Melon's Top 100 K-pop Masterpieces – The Complete List with Observations and Further Analyses

  • Recently, Melon, in collaboration with Seoul Shinmun (a leading South Korean newspaper), released its list of the "Top 100 K-pop Masterpieces", as selected by a committee of 35 expert judges (comprised of 20 music critics, 8 music broadcasters, and 7 industry professionals).


    The criteria employed in the ranking were the following:

    • Symbolism (Domestic and International Influence, K-pop Growth Process, Musical Differentiation and Attempts)

    • Chart Performance (Popularity, Domestic/Overseas Popularity, Fandom)

    • Creativity (Artistic Creativity, Perfection of Music)

    • Performance (Dance, Music Video, Concert Performance)


    The songs were selected over a period of five months, and over three rounds. Initially, all 35 judges were asked to submit 100 unranked songs, and from these 1120 possible selections, a final list of 100 songs was eventually chosen.


    Here is the complete list of songs, with year of release also stated:


    #100. Trouble Maker – Trouble Maker [2011]

    #99. Seo Taiji and Boys – 교실 이데아 (Classroom Ideology) [1994]

    #98. TVXQ! – Hug [2004]

    #97. SHINee – 누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay) [2008]

    #96. Jinusean – 말해줘 (Tell Me) [1997]

    #95. Epik High – Fly (feat. Amin. J of Soulciety) [2006]

    #94. NRG – 할 수 있어 (I Can Do It) [1997]

    #93. BoA – 아틀란티스 소녀 (Atlantis Princess) [2003]

    #92. Pentagon – 빛나리 (Shine) [2018]

    #91. Seo Taiji and Boys – Come Back Home [1995]

    #90. Busker Busker – 벚꽃 엔딩 (Cherry Blossom Ending) [2012]

    #89. NCT 127 – Cherry Bomb [2017]

    #88. Fin.K.L – 내 남자 친구에게 (To My Boyfriend) [1998]

    #87. SHINee – Ring Ding Dong [2009]

    #86. S.E.S. – Dreams Come True [1998]

    #85. Red Velvet – Psycho [2019]

    #84. Lovelyz – Ah-Choo [2015]

    #83. Mamamoo – Um Oh Ah Yeh [2015]

    #82. IU – 밤편지 (Through the Night) [2017]

    #81. Shinhwa – T.O.P. (Twinkling of Paradise) [1999]

    #80. Seventeen – 아주 NICE (Very Nice) [2016]

    #79. Taeyeon – I (feat. Verbal Jint) [2015]

    #78. Winner – Really Really [2017]

    #77. iKon – 사랑을 했다 (Love Scenario) [2018]

    #76. After School – Bang! [2010]

    #75. g.o.d – 길 (Road) [2001]

    #74. BTS – 작은 것들을 위한 시 (Boy with Luv) (feat. Halsey) [2019]

    #73. Zico – 아무노래 (Any Song) [2020]

    #72. Rain – It's Raining [2004]

    #71. Sistar – 나혼자 (Alone) [2012]

    #70. BTS – DNA [2017]

    #69. Loona – Butterfly [2019]

    #68. Shinhwa – Brand New [2004]

    #67. Uhm Jung-hwa – 초대 (Invitation) [1998]

    #66. GFriend – 시간을 달려서 (Rough) [2016]

    #65. Wanna One – Energetic [2017]

    #64. T-ara – Roly-Poly [2011]

    #63. Orange Caramel – Catallena [2014]

    #62. Rain – 태양을 피하는 방법 (Ways to Avoid the Sun) [2003]

    #61. Park Ji-yoon – 성인식 (Adult Ceremony) [2000]

    #60. Itzy – Dalla Dalla [2019]

    #59. Deux – 나를 돌아봐 (Turn Around and Look at Me) [1993]

    #58. H.O.T. – 전사의 후예 (폭력시대) (Descendants of Warriors) [1996]

    #57. Fin.K.L – 영원한 사랑 (Forever Love) [1999]

    #56. Twice – TT [2016]

    #55. f(x) – 첫 사랑니 (Rum Pum Pum Pum) [2013]

    #54. Deux – 여름 안에서 (In Summer) [1994]

    #53. SHINee – View [2015]

    #52. Oh My Girl – 비밀정원 (Secret Garden) [2018]

    #51. Chungha – 벌써 12시 (Gotta Go) [2019]

    #50. NCT U – 일곱 번째 감각 (The 7th Sense) [2016]

    #49. (G)I-dle – Lion [2019]

    #48. Iz*One – Fiesta [2020]

    #47. G-Dragon – 삐딱하게 (Crooked) [2013]

    #46. Taeyang – 눈, 코, 입 (Eyes, Nose, Lips) [2014]

    #45. f(x) – NU 예삐오 (Nu ABO) [2010]

    #44. Clon – 꿍따리 샤바라 (Kung Ddari Sha Bah Rah) [1996]

    #43. Hyuna – Bubble Pop! [2011]

    #42. EXID – 위아래 (Up & Down) [2014]

    #41. Lee Hyori – U-Go-Girl (with Nassun) [2008]

    #40. f(x) – 4 Walls [2015]

    #39. Gain – 피어나 (Bloom) [2012]

    #38. Baby V.O.X – Get Up [1999]

    #37. 2NE1 – Fire [2009]

    #36. Taemin – Move [2017]

    #35. 2PM – Heartbeat [2009]

    #34. IU – 스물셋 (Twenty-Three) [2015]

    #33. Girls' Generation – I Got a Boy [2013]

    #32. BTS – 봄날 (Spring Day) [2017]

    #31. Twice – Cheer Up [2016]

    #30. g.o.d – 거짓말 (Lies) [2000]

    #29. Sechs Kies – Couple [1998]

    #28. Sunmi – Gashina [2017]

    #27. Wonder Girls – Nobody [2008]

    #26. Miss A – Bad Girl Good Girl [2010]

    #25. BTS – 피 땀 눈물 (Blood Sweat & Tears) [2016]

    #24. Big Bang – Fantastic Baby [2012]

    #23. Infinite – 내꺼하자 (Be Mine) [2011]

    #22. Lee Jung-hyun – 와 (Come) [1999]

    #21. Seo Taiji and Boys – 난 알아요 (I Know) [1992]

    #20. Red Velvet – 빨간 맛 (Red Flavor) [2017]

    #19. Big Bang – 거짓말 (Lies) [2007]

    #18. Kara – Mister [2009]

    #17. H.O.T. – Candy [1996]

    #16. Lee Hyori – 10 Minutes [2003]

    #15. IU – 좋은 날 (Good Day) [2010]

    #14. S.E.S. – ('Cause) I'm Your Girl [1997]

    #13. Blackpink – Ddu-Du Ddu-Du [2018]

    #12. Super Junior – Sorry, Sorry [2009]

    #11. SHINee – Sherlock (Clue + Note) [2012]

    #10. TVXQ! – 주문 (Mirotic) (Original Ver.) [2008]

    #9. Wonder Girls – Tell Me [2007]

    #8. Brown Eyed Girls – Abracadabra [2009]

    #7. 2NE1 – 내가 제일 잘 나가 (I Am the Best) [2011]

    #6. Girls' Generation – 다시 만난 세계 (Into the New World) [2007]

    #5. Girls' Generation – Gee [2009]

    #4. BTS – Dynamite [2020]

    #3. Psy – Gangnam Style [2012]

    #2. EXO – 으르렁 (Growl) [2013]

    #1. BoA – No.1 [2002]


    Observations: I think it's a relatively reasonable list for the most part. The most shocking thing for me was that Seo Taiji and Boys' groundbreaking "난 알아요 (I Know)", which is often credited with starting K-pop as we know it today, was only ranked at #21.


    A notable omission absolutely has to be Kim Gun-mo's iconic "잘못된 만남 (Wrongful Encounter)". Released in 1995, the album that contained the song was actually the best selling Korean album of all-time until its record was broken by BTS' Map of the Soul: Persona in 2019.


    Other songs that I expected to be included: Big Bang's "마지막 인사 (Last Farewell)", Jewelry's "One More Time", Big Bang's "하루하루 (Day by Day)", Hong Jin-young's "사랑의 배터리 (Love Battery)", T-ara's "Lovey-Dovey", Momoland's "Bboom Bboom".


    I was also a surprised to see that 4Minute, Ailee, Akdong Musician, Apink, Beast, Bolbbalgan4, BtoB, CNBLUE, Cool, Davichi, F.T. Island, Im Chang-jung, MC Mong, MC the Max, Park Jin-young, Paul Kim, Roo'ra, Shin Seung-hun, Turbo, and Yoo Seung-jun weren't represented at all in the list.

  • Dynamite made top 5, I'm happy.

    Is he.....you know?
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  • I've gone ahead and made a chart that breaks down the Top 100 list by year of release:


    MasterpiecesByYear.png


    As we can see, the graph is noticeably skewed toward the 2010s. Thus, there may be some recency bias at play, which is unfortunate given that the list was supposedly chosen by a panel of music experts.

  • BTS having the most enteries!! I’m happy

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    Although I won’t take this as the list as the liberty of truth and honour cos seems like they just picked the songs they liked

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    Drew_B was not lying when he said f(x) is the best girl group SM has ever created

    8|8|8|

  • BTS having the most enteries!! I’m happy

    Indeed; I don't think BTS having the most entries is too surprising at this point!


    Now here's a complete breakdown of how many times each artist appears on the list:


    5 Songs

    BTS


    4 Songs

    SHINee


    3 Songs

    Girls' Generation, IU, Seo Taiji and Boys, f(x)


    2 Songs

    BoA, 2NE1, Wonder Girls, TVXQ!, S.E.S., Lee Hyori, H.O.T., Big Bang, Red Velvet, g.o.d., Twice, Deux, Fin.K.L, Rain, Shinhwa


    1 Song

    EXO, Psy, Brown Eyed Girls, Super Junior, Blackpink, Kara, Lee Jung-hyun, Infinite, Miss A, Sunmi, Sechs Kies, 2PM, Taemin, Baby V.O.X, Gain, EXID, Hyuna, Clon, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Iz*One, (G)I-dle, NCT U, Chungha, Oh My Girl, Itzy, Park Ji-yoon, Orange Caramel, T-ara, Wanna One, GFriend, Uhm Jung-hwa, Loona, Sistar, Zico, After School, iKon, Winner, Taeyeon, Seventeen, Mamamoo, Lovelyz, NCT 127, Busker Busker, Pentagon, NRG, Epik High, Jinusean, Trouble Maker

  • This is not a list of the songs that performed the best. Think of this like Pitchfork, Pazz & Jop and Rolling Stone end-of-year critics' choice lists.

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  • SHINee 2nd?! That's on kings of 2nd gen.

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