This year I had to actively seek out new music because all my music is curated by myself. The majority of my listening is either from my own library (still iTunes, although all my music is on Google Music now) or from a custom playlist on Spotify. I don’t have any passive music sources for Top40 or others so there’s not a lot of new music coming in.

In terms of buying, I actually bought a couple of CDs this year (a couple of discs to complete collections)! I also bought a bunch of singles and albums from iTunes and Google Music. Not a lot of money spent though as I waited for sales or credits.

Here’s my top tracks for this year:

  1. 태연 (Taeyeon) – 사랑 그 한마디 (Love, That Only Word)
    Taeyeon released a solo album this year, and while I was excited – I was also disappointed that it didn’t have any great ballad singles to showcase her singing (I don’t think U R is that great). I think she is much more suited to singing an OST like this one. I don’t think the song is as great (emotional/touching) as IU’s When Would It Be but it’s more enjoyable for me to listen to the timbre of Taeyeon’s voice and the vibrato on her phrasing. I actually heard this song first in 2014, but started listening to it more in 2015 after I bought it from iTunes.
  2. 윤현상 (Yoon Hyun Sang) & 아이유 (IU) – 언제쯤이면 (When Would It Be)
    I think this is more of Yoon Hyun Sang’s song with IU being featured on it. Even without IU, it would be very good because the singing and piano is haunting. IU’s voice adds a lot of color to it while at the same time capturing the sadness in the song. I think IU sings too many up-tempo songs when she can really excel at ballads such as time one; but I guess she needs to differentiate herself from other singers.
  3. 나윤권 – If Only
    Best male solo ballad of the year. Starts off unassuming but I like the harmonies that come in. I had this on a CD for a long time but didn’t know who sang it until I was coming up with this list.
  4. Amber – Beautiful
    I came across this song because it was on Amber’s solo debut album. I wouldn’t have paid attention to her album had it not for Taeyeon being featured on the title track (Shake That Brass – which is ridiculous and unnecessary for Taeyeon to be featured on it). This song is a nice acoustic slow jam unlike Shake That Brass though. I thought Amber was a rapper but she sings pretty well on this one.
  5. 소녀시대 (Girls’ Generation) – Lion Heart
    When SNSD’s 5th album was announced/teased, I thought I would like You Think more because Lion Heart was too retro/swing (I didn’t like Dancing Queen that much, although maybe because it was a remake of Duffy’s Mercy). However, Lion Heart is clearly much catchier than You Think and an overall better song even if the choreography is odd.
  6. Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One
    I bought Sam Smith’s album on sale via Google Play and really wanted to enjoy the album. However, the only track that really stuck with me was this one (and the reason I bought the album).
  7. 소녀시대 (Girls’ Generation) – Party
    I’ve complained about Girls’ Generation getting poor songs given that they are such an influential & popular group. However, their 5th album has 2 really great singles. Party is not as good as Lion Heart, but it’s still a very fitting song for summer.
  8. Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime
    This song (and Coldplay’s new album) came out right around I wrote this blog, so while I think this song sounds pretty good, it’s still fresh to me. It doesn’t actually sound like a Coldplay song, and it reminds me more of Cut Copy. I’ve streamed their new album and I think this is the best track by a wide margin.
  9. 임재범 (Yim Jae Bum) & 태연 (Taeyeon) – 사랑보다 깊은 상처 (Scars Deeper Than Love)
    This verse starts off well with Taeyeon’s solo but the chorus isn’t that interesting. This is a remake of what I assume was a pretty successful song in the past. Taeyeon sounds like a little girl in this song though, I guess it’s a higher than she usually sings.
  10. 아이유 (IU) – 스물셋 (23)
    Lots of IU singles on the list this year, although I didn’t pay as much attention to her releases as I did SNSD’s. I actually skipped through this song on her Chat-Shire album (I wonder if she knows chat is cat in French) when I listened to it the first time, but once I realized it was a single, I listened to it again. The verse is not catchy which is why it didn’t register with me, but the chorus has great hooks.
  11. Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass
    My kids love dancing to this song because it has a strong…bass line. I think that’s why I like it too as I don’t generally like Trainor’s retro sound.
  12. Pentatonix – Can’t Sleep Love
    Stumbled upon this group billed as an Acapella group and thought that that was weird. How can Acapella be so popular? Well it turns out that it was false advertising as it is basically electropop (think Boyz II Men + 10s Pop). The album was only 99¢ on Google Play so I took a chance on this just because their setup was so weird. This is their single which is pretty catchy (and a late addition).
  13. Selena Gomez – Same Old Love
    A late addition since I’m not up to date on Top 40. It sounds pretty catchy but not a good as Love You Like A Love Song.
  14. 아이유 (IU) & 장이정 – 금요일에 만나요 (Friday)
    A couple of IU songs ahead of this one this year, but this is still catchy. It’s acoustic which is a bonus.
  15. M&D – 하고 싶어 (I Wish)
    I wouldn’t normally pay attention to a song by Super Junior members, but this song got featured in Superstar SMTOWN (and the game is reciprocally featured in the music video). The song is pretty catch so it stuck with me. I listened to the entire album and it’s actually surprisingly good. Each song is basically a different genre – I guess they were trying to grab all demographics. The video is also hilarious.