One of the unique features of The Bias List is its “buried treasure” write-ups. I try my hardest to comb through every major K-pop album released each year and when a song catches my ear I highlight it on the blog. This countdown is an encapsulation of those write-ups, ranking my top 40 b-sides and album tracks of the year.
This countdown encompasses any track that didn’t receive a full music video. This includes album tracks, as well as songs that may have been performed but never actively promoted. It also includes Japanese b-sides from Korean acts. Just like the Top 50 Singles list, all songs here were released between December 1st, 2022 and November 30th, 2023.
20. WOODZ – BUSTED
I missed the chance to feature this as a buried treasure and that’s too bad. WOODZ excels at this quirky rock sound and Busted was the best example of that in 2023.
19. THE BOYZ – FIRE EYES
The Boyz try their hand at a classic synth wave sound and come away with a stunner. Fire Eyes added great texture to an already strong album. (full review)
18. TAN – NEW DAYS
I’ll always be a fan of K-pop that sounds like an anime theme, and New Days‘ pulse-pounding rock adds anthemic heft to TAN’s varied discography.
17. FROMIS_9 – ATTITUDE
Sleek and chic, Attitude might be the best song fromis_9 never released as a title track. They pull off this stylish, slightly aloof, sound so well. (full review)
16. KEP1ER – TOGETHER FOREVER
Producers FULL8LOOM strike again, giving Kep1er one of their strongest songs yet. It’s a shame it’s buried as a b-side for a Japanese single because the instrumental’s swelling strings deserve to be heard by everyone.
15. JUST B – DRAMA
The effusive Drama opens Just B’s most recent album with a welcome dose of driving pop energy. The song thrives on its embrace of full-throated, optimistic melody. (full review)
14. U-KISS – PARTY TONIGHT
Party Tonight delivers a full sonic meal, keeping the intensity high throughout and building to a striking instrumental break that creates a memorable climax. (full review)
13. THE BOYZ – PASSIONFRUIT
Given its performance video, unit track Passionfruit could be considered a “single” of sorts, but I wanted to spotlight it here. It’s the funkiest moment on The Boyz’s summer album and only grew more addictive with time.
12. KIM SUNGKYU – SOMETIMES
Kim Sungkyu thrives when his voice is placed against interesting soundscapes, and the brilliant synths in Sometimes compel as strongly as his own performance. (full review)
11. THE WIND – SIRIUS
You can’t beat this barreling, youthful energy. Sirius starts slow, but soon snowballs into an anthemic dance track. It feels as fresh and inviting as a spring breeze.
10. AESPA – HOLD ON TIGHT
Interpolating the Tetris theme could have ended very badly, but by tying it to a rugged electro beat Hold On Tight drips with style. It’s aespa’s strongest 2023 track. (full review)
9. CRAVITY – FLY
CRAVITY are such quality purveyors of upbeat pop music. Fly is their brightest work this year and should be the template going forward. Its rollicking guitar and exciting melodies compliment the group so well. (full review)
8. ZEROBASEONE – NEW KIDZ ON THE BLOCK
New Kidz On The Block is arguably ZEROBASEONE’s catchiest song. Its house influences give it plenty of drive, but it’s the members’ personality that really shines.
7. SHINEE – LIKE IT
This should have ruled the summer of 2023 as SHINee’s big comeback track. Instead, it was relegated to a very strong b-side. It’s the spiritual successor to View, and you just can’t argue with that lineage. (full review)
6. ZEROBASEONE – BACK TO ZEROBASE
Thus far, Back To ZEROBASE is the crown jewel of ZB1’s burgeoning discography. It’s a rare vocal showcase, placing their harmonies over skittering drum and bass to brilliant effect. (full review)
5. NINE.i – HURT
Few 2023 choruses grabbed me as hard as Hurt‘s. I love the conviction in the performance, and this sense of drama becomes even more gripping when couched within the song’s hypnotic drum and bass beats.
4. KEP1ER – BACK TO THE CITY
You know I’ll always love a good 80’s pastiche, and K-pop isn’t quite done with them yet. Kep1er fit the style like a glove, quickly establishing Back To The City as their strongest song yet. (full review)
3. TAN – VIOLET
TAN’s Violet was recently re-recorded as a Japanese single, but I didn’t want it to get lost in that countdown. It’s too good for that. The group was on fire this year, proving their funk prowess with this exciting highlight. The breathy sample punctuating Violet‘s exciting chorus was an inspired choice. (full review)
2. B.I – DIE FOR LOVE (FT. JESSI)
To Die For follows an established summer song template but elevates it thanks to its lush, atmospheric production and unexpected rhythmic flourishes. It turns out B.I is right at home on a deep house beat, luxuriating over the addictive groove and infusing the style with a keen sense of melody. (full review)
1. NINE.i – POWER UP
NINE.i are going for the triple crown this year with my favorite b-side as well! To be honest, I listened to no b-side or album track more than Power Up this year. It’s such a blast of unfettered joy, bounding forward with a larger-than-life bubblegum pop sound and one of 2023’s biggest, best choruses. It’s an instant mood-lifter and charmingly cute without ever crossing the line into cloying. (full review)