beautifully shot video.
12. “Savage” – aespa
If there was one song that netizens couldn’t stop playing, it was aespa’s “Savage.” With a new and unique AI concept, the group proved why they are “Monster Rookies,” with a video that is something completely different and allowed the members to shine in different ways.
13. “LALISA” – BLACKPINK’s Lisa
BLACKPINK’s Lisa made her solo debut this year with “LALISA,” and after waiting so long, fans were not disappointed. If the song wasn’t catchy enough, the video was dripping in charisma and showcased so many amazing things, including her own Thai culture. On her throne, she cemented her status as K-Pop royalty.
14. “Hello Future” – NCT DREAM
NCTzens were treated to so much content from NCT DREAM this year and “Hello Future” was a song that perfectly embodied the group’s youthfulness. With an almost 70s hippy and 90s Men in Black vibe to the video, it is impossible to watch it without smiling throughout.
15. “Hey kid, Close your eyes” – AKMU (feat. Lee Sun Hee)
In 2021, AKMU wowed fans by releasing a collaboration album with some amazing artists. Their track “Hey kid, Close your eyes” featuring Lee Sun Hee was just as amazing perfectly told a story with a simple setting and no colors. The simplicity made the lyrics all the more powerful and impactful.
16. “LOCO” – ITZY
When it comes to never disappointing fans with music video concepts, ITZY are on the top of that list, and “LOCO” reminded fans why. The bright and colorful backdrops didn’t take away from how badass the members looked with their powerful performance and showed how versatile they are.
17. “BAD LOVE” – SHINee’s Key
Like Taemin, SHINee’s Key never fails to disappoint when he releases solo tracks. In 2021, Key’s “BAD LOVE” gained love worldwide for its throwback vibes that perfectly complimented his angelic voice. After revealing he got inspiration from old sci-fi movies, it isn’t surprising how unique the video is.
18. “Cold-Blooded” – Jessi ft Street Woman Fighter
After the success of Street Woman Fighter, soloist Jessi collaborated with some of the dancers for another badass track “Cold-Blooded.” Although Jessi only appears briefly, she shines a spotlight on these talented dancers, reminding the world why they should take notice of these badass women.
19. “Any Other Way” – Eric Nam
Eric Eric Nam is definitely one of the “Golden boys” in K-Pop, with fans worldwide never having anything but kind words about him. Yet, his charming personality shouldn’t overshadow his talent and the beauty of his track “Any Other Way.” A gentle video compliments the song with aesthetically pleasing shots of calming scenery.
20. “I’m a 빛” (I’m a B) – MAMAMOO’s Hwasa
Whenever Hwasa releases a solo track, it will undoubtedly be a hit and the videos will definitely radiate girl crush vibes. “I’m a B” was no exception as Hwasa almost stuck a middle finger up to a traditional society that she doesn’t conform to. With her out-of-the-box outfits and empowering lyrics, Hwasa continues to show why she is so loved.
21. “Peaches” – EXO’s Kai
EXO’s Kai is known as the “King of Sexy,” but his latest video for the track “Peaches” showcases his true duality. The video has much brighter and pastel colors to help represent a story of love with a focus on Korea’s beautiful history. By wearing a light hanbok, Kai has shown that he really can do it all.