While 2020 had more downs than ups, K-pop kept many around the world entertained with some memorable moments. This year saw South Korean pop stars release addictive hits, go viral for their killer legs, and make history.
Here’s a look back at some of this year’s biggest K-pop moments, memes, and trends.
1. Blackpink was in everyone’s area
2020 will go down in history as an iconic year for girl group Blackpink , the year they released their first full-length album, and for their high-profile collaborations: Sour Candy with Lady Gaga, Ice Cream with Selena Gomez, and Bet You Wanna with Cardi B.
2. Zico & Rain go TikTok viral
If you spent a lot of time on TikTok this year, you probably had at least one chance encounter with Any Song by Zico or Gang by Rain. The Any Song challenge started the year off with Zico going viral in January and having a major hit on his hands.
Meanwhile, Rain’s Gang was released in 2017 and it being turned into a hilarious meme saw the singer-actor – who was one of Korea’s top artists for much of the 2000s and is still a popular entertainer – get a major hit on his hand that was spread across the internet and remade throughout the year.
3. No 1, No 1 and No 1
BTS made history this year as the first Korean act to top the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, first with Dynamite , then twice more with a remix of Jawsh 685 and Jason Derulo’s Savage Love, and Life Goes On. The latter is the first song predominantly sung in Korean to top the chart.
4. SuperM kick off online concert season
The first K-pop concert that was completely online in 2020, SuperM ’s Beyond Live show in April saw more than 75,000 fans tune in. BTS performed to nearly a million online viewers, and other performances played to hundreds of thousands of fans at a time when physical concerts and tours were impossible.
5. Trot shines
If you were unfamiliar with South Korea’s old-school pop music genre known as trot at the start of 2020, that may have changed by now.
Idol groups and hip-hop artists have dominated in South Korea for the past few years, but trot enjoyed a resurgence this year in Seoul, and resulted in many trot releases and artists gaining a lot of love.
6. “Did It work?”
A dance performance video by Blackpink’s Lisa spurred one of this year’s best memes, with her legs spliced into pictures on social media for maximum hilarity.
7. BTS get their first, long overdue, Grammy nod
After years of making history, 2020 has been a stand-out year for BTS. The group rose to the highest heights in the Western music world, with three number ones and a Grammy nomination.The group’s single Dynamite was nominated by the Recording Academy as one of the best pop albums by a group or duo.
8. Dance moves reached new heights
It isn’t K-pop if there aren’t outstanding dances, and this year saw so many amazing performances that it’s impossible to name them all.
But if we were to name a few, Itzy’s Wannabe – especially Ryujin’s shoulder rolls – NCT ’s Kick It , BTS’ Black Swan, Aespa’s Black Mamba, and Red Velvet’s Naughty earned them a lot of love, and plenty of cover performances across social media platforms.
9. Oh My Girl were Nonstop-able
This girl group has always put out immensely listenable pop songs, but in 2020, the world caught up with what their fans have been saying for years. Their two songs, Nonstop and Dolphin , became major hits throughout South Korea and beyond.
10. Twice premiered Cry For Me at Mama
Since South Korea has an abundance of end of year award shows and performances, many featuring the same groups and similar performances, there tend to be few surprises. This year, girl group Twice raised eyebrows when they premiered Cry For Me at the 2020 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.