Music

The 25 Best K-Pop Songs of 2023

In the past, K-pop’s most memorable songs skewed toward impressive maximalism that hooked the world by packing a remarkable punch of energy inside a three-minute-or-so package. While this year certainly saw Korean artists bring a fair share of turbo-powered pop production, there were plenty of standout 2023 releases that embraced a more subtle approach.

Chart-topping groups like Stray Kids, iKON, IVE and LE SSERAFIM exhilarated the K-pop scene with tracks that blasted as easily out of speakers as they did onto international playlists. Meanwhile, NewJeans, ENHYPEN, RIIZE, Jay Park and a range of rising R&B and indie acts scored with laid-back listening experiences that coaxed new audiences with an undeniable charm. And then there were artists like BTS’ Jimin and ZEROBASEONE, who effortlessly combined both worlds.

As always, “K-pop” is a broad and encompassing term, casting a net across popular Korean music. While there have been excellent releases from Korean artists in English (Zior Park’s “Christian,” Jennie’s “You & Me,” DPR IAN’s “Don’t Go Insane,” Yerin Baek’s “Big World,” Eric Nam’s “House on a Hill” and Jung Kook’s entire year of crossover hits), this list is focused on songs that exist in Korean in at least one version, even if recorded in other languages, too. (And, rightfully so, Jung Kook’s “Seven” and Fifty Fifty’s “Cupid” rank among Billboard‘s Top 100 Songs of 2023 list.)

Today, K-pop reaches further than traditional idol music with more top stars experimenting across genres and soundscapes to shine an international spotlight on Korean hip-hop, R&B, electronic, folk and rock. Keeping this open definition in mind, here are the songs that touched our hearts this year.

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